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Posted By Nan

John 1:19-28
People were curious, even the priests and Levites sent by the Sanhedrin, the ultimate council of Jewish Faith in Jerusalem. John the Baptist was preaching without authorisation! He was careful to tell them he was not the Christ. They could see this man preached with conviction and authority. Maybe they felt the stirrings of being convicted by John’s words to change their ways and turn to God. “Oh but we are perfect followers of God, we do not need to turn to God. We are already there.” Matthew Henry describes how these men of supposed faith should have been so aware of the times that they could read the signs of the arrival of the Messiah, but their secular desires for power, honour and learning blocked them to divine revelations. How many in today’s church, especially in the hierarchy of the church, are led astray by secular desires so that they miss the divine revelations and arrive at a point where they can no longer recognise God?
Already there is the sign of fear. John was a Levite himself. He had natural authority by virtue of his birth. The Pharisees who came did not believe in repentance. Pharisees believed in self-justification. So why where they there? Under normal circumstances, an unauthorised preacher would be called to account for themself before the Sanhedrin. Yet the Sanhedrin sent out people to examine him. It is suggested they were afraid of the people because they believed in John. What was happening in Jerusalem at that time? Had the leaders of the faith lost their divine calling? Were the people losing their respect for their religious leaders? Was there a very real fear that at any time they would rebel against them? It sets an interesting scene for the way they dealt with Jesus.
They were curious. They wanted to know who he would say he was. This repentance was a new doctrine. They were there to assert their authority, to suggest that no-one could say anything they did not authorise. Maybe they hoped to use their power to suppress him.
Still, this man John the Baptist was an enigma. Who was he? Was he Elijah, sent back to preach? No.
Was he the Prophet? This prophet was foretold by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18. It is generally believed this prophet was actually a series of prophets, sent to give God’s messages to the people. This prophet would culminate in Jesus himself. So, no, John was not the Prophet. John was in fact the voice of one calling in the desert “Make straight the way for the Lord”. This is a reference to Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1, the prophecy of one calling people to repent and prepare for the arrival of the Messiah.
So why do you baptise, asked the priests and Levites? John’s reply was that he baptised with water. He referred to the one who would be more worthy, was there an implication there that the Messiah would baptise with more? In fact when John replied to the question he announced that the Messiah had already arrived. “among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (v26-27). Disciples of great prophets could perform tasks for the prophet but the role of untying sandals was not for the lowly. This is what John meant. He was the performer of tasks for the great one who was to come. This man was so great John was not worthy to untie his sandals!
Unlike the members of the Sanhedrin, John was not interested in self-aggrandisement. His sole interest was in glorifying God and preparing the way for the One who was to come and was already in the world.
In the same way that John sought to draw attention to Jesus, we should seek to glorify Him in our daily walk.

 
Posted By Nan

Today, I am discussing John 1:15-18.
In verse 15 John reiterates that he has come as a witness to the one who already is. This is followed by verse 16, which continues the discussion of grace. The NIV describes it as “one blessing after another”. This suggests a continuing process of blessing added on to blessing, and this view is supported by many Bible commentators who consider we do not achieve the “fullness” all at once, rather we add to it as we grow in our Christian faith.
In verse 17 Moses receipt of the Law is mentioned. If you look in Exodus 20:1 you will see it says “God spoke all these words”. Now the Word has arrived and he brings not the Law, but grace. The Amplified Bible describes grace as unearned, undeserved favour and spiritual blessing, which is a really beautiful description. The Word also brings truth.
In verse 18 we are reminded that no man has ever seen God, but we can now know God because the One who has seen Him is there to familiarise us with God. This is why it is important to read the Gospels to understand God’s nature. Do not neglect the rest of the Bible. The Old Testament teaches us many important truths about God and the vital history that preceded Jesus. The Gospels show us how Jesus lived, and teach us how to live also and how to know God. The rest of the New Testament furthers understanding of Jesus’ teaching and of God.
As a final note, verse 18 cross references to Proverbs 8:30 which states “I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence.”
These could well have been Jesus words, and we can make them ours as we work according to God’s will for His Glory.
May God bless you in the path He has set you upon.

 
Posted By Nan

I had an unexpected night out with my husband mid-week, which prevented me from writing the blog on Wednesday. I praise God for the wonderful blessing he gave my husband and me. I always trust that this blog is written when God wants it to be written.

I pray the words I am posting today give you a blessing and a deeper understanding of our wonderful Father in heaven.
Today I am looking at John 1:14
This is such a beautiful verse, and so full of meaning. The Word, Jesus, became flesh. He didn’t just appear on earth in a form we could recognise, but He actually took on human form. He joined the earth as a member of humanity. He lived the human condition. The divine Word, became a very human Jesus. In case we should ever doubt Jesus’ ability to understand what it feels like to be human, we have this verse to remind us that He was human.
Jesus made his dwelling among us. For the Jewish person reading John’s words, it evoked images of God dwelling amongst his people in the Tabernacle during the time in the wilderness. In the Tabernacle, or Tent of Meeting, the priests saw God’s glory. On earth, Jesus revealed his glory to those who chose to see it in the miracles he performed and, ultimately, by his death and resurrection.
The glory of the One and Only refers to Jesus divinity. He is the Word, God’s only son, our Saviour, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Just in case we don’t understand the power of this message, it is followed by “who came from the father”.
Full of grace and truth reads in Hebrew as “unfailing love and faithfulness”. This has echoes in Psalm 26:3 “for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth” and in Proverbs 16:16 “through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil”.
Finally grace is such an important part of Christian understanding of God. That beautiful undeserved, unmerited love and favour that gives us the thing we can never deserve, our eternal salvation and a payment for our sins.
This is such an important statement about Jesus.
May God fill you knowledge of His love and you contemplate this beautiful verse.

 
Posted By Nan

Please read John 1:9-13
Here John tells us that the Word was coming into the world. The word, who was responsible for the creation of the world. The word who was of David’s descent. The word who was coming to the people Israel, and to the people who resided on the earth. Those who believed would have the right to be children of God. These children were not born into that family. Their presence in the family was not dependant on who their earthly parents were. These children were born of God.
If that isn’t a reason to bow before God in thanksgiving! There is nothing we can do, no work we can achieve, no wonderful history of a family pious in their churchgoing. All we can do to come to God is to believe that Jesus came into the world and accept his death to pay for our sin.
Praise God and praise our Lord Jesus Christ!

 
Posted By Nan

Before I continue with John I want to talk about being thankful to God.
I have had a copy of “One thousand gifts” by Ann Voskamp, for many months. In the busyness of life I have not had much chance to read it. Recently I was on my way to a meeting for the counselling service I volunteer for. As I packed my bag to go, I looked at all the readings I have to do for my counselling degree and felt really uninspired. Then God drew my attention to “One thousand gifts”. So I picked it up and put it in my bag. What a blessing. My train was slow, as slow as the time it took me to read an entire chapter of the book. I have been so inspired by Ann’s exploration of Eucharisteo (mentioned in an earlier blog) and this really developed that understanding. God challenged her to write one thousand things to be thankful for. So she set out doing it. It took her over a year and, once at one thousand, she kept going. I was really inspired to do the same. The following day, I was on a counselling shift talking to a woman who was struggling to find God’s peace. God put in my mind to share the ‘thousand gifts’ list with this woman and she responded enthusiastically that she had been trying to find three things every hour to be thankful for. She then said she was struggling with this so decided to find three things every day. I had a picture of this woman gritting her teeth and saying in a very unthankful way “THANK YOU GOD FOR …” . After the end of my shift I spent some time in prayer for that lady and about that lady. I had the perfect book in the cupboard for my thousand gifts list and I got it out. As I opened it, I found myself writing the following words:
“Ann Voskamp wrote her thousand gifts and discovered so much joy in God. This is my thousand and then some. I am not going to push it, but write the things I truly feel thankful for. The things that bring me to my knees in worship. Sometimes we grit our teeth and say thankyou when we do not feel it. I want to take the time to find those things I am truly thankful for and write my list joyfully and with Thanksgiving.”
In our hurry to get on with life, we sometimes forget to stop and experience God’s joy. In my studies we are being taught about ‘mindfulness’ and told it is from Buddhism. Funny, when I read the Bible I see this everywhere, especially in the witness of Jesus. I would consider this mindfulness is Biblical and Buddha just borrowed it. The mindfulness is God’s gift to us that allows us to stop and gaze in awe at one of His beautiful I AM statements.
As I sat down to write this, God reminded me of two instances in “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom. They occurred when she and her sister were prisoners in Ravensbruck in Germany during World War II. Every Friday, the women had to line up, naked, for a medical inspection of their mouths and fingers. As Corrie chafed at this needless nakedness, she suddenly realised: “They took Jesus’ clothes too”. When she told Betsie, her response was “Oh,Corrie. And I never thanked Him….”
When assigned permanent quarters they discovered a stinking, filthy, claustrophobic, flea infested room. Betsie asked God to show her how they could live in this terrible place. His answer was 1 Thessalonians 5:14b-18. “Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” Give thanks! As Corrie asked Betsie “even for the fleas?” Those fleas actually kept the prison guards out of that room so they could conduct Bible studies there and shine God’s light into that dark place.
So give thanks, genuine thanks. Give thanks because you mean it, not because it is some superstitious mantra that you think will solve everything. Without true worship, those thanks are just empty words that bring no comfort.

 


 
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Nan
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