Monday, November 18, 2013

God Helps the Helpless (5:1-17)

       I'm going to blog about this story a little differently than usual. Please read the word (John 5:1-17) and below is the story with my commentary mixed in.
       So Jesus is up in Jerusalem and heads to a spring called Bethesda. All around the pool are people who are disabled because everyone believes that if as angel stirs the water (aka the water starts rippling for an unknown reason) the first one into the pool will be healed. Of course, it's no big surprise that Jesus is hanging out around the outcasts seeing as he always heads to the people who need Him most, the helpless. So anyway, He sees this guy who's been lying by the pool for 38 years. For 38 YEARS, in case you didn't catch that the first time. So Jesus sees him and, because He knows he's been there for a long time he asks, "Do you want to be healed?" This may seem like a pretty obvious question seeing as the man is laying by the pool of Bethesda but he has, after all, been laying there for 38 years. Seems like if He really wanted to get well he might try to change his methods a little bit. Seems like even though He may think he wants to get well, the truth for him, and many others, is that we're so used to our bad lives that were scared of change and the responsibility that may come with it. Jesus is just making sure this guy knows what He wants before He gets it. He's prefacing the miracle and putting everyone on the same page. So anyway, this guy doesn't answer JC's yes or no question with a yes or no. Instead he gives an excuse, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I'm going, another walks down the steps before me." There is expression that says, "You can name it and blame it or name it and claim it." That would have been very helpful for this guy to hear seeing as he was naming it and blaming it (stating his problem and excusing himself from the fact that he is no where close to fixing it) rather than naming it and claiming it (naming his problem and how he is going to deal with it). Then, now that Jesus has affirmed that this guy does indeed want to be healed, He heals him.
       "Get up, take up you bed, and walk." That is what Jesus tells the man to do. Now, since the bed was not actually a bed but actually a beggars mat for the disabled people, the man doesn't need it anymore but Jesus has him take it with him anyway. The mat is a physical reminder of what Jesus saved him from. It is symbolic of a scar. Scar's remind us of what we were saved from and give us a platform to share our stories with others. I think that Jesus is telling the man to pick up his mat to tell us not to keep our scars, and therefore stories, locked up as a thing of the past because although they might be a thing of the past for us, others are going through similar things and we can be what God uses to help them.
       While we might not be disabled, we often have sick, lame, blind, withered days and those are the ones that Jesus can turn around. All we have to do is be willing to participate in His power!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Belief to Believers (John 4:49-54)

       We're back on the subject of John and I'm going to do a verse by verse again on John 4:49-54

  • John 4:49: because this man is called "the official" we can assume He is somewhat like Nicodemus (click here for more details). Jesus was his last resort, all the official had left to turn to in order to save his son.
  • John 4:50: Jesus didn't hesitate when He claimed that the son would live. Remember, He was fully human at the time so although He was God, it was like He had downgraded His body and power. Being fully human Jesus didn't have the power to heal the sick alone. Instead, His strong and constant connection with God and faith in God allowed Him to confidently assure the official his son would be made well without even seeing the sons condition. The official didn't question Jesus, instead of begging Him to come to His house and touch his son, he believed Jesus whole heartedly.
  • John 4:51-53: His son is healed! This is so encouraging to  us because it proves that when we ask Jesus, He can heal anyone, no matter how far away they are! Also, His son started to recover at the exact time Jesus said He would so it was clearly by God's strength and mercy the he was made well. But something even cooler than spiritual healing happened that day, the official and his whole family believed. They were saved by the power of Jesus because Jesus believed in God's strength! That's what we are supposed to do. When we believe in the strength and power of Jesus, we can be a part of bringing salvation to others!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Creator

     This post will be a little different because I'm not writing about John (I'll pick that up again next week!). Instead I've decided to write about why I know God is real. 
     Whenever my biology teacher explains stuff to us he ends the explanation by saying, "Y'all don't even understand how amazing this is." And he's right, we don't because no one can fully understand how amazing God is. The more I learn about how our bodies function, the intricate details and processes that keep us alive. The more I learn about the way the world works (the natural world), why it's changing and exciting, the more convinced I am that there is no chance it all appeared by chance. It's crazy to me how people continue to come up with ways the world came about and yet, every idea has been scientifically proven wrong except for one, God. Has He ever been scientifically proven, no. But that's kind of the point of faith. 
     We see some scientific evidence pointing towards the need for a creator, the truth of the Bible, Jesus resurrection, ect. but in the end, we need faith. Hebrew 11:1 says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." In verse 3 it goes on to say, "By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." When we trust someone, there is no scientific evidence that they will keep there promise, we have to have faith in them. That is the same way with God. We can't just believe in facts, we need to believe in Him.
     Another thing, even though God is not scientifically proven, He is proven spiritual in the lives and hearts of those who know Him. He is truly amazing and I'm definitely looking forward to the day I get to meet Him face to face! :)

Side note: In web mastery I've been learning about HTML. It's is hard to remember the codes but if you know them it is fairly simple. I think it's really cool how you can make colors and fonts and pictures appear just by typing some words! (though it's nothing in comparison to making the world by speaking some words! :))

How could something like this be made by chance? For more crazy nature (God made) images click here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Well, well, well (John 4:1-26)

     On Wednesday, I learned about the Women at the Well in John 4:1-26. I'm going to do the same thing I did last time and split it up verse by verse with the address (linked) starting each section. So, we'll start with John 4:1-3
     This is the background knowledge for the story. The Pharisees hear that Jesus is baptizing tons of disciples which means that less people will treat them like super stars (read last post for more info.) This isn't actually true, the disciples are baptizing people in Jesus' name, but nevertheless, Jesus decided to head out of town in order to avoid a big argument and keep the peace.
     John 4:4: The Jews and the Samaritans where enemies. After some debates on how to worship, the Jewish people kicked the Samaritans out of "the club." They didn't allow them into the Temples and went to great pains to avoid them even though they all worshiped God. So Jesus was headed to Galilee from Judea and Samaria was in the middle of these two places. The Bible says that Jesus had to pass through Samaria but literally, that's not true. He could have gone around Samaria like all the other Jews did but for some reason the Bible says He had to go through. It seems like the author made a mistake but just like being "born again,"  we have to dig a little deeper for this one! Jesus had to go through Samaria because it was His mission on earth to bring salvation to everyone. Not just the Jews but the Samaritans too! He couldn't go around because He would be ignoring God's call!
     John 4:5-7: Most women came to draw water in a group in the morning or evening. The fact that this women is here alone in the hottest part of the day shows that she is probably a social outcast, most likely because of things she has done. Jesus speaking to her is breaking 3 society rule with one sentence. 1) She's rejected yet Jesus is not rejecting her 2) She's a Samaritan and He's a Jew 3) Men and women don't talk but if they do the women always initiates the conversation. So here we have Jesus being the rebel once again. :)
      John 4:8-9: The women immediately sees the wreckage from the social barriers JC has just crashed through and asks Him why. (We also discover JC is alone with the women because His disciples are getting food in town.
      John 4:10-11: Jesus answers the women's question indirectly by saying He can give her living water. He means himself of course, He wants to give her himself. His Living Water (Him) fulfills our thirst for meaning because when we taste it we will have found meaning. His Living Water will wash us clean from the inside out. But clearly, the women doesn't know this and take Him literally.
      John 4:12: She then asks if He is greater than Jacob. She is referring to Jacob from the OT. (Read Genesis 29:1-12; it's a cool story so feel free to read the whole thing too! (Genesis 26-50 covers all of Jacobs life)) Jacob met Rachel at the well Jesus is at with Samaritan women right now. Because Jacob had 12 sons the sons each became and tribe of Isreal. Had Jacob not met Rachel at the well, the nation of Israel would not of been born. This makes Jacob's well the Israelites "well of life." Because the book of John revolves around Jesus turning the old to the new, the literal to the spiritual, the Israelites well of life has now become Jesus, the true well of life for all people of any background! But it is so cool that JC revealed Himself as the well of life at Jacob's well.
      John 4:13-15: Although the women took Him literally, Jesus immediately goes back to spiritual. He knows that she is lost and looking for happiness and fulfillment in things the won't and can't provide it, so He emphasize that His Living Water will quench that thrist. But she takes Him literally again so He try's a different approach.
       John 4:16-18: When Jesus asks her to go get her husband, He says it just to hear how she chooses to respond. Her response and His response to that tells us why she is getting water in the middle of the day and that she is turning to men for fulfillment. 
        John 4:19: Jesus didn't give up or balk at her sin (because He is always patient and forgiving with all of us!) and now, He is finally getting through!!!
       John 4:20-26: Jesus and the women pretty much go through her religious beliefs and the truth and then Jesus tells her flat out that He is the Christ whom she's been waiting for. Can you imagine being that women?! You're a big time sinner, shunned by your community, and then, the most unlikely of people starts to talk to you about all sorts of things that seem way beyond your understanding. Can you imagine suddenly finding out that this guy who has sought you out is the king of everything, your savior! Can you imagine  everything clicking in your head all at once, everything He's been saying finally making since! I can because it happens to me all the time and I know that if I were that women I would want to stand there gaping, trying to soak the whole moment in, for hours.
        So anyway, that's all for today but that is definitely one of my favorite stories now! I'm in love with how insanely smart God is so that He didn't just right a book that connected everywhere but wrote a true story that did! He's so awesome! :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nick at Night

     Please read John 2:23-25(and all other verses throughout this post so that you know what I'm talking about.) This passage is the bridge between "The Whip" and "Nick at Night." It clarifies for us that Jesus not only knows all people, He knows what's inside all people which is awesome since I often don't know exactly what's inside myself! :) 
     Now for the actual story in John 3:1-15 but we'll start with John 3:1-3. We now know that Nicodemus is a Pharisee, about equal to a pro football player in Jewish society. These guys weren't just the priests who knew all about the Old Testament and made sacrifices, they were the big shots for the Jewish people and they hated Jesus because His power and message threatened to take away their "status." John tells us all about how everything that Jesus does has deeper meaning than just the literal definitions. The New Testament relates back to the old showing that centuries before JC, God's plan was in the works and He was giving hints and symbols about what was to come. However, the pharisees didn't exactly look at the Old Testament that way. They preferred to take the more literal interpretation instead of discovering the deeper, richer meaning God also intended. This literal interpretation allowed them to turn the word of God into the Jewish law book and while God did and does want us to follow His commandments, a law book is not what He wrote for us. So here we have Nicodemus, the surface level big shot coming to Jesus by night.
     There are a lot of reasons Nicodemus may have chose to come by night (I personally think it was because he didn't want his fellow Pharisees to judge him) but there's also reasons why God planed for Nicodemus to come at night (Nick at Night). Night and day are the same type of opposites a dark and light, night clearly being dark. Dark is used a symbol a lot in the Bible for being lost. Seeing as Nicodemus was lost in the dark, not seeing the light (Jesus) although it was standing right in front of him, we can congratulate God on some more awesome symbolism not only in His word but in real life (because this did actually happen!!!). 
     Now, although Nick(because that is what we are going to call him now) is lost, he's clearly on his way out because he came to Jesus. But when he got there, instead of asking questions he informed Jesus that "we know you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." Jesus response to the random comment is even more random, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."  To anyone listening (and us reading) this seems to be an extremely odd way to begin a conversation however to Jesus and Nick it wasn't. You see, as we learned in the bridge at the beginning of this post, Jesus knows what's inside all of us. We can pretty well assume that Nick wanted to ask about getting into God's kingdom but felt awkward about asking or Jesus knew Nick better than Nick knew himself and, therefore, told him what Nick needed to hear. Either way, Jesus knew and that's what matters!
     John 3:4-7 is some more of the conversation. Nick is confused because when Jesus says "born again" he is thinking of literally crawling back inside his mother (because, as we know, the pharisees are very literal) but that is NOT what Jesus is saying! :) Jesus clarifies by saying that one must be born of water and the Spirit (not that that is much clarification :)). But what I think it is referring to is baptism. No, you don't have to be baptized to be a believer but the water's of baptism are symbolic of the blood of Jesus, it washes you clean. The Spirit is God. When we are born the first time we are flesh or human because we are born from our parents bodies which is flesh. However, when we are washed clean by "water" and the Spirit comes into us making us a new person belonging to another family, we are born again! 
     Then Jesus shifts the conversation a bit in John 3:8 and starts talking about the wind. He explains to Nick that the wind is like life with God. It is in us and around us, strong and gentle, and altogether beautifully unpredictable. Jesus is telling Nick that their is a new way of connecting with God, a new way of seeing and entering His kingdom. This newness is like the wind and above all else, it will never end!
     Now the conversation really shifts directions due to Nick's confusion in John 3:9-13. Nick's confused, Jesus slightly reprimands him and the other Jews for missing the point (and the Messiah). He then makes His point by saying that non of these people on earth have ever been in heaven accept for Himself (Jesus) because He is the Son of Man (God's son in human form come as a sacrifice for us) and came from Heaven. If Jesus is the only one who's been in heaven there is no reason for the people to doubt His word. 
     Now we get tied back to the OT with John 3:14-15 (last section I promise! :)) To truly understand this we have to read Numbers 21:4-9. (And no, Jesus wasn't being stupid to tell Nick something he wouldn't be able to connect. Remember, Nick was a pharisee one of his job requirements was to know the OT inside and out so he knew exactly what JC was talking about.) So, Israelites complain, God sends snakes, snakes bite, bitten die, people repent, God tells Moses to make a model of the snake so that when people are bitten they look at their death to avoid dying. When Jesus says He will be lifted up like the serpent this can mean his death, resurrection and ascension since all three are part of the recipe eternal life with Him. However, being lifted up onto the cross is what I really see relating back to the snakes in Numbers. We are all sinners many time over and in comparison to God's righteousness we are all nasty criminals who deserve death and hell. Now, before Jesus saved us on the cross, the cross was a symbol of death and evil since it was where the worst criminals died. Since we are all nasty criminals it can also be a symbol of our death. Because Jesus was lifted up onto the cross, those who look at the death and suffering that should be ours will avoid it and be born again instead! (Don't you love how things come full circle.)
     Sorry for the book but it has come to it's conclusion...for now! :) If you are reading this I congratulate you on spending so much time learning about this part of the Bible and hope it will help you stay strong in your faith walk!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Whip (John 2:13-12)

     Last night, my Bible Study leader taught from John 2:13-22. I learned so much from her so I decided to write about that passage. Please click here to read it (or turn their in your paper Bible) before reading the rest of this post.
     I'm going to break the passage down bit by bit in effort to include everything I learned so get comfy, this will be a long post! :)
     13: The passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
     This is just background information. It's passover(a huge jewish holiday that celebrates God freeing them from bondage in Egypt, click here for the full story) so it's very crowded and there are people from all over filling Jerusalem, particularly the temple, to sacrifice animals to God. 
   14: In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there.
     So here's Jesus, He walks into the temple and instead of seeing bunches of people worshiping God and making sacrifices, He sees people buying animals to sacrifice and exchanging money with the "money-changers" so they would have the right currency to buy the animals with. 
   15: And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. (16) And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade." 
     Many people say that it is okay to be angry, Jesus was angry and this story is proof of it, but the thing is, this story never says Jesus was angry. Sure it seems like He was but the more I think about it, the less I think He was truly angry with the people. First off, nothing Jesus did cost the people around Him anything. He did not set the animals free, he made the sellers of of animals to leave with their animals. He flipped over the table and poured out the coins of the money-changers so that they could no longer do business but hurt no one in the process. Jesus was perfect and doing the wrong thing for the right reasons is still doing the wrong thing so nothing he did could have damaged anyone. Rather than angry, I think Jesus was appalled. The temple was supposed to be a place to focus on God yet the people had created so many distractions. Jesus wanted to get rid his father's house of distractions for the sake of the righteousness of God and His people.
   17: His disciples remembered that is was written, "Zeal for you house will consume me."
     This is found in Psalm 69:9. It is saying that Jesus was so fired up about keeping God's house pure and holy that it didn't matter what others thought of Him. The dictionary's definitions of zeal is "enthusiastic diligence." I think that's what Jesus had toward righteousness.
   18: So the Jews said to him, "What sign do you show us for doing these things?"
     The Jews reaction to Jesus follows their typical pattern, they are shocked by His behavior and immediately begin to question and doubt Him. Because of they basically ask Him what gives Him the right to do what He did. Yet, as always, Jesus had an answer for them! :)
   19: Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (20) The jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in tree days?" (21) But He was speaking about the temple of His body.
     The Jews are confused by Jesus response because they don't think it is possible for Jesus to rebuild the temple 16,787 days faster than they did. What they don't realize is that Jesus is not talking about the building. You see, the definition of temple is "place where God dwells." Because Jesus is God, God dwells in Him, making Him the temple. (Colossians 1:19) Jesus has the authority to clean the temple of distractions because He is the temple! 
   22: When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this, and they believed the scripture and the word the Jesus had spoken.
     What Jesus essentially did for the people questioning Him in the Temple is predict the future. Jesus told them that they were going to destroy the Temple but He would raise it up in 3 days. Unfortunately, no one understood what He meant until later when He returned to Jerusalem and was killed by the people only to rise again 3 days later! 

     So, now my lengthy break down of the passage draws to a close and I'll start in on what we can apply to our lives from this passage. A major thing that spoke to me in this passage is that a temple is a place where God dwells. Because the holy spirit dwells in us, our bodies are temples! (1 Corinthians 6:19) Now, lately I've been feeling God talking to me about putting aways some of the things that are taking my focus off Him, clearing the distractions out of my life! (This lesson actually followed up a church retreat where we studied idols though our leader wasn't aware of that. Such a cool God thing! He's a great planner!:) ) This was  further reinforcement of that, more proof of what God is asking me to do in order to gain the closeness with Him I have been asking Him to give! After all, relationships are two sided! 
     There are a lot of big distractions in my temple right now and last night I prayed that God would come in and help me drive out all of them just like He did in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago! I now have all whole bunch of new things I need to work on but I filled with peace and joy because I know that a fuller, deeper connection with God will make me much happier than any of "the distractions." I also know that I will have to stay strong in my effort to get rid of the distractions and that it will not be very fun, but I also know that If God is for me, nothing can stand against me(Romans 8:31) and that the end result will be more than worth it! 
When the Romans came the destroyed a lot of the temple where the story took place. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Beatitudes (Luke 6:20-23)

Facts about The Beatitudes: 

  • JC's words
  • Tell about the relationship between Heaven and earth
  • Found in Luke 6:20-23
  • Show us the opposite nature in Heaven than on earth
  • The word Beatitude means extreme blessedness and/or happiness
With these facts in mind please click on the link for Luke 6:20-23 and read the beatitudes to familiarize or "refamiliarize" yourself with them before reading the rest of the post.

   So, I read them these verses this morning and started to think about how I know many people who aren't hungry or poor or weeping or hated but definitely love God and are working the further His kingdom, what about them? Are they blessed? Will they by satisfied? The answer is yes, but why?
   I think that when we truly follow Jesus with all our being we will be poor and hungry and sad, just not always in the traditional context.

  • "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."                                                                Being poor doesn't always mean lacking money, it just means lacking. As Christians we may lack in all sorts of worldly things such as endless friends or party invitations but the sadness we may feel because of what we lack will completely disappear when we are blessed in Heaven.
  • Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied."                                                           This could be taken literally but I know that in my case it isn't. There isn't a day when I don't get all the food I need but I can be hungry for other things like Jesus. The more "hungry" we are for Jesus, the more we recognize our need for Him and spend time with Him, the more He will fill us up now but more important satisfy us eternally in heaven!
  • Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh."                  I personally am under the impression that no matter who you are and what your story is, you've cried (or at least been sad). The thing is, in a world of sin there is a lot of stuff that can hurt us but God promises that if we put ourselves out there for His good and get hurt because of it He'll make it up to us.
  • Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!                                                            This is similar to the weeping one in my opinion but it emphasizes the point that we must do things for His kingdom if we want these things to be part of our story. If someone buys you a shirt you might right them a thank-you note and your gratefulness would bless them but if the bought themselves a shirt you won't write them a note because you have no part in that. It's like that with God to, if we get hurt trying to help ourselves, why would that put you a position to receive God's blessings? 
Anyway, I'd always thought they were pretty but never read them with that mindset before. I hope this helped you understand them better too! :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Prioritizing Prayer

   Prayer is something that many people think they're sufficient at but I've yet to meet someone who's truly "perfected prayer." There are people who have the right words and pray over others, over food, and at night but prayer is more that that. Prayer shouldn't just be something you do at a certain time, it should be something you do all the time. While reading the Bible I've noticed three main parts of prayer that will truly change our lives: persistency, faith, and conversation.
   While I definitely need work in all three areas, persistency is something I've been focusing on for a while. The Bible says many times (Romans 12:12) that we should pray every moment. This is very hard for me because I often get caught up in living and forget about God for hours at time. However, when I do keep up a constant conversation with him, my mood is better all day! Everything in the Bible is there to help us and in my experience, persistent prayer changes my outlook and attitude towards the day for the better.
    Faith is something a lot of people, myself included, struggle with. The Bible tells us that if we truly believe will receive what we ask for we will (Mark 11:24). However, there are lots of times where I know that God can do something but have trouble believing that He will. But the more I see God at work, the more faith I have. The disciples are a great example of how this played out. They saw Jesus work miracles over and over yet they didn't have enough faith to do it themselves for several years but eventually they were preforming miracles everyday. If we immerse ourselves in Gods wonder, we will have more belief in it. 
   God wants to have a true friendship with us. Peter had one of the strongest faith's in the Bible yet He rebuked Jesus several different times (Matthew 16:22 for example).  Jacob had a vivid prayer life yet he wrestles with God (Genesis 32:22-32). God wants us to ask questions and wrestle with doubts. He wants us to have a real friendship that grows and changes. When we pray He wants it to be a conversation with a good friend because that's who He wants to be for us, our best friend. 
    Prayer is something I've been convicted of a lot in my life and is a extremely important part of following the Lord. My challenge to myself and anyone who's reading this is to focus on these three elements of prayer in order to grow you relationship with God!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Judging Others

   Passing judgement on other people is something a lot of people, myself included, struggle with. The other day I was reading Romans and ran across this verse.
     You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Romans 2:1
    It made me stop to think because while I might not sin in exactly the same way as other people, I still sin, and because of that, the very action judging them is a sin. When we judge we're looking down on someone for sinning while we ourselves sin! I knew that before but needed the reminder. (Thank you God!)
    One thing that causes me to judge is profane language. When someone curses, my opinion of them automatically, and often subconsciously, goes down. However, I have one friend that I really like but she isn't a Christian and has absolutely no interest in any kind of faith. She does different things I don't agree with (because I'm looking through Bible eyes), including her word choice. But often, instead of judging her when she says things, I judge the word she's just said. If I can do this with her vulgarity, why can't I do it with everyone and every sin, why can't we all?
    What I'm not saying is that we should ignore that a certain person is doing something. We shouldn't. We need to keep in mind the ways different people are challenged so that we can be there for them if God ever asks us to, or share of verse we're feeling led to share with them. What we shouldn't do is hold the sin against them.
     So, in conclusion, don't judge people, judge actions. Don't see someone you don't want to be like, see something you don't want to do. 
You who judge often practice the same thing.
p.s. Click here for more verses about judging. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Justified by Faith

   The Bible tells us many times that we are sinful people and don't deserve any of the blessings God gives us (Romans 3:23). That is why Jesus came! Jesus is the only reason any of the Bible matters to us. No matter how many rules, strategies, warnings, or encouraging words God gives, we all mess up all the time. So, without salvation through Jesus, nothing matters. The reason John 3:16 is such a well known verse is because it lays out the foundation of Christianity, 
    "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
    What this means is that God loves each one of us so much that He sent His perfect son into certain torture so that we, despite our own imperfections, can be with Him forever. This is amazing, the best news ever, the Good News! But sometimes I struggle with the reality of this verse.
    Many people often think of themselves as pretty good, I do. I know that I need Jesus but sometimes slip into the trap of thinking that I deserve more than some other people because of I'm "better" than them. Earlier this morning, I was doing my Bible Study and ran across the verse that I thought was extremely cool and exactly what I needed to help me with this particular struggle. 
   "If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about--but not before God." Romans 4:2
   A little background knowledge for those who don't know, Abraham is the father of the Israelites (God's people). He had great faith in God and did a lot of good stuff, if anyone has something to brag about, it would be Him. However, he could only brag to other people. No one goes up to a famous singer and says, "I'm a really good singer and I sang in my 5th grade talent show 10 years ago and my parents clapped really loudly for me." That would sound extremely stupid and trying to brag about the good things I've done in my life would sound just like that if I were to say them to someone perfect (aka God). Especially since I wouldn't even know the difference between right and wrong without the Bible and the moral compass He's put in each of us! 
   Thankfully, I will never have to try and tell God the "good things" I've done because we are not justified by works, we are justified through faith, faith in Jesus. When the day comes for God to judge me, He will declare me innocent because of my faith in Jesus. Nothing else matters. That's why it's so important for the whole world to see what Jesus did for each of us, to accept that gift and to spend our lives praising Him for saving us. So, in conclusion: If we do good things purely out of thankfulness for what God has done for us, that is when what we are doing is purely good! :)
    I felt like a good verse to end this post with would be another one from Romans, this time Romans 6:23,
    "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
     I think a fun way to memorize scripture is through song.  click here for a Romans 6:23 memorization song! You can find cool songs for other verses as well on the Seeds Family Worship website (the same one the Romans 2:23 song is on). If you see the logo below, you're at the right place! :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What's it all about?

the Living Word reflected in the Living Water
   The purpose of this blog is to share neat Bible verses I've run across and that mean something to me. Each post will focus on a specific verse and include a description of what I think the verse means. I will share how I've seen the verse applied in my life, thoughts, or the lives of others. My posts will also include creative ways to share scripture with you friends and family. Hopefully you will gain knowledge and insight on different verses as well as be encouraged to share verses with others!

These are two websites I've found very helpful while studying the Bible:

1) Bible Gateway: This website lets you search verses, passages, or key words and will pull results from all over the Bible in Biblical order. You can read verses in any translation, get reading plans and devotionals, and listen to the Bible due to the audio option.

2) Open Bible (Topical Feature): This website feature enables you to search any word and pulls up verses in order of popularity and relevance. Whether you need a verse to encourage yourself or a friend, this is a quick, easy, and helpful tool to help you in you search.