Bible Journal Entry 4

February 2, 2013

View today’s reading on Bible Gateway

Matthew 21:1-22

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Jesus at the Temple

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Jesus Curses a Fig Tree

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

 

My Thoughts: 

Hi, I’m John and if you’ve been reading these I have been writing them to help put into my life better Bible study habits. This year it is my hope to better grow in my relationship with God. I have posted these Bible journals thinking that maybe others could read some of my thoughts and grow in there walk with God, as well. A tiny bit about me… I am not a pastor or a big time theologian and I am, essentially, a Bible college drop out, so I do not make any claims on the perfection of my theology.  Though, I do believe it is sound. I try to align all of my thoughts with scripture and it is my deep desire to correctly interpret scripture and too not make any serious interpretation errors. Everyone who reads my journal entries should always study the scriptures diligently for themselves and test what I say.

Hosanna in the Highest:

Today’s scripture is one of my favorite scriptures in all of the Bible. I love seeing Jesus lifted high and his name being praised.

First, I want to point out Jesus is being praised here as king and as Lord. Everything the people are doing is an act of worship before their Lord. Consider verse 12, ““‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”  He is saying the temple in Jerusalem, which is called God’s holy temple is his house. In saying this he is declaring that he is God. Only God dwells in the temple as his house. Jesus has already declared himself equal to God, in John 5:18 it says, “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” We also know Jesus has lived prior to being born  into the world. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

I love how much the people show their adoration for Jesus in this passage. As I have been thinking about this passage, today, I couldn’t help but dwell upon what praise and worship means to me. How do I worship Jesus in my life? What do I think of when I come before him to offer him praise? Do I come before him with exaltation in my heart and expectancy, the same way these people here come before him? Or, am I like the pharisees, here, and if I see someone worshiping God or proclaiming he is savior do I become uncomfortable or even angry?

I tend to be pretty open about my faith, but I go to a liberal arts school and sometimes when I speak up about my faith I notice I make other Christians nervous. I have even had other Christians tell me I should be careful not to offend people when simply deafening my faith. It’s almost like some Christians, nowadays, believe we should keep our mouths shut when it comes to Jesus and not make it to clear we are Christ followers, in order to not offend. I, personally, stand in direct opposition to this mentality, just as the people in this passage did. As believers, we should be respectful and always full of love in our representation of  Christ and the gospel.  And I don’t believe in shoving the gospel  down others throats, but we should never be afraid to proclaim Christ or our allegiance to him. As believers, we should present Christ in a thoughtful manner, but we don’t have to compromise our beliefs in order to do this.

In thinking more about Jesus and adoration, praise and worship: I find myself frustrated when we, as Americans, seem to have a very cavalier or nonchalant  attitude about coming into the presence of God. Jesus is the king of kings and these people are worshiping him with all they have. They are spreading their cloaks out before him, they are cutting down tree branches and laying them at his feet. They are praising him greatly– they are adoring him. When we praise God do we adore him? Or, do we simply say, “Oh God loves me and everything is cool– I love you big guy!”

I can’t help but think about our president and wonder about going before his presence. Would I be nervous or anxious? I think I would. I would be a bit nervous about meeting a Hollywood star, but I would definitely be nervous about coming before the president of the United States.

Once in a movie I saw a character who was going on and on about his British king. He was trying to stir up some angst among the other cowboys and he started putting down the U.S. president. He almost caused a massive gun fight, for this movie took place in the 1800’s and no one wanted to hear anything bad about our president. This character was a bit of a jerk, but he made a good point. He said the president will always have more people threatening his life then a king will. Because, a king is tradition, he is bathed in royalty and pomp and he is thought of in the highest regard. “Whereas a president– well anyone can become president,” he said. The movie is Un-forgiven.

This really makes me think. I don’t think we have a proper concept of what it means to come before a king. Like I said, I would be nervous if I came before the president, but I most likely would be that much more nervous if I came before a great king; especially if I was a lowly peasant.

Before God we are all lowly peasants and he is not only a king, but he is the king of kings. How much more respectful or filled with expectation should we be when we come before God? I wonder if we often take a second to consider–with awe–how amazing it is to boldly come before the presence of God?

 

 

Advertisements

Bible Journal Entry 3

February 1, 2013

View today’s reading on Bible Gateway

Matthew 20:17-34

Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time

17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them,18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

A Mother’s Request

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

21 “What is it you want?” he asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Two Blind Men Receive Sight

29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

My Thoughts:

The Kingdom as opposite: Acts 7:55-56

Once again Jesus seems to be turning our definition of kingdom on it’s head. In yesterday’s passage Jesus said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” In this passage the mother of two of the disciples asks Jesus if he can place her sons on his right side when he establishes his kingdom. Jesus tells her she doesn’t know what she is truly asking. Jesus kingdom is not of this earth. His kingdom is a heavenly kingdom and it operates the way heaven operates. In our earthly kingdom those who are born into greatness or hail from a great family are often the ones who receive the greatest honor and power. Often the way people get ahead is by stepping on the backs of others. Sometimes people get raised to lofty heights by virtuous means or by high moral character, but these traits are rare in our broken world. Most often the ones who have the most power, or the greatest wealth are the ones who are honored the most in society. Greed, lust , deceit; these are all common traits people use to get ahead in today’s world.

This is not the way the kingdom of heaven works. In the kingdom of heaven those who may seem like the least are the ones who may be honored the most in the end of all things. In our minds we often think the one who is in front of the pulpit is the greatest among us. But, in the kingdom of God it may be the little old lady in the back of the church who prays her little heart out whom God will actually recognize as the greatest when his kingdom comes. The point is: as believers, we should not quarrel among ourselves as too whom the greatest is, but instead we should look to God with a servants heart and let him decide our rightful place.

The Son of Man:

This is very interesting title Jesus gives himself. It is often misinterpreted, but I think if we look at it carefully, we will see it has a powerful meaning. In Acts 7:55 it states the following, “55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

First off, I want to note Jesus is standing at the right hand of God which, as we saw in the passage above, is considered a place of highest honor. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead he defeated Satan and his kingdom. Jesus was handed the keys to heaven and hell all power and authority was given to him by the father.

“Christ” or “Lord” are the two titles Jesus is referred to by the most with NT authors, however the title Jesus uses the most when referring to himself is “Son of Man.”  In Daniel 7 verses 9-14 Daniel relays the vision he has of God almighty (the Ancient of Days) sitting on his throne of judgement. In his vision God casts his judgement on the beasts who had been ruling the earth. He takes their authority away from them and gives it to “one like a son of man.” This one becomes Lord of all and is given authority over all “peoples, nations and languages”– in a kingdom that will reign forever (verse 14). When Jesus calls himself the Son of Man he is placing himself in the majesty of God, his father in heaven. This is why the Jews became so angry at Jesus when he made himself equal to God by saying God was his father in heaven (John 5:18).

In the end times The Son of Man will be “seated at the right hand of power and he will be coming in the clouds of heaven,” and it is my prayer that I will be ready for such a time as that. I hope that my relationship with God is where it ought to be when that time comes– when the time of Jesus judgement on his creation– comes.

For more information on ‘The Son of Man,’ please go to http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/son-man-1495/
This is where I got some of my info…


Bible Journal Entry 2

January 31, 2013

View today’s reading on Bible Gateway

Matthew 20:1-16

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing.He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

My Thoughts:

I’m skipping ahead a passage, because I didn’t have time to comment about the last passage of scripture I read. Yesterdays Bible scripture is something which I will probably write pages about. So, if you are reading this: stay tuned.

Matthew 20 is an awesome passage of scripture that gives us some insight into what the kingdom of heaven is like. This is important to us because we live on earth and while we are commissioned by Jesus to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, it is clear to most of us who live here God’s will is not honored by most of the people around us. In fact, sometimes it’s even hard for us, as believers, to honor God’s will in the way we should.

If I am reading 2 Corinthians 4:4 correctly it seems to suggest that Satan is the prince of this world and usually when the Bible refers to ‘This World,’ it doesn’t mean this physical world in the way we usually think of it, but instead it refers to our world in the spiritual sense. Which means this fallen world is governed by Satan, “The World,” or the system of the world is governed by the enemy (including the ideals of fallen man, the schemes of sinful man, the values of godless men– these are all the things which the enemy governs. This is important to remember because whenever we think about kingdoms or governments or those who are in leadership over us, we are always thinking about these things in comparison to this corrupted world system around us. The Bible says, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities  powers and rulers of this present darkness. We read in the Bible about three major voices we all have to contend with in life. We have the voice of our flesh which Paul talks about in Romans 7. The voice of the flesh can also be called the voice of sin or the voice or our fallen nature. We also have the voice of Satan or his demons (or the voice of evil) and I don’t think I need to site a reference for this voice, because it is all over scripture. Lastly, we have the voice of God which usually comes through his word, his spirit, or our conscience.

Which voice do we choose to listen to the most in life?

When we think about the kingdom of heaven we have to realize it is incredibly different from any kingdom here on earth which we might compare it too. One of the things which jumps out at me the most when I read this passage is how much God is in control. No matter what else happens in life God is in ultimate control. Even if Satan is the prince of this world, God is in supreme control over him and he can do nothing without God’s permission.

Ephesians 2:9 declares “it is not by works we are saved”, for otherwise we would boast in our own abilities  when it comes to salvation. The workers here in this parable are not allowed to be unhappy about their wages, even if they worked all day and their fellow worker only worked one hour– all of the workers got paid the same wages. Personally if I was a worker in this parable I would be very unhappy. This doesn’t seem fair to me. If I work all day in the hot son I should be paid more than he who only works a tenth of that day. It is not about the work we do, it is about God’s grace and his free gift of salvation.

However, whether I think it’s fair or not doesn’t matter to God. God is in control and he decides before hand how much each worker should make. If he decides to give grace to someone who has worked little then it’s God’s prerogative to do so. In the same way if someone just gets saved at the end of their life, while another has been saved their entire life– at the end they both have the same salvation. Even though the other guy got to live his own life for all those years and didn’t finally live for God until his death bed. This reminds me of the prodigal son and his older brother. At the end of the story the prodigal son was jealous of the younger brother. But, the prodigal son didn’t get it. His ‘reward’ was in the closeness he had with his father his entire life.

My last thought on this passage is about the end where it says, “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.” I don’t want to go on about this, because I’m already more wordy than I intended to be. But, I don’t think this verse means what we typically equate with it. Thoughts such as: “I’m last in life, so I’ll be first in heaven,” or “I’m always last in line, so I’ll be first in heavens line.” Jesus is saying so much more here. He is saying the kingdom of heaven is pretty much the exact opposite of what we think of when we think of our earthly kingdoms. God’s rewards are given freely according to his will and sometimes he gives more to those who we don’t necessarily think of as worthy.


Bible Journal Entry 1

January 29, 2013

Bible Journal Entry Day 1

(From Biblegateway.com)

 

Matthew 18:21-35 (New International Version)

Matthew 18:21-35

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

My thoughts:

This is an amazing portion of scripture. There is so much here about forgiveness that I could write pages and pages on just this scripture. First: Jesus starts out by confronting a myth the Jews held at this time. I think we still suffer this myth today. This myth says we only have to forgive so much and then we’ve forgiven enough. If someone hurts us enough, then we are no longer obligated to forgive them. This is the standard many people have today. But, Jesus holds us to a different standard; he lets us know we should always forgive always.

This concept is illustrated very well with the story of the wicked servant. He was forgiven so much, but when he was confronted with someone who owed him a tiny fraction of what he owed his master, he not only chose not to forgive his fellow servants debt, but he also threatened his life. Incredibly, he went even further to throw him into prison. The obvious lesson here is God’s amazing grace. He has forgiven us so much, but we sometimes have a hard time forgiving our neighbor or brother even a little. We deserve hell and our entire lives our spent in the pursuit of selfishness. Sin is all over us!

The measure to which God has forgiven us is great and vast. But, yet when we are faced with the choice of forgiveness toward another we often choose to hold a grudge instead. Even when we choose to forgive we struggle with it and we often feel as though we are doing our offender some incredible favor to even consider forgiving them.

Compared to how much God has forgiven us for all the times we’ve bowed down to foreign idols such as: lust, greed, pride, laziness, (exedra) we really shouldn’t complain about the tiny bit of sin we have to forgive in someone else. Even if someone has sinned against us greatly with something that really hurt us; I think Jesus is making it clear, here, that God’s forgiveness stretches so much further than we can possibly imagine.

This story also speaks to me about true repentance. It seems clear to me that the wicked servant probably didn’t have true repentance in his heart, as he begged the king. He wanted only to save his family and himself. It is interesting how he immediately went out of the king’s presence and grabbed a fellow servant who owed him money and became enraged that this servant hadn’t paid him back yet. This speaks of pride. He probably wasn’t truly contrite when he was before the king’s presence, but instead he was only putting on an act to manipulate the king. Feeling like he had his pride hurt by the king, he immediately set out to have his pride rectified. He grabbed his fellow servant and made him give him the same humility, he himself, had been made to show the king.  This made the wicked servant feel in control again, and  it let him restore his honor in his own mind. But, the servant was deceived and as it turns out, he only sought to dishonor himself even more.

Jesus states if we don’t hold true forgiveness in our hearts then we are guilty of the same sin as the wicked servant and he goes on to say God will judge us in the same way the servant was judged.  Jesus is inferring that we will have to work off for all of eternity a debt that can not be paid. When we agree to accept Jesus forgiveness we are also agreeing to forgive. This allows his forgiveness to flow freely through us. I believe a true believer would always desire to forgive through a compelling unction of the Holy Spirit.

I have one last thought on this passage. This passage reminds me of Satan’s inner conflict in Paradise Lost (a book I am currently reading in school).  One of the main concepts in the book is the realization Satan and his demons have: they would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven. I think an important question to ask ourselves is: when we hold un-forgiveness in our hearts, are we accepting Gods rule ship or Satan’s?

I Peter 1:1 states the angels gaze upon our salvation with wonder. And Hebrews tells us God helps the children of Abraham, but not the angels. There are two different interpretations one can take here. I think this means salvation is not for the angels. In Paradise Lost Milton allows us to imagine things through Satan’s eyes and in doing so, he shows us the amount of self delusion and hateful pride which Satan experiences in being cast out of heaven. Even if it were possible for the fallen angels and the devil to experience forgiveness or redemption, it seems obvious they would not want it. Salvation has to be sought after and desired. It takes a broken and contrite heart to bow before God and plead for his forgiveness.  And let there be no mistake this is what we are doing when we come to the cross! Salvation is never forced on us by God and he will never take us into his presence kicking and screaming for all eternity. If we choose to hide un-forgiveness in our hearts then we choose our own fate. Un-forgiveness will always lead to greater torture for him that holds onto it than he who it is held against.


34

May 7, 2010

Soon I will be 34.
I used to be 24.
34 is not that far off from 24.
Yet, when I was 24, the world
seemed to offer so much more.

When I look back at my life,
it seemed as though,
everything I touched
turned to gold.

Do I write this poem
to get sympathy?
No!
Do I write this poem so I can wine a little?
I don’t know, maybe. I guess so.

All I know is, my life hasn’t turned
out the way I wanted it to,
the way I used to imagine it would,
back when I went to school.

I remember a time when I was young,
I found myself living over in Portland.
I liked my life better, when I didn’t live in ‘the couve.’
I don’t know, maybe, it’s because I was in the right groove.

When I was young, I was going to college and
I was moving in forward motion.
Why my life has turned out the way it has,
I haven’t the faintest notion!

In Portland, people seemed more passionate,
more charismatic.
In Vancouver everyone’s a ‘thinker,’ they are
more systematic.
Maybe, it’s not Portland I prefer to Vancouver,
maybe it‘s the past, when everything was newer.

I guess what I’m saying is: I would like a different life!
But, I guess it’s all anguish and different levels of strife!
For, we can not change the past!

No! It stay’s where it is!
But, what we can do,
is have today and choose to live.


A poem for Tyler’s birthday

April 23, 2010


It must be the 22nd of April,
a few weeks before May,
And behold, today is Tyler’s birthday.
Here’s something I think you should know,
I never had a little bro,
but if I did and I could have chosen any infant,
I would have chosen Tyler, in an instant.
We would have played strategy games from infancy.
And it would be him, to whom, I’d owe my codependency.
He, me and Tumbril, all would have laughed and had a good time.
We would have danced, played, shared and probably yelled– no this is mine.
He is truly a good friend,
and he makes my heart grin.
We would have had a lot of fun,
we would have danced under the
Golden Sun.


Golden Sun

April 21, 2010

Golden Sun.
I shiver in the dark.
Golden Sun.
Shine upon my heart.
Golden Sun.
How far away you are.
Golden Sun.
Bright and morning star.

Golden Sun.
I hide behind the moon.
Golden Sun.
Let your glory fill this room.
Golden Sun.
Will you come and Light my way?
Golden Sun.
Stay close to me each and every day.
Golden Sun.