A View From Above – The Bible’s Big Picture

The Bible is at times so grand and the plot so complex it’s sometimes difficult for most of us to gather details about God’s will for us. We rely on scholars and theologians to interpret passages, but because of disagreement among scholars we are forced to choose what we feel is most correct. That’s why it’s good to take an overview of the scriptures to discern the context; I describe this view as a “helicopter view.”

During my time in the Army, situations on the ground became much clearer when viewed from a position that permitted a view of the entire operation, not just one small perspective on the ground. This was done by finding high terrain, using unmanned arial vehicles (UAV), or jumping in a helicopter and seeing first hand the big view. This helicopter view is important when studying single scriptures to better understand the intent of the writer’s message to the recipients. The same can be said concerning the complete collection of biblical collection of writings. So what’s the story? Continue reading

Light Shines, Even in Darkness – Sermon Notes

1.  Intro  Extended periods of darkness in our lives are difficult to understand much more to deal with. But the reality of the love of God is that he is always light, even in the tough times.

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  1 John 1:5 NASB

2.  God is Light.  The story of Bible is about God’s people seeking (and losing) the presence of God and the comfort of his light

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill  And to Your dwelling places. Psalms 43:3 NASB

3.  A brief history of God’s presence

  • God created Adam and Eve to be in His presence, but they ended up banned from the Garden and separated from God – Genesis 3:23-24 NASB
  • God walked with Enoch – Genesis 5:21-24
  • Noah walked and talked with God because he did not conformed to the world – Genesis 6:9
  • Abraham  walked in perfect obedience with God –  Genesis 17:1-2
  • Moses desires evidence of God’s promised presence – Exodus 33:12-18
  • God’s glory fills the tabernacle and stays with the Israelites – Exodus 40:34-38
  • The Ark of the covenant is stolen by the Philistines – but quickly returned.  1 Samuel 4:22
  • God’s glory returns to Solomon’s temple – 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
  • God departs Solomon’s Temple – Ezekiel 10:18

Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.

4.  The Exile. Because of their unfaithfulness, God turned his people over to exile at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians – Jeremiah 25:1-11

There is no record that God’s glory ever returned to his formerly chosen people.

5.  Jesus is the return of God’s glory

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1: 1-5 NASB

Lightcomesback6.  Trust the light.  We face all kinds of darkness:  emotional, mental, physical spiritual.  Our joy and comfort is found in the spiritual light of Jesus.  Even when mental, emotional, physical darkness grips our lives we have the constant light that shines out of the darkness.  We must fight the desire to give in to darkness and trust the light.

Zoe:  of the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through him both to the hypo-static “logos” and to Christ in whom the “logos” put on human nature.  life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last for ever.

Even in darkness, there is light.

More:

God’s Glory — its Appearing, Departure and Return, Wm. C. Reid.

The Exiles of Israel: A Closer Look, Ed Stetzer

Walking in the light of God’s presence.

In Alaska, Darkness and Depression Descend, The Associated Press

Lessons from Peter’s Restoration – Sermon Notes

Reading

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17 NIV)

The questions and answers
What did Jesus mean when he asked if Peter loved him “More than these?”  Possible choices ( there is no agreement on which one it is):
Do you love me more than these (other disciples love me)?
Do you love me more than (you love) these (other disciples)?
Do you love me more than (you love) these things (your fishing nets and equipment)?

Types of love:
Agape  = a perfect, unselfish love
Phileo = Lord, You know that I’m Your friend,” or “I’m fond of You

1.  Jesus, “do you Agape me.”  Peter, “I Phileo you”
2.  Jesus, “do you Agape me.”  Peter, “I Phileo you”
3.  Jesus, “do you Phileo me.”  Peter, “I Phileo you”

The commands
1.  The first command Jesus gives Peter is literally translated from Greek as “pasture the lambs.  As present tense it calls for continual action of care and feeding

2.  The second time Jesus gives the command it literally translates as “tend My sheep” emphasizing a supervisory capacity, not only feeding but ruling over them.

3.  The third time, the literal translation is a combination if the previous two commands. “pasture tend the sheep”. Here Jesus combines the different Greek words to make clear the job of the shepherd of the flock of God. They are to tend, care for, and provide spiritual food for God’s people in continual action to nourish and care for their souls, bringing them into the fullness of spiritual maturity.

Paraphrase Reading

Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more perfectly and unselfishly than you do the things of your former life? (Or more than these men do?)”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I have affection for you.”
Jesus said, “provide continual care for my lambs who are my disciples.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you unconditionally love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I am fond of you .”
Jesus said, “be a shepherd  care of my disciples like a shepherd takes care of a flock.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you have affection for me like a friend?”
Peter was grieved because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”
He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you like a  friend.”
Jesus said, “you are responsible for the spiritual well being of my disciples like a shepherd is responsible for nurturing his flock.

(John 21:15-17 Paraphrase)

Application
1.  Change of Attitude.
Peter mourns and becomes meek
Before the denial, Peter was anything but meek…he was over confident in himself.

Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! 
(John 13:37, 38 NIV)

Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “ ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 
Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” 
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” 
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. (Matthew 26:31-35 NIV)

Peter was grieved. He knew the answer that Jesus was looking for but couldn’t give it. 

Why didn’t he ever answer yes, I agape you? In his heart he knew it wasn’t true…he had just called curses down to deny Jesus.

Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. (Matthew 26:74 NIV)

2.  On Elders. Peter handed off the responsibility to oversee and provide care for disciples to the elders.

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:1-6 NIV)

Submit.

3.  Continue to follow
Peter said, I’m going fishing.”
Jesus had appeared to them two other times.  Yet Peter was back to his old life.  The temptation is to go back. Don’t. 

4.  Be ready to lead
Peter did not know—that Jesus would ascend into heaven but when he did he preached the first gospel sermon and, with the help of Jesus brother James, lead the establishment of the church. 

Others tried to assert their authority on the church. 

John is establishing the role of Peter.

5. There is Hope for me
Peter gave a less than perfect answer but Jesus accepted it. Jesus meets us where we are.

Like Jesus, we should extend the mercy He gives to others

Don’t think you have to be perfect. If you were you would be the rabbi not the disciple. Just continue learning from the master.

Jesus extended mercy…we should too.

Closing.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3-10 NIV)

Early Christian Banquet Worship

Pliny the Younger.
They affirmed, however, the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.

More about Jethro, Moses’ Father-in-Law

In Exodus 18, Jethro counseled his son-in-law Moses about how he was leading Israel after they fled Egypt. But there is more depth to the story if you consider the rest of Jethro’s story:

 

Bible Class Audio: God’s Will and Purpose Revisited

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:39, 40 NIV)

Beware

Beware of your thoughts, they become your words.
Beware of your words, they become your actions.
Beware of your actions, they become your habits.
Beware of your habits, they become your character.
Beware of your character, it becomes your destiny.
– Unknown

Love and Bowels

A key to understanding how Christians are called to love each other comes from a very unlikely place. Read the account of Judas’ death in Acts chapter 1:

Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. (Acts 1:18 KJV)

Even though the account of Judas death seems to be contrary to understanding Christian love, It is key to understanding a first century metaphor that John uses in a letter to an early Christian community. The passage is found in John 3:11-18:

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:11-18 NIV)

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