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The world's biggest problem
ahol888
 April 25 2024 at 07:22 am
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The United Nations Peacekeeping forces operate throughout the entire world. Forces are only deployed when both of the main parties in the conflict give consent to the UN. At this time, there are currently 11 UN peacekeeping missions going on throughout Earth. Let's take a quick glimpse at all eleven missions. One - Western Sahara - The people of Western Sahara have been fighting for independence from Morocco since 1991. Two - Golan Heights - The mountainous range between Israel and Syria has been in contention since 1974. Three - Abyei, Sudan - Although the civil war in Sudan has been going on for one year, UN peacekeepers have been in Sudan due to conflicts between the north and the south of the country since 2011. Four - Kashmir - India and Pakistan have been in conflict over Kashmir since 1949. Peacekeepers have been there for 75 years straight with no end in sight. Five - Central Africa Republic (CAR) - A civil war between Muslims and Christians have been ongoing since 2014. Six - Cyprus - The only reason that Cyprus is a tourist destination is because peacekeepers have been there since 1964 so that the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots will not fight against each other. Seven - Kosovo - Kosovo has been fighting for independence from Serbia since 1999. Eight - Middle East - The longest UN peacekeeping mission is still active in the Middle East since 1948. Nine - Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - Tribal conflicts and Muslim rebels have kept peacekeepers in the DRC since 2010. Ten - Lebanon - Peacekeepers have been in Lebanon in 1978 due to their conflict with Israel. The conflict has reached a boiling point between Israel and Hezbollah. Eleven - South Sudan - UN peacekeepers protect South Sudan from Muslims in Sudan. As you can see from all eleven UN peacekeeping missions, the common denominator is that one side of the conflict is Muslims. If the UN recognizes that Islam is the world's biggest problem at this time, then you must recognize that fact as well.
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SPECIAL WEEKEND THOUGHT: 👉 Jesus’ Return:...
Cam
 April 27 2024 at 11:02 am
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“For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. “Immediately after the distress of those days“‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Matthew 24:27-31 NIV) To wrap up our discussion over the past two weekends, let’s focus on how Jesus describes His return in Matthew’s gospel. A few days before Jesus is crucified, Matthew’s gospel records Jesus’ disciples come to Him with a question: What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age? After describing the world leading up to His return, Jesus shares a brief description of when He will appear. First, Jesus describes how His return will be clearly visible to every eye. This tells me His return won’t need to be seen on any screen. However, screens may be used when faking a return. Next, Jesus describes the sun and moon being darkened, the stars falling from the sky, and the heavenly bodies being shaken. While there have been events in the past few centuries that meet some of these descriptions, I suspect that Jesus’ prediction refers to all four descriptions happening simultaneously. Third, Jesus describes Himself appearing in heaven. I suspect this means in our sky, since we will see Him clearly. Fourth, when Jesus appears, all the people of the earth will mourn. I suspect that this mourning is because they have run out of time, and that they did not take any earlier warnings seriously. Fifth, when Jesus appears, He will send His angels to gather His people together. Nothing in this description includes Jesus descending to earth. Instead, it is more like a rescue mission where He appears and the angels bring all of His people to Him. This last description is worth knowing. This description is one reason Jesus clearly describes that anyone who appears who we did not see is easily a false messiah. Jesus’ return marks the end; if there is something afterwards, the return was of an impostor. Knowing that there will be impostors is valuable. Every time we hear of an impostor appearing, it can remind us that Jesus is returning. Every impostor who comes is an opportunity to repent and return to the Jesus described in the Bible. And like Jesus describes in His response to the disciples, each detail that happens is a reminder that His return is growing near. Let’s stick with Jesus as we look forward to the day He returns to bring us home. 🙏 📖 ✝️ 👍
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Life is the most precious gift of God
Nowy Polak
 May 13 2024 at 12:22 pm
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Matka Teresa z Kalkuty mówiła: „Życie jest najcenniejszym darem Bożym (…). Sądzę, że największym niszczycielem pokoju jest dzisiaj aborcja. Jeśli przyjmujemy, że matka może zabić swoje własne dziecko, jak możemy powiedzieć innym ludziom, by nie pozabijali się nawzajem?” "Ludzie są nierozumni, nielogiczni i samolubni. Kochaj ich, mimo wszystko.Jeśli czynisz dobro, oskarżą cię o egocentryzm. Czyń dobro, mimo wszystko.Jeśli odniesiesz sukcesy, zyskasz fałszywych przyjaciół i prawdziwych wrogów. Odnoś sukcesy, mimo wszystko.Dobro, które czynisz, jutro zostanie zapomniane. Czyń dobro, mimo wszystko.Szlachetność i szczerość wzmogą twoją wrażliwość. Bądź szlachetny i szczery mimo wszystko.To, co zbudowałeś wysiłkiem wielu lat, może runąć w ciągu jednej nocy. Buduj, mimo wszystko.Ludzie w gruncie rzeczy potrzebują twej pomocy, mogą cię jednak zaatakować, gdy im pomagasz. Pomagaj, mimo wszystko.Daj światu z siebie wszystko co najlepsze, co posiadasz, otrzymasz ciosy, wybiją Ci zęby.Dawaj światu najlepsze, co posiadasz, mimo wszystko!"[EN]Mother Teresa of Calcutta said: "Life is the most precious gift of God (...). I think the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion. If we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other?" "People are unintelligent, illogical and selfish. Love them, despite everything.If you do good, they will accuse you of being self-centered. Do good, in spite of everything.If you are successful, you will gain false friends and real enemies. Be successful, in spite of everything.The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good, in spite of everything.Nobility and sincerity will increase your sensitivity. Be noble and sincere in spite of everything.What you have built with the efforts of many years can collapse overnight. Build in spite of everything.People basically need your help, however, they may attack you when you help them. Help, in spite of everything.Give the world the best of yourself that you have, you will receive blows, they will knock your teeth out.Give the world the best you have, in spite of everything!" https://nowypolak.wordpress.com/2024/05/12/mimo-wszystko/
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SPECIAL WEEKEND THOUGHT: 👉 Confusing the...
Cam
 May 04 2024 at 11:11 am
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“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV) “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14 NIV) When looking at our world today, I see the cultural pendulum swinging. This cultural pendulum has swung for centuries, though in recent decades, it feels like each swing is becoming more extreme. I suspect that one of the next places this pendulum will swing is towards one of last messages Jesus gave His disciples. In the past few months, I have been seeing individuals returning to the enormous challenge Jesus gave His disciples at the end of His ministry. Extra weight and emphasis is being given to the idea of “making disciples of all nations”. I can understand the emphasis on this commission. It fits nicely with Jesus’ message to His disciples a few weeks earlier when He told them that the gospel of the kingdom needed to be “preached in the whole world” prior to the end coming. However, there is an immense problem with how I see the current cultural movement swinging. From what I can tell, the movement is swinging towards Jesus’ last command while simultaneously swinging away from His first. Understanding Jesus’ first command is infinitely more important than understanding His last. If you are uncertain what Jesus’ first command is, let me share it with you: “Follow Me”. (Matthew 4:19; Matthew 8:22; Matthew 9:9; Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24; Matthew 19:21; Mark 1:17; Mark 2:14; Mark 8:34; Mark 10:21; Luke 5:27; Luke 9:23; Luke 9:59; Luke 14:27; Luke 18:22; John 1:43; John 10:27; John 12:26; John 21:19; John 21:22) Writing out all those references to this command prompts me to think this might have been the most recorded command Jesus ever gave in the gospels, even while several gospels recorded this command from the same event. Remember: Making disciples without first following Jesus is a recipe for failure. Having a moral ethic and discipling others along that path may have good elements, but if you are not following Jesus first, you risk being caught in the warning Jesus shared in Matthew 23:15. Instead, I suspect the solution is to not emphasize Jesus’ last command — at least in the way I see the cultural pendulum swinging. Instead, the solution is to emphasize Jesus’ first and very regular command, and align and ally our lives with His! Only after we are following Him, regularly spending time with Him, and letting His Spirit guide us will we then have the knowledge and direction to disciples those He brings into our lives. That’s keeping Jesus’ first command first! 🙏 📖 ✝️ 👍
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Waiting on Jesus: Matthew 8:14-17
Cam
 May 10 2024 at 11:07 am
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One of the concepts in the Bible that I feel has been misrepresented is an idea that we can find in the event our passage focuses in on. This event is included in three of the four gospels, and every gospel writer includes it in almost the exact same way. When Jesus and the disciples leave the synagogue and arrive at Peter’s mother-in-law’s home, they find her sick in bed with a fever. Matthew tells us, “When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.” (Matthew 8:14-15 NIV) Mark shares about the exact same thing when He describes what happened: “Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.” (Mark 1:30-31 NIV) Luke includes this detail as well when Jesus and the disciples arrive at the house: “Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.” (Luke 4:38-39 NIV) All three of these gospel writers use the exact same word to describe what Peter’s mother-in-law does after being healed of her fever: She waited on them. The idea of waiting can mean to simply stand around and do nothing, but the context for this is interpretation does not add up to how this word is being used in each gospel. Instead, another equally valid meaning to “wait” is to simply serve, like a waiter or waitress would do with those in a restaurant. This form of waiting better matches the response I believe these three gospel writers are describing. And in this response we find a big idea: Too often, people choose to wait for God to move before they choose to act. However, instead of waiting for Him to make the first move, we may want to understand that He has already moved. He has given us breath; He has given us life; and He sent Jesus to rescue us from sin. With just these three gifts, God has already given us way more than we deserve. Since He has healed us, perhaps we should wait (i.e. serve) Him first, and let Him direct our lives from this point forward. This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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A New Name: John 1:35-51
Cam
 April 19 2024 at 11:08 am
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One of the most intriguing things Jesus did in His ministry was giving one of His disciples a new name – and it seems as though Simon, son of John, was the only disciple Jesus “renamed” – though we might simply say Jesus gave him a nickname. This disciple is more famously known as the name Jesus gave him, Peter, and many times both names are used together to form “Simon Peter”. Not only is giving Simon a new name an interesting thing to do, Jesus does this almost immediately after meeting him. John, chapter 1, verse 42 of our passage describes this: “Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. And when Jesus saw him, he said, ‘Simon son of John, you will be called Cephas.’ This name can be translated as ‘Peter.’” Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ first disciples, and while there would be another disciple named Simon in the core group of twelve, this other Simon almost certainly would not have been a follower of Jesus at that time. So why might Jesus give Simon Peter the new name – immediately after meeting Him? In my mind, this is because Jesus saw the potential in this Simon, and the name Cephas (i.e. Peter) was a much better name for him knowing what he would become in the future. While Simon Peter was the only disciples we know of that Jesus gave a new name to, we can take this detail of this event and apply it to our own lives. Jesus does not see us simply where we are today; He sees us through the eyes of what we will become in the future. If our current name doesn’t fit us, He will give us a new name when He returns – and the name He gives us will fit us perfectly! This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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Modeling Jesus: Matthew 26:69-75
Cam
 April 30 2024 at 10:54 am
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Each of the gospels include Peter’s big denial on the night Jesus was arrested, but only the gospel of Matthew includes a number of ways Peter tried to hide his identity. After being let into the courtyard, Peter is one of only two disciples even remotely close to Jesus, and though the other disciple is not named, most scholars believe it was John, the author of the gospel that bears his name. However, while Peter followed Jesus to the place of His trial, it is likely only out of curiosity to learn what will happen, and perhaps a touch of pride to say that he was one of the ones who stuck with Jesus to the very end. But this decision actually opens the door for Peter’s discovery and his denials. Something that has always intrigued me about this event relates to the denials themselves. In Matthew, we read that Peter makes an oath about not knowing Jesus, lies about it, and swears and curses as an additional way to separate himself from the Man on trial: “When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ And again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’ A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.’ Then he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know the man!’ And immediately a rooster crowed.” (Matthew 26:71-74 NASB95) But Matthew also includes an interesting phrase that is hinted at in other gospels, but not framed in the same way: “A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.’” (Matthew 26:73 NASB95) This leads me to the big truth that simply spending time with Jesus will change us. We might not notice it, but others will see the difference. After three years of spending time with Jesus, Jesus had rubbed off onto Peter, and it was noticeable. Even the way Peter talked gave him away. So Peter tries to revert back to his “sailor days” and curses and swears to even try to break that connection – that is until the rooster crowed and Peter woke up to what had just happened. Peter could not mask the mannerisms that he had picked up from being with Jesus, and the way he talked, the way he walked, and his attitude had become more like Jesus and less like the world. Even though Peter tried to mask it by swearing, cursing, and making oaths to the contrary, Jesus’ character had clearly rubbed off onto Him. And Jesus’ character will rub off onto us too, and the longer we walk with Him, the more visible it will be! This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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SPECIAL WEEKEND THOUGHT: 👉 Jesus’ Return:...
Cam
 April 20 2024 at 11:05 am
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Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many... “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time. “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:4-5, 23-27 NIV) Last weekend, we looked at one part of Jesus’ description of the end times. However, I ran out of space and time before covering all I wanted to share. As Matthew’s gospel records, Jesus’ disciples come to Him a few days before His crucifixion with a question: What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age? At multiple times in His reply, Jesus warns His followers to watch out for deception. Jesus describes the coming of false prophets and even false messiahs — i.e. people claiming to be Him. Jesus challenges us to not be deceived. According to Jesus, His return will be visible to every eye, just like lightning is visible across a dark sky. Since Jesus warned us about false prophets, some have assumed that there will be no more true prophets, or that it is easier to reject every prophetic claim rather than take the work to sift truth from error. On one hand, I can understand this logic. The truths in the Bible point us to Jesus, and Jesus is all we need for salvation. However, as our world gets further and further away from God, similar to what happened in the Old Testament, I would not be surprised if God commissions people to call His people to return to Him. Many of these people in the Old Testament are called prophets. Also, like John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Jesus’ first coming, I would not be surprised if God sends someone to help prepare the way for His return. However, Jesus’ return will not be like His first coming. Preparing for His return is a call to repent and return to Jesus. When Jesus appears in the sky, I suspect it will be too late to repent. So if there will be a mix of true and false prophets who appear, how should we discern between them? The two simple ways I will suggest are: 1. Any time you hear of a prophet (or even of a “messiah”) showing up, reframe the announcement as an invitation to repent, return to God, and read your Bible. This action will align with true prophets while subverting a false prophet’s message. 2. If any “prophetic” message minimizes what Jesus did for us, it is clearly false. Discard it and follow the suggestion in step 1. With whatever life throws our way, remember to lean on Jesus, our Source of salvation! 🙏 📖 ✝️ 👍
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Recognizing Jesus: Matthew 14:22-36
Cam
 April 23 2024 at 11:01 am
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When we read about the big events where faith is demonstrated, they can easily overshadow some of the side truths that we can learn from some of the more subtle stories that aren’t as glamorous. One such place is immediately following Peter’s miraculous, faith walk on the water towards Jesus in the storm. Sure, Peter did have some doubt, and that made for a little tension and suspense, but all was well and the boat made it to shore with both Peter and Jesus alive and well – and on board. But too often we stop reading there and we miss what happened next. We are tempted to think that because this big event is over, there is nothing special to pay attention to until the next big event. But if we let this temptation win, we miss a big truth that can be learned in the last verses of our passage – after the boat has landed at the shore: “They crossed the sea and landed at Gennesaret. The men there recognized Jesus and sent messengers all around the countryside. The people brought him everyone who was sick. They begged him to let them touch just the edge of his clothes. Everyone who touched his clothes was made well.” (Matthew 14:34-36 GW) There are two big things we can take and learn from this simple, transition-like set of verses. The first thing that it is very important for us is to be able to recognize Jesus. If the men on the shore had not recognized that it was Jesus who had just landed, then none of those who were in that region would have known to come and be healed. The second thing that is very important for us is to act on the smallest amount of faith that we have. We are tempted to think that there was only one person in the gospels who was made well by touching Jesus’ clothing, but in this short transition, we learn that dozens or maybe even hundreds of people were healed by simply touching Jesus’ robe. The people didn’t need any more faith than this. They believed that just by touching something that was Jesus’ would be enough to make them well. And this brings us to a key truth: When we call ourselves Christ-followers or Christians, we are people who are dedicated and bought by Jesus, which makes us His. If these people believed that by simply touching cloth that was Jesus’ would heal them, what would happen if we truly believed that by being Jesus’, we can make a significant and miraculous impact on those who are hurting around us. When we truly recognize Jesus and act on the small amount of faith like those living in Gennesaret, our world will be transformed. This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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Our Decisions Determine Our Destiny: Luke...
Cam
 April 24 2024 at 11:08 am
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Sometimes, when I read about an event or look into the details of a parable, I wonder what the broader context is. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) is one place in the gospels that seem to bring more questions than answers. For this journal entry, let’s focus not as much on the illustration, but instead focus on what we can gather from the context – and what are some ways we can view this teaching: 1. The first thing that jumps out at me that relates to the context is that this teaching does not start in typical parable fashion. Most parables begin with “The kingdom of God is like . . .” and then go from there, but not all parables do this. The most well known parable that does not start this way is the parable of the farmer and the four types of soil he spreads seed on (Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1–20; Luke 8:4–15), and the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). This tells me that Jesus did share stories that taught truth beyond just looking at God’s kingdom, and this illustration was likely one of those. 2. The next thing we should look at is what the surrounding passage/teaching sounds and looks like. Are there illustrations/parables before this one, and if so do they start in typical parable fashion? And are there illustrations/parables after this one, and if so, do these ones start any differently? Looking at the teaching included in the surrounding chapters, we have the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, the prodigal son, the illustration of the unrighteous steward, and then a brief teaching on trust, greed, and the unchanging nature of God’s Law (Luke 15 and the first portion of Luke 16). After this illustration, Jesus teaches on the subject of not being a stumbling stone, on unconditional forgiveness, on increasing faith, and on being humble regarding our role in life (Luke 17:1-10), before the narrative shifts to another healing. The surrounding verses tell me that while this passage is not tagged as describing God’s Kingdom, neither are any of these half dozen or so teaching topics. 3. The third thing we should look at is whether this illustration is meant to teach us something about the present world, or if it is meant to teach us something else. It has been said (or speculated) that Jesus took a famous parable of the religious leaders and flipped the conclusion. This theory says that in the original version of this teaching, the rich man goes to Abraham while the poor man continues to be punished. While this makes for a good explanation for some of the unique qualities of this illustration (i.e. This is one of the only, if not the only, time Jesus includes a name in a parable), looking from the broader context seems to challenge this thinking. Luke wrote his book as a letter to someone who wasn’t present for any of Jesus’ life, teaching, or miracles. The recipient of the letter could have heard or known the original parable, which might have prompted Luke to include Jesus’ opposite version, but this is speculation – especially if the letter was being sent to someone outside of the region of Israel. What is less speculative is that Jesus used anything/everything He could to teach truth, and it would not be unlike Him to use a well known, but inaccurate, parable and change it into teaching truth – but nothing in this passage or the context suggest this or that He is teaching about anything beyond the choices we make in our current life being important after our life has ended. In the broader context of this specific passage, Jesus is teaching us about something bigger than any of the details of any specific parable/illustration: Our lives on earth matter to God, and our choices in this life determine our destiny. Each parable/teaching hints at one or both truths, and Jesus wants to get this truth through to us in as many ways as He can. This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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The Wrong Messiah: Luke 22:66-71
Cam
 April 26 2024 at 11:20 am
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When the religious leaders arrest Jesus and bring Him to trial, we can read an interesting phrase in the gospel of Luke that helps frame why Jesus was rejected by the religious leaders of that time. While the trial was happening, somewhat unsuccessfully, the religious leaders turn to Jesus an simply point blank ask Him: “Tell us, are you the Messiah?” (Luke 22:67a GW) This is important for our discussion because these religious leaders had a picture of who the Messiah would be, and what role the Messiah would take. Jesus seemed to act like “a Messiah”, but He wasn’t really acting the role of “the Messiah” they were looking for. Jesus’ response to these leaders is amazing. He responds by saying, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me. And if I ask you, you won’t answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be in the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne.” (Luke 22:67b-69 GW) Jesus was not the Messiah that the Jewish leaders expected to see, and Jesus responds by telling them that if He admits to being the Messiah that God had promised to their ancestors, they wouldn’t believe Him anyways – and they wouldn’t be open to a discussion about it either. Claiming to be the Messiah was certainly something Jesus could have done, but it would serve no point when these religious leaders only had one picture of the Messiah that would come, and their picture was flawed when compared with the Messiah God was sending into the world. So to these religious leaders, Jesus was not the Messiah; He didn’t fit the role they had created for their messiah to fit into. But Jesus was a Messiah – Jesus was the Messiah that God had promised would come from the point where Adam and Eve sinned and were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. There was no way for Jesus to convince these leaders He was the Messiah, because they were only open to a messiah role that Jesus wouldn’t fit. So Jesus doesn’t even try to make that claim. Instead, He leans on His relationship to God the Father, and He focuses on this instead. This also challenges me to ask myself if I am trying to make Jesus fit a role He was never meant to fit in my own life. If so, it would be wise to open my mind to the role He was meant to play. This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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The Eyewitness: John 19:28-37
Cam
 May 03 2024 at 10:58 am
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If there is a phrase in the gospel of John that is connected with Jesus’ death on the cross that doesn’t seem to fit, it may be this one. Near the end of the Friday that Jesus died, we read the following phrase in John’s gospel, “The one who saw this is an eyewitness. What he says is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth so that you, too, will believe.” (John 19:35 GW) While on the surface, there is nothing odd about this phrase, what intrigues me about it is that this seems like more of a statement that Matthew would include. Mark and Luke both assemble their gospel records from eyewitness accounts, but Matthew and John both had personal access to Jesus, and they were there at most of the events. However, this phrase completely fits here. Of all twelve disciples who spent the most time with Jesus, only one was present at the moment when Jesus died. Only one was standing at the foot (or near the foot) of the cross. Other gospel writers include the women who were present, but with the women present was John. Perhaps John includes this phrase because there were people who wanted to invalidate the testimony of the women who were present to see what happened, or maybe John includes it simply as a statement to support the validity of his eyewitness account. “The one who saw this is an eyewitness. What he says is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth so that you, too, will believe.” (John 19:35 GW) John gives us the reason he includes this statement in the statement itself. The goal is to help your faith and my faith in Jesus. John saw what happened personally, and he chooses to share what he saw so that we will have evidence for our faith in Jesus. John’s experience can be a foundation for our faith in Jesus! This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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Stubborn in the Face of Divinity: John 18:3-11
Cam
 May 07 2024 at 11:02 am
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During the commotion surrounding Jesus arrest in the garden, each of the four gospel writers give us different details that happened in this key event in Jesus’ life. When looking at the unique details of each gospel, it is John’s gospel that really stands apart with the details He includes. When the mob arrives to arrest Jesus, John tells us that Jesus “stepped forward to meet them. ‘Who are you looking for?’ he asked.” (John 18:4b NLT) The mob responds back, “Jesus the Nazarene.” (John 18:5a NLT) So Jesus answers back, “I am he.” (John 18:5b NLT) I’m not sure why Jesus chose to answer in this specific way, but what happens at that instant is incredible. Verse 6 tells us what happened: “As Jesus said ‘I am he,’ they all drew back and fell to the ground!” My imagination wants to think that in Jesus’ short statement, a shockwave of divinity is sent out that knocks everyone present off their feet, but this is not as likely to be the case. However, in the phrase “I am”, Jesus echoes God’s statement to Moses at the burning bush when He tells Moses that His name is “I am”. At the very least, this response may have taken this mob by surprise because why would Jesus respond in a way that echoed God and acknowledged who He was when they were intent on coming to harm Him. However, I believe a split-second of divinity was released in these words that did catch this crowd off guard and knocked them down. But even while this happened, the crowd’s goal is not phased. Perhaps Jesus is a little surprised at what happened, so He asks the mob again, “Who are you looking for?” (John 18:7a NLT) The mob replied again, “Jesus the Nazarene.” (John 18:7b NLT) Then we come to the defining statement that John draws our attention to: “‘I told you that I am he,’ Jesus said. ‘And since I am the one you want, let these others go.’” (John 18:8 NLT) The mob was knocked off their feet, but not knocked off their mission. This tells me that we can be so stubborn that even seeing a brief glimpse of God’s divinity is not enough to break our stubbornness. But this also tells me that Jesus is willing to protect us and endure the punishment for us. We deserve death for our sins, and Jesus is willing to pay the debt that we owe. And while He is moving towards the cross, He is even still looking out for the well-being of His followers. So while we can be so stubborn that God cannot get through, Jesus loves us so much that He doesn’t want any harm to come to us while He is with us. This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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Avoiding the Inevitable: John 6:1-15
Cam
 May 14 2024 at 11:09 am
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Of all the events in the gospels to make Jesus famous, one stands apart in the minds of those present in the first century as solidifying Jesus as being more than just Someone special who God sent to them with a message. This event is so famous it actually holds a very exclusive status as being one of the few events that all four gospel writers include. However, at the end of John’s version of this event, we see both the shift in the mind of the crowd and we see how Jesus responds. Following the crowd having finished eating the meal and the twelve baskets of leftovers being gathered, we read “Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’” (John 6:14 NASB95) With satisfied stomachs, the mood of the crowd had changed from hunger to honor. The crowd saw the significance in this miracle, and they didn’t want to let the opportunity escape them. Jesus was able to supply all their needs, and therefore, Jesus would be the perfect king. However, Jesus knew what was happening, and He thought differently. The next verse shifts our perspective by saying, “So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.” (John 6:15 NASB95) It seems that whenever the emotions of those present were going to get out of control, Jesus disbands the crowd. When the crowds were beginning to get the wrong idea of Jesus’ mission, He sends them away. This event even impacted the disciples along with the crowd, and we see Jesus sending them away in a boat so that He could be alone. This tells me that the more Jesus was in the spotlight, the more He valued His alone time. This is also true for each of us. The more visible to others we are, the greater our need for alone, quiet time with God. While Jesus was the most famous man to ever walk the earth, He is also our example for how to live a truly successful life – and that is by living one that is connected to God over being based on fame, status, or wealth. Jesus could have had all the earthly measures of success, but instead He chose to focus on His relationship to the Father above everything else. This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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Returning As King: Luke 17:20-37
Cam
 May 01 2024 at 10:47 am
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Sometimes, Jesus responds to a question with another question. Usually He does this when being verbally attacked with a trick question. Other times, Jesus responds to a question with a simple answer. Often, these responses are to questions from those who are hurting or from those who are confused. However a few times, Jesus responds to a question with a somewhat unclear or cryptic response. It is such a response that we will focus on in this passage. Jesus has just finished teaching about when He returns to the world, and while the disciples might understand that it will be “unexpected” and/or “business as usual” right up until that point, at least one of them was unsure about the where. The disciples ask Jesus, “Where, Lord?” (Luke 17:37 NIRV) The prior passage is the big one people seem to attach to the rapture, and we have discussed that topic before. However, what if this mysterious response is actually a clue into another detail of this event? What can we learn from the way Jesus responded? This whole passage is primarily a caution about being caught up looking for His return or for another coming messiah after Him. He then describes His return as being like two other significant events – the flood, which was global and could not be missed by anyone; and the destruction of Sodom, which was visible from miles around. Both these events were destructive, visible, and unexpected. Jesus says His return will also be like this. While this passage is Jesus describing His return, why bring references in about dead bodies? If rapture theory holds true, perhaps there would be corpses left behind of all those who had spiritually left, but there are enough other details in this response that challenge this thinking – i.e. the very visible nature of what Jesus is describing, specifically His appearance being like lightning. A different way to understand this passage/response is along the lines of the destructive train of thought. Jesus’ return will be destructive, and if those who are taken to heaven with Him no longer are present, then the destruction that happened or shock from witnessing this event might have caused some, or perhaps everyone, who was left behind to be dead. If this is the case, than not only is Jesus saying “everywhere” with this response, He is also describing what the post-second coming world would be like: scattered with corpses of those who were left behind – definitely a feast for vultures if these animals survived the event. When Jesus returns, it will affect everyone. When Jesus returns, there won’t be any confusion about whether He is coming as King of the Universe. This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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Fruitful in Every Season: Mark 11:12-14; 20-26
Cam
 May 08 2024 at 10:58 am
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Has Jesus ever challenged you with something He said or did? Has Jesus’ actions ever made you wonder about what He was trying to teach His disciples? The two-part event found in Mark 11:12-14; 20-26 is definitely a place where I am curious to what Jesus is trying to teach, and the details that Mark gives make the event even more fascinating: Jesus becomes hungry; He goes to find fruit from a tree out of season, and then He curses the tree for not having fruit. Perhaps Jesus was frustrated that the tree looked appealing and that it should have fruit, or perhaps He is trying to teach His followers something about life and their role in God’s Kingdom. With fruit trees, there is a season of producing fruit (warm, sunny months) and a season of rest where no fruit is produced (cold, less sunny months). Not all points in the year are fruitful for a fruit tree. But if this was truly not the season for the fig tree to bear fruit, then Jesus could be acting irrational – or He could be using the fig tree as a metaphor. What Jesus may be trying to teach us is outward appearances (being “leafy”) are not as important to God as our inward character (bearing fruit). Jesus may be also teaching us that as followers of Him, every season should be fruitful regarding our inner lives. How we bear fruit may be based on the different seasons – but bearing good fruit is what is important to Him. Jesus response seems harsh: cursing a tree He knew wouldn’t have fruit on it (because it wasn’t created to have fruit in that season). However, with this action, we can learn that bearing good fruit is important for believers in every season of life we face. Our inward character is revealed and represented by the fruit we produce. This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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Celebration of the Found: Luke 15:1-10
Cam
 May 15 2024 at 10:48 am
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One way I have learned to read parables Jesus gave is to look at what prompted the parable to be shared in the first place. In this passage, Jesus shares two parables (and a third one immediately following in verse 11), and they are all prompted by one thing, which we read in verses 1 and 2: “Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’” (Luke 15:1-2 NASB95) These two simple truths prompt Jesus to share three of the most amazing parables to illustrate God’s love for sinners – all because the “religious” people of the time were distorting God’s character with their attitudes and actions. So Jesus shares these two parables, and while they don’t specifically state that they are representative of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, the closing lines of these two reference what happens in heaven when a sinner repents and turns to God: “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7 NASB95) and “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10 NASB95) From Jesus’ response to these “grumblings” from the Pharisees and the scribes, He points out a truth about God that was counter to what they taught/believed: God rejoices when sinners repent. The opposite approach is that God reluctantly accepts those who repent, or that when they repent, they then have to prove themselves worthy by doing something extra to show their repentance was genuine. Neither alternate is even implied by Jesus’ set of parables here. The coin and sheep are not scolded for getting lost, nor are they required to prove themselves worthy of trust again by doing something or facing some sort of punishment. Instead, like an excited shepherd or an excited housekeeper, excitement is expressed when finding something that we thought had been lost – something we may have been losing hope of ever finding. It is the same way with God. There will be a point when He ends history, but until that point, He hasn’t lost hope that sinners will be found by Him. The coin and sheep cannot find themselves – it is God who is actively seeking them. Will you let God “find” you? God promises a celebration in heaven at the very moment you are found, and when we arrive in heaven, we get to take part in the “Celebration of the Found”. Jesus is an equal opportunity “includer” – anyone and everyone who lets Him find them will be present. Will you let Jesus find you? This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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SPECIAL WEEKEND THOUGHT: 👉 Finding the Narrow...
Cam
 May 11 2024 at 11:11 am
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“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NIV) “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’” (John 14:6-7 NIV) “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32 NIV) Salvation is not found on a broad path or by walking through a wide gate. This is one challenging message found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Instead, Jesus shares how only a few people find it. Lucky for you and me, I suspect we believe we are among those few. However, if we are part of a large group of Christianity, suspect your status on the narrow path. If the group we find ourselves in starts seeking power rather than being intentionally humble, be suspicious. Third, if the movement we find ourselves in focuses on modeling something Jesus says or did, rather than on who Jesus is, be extra suspicious. While Jesus frames the message in His sermon as a wide gate/road versus a narrow one, in reality, life is full of hundreds of wide and narrow roads, with only one narrow one leading to life. This makes finding the narrow road extra difficult. However, Jesus gives us an answer to this challenge. While talking with His disciples on the night of His arrest, He tells them He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus is the way to the Father. Does this then mean that we must do what Jesus did to find the path to life? Not necessarily. Earlier in Jesus’ ministry, He challenged a group of Jews by saying, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Someone quickly reading this might incorrectly conclude that holding to Jesus’ teaching will set them free — but this is not what Jesus said. Instead, Jesus says that holding to his teaching will make us His disciples. This will lead us to knowing the Truth (i.e. the Way, the Truth, and the Life), and the Truth will set us free. We can model many good things Jesus did. Jesus healed the sick, He challenged the religious leaders, and He launched the Christian movement through the Great Commission and sending the Holy Spirit. However, none of these individual components of Jesus’ ministry lead to life. We find life only by knowing Jesus and following Him. Jesus challenged us to continue seeking the narrow gate and path. A less common way to understand this challenge is by keeping your relationship with Him personal. Growing your personal relationship with Jesus is unique to you; no one else can replicate it. A single person gate and path are the narrowest there is. As we move forward looking forward to Jesus’ return, intentionally seek Jesus first, and grow a personal, unique-to-you relationship with Him that is focused on truly knowing Him and letting Him truly know you. 🙏 📖 ✝️ 👍
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Gathering Fruit for Eternal Life: John 4:1-45
Cam
 Yesterday at 10:58 am
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During a brief transition within John’s gospel, we can find a perplexing concept and a profound idea that Jesus shares with His disciples. While the disciples are in a Samaritan town buying food, Jesus strikes up a conversation with a Samaritan woman. But even though Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman is interesting itself, what I find perplexing and profound in Jesus’ words happens during a brief conversation after the woman leaves and before she returns with those from the town. It is in this transition where we find the disciples urging Jesus to eat something. They were probably really hungry when they went into the town, and I can only imagine how hungry they felt Jesus would have been since they probably had eaten and snacked all the way back to the well. But Jesus responds, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” (John 4:32 HCSB) This confuses the disciples. Did Jesus find food while they were gone? Did someone else come by the well and offer Him something to eat? Sensing their confusion, Jesus responds to the questions they are asking amongst themselves. Jesus tells them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.” (John 4:34 HCSB) It is in this statement that we see Jesus pointing us towards a pretty important concept. What we focus our attention on grows. If we focus on our hunger, we will only become hungrier. But if we focus on our mission, then only that will matter. It will not matter if we are tired, hungry, or stressed out. Those things are minimized in our minds as long as our focus stays on the mission. And Jesus continues by pointing us to a truth about the only mission with eternal significance: “Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest. The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life, so the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For in this case the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you didn’t labor for; others have labored, and you have benefited from their labor.” (John 4:35-38 HCSB) The big truth I see in Jesus’ message is that when our eyes are open to what God is doing in the world, we will see opportunities everywhere to help others and to bring people to Him. God has been working in people’s lives long before we were invited to be involved, and we are able to benefit from what they started. When we partner with Jesus, we are able to gather fruit destined for eternal life. That’s the only mission with results that will last forever! This post first appeared on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Leave your thoughts below.
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SPECIAL WEEKEND THOUGHT: 👉 Planning for the...
Cam
 May 18 2024 at 11:04 am
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“The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.” (Matthew 25:5 NIV) “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” (Revelation 22:12 NIV) “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36 NIV) One paradox in the Bible relates to Jesus’ return. On one hand, several points in Jesus’ ministry, He describes how there will be a delay in His return. Several parables describe this delay. In contrast, the book of Revelation has the repeated proclamation that Jesus is returning soon. While we find this message in a part of the Bible filled with symbols, the place we find this message in is not overly symbolic. This paradox has led many Christians in the centuries following Jesus returning to heaven to wonder about whether Jesus will return within their own lifetime. One of the more famous revivals of this sort happened in the first half of the 1800s. When Jesus didn’t return as expected, many were left unprepared for the coming winter with a wavering faith and society mocking them for being wrong. Some doubled down on the date that was set, believing that they had the event wrong. Others doubled down on the event being right, but that their date was incorrectly calculated. Setting aside the debates that could arise from drawing attention to that event, one big thing we should learn is to live within the paradox I described above. Instead of assuming that Jesus will return on a specific date, or even before a specific time, we should intentionally plan for what happens if He doesn’t. Likewise, while it is easy to believe we have plenty of time and life left, we should intentionally be ready for if He returns today. Jesus described how those lost in the flood had ignored the warnings and had assumed every day would be the same. Claiming Jesus’ promise that He will return is great. Because Jesus has kept 100% of His other promises, we can be certain that He will keep this one even if we don’t know when His return will be. However, realizing His return will be delayed is also great. While some might suggest that this delay is bad and He shouldn’t wait any longer, Peter frames this delay as something for our benefit (2 Peter 3:9). The best way to move forward with this paradox is to plan and prepare for the future as though you will live a long, fulfilling life while also simultaneously being ready if Jesus returns today. There is no harm in having a plan that doesn’t need to be used. If Jesus returns today, He will not be upset with you for having a plan for the next four decades. It might even be the opposite (Matthew 24:42-51). As we look forward to Jesus returning, let’s step forward each day as wise and faithful servants, planning for the future, while also being ready for the moment He arrives. 🙏 📖 ✝️ 👍

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