Wednesday, May 15, 2019

LISTEN TO JESUS: COME TO THE LIGHT


LISTEN TO JESUS
COME TO THE LIGHT

John 3:19-21 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Susan: The English Standard Version translates the word “condemnation” as “verdict.” According to Webster, one definition of verdict is “Decision; judgment; opinion pronounced; as, to be condemned by the verdict of the public.” 

Susie: We love to think of Jesus as the One who saves the world, but He is also the only one qualified to pronounce a verdict on its sin since He Himself was sinless. Jesus is the One who shines a light on the true motives of people. He did not come to actively condemn people because they had already condemned themselves due to their unbelief and actions. He puts a spotlight on our hearts which will enable those who believe to see their true condition and their need of Jesus to rescue them from it. 

Susan: Those who do not believe and trust in the saving grace of Jesus’ death on the cross in their place fear exposure of their true selves and especially exposure by the Light of Christ. In contrast, those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus, have no reason to fear . . .

Susie: . . . because Jesus has paid the price in full for their wrongdoing. 

Susan: Substitutionary atonement is a fancy phrase meaning Jesus died in their place to pay their debt.

Susie:  When God looks at those of us who believe, He does not see our thick file of bad stuff, but instead sees the righteousness of His Son.

Philippians 3:9 (NIV) …and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Susie: “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!” This old hymn says it well. Jesus is the only One who can enable us to stand in the light without fear.



·      Does the Light of Jesus make you feel naked and exposed? Jesus died literally naked on the cross to save you from the wrath of God and remove that guilt and shame from you.
·       Have you accepted His free gift of salvation? If so, you are covered in His righteousness and enabled by Him to turn from sin to an intimate relationship with the God who created everything!
·      If you have not yet experienced the saving grace of God, pray asking Him to open your eyes to the truth of His word. You may contact us for more details via our website: www.preciousjewelsministries.org


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

LISTEN TO JESUS: BORN AGAIN INTO GOD'S FOREVER FAMILY


LISTEN TO JESUS
BORN AGAIN
INTO GOD’S FOREVER FAMILY

Susie: Now for the verse you memorized in Sunday School when you were a wee lass or lad. That is, if you lived in Scotland. My heritage is coming out.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Susie: Let’s look at this extremely familiar verse (probably the one most likely to be committed to memory) in the Amplified version:

John 3:16 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.


Susie: The world in this instance means all kinds of people in the world, Jews and Gentiles, from all over the world, living under the fallen “world system.” In other words, sinners of all kinds. God gave His “only begotten Son.” We as Christians are adopted into God’s family, but Jesus was actually God’s Son born of the virgin Mary, conceived in her by the Holy Spirit. Believing in Jesus is much more than intellectually acknowledging His existence. 

Susan: Trusting Jesus means  understanding that we must completely lean into and depend upon Jesus for all that we are, all that we have, and all that we ever will be. We must make a total surrender of our will to His.

Susie: It is a total surrender of our lives to His care by faith that He is the only way to the Father as Jesus Himself clarifies later in the Gospel of John:

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 15:5 (ESV) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Susie: Jesus is the source and sustainer of our lives both now and forever when we trust in Him.

John 3:17-18 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Reformation Study Bible:
Jesus comes into a world that is already condemned because of its rejection of God’s self-revelation (Rom. 1:18–32).

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse

Susie: Jesus did not come to condemn the world because it was already condemned due to rejecting God’s revelation in nature and perpetually giving in to the sin nature within them. The point is that He came to bring them the only offer of salvation they would receive from God. 

Susan: Jesus’s purpose was not to condemn but to redeem. To redeem is to buy back as from slavery. 

Susie: We were slaves to sin. 

Susan: The price of our redemption was His death on the cross. God was willing to give His pride and joy to redeem those unworthy of His love in order to adopt them into His forever family to enjoy His presence eternally. 

Susie: Believing and trusting in the saving power of Jesus transforms us from hopeless sinners into precious saints, something impossible for people to do on their own.

Ways we can apply this to our lives:

·     Eternal life with God is offered only by His grace in giving Jesus to redeem us – He is the only way to peace with God
·     No matter how hard we try to be perfect, we cannot reach God by perfection – we must place our trust in Jesus
·     Surrendering our lives to Jesus’s control brings about the total transformation from being dead in our sin to being alive in Him.

Ephesians 2:1 (AMP)  And you [He made alive when you] were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of your transgressions and sins.

John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.  


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

LISTEN TO JESUS: OUR LORD LIFTED UP


LISTEN TO JESUS
OUR LORD LIFTED UP

John 3:11-12 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

The MacArthur Bible Commentary:
John 3:11-12 “Jesus focused on the idea that unbelief is the cause of ignorance. At heart, Nicodemus’ failure to understand Jesus’ words centered not so much in his intellect, but in his failure to believe Jesus’ witness.”

Susie: As we have stated before, Nicodemus is trying to analyze everything intellectually rather than just believing Jesus at face value. 

Susan: He was missing the faith factor. For example: I am fully convinced that Jesus is our healer in every sense of the word, but healing of my cerebral palsy has not been physically manifested in my body. However, I know that I have been healed in the most important manner, the healing of my heart. I have faith that I will be completely, physically healed when I am with the Lord if not before. What an exciting day that will be! However, I am blessed and privileged beyond measure that every day that I wake up I have the honor and pleasure of being the Lord’s mouthpiece to share His word and truth around the world.  

Susie: Jesus was explaining that “birth from above” was transacted by God’s grace through faith and was not something to be achieved by man’s own power. 

Susan: Self-effort will not and cannot get you to Heaven, where you will be in God’s presence eternally. 

Susie: No matter how hard I might try, I cannot in my own strength, in my own abilities, be good enough to merit a relationship with the perfect, almighty God.

John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Susie: Jesus is the One sent from God to provide the way for us to enter Heaven. He is the only one who was in Heaven and came down to earth to reveal truth to us. Paul stated that man was not permitted to speak of such things when recording his vision of being caught up into Heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). After Jesus ascended back to Heaven, the Apostle John was instructed to write the Revelation given to him of Heaven, but this was after the time that Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus. Of course, one must be listening with ears of faith to understand that Jesus is the Son of God and equally the Son of Man.

John 3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Reformation Study Bible
3:14 Moses. Num. 21:4–9 records the story of the rebellious Israelites, who murmured and complained. God sent fiery serpents into their midst to punish them. Then God told Moses to put a bronze serpent on a pole, with the promise that whoever looked at it would live.
must . . . be lifted up. Here is a key term in this Gospel (8:28; 12:32, 34) which carries the double meaning of crucifixion and exaltation. Christ’s death on the cross, His resurrection, and His glorification together reveal the glory of God. The word “must” points to God’s sovereign purpose. The crucifixion was the keystone of God’s eternal plan to save His people (Acts 4:27, 28).

Susie: Jesus’ crucifixion was not some cosmic tragedy but was God’s plan for salvation all along. 

Susan: When Jesus says He must be “lifted up,” the phrase has a layered meaning. It refers to Jesus’s suffering and being displayed naked on the cross for all to see. . .

Susie: . . . the worst humiliation for a Jew since Deuteronomy 21:23 says that one who is hanged on a tree is “accursed of God.” 

Susan: The second layer of the term “lifted up” is that Jesus must be exalted. 

Susie: He must be recognized as fully equal with God and given all the glory due Him.

The American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828

EXALT'ED, pp. Raised to a lofty height; elevated; honored with office or rank; extolled; magnified; refined; dignified; sublime.

Philippians 2:8-11 (ESV) And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Ways we can apply this to our lives:

·     We must believe that Jesus is fully divine (God) as well as fully human – He is the God-Man
·     In order to be saved, we must look to the cross by believing that Jesus died in our place and was raised from the dead
·     We should exalt Jesus, bring glory to His name (reputation) in all we do and say


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

LISTEN TO JESUS: OUTWARD COMMITMENT RESULTS IN INWARD CHANGE


LISTEN TO JESUS
OUTWARD COMMITMENT
RESULTS IN INWARD CHANGE

John 3:9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

Susie: Old Nicodemus still doesn’t get it. Even though he now knows it is not a second physical birth, he still cannot figure out how this new birth transpires. 

Susan: Where he goes wrong is trying to reason everything out. It is all an intellectual process for him.

Susie: He is not using eyes of faith. Of course, I guess we should cut Nick some slack since Jesus had not yet died and been resurrected.

Susan: Also, his wheelhouse is dissecting the Law for proper interpretation, . . .

Susie: . . . but he misses the core of the Law which is love for God and people. The Pharisees sat in judgment upon the people but did nothing to lift them up.


Luke 11:46 (NIV) Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

John 3:10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

Susan: Nicodemus was a teacher of teachers. He was like a tenured seminary professor, a master teacher.

Susie: He was a respected authority among the Jews. The Pharisees were so focused on the external obedience they could not see the need for inward transformation. 

Susan: If you do not know the reason for the ritual, it is of no effect. The rituals of the Jews should have been an act of obedience based on their relationship to God, not an occasion to say, “I’m holier than you.” 

Susie: I am reminded of a song that was instrumental in my realizing I was a “good girl” but did not know Jesus at all. The lyric was “Empty eyes stare from empty sockets; frozen lips form frozen words. Masks that hide faceless people, acting roles with lines unheard. Row on row we march in order, mouthing hymns and reading prayers.” Pharisees demonstrated all the outward appearance of serving the Lord but needed an operation of the heart that only the Holy Spirit could perform. The Apostle Paul explained this quite well:

Romans 2:29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

Ways we can apply this to our lives:

·     Has God revealed a need for inward change in your own life?
·     Have you been checking off all the expected boxes for “Christian” behavior rather than submitting to having the Holy Spirit change your heart?
·     Remember what Jesus said were the two greatest commandments and the fact that one can only truly keep them when one is “born again”:

Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

LISTEN TO JESUS - BORN FROM ABOVE


LISTEN TO JESUS

BORN FROM ABOVE

John 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

Susie: Nicodemus pictures a grown man somehow going back into the womb to be “born again.” As we will see, this is not what Jesus meant at all. 

Susan: The phrase “born again” can literally be translated “born from above.” 

Susie: Jesus endeavors to explain this distinction in the next few verses.

John 3:5-8 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Susie: Since Nicodemus is obviously thinking of natural, physical birth, Jesus contrasts this with spiritual rebirth. He compares the Spirit with the wind. We do not see the wind, but we feel and see its effects. 

Susan: Therefore, Jesus is declaring to Nicodemus that he must receive transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Susie: We do not see the actual transaction of the Holy Spirit entering a life, but like the wind, we see the effect this has on the person’s attitudes and behaviors. 

Susan: We see the fruit of the Spirit in a consecrated life. 

Susie: Jesus is explaining that our own self-righteousness can never be good enough. We must be transformed by the power of the Lord through faith in order to approach a Holy God.

Ways we can apply this to our lives:

·     We are all born into this world after months in our mother’s womb. We did not choose to be born.
·     When we are born of the Spirit, God has chosen us to be His adopted children (Galatians 4:4-5). Our only effort is to accept this free gift of grace and submit to Him as our Father.
·     Have you been born again?
·     If you have been born again, you will increasingly exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in your life (Galatians 5:22-23).

Thursday, April 11, 2019

LISTEN TO JESUS: BORN AGAIN?


LISTEN TO JESUS
BORN AGAIN?

Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
Except a man be born again,
he cannot see the kingdom of God.
John 3:3

John chapter 3 is both apologetic and evangelistic. In it, John proclaims and defends the deity of Christ, that He is the Son of God. He also clearly presents the way of salvation through God’s gift of His only begotten Son. The story of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus continues the theme at the end of chapter two that Jesus can see into the hearts of men.

John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

Susan: The Pharisees were Jewish “Puritans” . . .

Susie: . . . who meticulously observed the letter of the Mosaic law along with a host of traditions they had added to it. 

Susan: However, they often missed the heart, the spiritual intention, of the Law. Jesus called them out on this:

Matthew 23:23 (NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Susie: According to the MacArthur Bible Commentary the Pharisees were comprised of mostly middle-class businessmen rather than priests and Levites. I had always pictured them as rich men.

Susan: The common people revered them because their outward appearance seemed to indicate they were devout. 

Susie: However, Jesus at one point described them as “whitewashed tombs.” OUCH!

Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

Susie: Nicodemus was not only a Pharisee but a “ruler of the Jews” which means he was a member of the Sanhedrin. 

Susan: The Sanhedrin was comprised of the High Priest, the chief priests, the elders, and some scribes for a total of seventy-one people. 

Susie: Nicodemus must have been an elder—head of a family—since he was neither a priest nor a Scribe. The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the Jews in Palestine . . .

Susan: . . . but the Sanhedrin had to defer to the Roman authority in matters of capital punishment which we will see later as Jesus is brought before Pilate, the Procurator. 

Susie: Nicodemus was a member of this prestigious group. 

John 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Susan: Nicodemus approached Jesus under the umbrella of darkness because he did not want any of the other Pharisees to know of his inquiry of Jesus. Nicodemus must have been talking about Jesus to other Pharisees whether they were willing to admit it or not because he says, “We know that you are a teacher who has come from God.”

Susie: He acknowledges that the power to perform the miracles Jesus had done must have come from God. Yet, at this time, he still could not bring himself to admit that Jesus could be God’s Son. Most of the Pharisees did not even give Jesus a chance. 

Susan: But Nicodemus wanted to look into His eyes, talk with Him face to face, and see exactly what He was about. You know the honesty or deceit of a man by looking into His eyes, the window of the soul.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Susie: Jesus’s statement about being born again was shocking. Nicodemus would have been confident he would see the kingdom of God because of his righteousness in adhering to the Law and his Jewish lineage. Jesus was saying this heritage and personal righteousness was not enough. The other reason it is hard for Nicodemus to digest is that he is taking it literally! 

Susan: Because Nicodemus did take it literally rather than understanding it as a metaphor, it made his brain go tilt, tilt, tilt!

Susie: Jesus repeated “verily” or “truly” two times for emphasis. He was stressing the point that one must be born again to gain eternal life and enter Heaven. Since man cannot literally be born a second time, what did He mean? Stay tuned for next week’s post to find out!

Ways we can apply this to our lives:

·     Nicodemus was an elder, a Pharisee, and a teacher; but he sought Jesus for answers. We must humble ourselves before Jesus, the only One who has all of life’s answers
·     Nicodemus, even before he became a follower of Jesus as the Messiah, acknowledged that Jesus must have power from God to do miracles. A person can believe Jesus had miraculous power without trusting Him for salvation and bowing before Him as King. Do you just know about Jesus, or do you KNOW Him?
·     As we continue in this study, ask yourself if you have been born again. If not, speak to your pastor, Sunday school teacher, good Christian friend, or contact us via our website for more information. We would love to introduce you to our Savior.