Tag Archives: John

Rediscovering the Christmas Season XV – Impossible!


Impossible

Exposure: Read the passage about the arrival of an improbable baby and an impossible baby. God is setting the stage in this dramatic way for the advent of Jesus Christ—who would be characterized by doing the impossible.

Exploration: Why do you think God delights in doing the impossible?

Expression: Is God asking you to believe something that seems impossible right now? Write down something you want to ask Him for this Christmas that seems impossible.

Experience: Discuss with friends or family or journal about a time in your life when you had to depend on Jesus to do the impossible. Read the verse about our God of the impossible out loud wherever you are.

LUKE 1:1-80 NKJV

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him,  he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”

And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.” And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.  So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one,  the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him,  she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus . He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “ The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her. So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.” But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all those who heard them  kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: “Blessed  is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have  been  since the world began, That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

JEREMIAH 32:17 NKJV

‘Ah, Lord God ! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.

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Why read the Bible? day two!


God and Engaging the Bible: Part 2 The ‘these’ this verse is referring to is the book of John. Based on that, what is the purpose of John? What does John mean by “the power of his name”?

JOHN 20:31 NIV

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

JOHN 20:31 YLT98

and these have been written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye may have life in his name.’

Love Overcomes Fear


1 John 4:18 (NIV)
18  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
The End Result of Love
Fear does no good
and Tears us down;
I don’t want any
Fear around!
Love is good and
builds you up!
You need more love
to overflow your cup.
And when it’s over,
All said and done…
God thanks you for
Helping out His Son.
If we can love
and cast out fear,
We’ll have eternal life
When we leave here!
-the walrus

Sixteen Reasons Why I Love You*


*with apologies to Connie Francis for taking her song title.

Jesus taught us through the Gospel to love one another in many ways. Following are some of them. We love one another because God loves us and because of the benefits of love over indifference.

Matthew 22:39 (KJV)

39  … Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Matthew 5:44 (NAB)

44  But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,

Matthew 22:37 (NLT)

37  Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’

Matthew 3:17 (MSG)

17  And along with the Spirit, a voice: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.”

Matthew 5:46 (MSG)

46  If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.

Matthew 6:4 (MSG)

4  Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Matthew 18:17 (MSG)

17  If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.

Luke 6:36 (ETRV)

36 Give love and mercy the same as your Father gives love and mercy. (Mt. 7:1-5)

Mark 12:33 (GW)

33  To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself is more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

John 8:42 (ASV)

42  Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I came forth and am come from God; for neither have I come of myself, but he sent me.

John 10:17 (ASV)

17  Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.

John 13:34 (ASV)

34  A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 13:35 (ASV)

35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:13 (ASV)

13  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Acts 15:14 (ETRV)

14 Simon Peter has told us how God showed his love for the non-Jewish people. For the first time, God accepted them and made them his people.

Acts 20:24 (TLB)

24  But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love.

Which are your favorites? And which ones do you need to work on?

Why I Try To Be Kind To Atheists, Agnostics, etc.


I am not by nature a kind person.  I am sarcastic and often caustic to those around me, friend or foe.  There are many reasons for me to be more kind, partly because we are commanded to “love our enemies”, “do good to them who despitefully use you” and to “pay back evil with good.”  But if I try to do this in my own strength, I will fail, because I am weak.  I can do nothing without Christ (John 15:5).

I am now in a situation where I must trust Christ to work through me to do good to others, and that takes cooperation from me, because the Holy Spirit will not force these good acts upon me.  That brings me to my unbelieving friends, because I have to trust that God will be faithful to deliver these good works to them, despite the fact that they do not believe in Him.

Is it possible for the Holy Spirit to perform in this manner?  Yes, He is God.  Who could stop Him?  Does He want to deliver blessings for curses, through my cooperation?  Yes, He commanded us to bless them that curse us, etc.  Is the agnostic or atheist able to hedge against the kindness delivered by God or prevent reception of the blessing in any way?  No!  They do not acknowledge the existence of God, so how can they resist the actions of one who does not exist?  In order to do so, they would have to admit that there is a God and protest, “God is trying to make me look bad by giving me blessings I do not deserve!”  Don’t hold your breath for that to happen.

I think that many atheists/agnostics are not inclined to truly disbelieve in God as much as they really are “disappointed” by God or angry with God about something that has happened in their life, or they have other “God” issues.  It becomes a convenient mechanism to deny what they do not understand.  Well, I do not always understand God or his workings either.  I can light a match or curse the darkness.  I have decided to light the match of “God Enlightenment” to try to understand these mysteries of life, because “cursing the darkness” leaves me no viable or productive recourse.  And that brings me to the subject at hand….

Why should I hate someone who examines the same evidence and comes to a different conclusion?  Why heap another layer of grief on someone when they are suffering already?  I do not achieve any glory by doing evil to unbelievers, but I do please God by blessing them.  What to do?  Let me take a nanosecond to decide…I choose Christ’s way, again!  I know the history of religious people is littered with those who would kill others with opposing views, but isn’t hate and murder part of the province of The Evil One?  Why cater to him?  How would history be different if all religious people were more tolerant?

Kindness is a learned behavior, not innate at all.  We all must seek a higher power to be a consistently kind person.  This is where John 15:5 comes in again, for truly, we cannot practice consistently kind behavior without the power of the Holy Spirit.  Kindness will win the day for our Lord, not hate or retaliation.  Believer or not, the world will be a much better place if we all were more Christ-like in our actions.  And that is why I am kind to atheists and agnostics.

My prayer for all of us today is that we might know Christ better than to think that He wants us to hurt others!