29 November 2016

BSF 2016-2017: John 7:1-53

In John chapter 7, we see that unbelief and hostility toward Jesus are increasing. (This passage is about six months away from Jesus’ crucifixion.) The Jewish leaders were angry that Jesus healed the lame man on the Sabbath, so they plotted to kill Him.

Jesus remained in Galilee to avoid the Jewish leaders. The Feast of Tabernacles was arriving, so Jesus’ brothers expected Him to go to Jerusalem for this festival. They encouraged Him to go to the feast and perform signs and miracles to make their family famous and to show Himself to the world.

But Jesus told them that His time had not come yet. It was not the time for Him to go public. He didn’t want to have a premature confrontation with the Jewish leaders. Jesus was on God’s timetable, not man’s.

After His brothers went to the festival, Jesus quietly and privately went to the festival. At the festival, the Jewish leaders were looking for Jesus and the crowd was murmuring. Some said Jesus was a good man, some said Jesus was a deceiver. No one confessed that Jesus was God.

Later during the festival, Jesus taught in the temple courts. The people were amazed at His knowledge even though He hadn’t studied under Jewish rabbis. Jesus said He came from the Father to teach the people and to give God glory.

Jesus pointed out that the Jewish leaders were hypocritical. They refused to let Jesus heal on the Sabbath, but they “worked” to circumcise a newborn on the Sabbath. The Jews were tied to the letter of the law and ignored the spirit of the law. Jesus’ healing of the man kept the spirit of the law and followed God’s will.

The people of Jerusalem struggled to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus again confirmed that He was sent by God. The leaders did not believe Jesus was God and the promised Messiah. The Jewish leaders tried to seize Jesus but failed because it wasn’t in God’s will. Many in the crowd believed in Jesus as the Messiah.

Jesus explained that He would return to the Father. And anyone who doesn’t believe in Him (including the Jewish leaders) would not be with Him and the Father in heaven.

Again the people are divided and confused. Some said Jesus was a prophet. Some said Jesus was the Messiah. But they didn’t think Jesus was the Messiah because He came from Galilee and the Messiah was supposed to come from Bethlehem. The people were judging Jesus based on appearances and on what they thought was true.

The people wanted to seize Jesus, but they failed because it was not His time.

Nicodemus defended Jesus by bringing up a Jewish law that stated that no one could be condemned without first speaking his case. The Jewish leaders were treating Jesus unfairly but failed to realize this.

Things to Think About
  • God has a divine timetable with a divine agenda.
  • Do you ask God to reveal His will for you each day so you ensure that you remain on His timetable?
  • Jesus faced worldly pressures from His brothers. He did not cave in to these pressures because He was in tune with God’s perfect plan and timetable.
  • Jesus knew who He was and where He was going. He remained confident no matter what the people said. We shouldn’t allow other people’s thoughts to prevent us from claiming our true identity in Christ.
  • Someone’s opinion of Jesus does not change the reality of who He is. Jesus is the Messiah.

This Week’s Memory Verse
Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. John 7:37-38 NIV

24 November 2016

22 November 2016

BSF 2016-2017: John 6:41-71

In the first six chapters of John, Jesus has one consistent message – He is life, and eternal life comes through Him. This week we see that Jesus’ consistent message caused people to grumble, to argue, and to leave Him.

The Jews began to question Jesus’ claim that He came from heaven because they knew that Mary and Joseph were His parents. The Jews did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. They dismissed this possibility and grumbled over Jesus’ divine authority. They could have asked Jesus for clarification, but instead they grumbled among themselves.

Jesus called Himself the Living Bread. The manna sustained the Israelites in the wilderness, but Jesus promised to sustain them on earth now and in heaven for eternity. Jesus did not say the people had to eat His flesh and drink His blood physically; there was spiritual symbolism to His words. To eat His flesh was symbolic of believing in Christ. And to drink His blood was symbolic of participating personally in Jesus’ death. It is accepting that Jesus’ blood covered your sins.

The people failed to make a spiritual application to Jesus’ words. Instead of asking Jesus to clarify His teaching, the people sharply argue with each other. After hearing Jesus’ hard teaching, many of His followers decided to leave. They could not accept that He was fully God and that His death and resurrection would bring eternal life.

Their hearts were hardened. They were more interested in miracles, physical food, and political freedom rather than spiritual food and spiritual deliverance. They refused to humble themselves to ask questions. They were full of pride.

As the scoffers left, Jesus turned to His 12 apostles and asked if they were leaving too. Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Things to Think About
  • Jesus’ claims demand a personal response. What is your response to Jesus’ hard teachings?
  • Do you ask God to help you understand difficult teachings, or do you dismiss the truth because it’s too difficult to believe?
  • Is God drawing you to Him? How are you responding?
  • Jesus lost followers due to a message of truth. He didn’t change His message to please them or to keep them as His followers. Remain faithful to the truth of God’s Word. People are not won to Christ by compromising truth.

This Week’s Memory Verse
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. John 6:51 NIV

17 November 2016

15 November 2016

BSF 2016-2017: John 6:22-40

After Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish, the people continued to follow Him. But they had shallow motives; they wanted Jesus to continue to feed them bread in miraculous ways.

Jesus told the people to work for “food” that endures eternally, not “food” that spoils. Anything that doesn’t have eternal value spoils; it is not worth our time and energy. The people asked Jesus what they must do to do the works God requires. They wanted a to-do list that they could check off. Jesus answered that they simply must believe in Him. This is the only work God requires for salvation.

No one can be justified before holy God with human works. God extends His grace to sinners by giving them faith to believe in Jesus. After we are justified, God gives us works to do. A sincere profession of faith is followed by a changed life with good works that have been ordained by God. We are justified through faith; it is God’s work alone. (See Ephesians 2:8-9.)

The same people who just the day before watched Jesus miraculously feed more than 5,000 now asked for another sign from Him so they could believe Him. There was a teaching at this time that the promised Messiah would provide manna from heaven just as God did for the Israelites in the desert. Jesus explained that God continues to give bread from heaven; now it is Jesus Himself who came from heaven to give life to the world. Jesus is the manna.

Jesus told them, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” We can’t do anything to undo our salvation, and we can’t do anything to improve our status before God.

Jesus said that His work is to graciously receive everyone whom God brings to Him and to secure believers in Him.

Things to Think About
  • Are you striving for something that doesn’t have eternal value?
  • The only work involved with receiving eternal life is believing in Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven, gives eternal life, security, and lasting satisfaction to all who receive Him.
  • We make sure that we receive physical nourishment daily. But is it a daily priority for you to receive spiritual nourishment daily from Jesus?

This Week’s Memory Verse
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 NIV

10 November 2016

08 November 2016

BSF 2016-2017: John 6:1-21

Jesus originally planned to withdraw with His disciples to rest, fellowship, and listen to their ministry reports. But God interrupted this plan when a multitude of people expressed their desire for Jesus to teach them. The disciples wanted to send the people away. Jesus knew that the crowd took priority over any of His own needs.

The revised plan was to feed the more than 5,000 people. Jesus asked Philip how they should feed the crowd. Philip said they didn’t have enough money to feed the people. Andrew brought a boy and his small lunch to Jesus. The boy willingly offered his food to Jesus.

Jesus gave thanks to God then distributed the food to all of the people until they “all had enough to eat.” They had all that they wanted, and there were leftovers! Jesus instructed the disciples to pick up the leftovers because He didn’t want to have anything wasted.

In response to this miracle, the crowd wanted to crown Jesus as their king. They called Him the Prophet and the Messiah. When Jesus realized that the people wanted to take Him by force and make Him their king, Jesus withdrew by Himself to a mountain to pray. This large crowd could have caused a riot and taken Him as their king. Jesus protected His disciples by sending them away.

He sent them in a boat to go to Capernaum. While in the boat, the disciples ran into a rough storm. These expert fishermen struggled against the storm. In the middle of the lake, they suddenly saw someone on the water, and they became frightened.

It was Jesus! He yelled at them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then the disciples pulled Him into their boat, and they immediately arrived safely at the shore.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus develops our faith and calms our fears.
  • Jesus should set the priorities of our lives. When we allow Him to do this, we can fully engage in His plan for our lives.
  • We should be grateful for everything God gives us, no matter how big or how small.
  • Jesus makes sufficient whatever you place in His hands.
  • In which situation do I think my resources are insignificant? Will I bring it to Jesus in faith, trusting Him to multiply it?
  • Jesus was faithful to care for His disciples even though He sent them into the storm.
  • In our storms, Jesus prays for us, Jesus comes to us, and Jesus delivers us (though maybe not on this side of heaven).
  • Our obedience always brings blessings; sometimes it brings trials and storms. Jesus calls us to obey everything He commands us to do.

This Week’s Memory Verse
When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; donʼt be afraid.” John 6:19-20 NIV

03 November 2016

01 November 2016

BSF 2016-2017: John 5:1-47

Jesus was in Jerusalem for a Jewish festival. While there, He passed by a pool where there were many disabled people. People believed that if they entered the pool’s water at the right time, they would be healed supernaturally.

At this pool, Jesus met a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to get well?” The invalid made excuses. He could not be healed because no one would help him into the pool. Jesus instructed the man to get up, pick up his mat, and walk. Jesus healed the man instantly. The healing took place on the Sabbath.

The Sabbath is a holy day God that set aside for His people to rest. But the religious leaders added many, many rules and regulations to the Sabbath. This was not God’s intent. The religious leaders saw the man carrying his mat, which was a violation of their Sabbath rules. The man told the religious leaders that Jesus told him to carry his mat. The religious leaders accused both the paralyzed man and Jesus of breaking the Sabbath.

Later, Jesus found the man at the temple. Jesus told him to stop sinning – stop doing what you’re doing. What was the man doing? He was being ignorant of Jesus, the person who healed him.

The religious leaders began to persecute Jesus because He healed the man on the Sabbath. Jesus responded by saying that He was doing His Father’s work. This caused the religious leaders to become even angrier because Jesus was calling Himself equal with God. He claimed to be God Himself. This was blasphemy.

But Jesus indeed is God! Jesus spoke out about His character and His purpose from God. Then Jesus presented the testimonies of other people to prove that He is who He says He is:

  • God the Father called Jesus His Son.
  • The Scriptures had spoken about who Jesus is and what He would do.
  • Jesus’ actual work allowed people to see His divine nature.

The religious leaders knew the Scriptures, but they didn’t know the God of the Scriptures. They loved their position more than they loved God Himself. The religious leaders rejected Jesus out of rebellion, out of a resistance to God, out of pride, out of idolatry, and out of unbelief.

What will you do with Jesus? Will you accept Him or reject Him?

Things to Think About
  • Do you make excuses when God asks something of your? Do you blame others for something you lack?
  • Are you in a hopeless or helpless situation? Have you taken your concerns to God? Sometimes God changes our circumstances; other times God leaves us in our circumstances but gives us hope and encouragement. Are you willing to trust Him?
  • Are you a religious person, or are you a person with real relationship with Jesus?

This Week’s Memory Verse
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24 NIV