May 7, 2016
May 7, 2016
When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. John 16:13
As I boarded the airplane to study in a city a thousand miles from home, I felt nervous and alone. But during the flight, I remembered how Jesus promised His disciples the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’s friends must have felt bewildered when He told them, “It is for your good that I am going away” (John 16:7). How could they who witnessed His miracles and learned from His teaching be better off without Him? But Jesus told them that if He left, then the Advocate—the Holy Spirit—would come.
Jesus, nearing His last hours on earth, shared with His disciples (in John 14–17, today known as the “Farewell Discourse”) to help them understand His death and ascension. Central in this conversation was the coming Holy Spirit, an advocate who would be with them (14:16–17), teaching (15:15), testifying (v. 26), and guiding them (16:13).
We who have accepted God’s offer of new life have been given this gift of His Spirit living within us. From Him we receive so much: He convicts us of our sins and helps us to repent. He brings us comfort when we ache, strength to bear hardships, wisdom to understand God’s teaching, hope and faith to believe, love to share.
We can rejoice that Jesus sent us the Advocate.
Heavenly Father, You sent Your Son to save us and Your Spirit to comfort and convict us. May we bring You glory as we thank You for Your goodness and love.
The Holy Spirit fills Jesus’s followers.
For more on the Holy Spirit read Filled with the Spirit at discoveryseries.org/q0301.
On the Sea of Galilee, the optimal time of the day for fishing had passed hours earlier, so the fishermen were now cleaning their nets along the shore. But at the request of an itinerant preacher, one lowered his into the water. The reward for Peter’s trust was a record-breaking—and net-breaking—catch.
As believers, we likewise want success in overcoming doubts so that we can courageously follow God. But sometimes we rely on our own faculties to decide whether or not we will trust Him. Perhaps what He is asking of us seems unreasonable. For instance, the principle of tithing goes against human wisdom: When we give God one-tenth of our income, He makes the remaining 90 percent spread further than a hoarded 100 percent could.
In other situations, we hesitate to trust the Lord because our knowledge or experience contradicts His plan. All of Peter’s expertise indicated that fishing at such an hour would be useless. Sometimes God challenges believers to act even when they do not understand how they can be successful.
Listening to others’ opinions is another stumbling block to unswerving faith. There is a time for seeking godly counsel, but when the Lord makes His will clear, we are to act. We’re not to pick up the phone to ask a few friends what they think. No opinion matters except that of Jehovah, who does not make mistakes in presenting His plan.
The next time you find yourself in doubt, think about what is causing you to hesitate. Then you can pray specifically to overcome the faith hurdle and move on, knowing that God blesses steps we take to follow Him.
“Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” (John 19:40)
The Jews of Jesus’ day prepared bodies for burial in a much different fashion than we do today. In our text the word “wound” actually means “to bind, tie, or wind,” and bodies were tightly rolled up in long strips of linen cloth. Parallel passages in Matthew 27:59, Mark 15:46, and Luke 23:53 employ words derived from the Greek hellisso, meaning “to coil,” from which we get our word “helix.”
The tightness of the winding can be inferred from the raising of Lazarus from the dead. After Christ had called him back to life, “he that was dead came forth, bound [same word as ‘wound’] hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44).
On resurrection morning, after hearing the news of the missing body of Christ, Peter and John ran to the sepulcher. “Peter . . . went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped [same word as ‘wound’] together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple . . . and he saw, and believed” (John 20:6-8).
John recognized, as we should, that only a miracle could account for the state of these linen clothes. If thieves had stolen the body, they would either have taken the clothes, or the clothes would have been strewn around, not lying in the same location and shape as they had been when the body was present. Previously, John “knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead” (v. 9), but when he saw the linen clothes, he “believed.”
Christ miraculously rose from the dead. John believed; we have his eyewitness testimony. Can we do less? JDM
We find a recapitulation of the history of the tribes up to this date in—Psalm 106:13-33.
After seeing the wonders of the Red sea and other displays of divine power, they speedily forget them all. Sinners have short memories.
It was a great sin on their part that they spoke of the heritage which the Lord promised them as either not existing, or not to be won, or as unworthy of all the toils they endured in reaching it. We must not think lightly of our eternal rest, lest we become slack in our efforts to reach the promised inheritance.
Although Balaam was unable to curse Israel, he did his worst to injure the nation. Believing that nothing but sin could deprive Israel of the protection of Jehovah, he advised Balak to seduce the people to mingle in the licentious festivals held in honour of Baal-peor. This horribly cunning advice was followed, the Moabites exhibited great friendliness, their women fascinated the men of Israel, and the people were led to unite in the dances and other orgies associated with the worship of the Moabitish idol. By this foul plot Balaam did the nation the most serious mischief, by bringing upon them the righteous indignation of the Lord.
Twenty-four thousand persons perished by this plague, which ceased not until summary vengeance had been executed upon those who had turned aside to the Moabitish idols.
Phinehas showed a holy zeal for God, and slew a bold blasphemer, who dared pollute the camp of Israel. Zeal for God, and indignation against sin are highly acceptable to the Lord. On account of the thorough decision of one single individual the plague was withdrawn; this teaches us the great value of holy and fervent spirits in the church.
He who was the meekest of men spake in anger. We have no perfect example save our Lord Jesus. He was never provoked, and never spake unadvisedly. May the same mind be in us which was in him. The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God; may we be delivered from falling into it, however much we may be irritated.
Great Shepherd of Thine Israel,
Who didst between the cherubs dwell,
And ledd’st the tribes, thy chosen sheep,
Safe through the desert and the deep:
Thy church is in the desert now;
Shine from on high, and guide us through;
Turn us to thee, thy love restore;
We shall be saved, and sigh no more.
Every so often, everyone has an opportunity to get offended. In fact, Jesus said, “… It is impossible but that offences will come…” (Luke 17:1). The word “impossible” is the word anendektos, meaning something that is impossible, inadmissible, unallowable, or unthinkable. One scholar notes that it could be translated, “It is simply unthinkable that you would allow yourself to dream that you could live this life without an opportunity to become offended….”
But what is an offense? The word “offense” comes from the Greek word skandalon, from which we get the word scandal. This is a powerful picture that you must understand! The word skandalon originally described the small piece of wood that was used to keep the door of an animal trap propped open. A piece of food was placed inside the trap to lure the animal inside. When the animal entered the trap and accidentally bumped the skandalon, or the small piece of wood, the skandalon collapsed, causing the trap door to slam shut and the animal to be caught inside with no way to escape.
However, the New Testament also uses the word skandalon to refer to a stone or an obstacle that caused one to trip, to stumble, to lose his footing, to waver, to falter, and to fall down. In First Peter 2:8, the word skandalon is used to describe how unbelievers react to the Gospel when they don’t want to hear it or believe it. Peter said, “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word….” Rather than accept the message and be saved, these people stumble when they hear the truth, tripping over the message that could set them free.
But in Luke 17:1, Jesus used the word skandalon to warn us about events that happen in life with the potential to trip us up. Sometimes Satan baits us with something—drawing us into a trap in which he knows we’ll become offended. When we bump into a moment of offense, the trap slams down shut—and like an animal that is trapped in a cage and can’t get out, we suddenly find ourselves caught in a miserable situation, trapped in detrimental and negative emotions!
This means Luke 17:1 could be translated:
“It is simply unthinkable that you would allow yourself to dream that you could live this life without an opportunity to be lured into a situation that could potentially snare you in the feelings of offense….”
If this is really what Jesus meant, we need to know the nature of the bait Satan uses to get to us. What is the “offense” the devil uses to trap most people?
An offense usually occurs when you see, hear, or experience a behavior that is so different from what you expected that it causes you to falter, totter, and wobble in your soul. In fact, you are so stunned by what you have observed or by a failed expectation that you lose your footing emotionally. Before you know it, you are dumbfounded and flabbergasted about something. Then your shock turns into disbelief; your disbelief into disappointment; and your disappointment into offense.
We’ve all experienced this kind of disappointment at some point in our lives. According to Jesus’ words in Luke 17:1, the opportunity to be offended comes to every one of us. As long as we live and breathe, we must combat this nuisance and refuse to allow it to have a place in our hearts and minds. Even worse, we’ve all been the source of offense at some point or another. It may not have been intentional on our part; in fact, we may not have even known we offended anyone until the person later came and informed us of what we did.
In light of all this, I’d like you to consider these questions:
Through the years, I’ve learned to do the best I can to avoid being a source of offense to anyone. At the same time, I try not to be too shocked if I find out that someone, somewhere, has gotten offended. Because people come from different backgrounds, wake up in bad moods, have a bad day at work, don’t physically feel well, and go through a whole host of other negative experiences in their lives, their interpretation of our actions and words may be very different from our original intention.
We can be almost 99-percent sure that someone along the way will misunderstand what we do or misinterpret something we say. Therefore, as Christians, we must: 1) do everything in our power to communicate correct messages to one another; and 2) do everything in our power to bring healing and restoration whenever misunderstanding and offense occurs between ourselves and someone else.
If you discover that you have been a source of offense to someone else, take the mature path and go ask that person to forgive you. And don’t get defensive, for that will only make the problem worse. It may even lead to a deeper conflict, so just say you are sorry and move on!
Do everything you can to bury that offense and destroy what the devil is trying to do between you. Make it your personal aim to help that other person overcome what he thinks you did or said. Sometimes it is more important to help the other person attain a position of peace than it is to prove who is right or wrong!
Lord, I want to repent for ever being a source of offense to anyone. I am asking You to forgive me for fighting to prove my point in the past when I should have just gone to that other person and apologized, asking for his forgiveness. If I ever find out I’ve offended someone again, please help me deal with it more maturely than I have in the past. Jesus, I also need You to help me remember that when others do things that make me sad or that disappoint me, they probably didn’t mean to do it. Help me give them the same mercy and grace that I hope others will give me.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I am a source of blessing and not a cause of offense! I do everything in my power to communicate correct messages, and I immediately move to bring healing and restoration whenever misunderstanding and offense has occurred between myself and someone else. I do everything I can to bury that offense and to destroy what the devil is trying to do. I make it my aim to walk in the Spirit, to speak the love of God into every situation, and to refuse to let the devil use me to cause others to trip and fall.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Recently, in the course of counseling a young businessman, I was asked if I thought insider trading was wrong.
“Is it against company policy” I inquired? “Yes,” he replied. “Is it against the laws of the land,” I queried? “Yes,” came his response.
After an awkward pause I asked, “Joe, why then, are you asking me this question?”
In frustration I then directed him to look at Job 27:3-6:
“As long as I have life within me… my tongue will utter no deceit… Till I die, I will not deny my integrity… My conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.”
As we read this passage from his Bible, I noticed that he already had it circled and underlined.
“Had he not previously pondered and perhaps even wrestled with the truth of this passage,” I wondered? “How is it that he could consider these profound teachings and still ask whether ‘insider trading‘ is wrong“?
The answer lies in the fact that many believers who are committed to, and immersed in, the cutthroat climate of the business environment have developed an amazing ability to rationalize and sidestep the Bible’s high standard of integrity. They are able to do this simply by living in the two worlds of the spiritual and the secular as did the Old Testament Jews:
“While these people were worshipping the Lord, they were serving their idols.” (2 Kings 17:41)
And by so doing, they make Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde look like a novice.
At the heart of the problem lies our stubborn refusal to allow Christ to be the Lord of our work because we fear that if we abandon ourselves to a Biblical ethic, either:
(1) Our business will collapse under the competition, or
(2) God won’t provide for us at the standard to which we have become accustomed.
The first fear centers on a carnal lack of faith, and the second on greed. Both are sin.