September 25, 2011 What Disciples of Jesus Should Expect

What disciples of Jesus should expect.

Jesus had found that the Temple had become a marketplace, that the clergy could not recognize Him from the writings by God’s authors, and that the people were being abused by satan; see my lesson for September 11, 2011: Conditions Jesus found when He began His ministry.  Thus, Jesus went about to strip away the deceptive philosophies that weakened the people and to promote the truth about God and life that was originally given; see my lesson for September 18, 2011: Changing Cultures.

From among those who followed Jesus, God had instructed Him which twelve to invest time and experience with to train them to change the world after He returned to His Father in Heaven.  Matthew chapter ten identifies these men, gives the results Jesus tasked them with, and presents His discussion of the environments they could expect to encourage and to challenge them.  You, too, should expect the same.

The Twelve and their task – Matthew 10.1-10

  • Verses 2-4 identify them.
  • Verse 7 would be their teaching.
  • Verse 8 would confirm the teaching and result from the power that Jesus gave to them, in verse 1.  (Apostle Paul refers to the same in 1 Corinthians 2.4-5. It is what you should expect.)  This would change what Jesus saw in Matthew 9.35-36 and solicited in 9.37-38.
  • Verses 9-10 instructed them to depend upon God’s provisions, as is especially implied in the last clause of verse 10.  God rewards obedience!
  1. Note what people would be their focus and who they must avoid, in verses 5-6.  Their ‘prospects’ had become like the nations around them, like their ancestors, whom God said would be like thorns and briers to them.  See Numbers 33.55, Joshua 23.13, Judges 2.3, and Ezekiel 2.6.  [Apostle Paul complained about this in 2 Corinthians 12.7-10, referring to the Jews who resisted his message and evidence in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra (Acts 13-14, note 14.19-20, especially).  He recounts this experience to his protégé in 2 Timothy 3.10-11.]

Some would receive the Gospel, some would not – Matthew 10.11-42

  • In verse 11, Jesus instructed them about the cities they were to enter and for how long they were to stay.  The number of ‘worthy’ households would determine the length of their stay.  Who was ‘worthy’? Not the ‘casual’ followers of the Law, but those who were serious in their practice.  Two illustrations: Apostle Paul was met by ‘brethren’ while on his way to Rome; see Acts 28.13-15.  Saul, while looking for his father’s donkeys, asked directions to the ‘seer’s’ house to get his advice; see 1 Samuel 9.18.
  • Jesus told them to ‘greet’ the ‘worthy’ household that welcomed them; verse 12.  ‘Let your peace come upon the house’, verse 13a.  That is, ‘freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as a result of sin’ (Hermann Cremer, Biblico-Theological Lexicon).  Thus, the apostles would preach verse 7 and manifest verse 8 among that household.  See Romans 1.16-17 too.
  • Note Jesus’ encouraging words to the apostles in verses 40, 32-33, and 16.
  • But, ‘let your peace return to you’ (verse 13.b) if the household would not receive verse 7.  He reminded them that rejection was of Him, not them, in verses 24-25 and 22.
  • Jesus discussed the acceptance of Himself by some but denial by others in verses 34-39 and 21.  Each member of the family must decide for himself!  Consider Jesus’ words in John 3.16-21.
  • Note Jesus’ caution in verse 17-18.  Sometimes the householder would call the authorities and have the apostle arrested.  However, Jesus had what purpose for this?  Paul was chosen for similar appearances; see Acts 9.15.
  • If this happened, remembering verses 26-31 would reassure them and verses 19-20 would embolden them.
  • Not only let your peace return to you (verse 13b), perform the symbol of verse 14 when you leave house or town!  How severe was Jesus’ comparison of the punishment awaiting such households or cities, in verse 15?
  • Verse 23 ends with an interesting thought.  Some theologians have said this refers to Jesus’ Second Coming, implying that apostles’ task would take a long time.  Implicit, also, is encouragement for us to continue, despite the obstacles with which satan challenges us.

See 2 Corinthians 2.14-16.

Your job: verse 22b!  Some will accept Jesus, others will not.  Be faithful!

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter 2011.

September 18, 2011 Changing Cultures

Changing Cultures

One of the definitions of ‘culture’ is the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.  The institutions include families, schools, businesses, and churches. What describes the culture of your family? As two or more people under the same roof, what do you value?  What experiences do you remember together?  What rituals do you observe?  Why?  What future do you want?  What attitudes and practices do you accept and encourage?

Jesus emerged into a religious culture that was different from what God intended.  We know this through His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), in which He repeatedly says, ‘You have heard…but I say to you…’ (Illustrations: Matthew 5.21-22; 27-28; 43-44)  He received the same instruction that God gave to Jeremiah (1.9-10). We can, even, say that this command is for us, using John 17.18.  In the following Scriptures, you will see how Jesus began to change the religious culture He found when He began His ministry.  Apostle John summarizes this in John 1.17.

Change Agent!

  • Leaders pronounce changes and demonstrate them.  Walk the talk; others will follow.
  • Jesus did just this in His home town of Nazareth.  Luke 4.16-30 states His fulfillment of Isaiah 61.1-3 and the response of people around whom He had grown up in Joseph and Mary’s home and carpentry shop.  (Jesus warned disciples, including us, of this response in Matthew 10.16-26.)
  • Read about this in Mark 6.1-6 for more information.  What is the connection of faith and miracles?
  • After this, Jesus made His home in Capernaum.

The New Culture

  • Jesus illustrated solitude with God.  If this was important for Jesus, should it be important for you?
  • He had places to go and people to see!  In Luke 4.43-44, Mark 1.38-39, and Matthew 4.23, Jesus was urgent about teaching the change to as many people as possible during His available time.  Remember His words in John 9.4-5Matthew 4.25 states the result.
  • What was His message of change you, really, can believe in?  He taught it in Matthew 6.10 and 10.7!  God has come to visit His people!  He is still here, in the Holy Spirit!  See John 14.26 and Romans 8.14.  Hear the excitement in Apostle Paul’s words in

Romans 1.16-17!

  • How can you know that the Kingdom of God is here, i.e., that God is with His people?  Matthew 10.8 and 4.23-24.

What are you to do?

Consider Isaiah 48.22 also.  What does God expect from you?

  • Become like Jesus! This is what Paul writes in Ephesians 4.11-13 and 5.1Practice solitude with God! Great ideas come during this; Luke 6.12-13 and John 3.27Be urgent for living Matthew 5.16 before as many people as possible!  Consider Paul’s example in

1 Corinthians 2.4-5.  Let God use your mouth to proclaim His Kingdom and your hands to demonstrate it to others, like Matthew 10.7-8!

Praise God!!! Copyright by Maurice L. Painter, 2011.

September 11, 2011 Conditions Jesus Found When He Began His Ministry

Conditions Jesus found when He began His ministry.

Jesus had come to Earth to live among the people He had created.  This series of studies will consider what He found at the first Passover He celebrated as Messiah and how these conditions changed before the next Passover.  We will consider one year of His ministry during each of the next three months; three years and three Passovers total.  We will consider conditions in the Temple and priesthood and of the people in this first study, taken from John 2.13-3.21.  Follow along, please.

The Temple had become a marketplace; John 2.13-22.

  • ‘Give them an inch and they will take a mile’ would describe what had happened.  Moses had said that worshippers coming to the mandatory three annual feasts could purchase their sacrifices in Jerusalem rather than bringing them from long distances.  Merchants had migrated from the market district to be nearer the place of use, for convenience they probably said.  Even bankers were there to exchange foreign currencies into Jewish coin, the only one accepted.  But, all were making a profit, which is not bad if it is reasonable; reward appropriate to the level of risks of unsold products, which risk was low in this case.
  • Jesus drove the merchants out, proclaiming: ‘Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’ (v. 16) How did selling goods diminish the value of God’s house in the hearts of the people?
  • Jesus answered the leaders’ request for a ‘sign’ of His authority by shifting from the Temple building to the true temple, the body of man. (v.19, 21)  Consider 1 Corinthians 3.16-17 and 6.18-20 and Luke 17.20-21Now, what do you think about during the Sunday worship service?  How does your work or leisure interfere with your Bible study?
  • The disciples remembered David’s Psalm 69.9 when they observed Jesus driving out the merchants.  Likewise, how would you rate your ‘zeal’ (devotion) on a scale of one to ten, where one is the weakest and ten is the strongest?
  • What do Romans 12.1-2 and Hebrews 12.1-2 say to you about this?

The Priests were not ready for Jesus; John 3.1-15.

  • Verse 12 says that Jesus expected the religious leaders to be ready from their studies of the Old Testament so He could teach them ‘heavenly things’ for the people.  Apostle Paul makes the same complaint in Hebrews 5.12-6.3How do you rate yourself?  What criteria?
  • They considered Jesus only a teacher and not the Messiah, Who is described throughout the Old Testament (their Pentateuch and prophetic writings).  Nicodemus even attributes the primary distinguishing feature of Messiah to Jesus: ‘no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ (v. 2) This connected Exodus 34.10 to John 15.24 to Jesus.  So, the priests were victims of satan’s deception, as Paul describes it in 2 Corinthians 4.3-4
  • From Nicodemus’ response in verse 4 to Jesus’ statements about the ‘new birth’ or birth of the spirit in verses 3 and 5-8, it is evident that the priests did not understand the inadequacy of the Law and the need for and work of Messiah. (Hebrews 10.1-18)  Jesus’ statement in verse 10 would have been embarrassing: ‘Are you the teacher of Israel and do not know these things?’  They were not looking for the Prophet of Deuteronomy 18.15-22, as they should have been!
  • In verse 5, Jesus said, ‘unless one is born of water AND the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’ (my capital to distinguish two, different births).  Why are both births required for eternal life?  How would you explain the second birth to someone?

The People loved darkness rather than light; John 3.16-21.

  • Verses 19-20 give the reason for this preference: evil deeds, which light would expose.  This is the condition of the spirit that has not been born again.  It is unwilling to change, although often abused by satan; John 10.10a and Deuteronomy 28.15-68.  Paul lists the deeds of darkness in Galatians 5.19-21.  His last statement comes directly from what Jesus said.
  • What is the Light that exposes darkness? Jesus answers in verse 19, which goes back to John 1.4-5: in Jesus dwelled this light.  The Light is the word of God (John 8.28) and will judge mankind in the final judgment (John 12.46-50).
  • In Matthew 9.35-36, Jesus compared the crowd to a herd of sheep.  They need a shepherd because they are defenseless and prone to bad decisions.  He contrasts the ultimate good and bad decision in John 3.16-18.  Jesus later repeated the only good decision in John 14.6.
  • In John 3.21, Jesus says that people who accept Him as Savior crave the light to show that their good deeds have been produced by Him through them.
  • Given the alternatives of living eternally without or with God, through denying or accepting Jesus, respectively, why would anyone prefer darkness to light or a lie to the truth?
  • Matthew 5.16!

Application

  • What are the similarities between the conditions that Jesus found in the Temple and those He would find in the church today?
  • What are the similarities between the conditions that Jesus found in the priests and those He would find in the pastors/teachers today?
  • What are the similarities between the conditions that Jesus found in the people and those He would find in the people today?
  • What will you do about this?

Praise God!!!

Copyright © Maurice L. Painter 2011.

August 4, 2011 What We Know About God From His Names.

August 4, 2011        What we know about God from His names.

What is God’s greatest desire?  An intimate relationship with you (2 Corinthians 5.20), characterized by you trusting Him like the young child his parents but without the usual disobedience.  He made this emphasis in Jeremiah 9.23-24, minimizing the distractions that society maximizes.  In concluding the study of God’s names, what takeaways have your learned that increase your desire for this intimate relationship? The following is offered to prompt your contemplation of just Who God is to you.

The Good Shepherd, God in Matthew 9.35-36.

  • God-the-Son, Jesus Christ, showed God’s concern for people like you.  Look at what He did.
  • He ‘went about all the cities and villages’ shows His focus and desire to be where people were.  Thus, He showed us Jehovah-shammah/God with us (Deuteronomy 31.6) and Jehovah-rohi/God Who leads (Psalm 23 and Romans 8.14).
  • He taught and preached the kingdom (Matthew 6.10), perhaps using what He said in Luke 4.16-21 and Matthew 10.7.  In this, He showed Jehovah-tsidkenu/God of righteousness (Hosea 14.9).
  • Then, He evidenced the presence of God (Exodus 34.10) with His people by healing ‘every’ sickness and disease among the people.  This was the compassionate revelation of Jehovah-rapha/God Who heals (Deuteronomy 7.12-15).
  • When He looked upon the crowd of people, He wanted to protect these sheep from the wolves’ attacks and to refresh them with sustenance.  Here, you see Jehovah-nissi/God the protector (Exodus 17.15) and Jehovah-jireh/God the provider (Genesis 22.13-14).
  • Restating Jesus’ metaphor in Matthew 9.37-38, He called for better ‘shepherds’, in contrast to the religious leaders of His day.  Better shepherds, like Him, would reveal Jehovah-shalom/God my peace (Judges 6.23-24; Luke 22.35 illustration for today, too).

Job description of a ‘good’ shepherd; results are all that counts!

  • I believe that when Jesus told Peter to ‘feed My sheep’ in John 21.15-17, He was remembering God’s description of a ‘good’ shepherd in Jeremiah 23.4.
  • What results must the ‘good’ shepherd produce?
  • The sheep will not fear anymore!  Paul reminds his protégé and us how to overcome fear; 2 Timothy 1.6-7.  Also see 1 John 4.4 and Zechariah 4.6: ‘not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord’!
  • The sheep will not be dismayed anymore!  What is dismay?  Consternation and distress caused by something unexpected.  Illustration: 911.  See Luke 22.31-32.  Paul was not dismayed; see Acts 16.16-34.
  • The sheep will not lack anymore!  David (Psalm 89.19-23) wrote Psalm 23 because he found God to be his abundant Provider.  Also see Deuteronomy 29.5, 9, Joshua 1.8, and Luke 6.38.

Examples of good shepherds

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter 2011.