Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bible Study - CHRIST (5) - Death like No Other - Matthew 27:28-31, 45-50, 54 - March 29, 2015

Bible Study – CHRIST (5) – Death like No Other – March 29, 2015

This is lesson five (5) in our series entitled “Like No Other: The Life of CHRIST.”

Our focus scripture is Matthew 27:28-31, 45-50, 54.

JESUS’ death is the heart of the gospel. A person does not have to understand it, he or she must accept that CHRIST gave HIS life for him or her. If JESUS remained in the tomb then there would be no more reason to believe that HE was the Son of GOD than any other person who lived upon earth. But the Good News is that GOD raised JESUS from the dead as proof that HE is and always will be the Only True Son of GOD, The Promised Messiah.

Why did JESUS give HIS life? As you may recall, after Eve and Adam disobeyed GOD by eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, death came to mankind. Humans received exactly what they desired, which was to choose between good and evil and the dynamics of earth changed. Because of the foreknowledge of GOD, HE had a plan to give mankind a second chance. Originally, GOD placed the first Adam in charge of the Garden of Eden and he sinned. There had to be a second Adam who would remain sinless in order to redeem mankind from the original sin and its consequence of death, which is eternal separation from GOD. The second Adam was CHRIST, GOD’S Only Son, who was born 100% human and 100% Divine. GOD had the plan already in HIS mind as we read in Genesis 3:15:

15 I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your • seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

GOD’S only Son, JESUS, will defeat Satan for all who will place their faith in JESUS.

There are two supporting verses Hebrews 2:13-18:

13 Again, I will trust in Him. And again, Here I am with the children God gave Me. 14 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death —that is, the Devil— 15 and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that He does not reach out to help angels, but to help Abraham’s offspring. 17 Therefore, He had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make • propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested.

And 1 John 3:8-9:

8 The one who commits sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works. 9 Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because His seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how God’s children —and the Devil’s children—are made evident.

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15:41-57:

41 There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; for one star differs from another star in splendor. 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; 43 sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; 44 sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth and made of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 Like the man made of dust, so are those who are made of dust; like the heavenly man, so are those who are heavenly. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the man made of dust, we will also bear the image of the heavenly man.

Victorious Resurrection

50 Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. 51 Listen! I am telling you a • mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. 53 For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. 54 When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. 55 Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? 56 Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!



HIS death was a brutal agonizing physical death. JESUS not only suffered the physical brutality but mental anguish of humiliation and to me the greatest of all was HIS battle between being 100% human and 100% Divine. Let’s explore!

Let’s read Matthew 27:28-31:

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into • headquarters and gathered the whole • company around Him. 28 They stripped Him and dressed Him in a scarlet military robe. 29 They twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and placed a reed in His right hand. And they knelt down before Him and mocked Him: “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 Then they spit on Him, took the reed, and kept hitting Him on the head. 31 When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the robe, put His clothes on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.

Our selected scripture focuses on the middle part of JESUS’ last night and the day of HIS crucifixion. JESUS had been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. HE had been subjected to an illegal Jewish trial. HE had gone before Pilate and had been found innocent yet pressure from the Jewish religious leaders and for political correctness, resulted in JESUS being condemned to be crucified.

JESUS was beaten. Often when a person was beaten/flogged it was so severe, the person would die.

JESUS was taken to the praetorium or the official residence of the Roman ruler, which could serve as the barracks for the soldiers. Since it was Passover, the Romans likely had extra soldiers in Jerusalem to keep the peace, if needed.

As we read, the whole company of soldiers gathered around JESUS. They were going to make an example of JESUS likely to please their commanders, to please the Jewish religious leaders and to show they were loyal soldiers.

So they, the soldiers, stripped JESUS of HIS garments and to mock HIM they dressed HIM with a scarlet military robe, fabricated and placed on HIS head a crown of thorns and placed a reed in HIS right hand. Then they knelt down before HIM “mocked Him: “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 Then they spit on Him, took the reed, and kept hitting Him on the head. 31 When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the robe, put His clothes on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.

Now, consider that JESUS was 100% human and 100% Divine. HIS human nature knew that HE had the power of GOD that HE could call upon at any instant in HIS life’s journey. When HE began HIS earthly ministry, the Holy Spirit led HIM to the desert to be tempted by Satan for 40days. When a person knows who he or she is and he or she has the power to prove it, I think this is one occasion when JESUS was likely tempted to reveal to them Who HE was. But if HE had it would have cut HIS ultimate purpose short and HE would have failed GOD’S purpose for HIM to pay the debt for sin in full.

We must keep in mind that JESUS was tempted in all ways as humans are tempted, yet without sin. HE had to be sinless and the perfect lamb without a blemish. HE was faithful because of HIS love for mankind and to break the barrier of sin that separated mankind from GOD. Now, we fast forward to the day of the crucifixion.

Let’s read Matthew 27:45-50:

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling for Elijah!” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, and offered Him a drink. 49 But the rest said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to save Him!” 50 Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. 51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the • saints who had fallen • asleep were raised. 53 And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.

We know from Mark’s gospel, the crucifixion began about 9 AM on Friday or the day Christians refer to as Good Friday as we read in Mark 15:25:

25 Now it was nine in the morning (or the third hour according to Roman time which began at 6 AM.) when they crucified Him.

Darkness fell over that area from 12 noon to 3 PM. There was an earthquake and the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies was split from top to bottom. Why did it split from top to bottom? It was because GOD split it. After the death of CHRIST, GOD was no longer separated from those who seek HIM.

Again, we see the agony that CHRIST suffered. HE was 100% human and 100% Divine. HE had the power to call legions of angels to come to HIS rescue as we read when JESUS was arrested in Matthew 26:52-53:

52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?

JESUS had the authority to terminate HIS mission, if HE chose.

JESUS knew the presence of GOD, HIS Father, was with HIM during this special time in history. HE had always known the presence of GOD in HIS every step. Now, as JESUS had told HIS disciples, the ultimate moment had arrived. HE knew HE would give HIS life for the salvation of all who will place their faith in HIM. Did HE know the intimate details or did GOD allow HIM to experience that instant of complete trust as the ultimate test that many of HIS followers experience in their journey in life?

JESUS cried out in a loud voice “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Those around the cross thought HE was crying out for Elijah because Jewish tradition was that Elijah would come to the rescue of righteous during their distress. So they took a sponge filled with vinegar put it on a reed and raised it to JESUS lips for HIM to drink. JESUS refused it. Those around HIM wanted to see if Elijah would come and rescue HIM.

To me these moments were the most trying of all for JESUS. About 3 PM in the afternoon, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” JESUS had never known a moment when GOD was not there with HIM but now it seemed that GOD had abandoned HIM. Some say that since GOD cannot look upon sin, HE had to turn HIS eyes away from JESUS because JESUS took sin upon HIM.

I think this was the ultimate test for JESUS. Remember HE was 100% human and 100% Divine. I think this was Satan’s moment of turning up the heat on JESUS and working through HIS 100% human side to create the maximum doubt of HIS Father’s care for HIM. When you consider that HE had the freedom and power to take matters into HIS own hands and take care of Himself because HE had legions of angels at HIS beck and call. After all when Your Father has abandoned You, what can you do? Do You continue to trust Your Father with Your physical life? All who know or will know JESUS as Savior rejoice that HE remained faithful and trusted the Father to the end.

Was there a war between HIS humaness and HIS divineness?  I think so. I feel reasonably sure Satan was attacking HIM severely. Satan could have been telling HIM, “This is the moment when You need to take action because Your Father has let You down. HE has abandoned You. HE wants to reveal to all that You are GOD and You need to show these heathens that You are the promised Messiah so take matters into Your own hands.”

JESUS had to make the decision whether or not to place HIS complete trust in GOD, HIS Father with HIS physical life as we read in Luke 23:44-46:

44 It was now about the sixth hour (12 noon), and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour (3 PM), 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in JESUS. JESUS had to trust HIS Father completely with HIS physical life.

We read at the instant JESUS died tombs were opened and that many who had died were raised from the dead. It was an astounding moment in history and still is as we look back to that event which means salvation from sin and eternal death. If that was the end then there could still be a problem for those who place their faith in CHRIST as their Savior. But this was only the beginning. GOD is the GOD of completion as we will study in our lesson next week.

Let’s read Matthew 27:54:

54 When the • centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “This man really was God’s Son!”

The lives of those who witnessed these events were changed. They saw JESUS as GOD’S Son! They witnessed that moment of decision all of us will have to make. Is JESUS just a man who lived a good life trying to help others or was HE THE SON OF GOD?

GOD made each human a free agent, every human has the freedom to choose. Each of us has to make the most important decision of our life and that is whether or not to accept or reject JESUS CHRIST as our Savior and make HIM the LORD of our lives.

If you have not made that decision in your life, now is your opportunity to ask HIM to forgive you for your sins and to come into your life.

If you have already chosen HIM as your Savior are you living for HIM? If not, now is your opportunity to rededicate your life to obediently serve HIM as led by the indwelling Holy Spirit! We will study the assurance of salvation in our next week’s lesson, “The Resurrection!” Blessings!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bible Study - CHRIST (4) - Teachings like No Other - Mark 1:21-22 and Mark 10:17-22 - March 22, 2015

Bible Study – CHRIST (4) – Teachings like No Other – March 22, 2015

This is lesson four (4) in our series entitled “Like No Other: The Life of CHRIST.”

Our focus scripture is Mark 1:21-22; 10:17-22.

JESUS teaches us how to live and calls us to follow HIM. The choice of whether or not we respond is always up to us. Is there anything that we love more than CHRIST?

This was early in JESUS’ ministry. JESUS had already spent 40 days in the wilderness, John the Baptist had been arrested and JESUS had called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow HIM.

In Capernaum, JESUS and HIS new followers went to the synagogue to teach and minister.

Let’s read Mark 1:21-22:

21 Then they went into Capernaum, and right away He entered the • synagogue on the Sabbath and began to teach. 22 They were astonished at His teaching because, unlike the • scribes, He was teaching them as one having authority.

Capernaum was the largest fishing town located around the shores of the Sea of Galilee. It was an economic center and was home to Peter and Andrew and possibly James and John. It was later that JESUS called Matthew, the tax collector, to be HIS disciple when he was collecting taxes in Capernaum. JESUS made Capernaum HIS base camp during HIS Galilean ministry.

JESUS and HIS followers did not waste any time, they went straight to the synagogue on the Sabbath to worship. They would have already been in Capernaum sometime before the Sabbath so they would not violate the travel requirements of the Sabbath.

Synagogues located outside of Jerusalem would not likely have a permanent Rabbi or teacher. It was customary for visiting teachers to be asked to teach. The teacher would stand and read from the scrolls and then sit to teach on what was just read.

When they entered the synagogue it is likely the synagogue leader invited JESUS to teach those present. JESUS taught those gathered in the synagogue with authority and they were astonished. HE did not teach as the scribes. The scribes were more like literary scholars. The Law of Moses was the most referred to legal documents, the scribes were often referred to as “lawyers.” They were the experts in the law and were more concerned with letter of the law than the people the law impacted. Therefore, when JESUS taught those hearing HIM they were “struck with amazement” with HIS teaching.

The word “authority” comes from a word which carries the idea of “an inherent ability, power and freedom to act.” JESUS spoke in a fresh and invigorating manner, which challenged those to whom HE spoke to seek a personal relationship with GOD, to get to know GOD and tie the scripture to HIM (JESUS) as the promised Messiah.

The scribes spoke in strict legal terms, whereas, JESUS spoke of the love of GOD toward those who seek HIM. JESUS’ lifestyle reflected the compassion of GOD versus the rigidness and inflexibility of the scribes and Pharisees. They focused upon the letter of the law and not the Spirit of the law.

This pattern was repeated many times during the ministry of JESUS. We need to keep in mind that GOD sent HIM to GOD’S chosen people first but for the most part they rejected HIM.

Let’s read Mark 10:17-21a:

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must “I” do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One —God. 19 You know the commandments: Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not defraud; honor your father and mother. ” 20 He said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.” 21 Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.

We fast forward to Chapter 10. JESUS was in the area of Perea “the far side of Jordan.” It seems that JESUS was on the move and about to leave the area when a young man “ran up” to HIM to ask an urgent question. First, it was not common for a Jewish man to run, they would have to lift their robe and expose their ankles, feet and part of their legs, which would have been considered undignified. Dr.  Luke refers to this young man as a “ruler” who often is referred to as the “rich young ruler.”

This young, energetic man ran up to JESUS and knelt. He knelt to show honor and respect to the “Teacher.” He referred to HIM as “Good Teacher” followed by an earnest question, “What must “I” do to inherit eternal life?”

Here we can go into several directions:

-         Clearly he wanted to know what else he could do to “inherit eternal life.” The Jews believed that those who had wealth were blessed by GOD and they were already in HIS favor. So this young man had great wealth as we see later, therefore, GOD had blessed him mightily.

-         He could have been looking for JESUS to give him accolades for all the good he had done and his spiritual walk.

-         He wanted to know what “he” needed to do to obtain “eternal life.” This was a question many religious people have because they often look at their ability to earn favor from GOD. It is a question all people need to ask. But there is but one way to having eternal life and salvation and that is to believe that JESUS gave HIS life for you to pay in full your sin debt. You must accept JESUS by faith as your Savior and in doing so you will receive the Spiritual rebirth in your spirit and eternal life. Eternal life is a gift from GOD which is confirmed by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

JESUS saw an enthusiastic young man with great potential and HE needed to probe him. HE probed him by asking him “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One —God.

“Why do you call ME good?” JESUS needed to know why he called HIM Good. JESUS gives us the reason for HIS question, “No one is good but One —God.” Did this young man see JESUS as GOD? If so, that would have been a WOW moment.

JESUS asked him commandments which relate to others: “You know the commandments: Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not defraud; honor your father and mother.”

20 He said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.”

From his youth likely meant since his bar mitzvah.

What JESUS did next was important “Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him.” In the King James Version of this verse reads “Then JESUS beholding him loved him.” The word “behold” carries the idea of “turning one’s eyes on”, “to gaze”, “to look beyond the exterior to the very core.” JESUS saw this young man’s soul and HE knew his potential. He had all the qualifications to be an outstanding follower and witness of JESUS. JESUS knew his potential and loved him for it. This was a good kid. But there was a problem:

 “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”

This young man seemed to be very sincere, honest and genuinely sought an answer to his question. JESUS looked at him intently and looked into his very spiritual heart and saw what was keeping this young man from having an intimate, personal relationship with GOD. I am reasonably sure that as JESUS spoke the words “You lack one thing” this young ma’s ears were attentive. Lacking one thing is not bad out of all the possibilities. He must have been listening intently for JESUS to reveal this one thing.

Then he heard the words “Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” WOW! Now, I know what to do and the way JESUS phrased it “I have to do it now.” When I do, I will have treasure in heaven? But I have been taught that riches are for now and for me to use and my comfort and status. Something must be wrong, is this man truly a Good Teacher? I heard what HE said but can I count on what HE told me. Humm?

Then HE said, as we read in our next verse:

Let’s read Mark 10:21b-22:

Then come, follow Me.” 22 But he was stunned at this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

The King James Version reads “and come, take up the cross, and follow ME. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”

Could this young man have processed the instructions of JESUS to mean, [JESUS told me to follow HIM. I am shocked even “stunned” at HIS demand.] What likely went through this young man’s mind? Was it, “oh, now I see the scam. HE is an itinerant teacher and has these men following HIM and they need money, therefore, HE wants me to sell all my goods, give the proceeds to HIM, the poor, and they will live in luxury while I live in poverty.”

Barriers to salvation vary with each of us. Sometimes it is our possessions, careers, status, desire for certain lifestyles, notions of what we may have to give up to become a Christian and the list goes on.

The things that stun us in life often stick and we ponder them many times. This man had the right attitude in desiring “eternal life” but his possessions were a stumbling block. The cross was an instrument of death. GOD does not hold back on what it may mean for us to follow JESUS. By JESUS reviewing the commandments which relate to others, this young man seemed to be a natural to have the desire to share his wealth with others, especially the poor.

But when it came to decision time, “he was sad” and was “grieving.” He may have been thinking, “Why on earth did I ask that question?”

Did he accept CHRIST as his Savior later in life, we do not know but GOD knew his heart and I am certain GOD did not let him rest until he made a decision to either accept or reject CHRIST as his Savior.

What is in your life that prevents you from obediently serving CHRIST?


Friday, March 13, 2015

Bible Study - CHRIST (3) - Power like No Other - Mark 4:35-41 - March 15, 2015

Bible Study – CHRIST (3) – Power like No Other – March 15, 2015

This is lesson three (3) in our series entitled “Like No Other: The Life of CHRIST.”

Our focus scripture is Mark 4:35-41.

JESUS has a power over all my fears. We say such words but do we believe them by trusting HIM in troubling times.

John Mark wrote the gospel of Mark. Of the 35 miracles manifested by JESUS, Mark recorded 20 of them.  The book of Mark is a book of action. Mark recorded JESUS traveling from place to place healing, teaching, casting out demons and going to new locations to minister.

It is interesting that it is believed that Mark is the person recorded in Mark 14:51 who ran off in the nude when JESUS was arrested:

51 Now a certain young man, having a linen cloth wrapped around his naked body, was following Him. They caught hold of him, 52 but he left the linen cloth behind and ran away naked.

Tradition has it that Mark got much of his information regarding JESUS from the Apostle Peter.

As JESUS was on the move, we get to read about HIS human side such as getting hungry, tired and sleepy but also to read of HIS divine side.

Our lesson will show the Spiritual side of HIS disciples. HIS disciples had to answer a very important question that the followers of JESUS must also answer and that is, “What manner of man is this?”

As I have repeated many times, the moment of salvation is just the beginning of our Spiritual walk with CHRIST. It is a journey of discovering who CHRIST is as we build our relationship with HIM and obediently serve HIM as we step out in faith and are led, guided and directed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Let’s explore!

JESUS had been ministering in and around Capernaum which is located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is more like a lake which is roughly 13 miles long and 8 miles wide. The lake’s basin is about 700 feet below sea level. The Sea of Galilee was known for sudden, violent storms in the afternoon.

JESUS frequently taught outside and HE had taught much of the day at the lake and as the crowd grew HE got into a boat which served as a platform, plus such a setting helps project a person’s voice. Let’s read in Mark 4:1-2:

1 Again He began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around Him. So He got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was on the shore facing the sea. 2 He taught them many things in parables, and in His teaching He said to them:

HE gave them parables and as we read in Mark 4:33-34 we are told why:

33 He would speak the word to them with many parables like these, as they were able to understand. 34 And He did not speak to them without a parable. Privately, however, He would explain everything to His own disciples.

JESUS was teaching the people, as well as, HIS disciples. I believe GOD told JESUS to go to the other side of the lake because GOD knew the hearts of HIS disciples. HIS disciples needed to see the divine side of JESUS. This is a message to Christians as well. Do we get enamored with the man and overlook the divine. It is the divine that is important.

We, as humans, get caught up in aggrandizing those who speak eloquently and with great confidence only to discover later on that they are con artist and phonies. GOD wanted JESUS’ disciples to see HIM as the true Son of GOD.

When GOD prompts us via the Holy Spirit, we are to respond as JESUS did. Knowing the potential for sudden storms did not prevent JESUS from doing what HIS Father prompted HIM to do. JESUS was tired. A teachable event was about to take place and one that would test JESUS’ disciples and reveal truth.

Let’s read Mark 4:35-38a:

35 On that day, when evening had come, He told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” 36 So they left the crowd and took Him along since He was already in the boat. And other boats were with Him. 37 A fierce windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion.

JESUS told them “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” HE was already in the boat and did not get out of the boat. HE said let’s go and they went from the western shore to the eastern shore, Gentile territory. JESUS went to the stern or the back of the boat and JESUS curled up on the oarsman’s bench, which had a pillow and went to sleep. There were smaller boats with passengers listening to JESUS teach. The scripture does not tell us what the occupants of those small boats did but they likely followed HIM for a little while and turned back to shore. 

Suddenly a fierce windstorm arose and the waves were breaking over the boat and the boat was being swamped or filling with water. They were about to sink and likely franticly bailing out the water that was coming into the boat. It was a losing battle. But guess who was sound asleep?

JESUS was sleeping sound as a log on the oarsman’s cushion or pillow.

Some of the disciples were seasoned fishermen, plus they had a very important passenger onboard, JESUS.

JESUS was physically with them on the boat so how did they handle the situation?

Let’s read Mark 4:38b-39:

So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

HIS disciples had to wake HIM up. Now that is sound sleep and likely shows a very tired JESUS and the total trust HE had in HIS Fathers care.

Notice they call HIM Teacher!!! They exclaimed “Teacher!” in a very excited and demanding voice. They knew HIM as their Teacher so why was HE sleeping when they were about to perish? After all HE was the one who wanted to go to the other side of the sea. HE was the One Who got them into this situation. Did their actions show that they questioned HIS relationship with GOD because HIS choice to go to the other side got them into trouble?

Notice the statement “Don’t You care that we’re going to die?” The statement leads you to consider that JESUS was safe but they would be the ones to die. Even when JESUS is present, often, we get scared. But the use of the statement “we’re” could have included JESUS. Often we blame the person who had the idea to do something to get us out of troubling circumstances. Often we may say, “We trusted your decision but it was a bad one and look at the situation we are in now!”

JESUS woke up and immediately took care of the problem by speaking. HE rebuked the wind and calmed the sea by speaking. Immediately the wind ceased and the waves calmed and HIS disciples were astonished. “What kind of man is this? This reveals that they did not understand who JESUS was but this experience would be a teachable moment.

Words spoken by JESUS, the great storm went to a great calm.

Often we, as Christians, have notions about JESUS and it takes a teachable moment for us to get beyond head knowledge to real heart knowledge about JESUS. When we build our relationship with JESUS upon solid rock of truth, all other ground is sinking sand. When the storms of life hit and we are in right relationship with CHRIST, our solid foundation holds.

Let’s read Mark 4:40-41:

40 Then He said to them, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?” 41 And they were terrified [feared exceedingly in the KJV] and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

JESUS asked them two questions: “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?” Fear is contrasted with faith. Now that you have witnessed the power of GOD through ME, do you still have “no faith?”

We fear what we did not understand. JESUS’ disciples believed in JESUS to an extent but they still had more to learn about HIM. They still had not grown Spiritually to the point to understand HIM and to trust HIM completely.
Our faith is only as strong as our ability to trust. Here we have to be careful. We do not take a step of faith and trust to test GOD but we take a step of faith and trust when GOD leads us to do so or we find ourselves in situations where GOD tests’ our faith.

Notice that even in this test the disciples used every skill they knew to use but to no avail. Often, when we have exhausted our efforts, we call upon GOD for HIS help. Usually, HE exposes us to situations which will help us build our faith and trust in HIM and HIS care. However, there are times when we subject ourselves to situations of our choosing and we may have to suffer the consequences. GOD is even at work in these situations bringing out the best HE can for us as we read in Romans 8:28:

28 We know that [GOD is in] all things work[ing] together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Fearful – Carries the idea of timidity and cowardliness. The word “feared” in verse 41 is different that the word fearful in verse 40. Feared is from the Greek word “phobeo” or the word where we get the word “phobia.” This word can indicate “fright”, “dread” or “terror” but it can also carry the meaning “awe”, “respect” or “reverence.” You can see both in the reaction of the disciples. They were “terrified” but at the same time they were in “awe” that this man they called JESUS had the power to speak and the wind stopped and the waves calmed down.

Faith – Carries the meaning of trust in what you believe. We say we believe in GOD but do we trust HIM? That is why we must build a personal, intimate relationship with HIM through our relationship with CHRIST. CHRIST reveals that the way to the Father is through HIM.

It was a teachable moment. The disciples saw JESUS as a teacher but not the true “Son of GOD.” JESUS wanted them to see HIM as the promised Messiah, Who was not the military leader Israel desired but the true “Son of GOD” in the flesh.

We know that Peter, Andrew, James and John were seasoned fishermen and they had the skills to weather a stormy sea but this storm was beyond their abilities. We read in Psalm 107 of the LORD’S care for those on the sea.

Let’s read Psalm 107:23-32:

23 Others went to sea in ships, conducting trade on the vast waters. 24 They saw the Lord’s works, His wonderful works in the deep. 25 He spoke and raised a tempest that stirred up the waves of the sea. 26 Rising up to the sky, sinking down to the depths, their courage melting away in anguish, 27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men, and all their skill was useless. 28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. 29 He stilled the storm to a murmur, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 They rejoiced when the waves grew quiet. Then He guided them to the harbor they longed for. 31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for His faithful love and His wonderful works for all humanity. 32 Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people and praise Him in the council of the elders.

The disciples experienced the hand of GOD at work which they would never forget. Would GOD do such a thing to teach HIS children?

Let’s read Deuteronomy 8:1-3 (The Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.)

1 “You must carefully follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase, and may enter and take possession of the land the Lord swore to your fathers.
2 Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. 3 He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Christians never know the extent of their faith until it is tested. GOD knew the hearts of JESUS disciples and HE tested them to reveal truth. This was a test that also reveals when you have total trust in GOD you can sleep in the midst of turmoil. JESUS saw their fear and knew that they still need more training. The ordeal they had been involved in resulted in them asking, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Other translations read “What manner of man is this?” This is a question GOD desires for HIS children to answer for themselves. HE does not want HIS children to adopt someone else’s experience but for each to know HIM personally. That is the purpose of sanctification, as we walk through the routines of life. Earth is our training ground as we obediently serve HIM and enter the Promised Land placing our faith and trust in HIM. When HE calls we will answer because we trust HIM in the storms of our lives and we know that HE is right there with us. Blessings!!!

Friday, March 06, 2015

Bible Study - CHRIST (2) - A Birth Like No Other - Luke 1:26-38 - March 8, 2015

Bible Study – CHRIST (2) – A Birth Like No Other – March 8, 2015
This is lesson two (2) in our series entitled “Like No Other: The Life of CHRIST.”

Our focus scripture is Luke 1:26-35.

JESUS is fully human and fully GOD. (Note last week’s lesson.)
We saw in last week’s lesson why the Messiah had to be both 100% human and 100% divine.

Let’s consider the scripture in Genesis 3:15: (GOD was speaking to the serpent after Eve and Adam had eaten the forbidden fruit which was the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.)

15 I (GOD) will put hostility between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your • seed (Anti-Christ or possibly off-spring) and her seed (CHRIST). He (CHRIST) will strike your head (Satan), and you (Satan) will strike his heel.

Scripture reveals HIS redemptive plan would be through woman. Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. There are consequences for our actions. The eating of the forbidden fruit triggered the death sentence upon mankind as GOD had promised. GOD had given the responsibility of the Garden of Eden to Adam. He was present when Eve was being tempted and did not intervene. Plus, he ate the forbidden fruit, as well. Both are accountable to GOD and received the death sentence.

GOD was speaking to Satan who had manifested himself as a serpent. HE told Satan that HE would put hostility between him and the woman: his seed or the anti-Christ. Her seed is the promised Messiah, JESUS. The promised Messiah would strike Satan’s head, thus delivering a fatal blow which kills his attempt to destroy GOD’S redemptive plan for mankind and ultimately the final blow to Satan. But Satan would strike HIS heel, which would deliver a blow but it would not be fatal. The Messiah would be wounded for the sins of mankind but HE would not receive a fatal blow. Satan’s goal was to prevent GOD’S plan for the salvation of all who will place their faith in the promised Messiah/CHRIST. We know that GOD raised the Messiah from physical death thus conquering the consequence of sin, which is eternal death.

GOD’S plan was for the Messiah to be born of a young virgin peasant girl named Mary. Some historical writings indicate that the girls of that time period wondered if they would be the one GOD chosen to birth the Messiah. 

Mary lived in an unassuming small town named Nazareth. Mary was chosen by GOD, which took courage and trust in GOD by Mary. The Holy Spirit was the Father of JESUS but HIS adopted, earthly father, was Joseph for ancestral and trust purposes. Joseph had to be just as favored by GOD.

The Holy Spirit is the divine sperm or power Who transformed Mary’s seed or egg into JESUS, 100% human and 100% divine. And Who, in turn, transforms every person who places their faith in the risen CHRIST, through the miracle of Spiritual rebirth, into GOD’S eternal Sons or Daughters.

Mary’s Immaculate Conception is a mystery just as the Spiritual rebirth of a person that receives CHRIST as his or her Savior. We must keep in mind that GOD is GOD and these events were prophesied thousands of years before CHRIST came to earth.

What did the prophet Isaiah record regarding prophesy about the birth of the Messiah? Let’s read Isaiah 7:14: (700 B. C.)

14 Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

Our lesson focuses upon the events leading up to Mary’s conception.

First, let’s consider who wrote the Gospel of Luke and why.

Luke was a Gentile physician. He was commissioned by a person named Theophilus to verify the accounts of this person called JESUS. Luke not only wrote Luke the Gospel but also the Book of Acts. Let’s read the introduction to the book of Luke as recorded in Luke 1:1-4:

The Dedication to Theophilus

1 Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. 3 It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.

Let’s read Luke 1:26-31:

Gabriel Predicts Jesus’ Birth:

26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin • engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus.

First of all, “in the sixth month” [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy].” Luke records this in Luke 1:36-38:

36 And consider your relative Elizabeth —even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 “I am the Lord’s • slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

Gabriel is one of two angels named in the Bible. Michael is the other angel. Gabriel is GOD’S messenger and he was sent by GOD to Mary with a very important message. GOD knew all about her. He knew that she was a virgin, where she lived and that she was engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David.

Mary was engaged or espoused to Joseph. The engagement or espousal period lasted for one year. Espousal was a legal term and referred to a legal contract verbally agreed to in the presence of witnesses. It could also be a written agreement. It was a period where the couple was considered married but they lived apart and there was no sex. If they desired to terminate their betrothal, they had to get a divorce. After a year of engagement, the couple would marry and then consummate their marriage.

Mary’s ancestry had to trace back to the prophetic roots of the promised Messiah and just as important were the ancestral roots of Joseph. The religious leaders would trace Joseph’s ancestry back to the roots of the promised Messiah but so did Mary’s. Mary’s ancestry was the key because it is the seed of woman that would defeat Satan.

Some may say that CHRIST was not 100% human because HE did not have an earthly father. If HE had an earthly father, HE could not have been 100% divine. All things are possible with GOD.

Eve ate the forbidden fruit and she lost eternal life for her and all of her offspring. Adam joined her in eating of the forbidden fruit which resulted in him losing eternal life. Both Adam and Eve and their offspring incurred the loss of eternal life and incurred the death sentence, which is eternal separation from GOD. It is impossible for mankind to restore eternal life upon itself by doing good deeds and clean living and become once again GOD’S children. GOD had a plan to give mankind an opportunity to be restored to HIS original intent for mankind.

Religion is mankind’s attempt to reach up to GOD but salvation through faith in CHRIST, the promised Messiah, is GOD reaching down to mankind. Place your faith in what GOD has done to redeem you by asking CHRIST to forgive you for your sins and to come into your heart. Now is your opportunity to receive salvation from sin and its consequence eternal death.

HIS plan involved the death of HIS only SON, JESUS. JESUS gave HIS life to give eternal life to all who would place their faith in HIM. HE gave HIS life without any assurance any one would place their faith in HIM. The absolute beauty is that if you had been the only person in all of time to accept CHRIST as your Savior, HE would have given HIS life just for you. That is personal and shows how much HE loves you. Don’t reject that love but accept it. Faith in HIM restores all who place their faith and trust in HIM to Son-ship and Daughter-ship and eternal life.

But GOD showed HIS love toward us, as recorded by the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:8-11:

8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through the shed blood of CHRIST by placing our faith in HIM.

GOD’S redemptive plan is magnificent and designed to thwart any human effort or effort of Satan to prevent it. GOD designed the earth and all in it to reflect HIS handiwork for mankind to behold and to know that HE exists. HIS redemptive plan offers redemption to all who will receive CHRIST as their Savior through faith. Simple, yet so hard for many to accept.

The angel Gabriel greeted Mary “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.”  The term “favored” comes from a verb meaning “grace.” Grace cannot be earned but it is given by GOD. GOD chose Mary but not because of anything she had done. GOD called her for a specific assignment and gave her grace.

Mary was “deeply troubled” or “very perplexed” by Gabriel’s statement. Gabriel quickly told her “Do not be afraid.” GOD had extended grace to her for a special assignment. Okay. Then Gabriel revealed the assignment, “You will conceive and give birth to a son and you will call HIS name JESUS.” What! Mary must have thought.

Gabriel continued to tell her about her Son in our next scripture.

Let’s read Luke 1:32-33:

32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.

Doctor Luke recorded the conversation Gabriel had with Mary. He told her that she would give birth to a Son. HE will be called the Son of the Most High or GOD. GOD will give HIM the throne of David, just as HE had promised King David hundreds of years earlier. JESUS will reign over the house of Jacob forever and HIS kingdom will have no end.

Let’s read 2 Samuel 7:11-13: (Prophesy given by GOD to King David.)

“‘The Lord declares to you: The Lord Himself will make a house for you. 12 When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He will build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Mary had a very practical question to ask Gabriel as we read in our next scripture.

Let’s read Luke 1:34-35:

34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”35 The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.

Mary asked a very practical question “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man (which means any man)?” Mary knew what it took to produce a baby and she had never been exposed to that possibility.
Gabriel responded, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.

Keep in mind that Luke is a physician and he knew what produced a baby. He had his reputation to protect but he also had a responsibility to record and report truth. Dr. Luke reported truth.

Gabriel told her that “the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” 

“Overshadow” was a term used to describe GOD’S presence. GOD’S presence was manifested when HE delivered the Israelite's from Egyptian bondage via the cloud by day and the pillow of fire by night. GOD’S presence was manifested by a cloud over the tent of meeting.

Let’s read Luke 1:36-38:

36 And consider your relative Elizabeth —even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 “I am the Lord’s • slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

Mary’s willingness reflected her faith and trust in GOD. When GOD calls HE also provides. Her relative, Elizabeth, pregnancy would be a confirmation to Mary that what Gabriel had told her was a fact, she had not dreamed it.

There was another important person in Mary’s life who needed to be assured that Mary had been faithful and that was Joseph. GOD took care of any concerns that Joseph had by sending an angle to him as we read in Matthew 1:18-25:

18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been • engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. 20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus. Blessings!!!