One Way or Another

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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

7-8 Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”

9-10 Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

11 They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.

12 In a dream, God warned them not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.

-Matthew 2:7-12 The Message

Verse 7: Then Herod secretly called for the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.

Verse 8: And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”

Verse 8 study: Herod’s only motive is was to kill Jesus, not worship him. Herod’s plan was through Magi, temporarily, until the Magi made their escape after being warned in a dream to go and not warn Herod of Jesus’ whereabouts.

Verse 9: After hearing the king, they went on their way; and behold, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on ahead of them until it came to a stop over the place where the Child was to be found.

Verse 10: When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

Verse 11: And after they came into the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary; and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Verse 11 study: Luke 2:39 has more information on why Mary and Joseph stayed in Bethlehem. When Magi found Jesus, he was only a year or two old. Mary and Joseph were married, had a house, and planned to stay in Bethlehem for a while. Now the Magi gave expensive gifts because it is worth it for a future king. Bible students see the gifts as symbols of Christ’s identity and what they accomplish. Gold was a gift for a king; frankincense is a gift of deity; myrrh is a spice for a person who was going to die. The gifts could have provided the financial resources for the trip to and from Egypt. What the Magi did in buying gifts is a true essence of worship. Honoring Christ for who he is and willing to give him what is valuable to you. Worship God because he is a perfect, almighty Creator of the universe worthy of the best you have to offer.

Verse 12: After being warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country in another way.

Verse 12 study: After finding Jesus and worshipping him, the Magi were warned by God through a dream not to return to Jerusalem as they planned. Finding Jesus means you may have to take a different direction in obedience and responsiveness to God’s word. When Jesus comes into your life, are you willing to be led another way?

Father, letting Jesus into our lives and listening is key to being able to hear you. I pray that when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, we will do it openly and allow us to be led differently. There is nothing wrong with being different. It shows others that you are diverse and authentic in what you believe in. Let us have that distinct personality separated from others. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

The Magi

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Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Scholars from the East

2 1-2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory—during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.”

3-4 When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religious scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

5-6 They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:

It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land,

    no longer bringing up the rear.

From you will come the leader

    who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.”

-Matthew 2:1-6 The Message

The Visit of the Magi

2 Verse 1: Now, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod, the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 

Verse 2: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

Verse 1 study: Bethlehem is a small town five miles south of Jerusalem. It sits over 2,000 feet above sea level on a high ridge. Details can be found in the Gospel of Luke. Also, Luke explains why Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born, rather than their hometown of Nazareth. The land of Israel was divided into four political districts and lesser territories. Judea was to the South, Samaria in the middle, Galilee to the north, and Idumea to the southeast. Bethlehem of Judea (also called Judea 2:6) was prophesied as the Messiah’s birthplace (Micah 5:2). Judea was in Jerusalem, and Herod the Great was the seat of the government in all four political districts. After his death, the districts went to three separate rulers (2:19-22). Herod was evil, a person who murdered a lot in his own family. He supervised renovations of the temple to have it more extensive and beautiful. That made him popular with many Jews. Jesus visited Jerusalem because the tremendous Jewish festivals were held there.

Verses 1-2 study: There is not much on the Magi, traditionally called the wise men. Nobody knew where they came from or how many there were. Tradition says they were high in position from Parthia, near the site of ancient Babylon. So how did they know the star represented the Messiah?

  1. Possibly could have been the Jews who remained in Babylon after the Exile and knew the Old Testament predictions of the Messiah’s coming.
  2. They may have been studying the ancient manuscripts from around the world. Because of the Jewish Exile centuries earlier, they would have had copies of the Old Testament in their land.
  3. They could have had a special message from God leading them to the Messiah.

Scholars say the magi were from a different land, representing the entire world bowing before Jesus. These men recognized Jesus as the Messiah when God’s chosen people in Israel did not. Matthew is putting it into perspective as Jesus the King over the world and not Judea; Magi traveled thousands of miles to see the king of the Jews. After finding him, they worship, give joy and gifts. This is a different approach people would take today. We expect God to look for us, explain himself, prove who he is and give us gits. Wise people still seek and worship Jesus today, not for what they can get, but for who he is.

Verse 2 study: The Magi said they saw Jesus’ star, Balaam referred to a coming star…from Jacob (Numbers 24:17). Some believe that the star conjunct Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars in 6 B.C., and others also explain. Something to think about is what God can do. Couldn’t God, who created the heavens, make an impressive star to signal the arrival of his Son? God has his purpose in the star; nobody knows the purpose, but the Magi traveled thousands of miles searching for a king and found him.

Verse 3: When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Verse 3 study: Herod was confused as to why the Magi asked about a newborn king of the Jews because:

  1. Herod was not the rightful heir to the throne of David; many Jews hated him as a usurper. Trouble would come if Jesus was their heir.
  2. Herod was suspicious because he was ruthless and had many enemies, so he thought someone would overthrow him.
  3. Herod didn’t want to unite around religious figures from the Jews or a religious person.
  4. If the Magi were of Jewish descent and from Parthia, they welcomed a Jewish king who could swing the balance of power away from Rome. The land of Israel would have been easy for a nation trying to gain control.

Verse 4: And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.

Verse 4 study: The chief priest and scribes were aware of Micah 5:2 and the other prophecies about the Messiah. What troubled Herod was the Magi’s news because he knew the Jewish people expected the Messiah to be a great military and political deliver. Case to that point, Alexander the Great. Herod’s counselors would have advised him of that. So it is to be seen why he wanted the order of all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed (2:16), making him even more ruthless and evil.

Verse 5: They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

Verse 6: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,

Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;

For from you will come forth a Ruler

Who will shepherd My people Israel.'”

Verses 5-6 studies: Matthew took a habit to quote Old Testament prophets. The prophecy he paraphrased in Micah 5:2 had been delivered seven centuries earlier.

Verse 6 study: Many religious leaders believed in the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies. They thought that the Messiah was born in Bethlehem. But when Jesus was born, the same religious leaders became the greatest enemies. Ironic, isn’t it? After all that waiting, religious leaders didn’t recognize him.

Father, it is a lot to unpack in these first 6 verses of the Magi’s visit and Jesus’ birth. But, it’s a good old fashion history study and learning more about your Son, who you made sure sacrificed our sins for us. Thank you for letting us as followers be a part of that history and understanding, Jesus. The Magi is a good lesson for all of us to know who Jesus is, listening to what Jesus has to say, and following up with it. Let us continue to learn about all the sacrifices Jesus made for us and turn it into wisdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Immanuel “God With Us”

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Monday, November 8, 2021

The Birth of Jesus

18-19 The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they enjoyed their wedding night, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

20-23 While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic revelation to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;

They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).

24-25 Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.

-Matthew 1:18-25 The Message

Conception and Birth of Jesus

Verse 18: Now, the birth of Jesus the Messiah was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph before they came together, she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

Verse 18 study: There are three steps in a Jewish marriage.

  1. The two families agree on the union.
  2. A public announcement is made. The couple at this point is “betrothed.” It is similar to engagement today, except the relationship can be broken only through death or divorce. Sexual relations were not yet permitted.
  3. The couple is married and is living together.

Mary and Joseph were engaged; her apparent unfaithfulness carried on a severe social stigma. Jewish law says that Joseph had the right to divorce her, and Jewish authority could have stoned her to death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).

What is so important about a virgin birth to the Christian faith? First, Jesus Christ had to be free from the sinful nature passed to all other human beings by Adam. Second, because Jesus was born of a woman, he was a human being. But as a Son of God, Jesus was born both fully human and fully divine. Third, Jesus lived as a man; we should know that he understands our experiences and struggles (Hebrews 4:15-16). Finally, because he is God, he has the power and authority to deliver us from sin (Colossians 2:13-15). He has been where we have been, and he has the qualifications to help.

Verse 19: Her husband Joseph, since he was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

Verse 19 study: Joseph believed he only had two options: Divorce Mary or have her stoned. God had a third option: Marry her (1-20-23). Joseph didn’t think anything of it until God mentioned the third option. Thus, God shows us there are more options than we believe it to be. According to the law, Joseph seemed to do the right thing by breaking off the engagement, but God’s guidance helped him make the right decision. Thus, this is why we should always seek God’s wisdom.

Verse 20: But when he had thought this over, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 20 study: Jesus Christ’s birth is a supernatural event and goes beyond human logic or reasoning. Since it was that way, God sent angels to help people understand the significance of what was happening (2:13, 19: Luke 1:11, 26; 2:9).

Angels are spiritual beings created by God to help carry out his work. They help bring God’s message to people (Luke 1:26), protect God’s people (Daniel 6:22), offer encouragement (Genesis 16:7), give guidance (Exodus 14:19), carry out punishment (2 Samuel 24:16), patrol the earth (Zechariah 1:9-14), and fight the forces of evil (2 Kings 6:16-18; Revelation 20:1-2). Although there are good and bad angels (Revelation 12:7), evil angels are often allied with the devil or satan; they have less power and authority than good angels. The leading role will be to offer continuous praise to God (Revelation 7:11-12).

Verse 21: She will give birth to a Son; and you shall name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Verse 21 study: “The Lord saves,” is what Jesus means. Jesus came to earth to save us because we can’t save ourselves from sin and the consequences. We can be good, but we can’t eliminate the sinful nature in all of us. Only Jesus can do that. Jesus didn’t come to help people save themselves; he came to be their savior from the power and penalty of sin. So keep thanking Christ of his death on the cross for your sins and then ask him to take control of your life. Your new life begins right at that moment.

Verse 22: Now, all this took place so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled:

Verse 23: “Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and they shall name Him Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”

Verse 23 study: Immanuel is what Jesus was to be called, also meaning “God with Us,” as predicted by Isaiah the Prophet (Isaiah 7:14). Jesus was God in the flesh: God was literally among us, hence, “with us.” Through the Holy Spirit, Christ is with us today in the life of every believer. Even Isaiah didn’t understand how far-reaching the meaning of “Immanuel” would be.

Verses 20-23 studies: The angel told Joseph that Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit and would be a son. It reveals an essential truth about Jesus. He is both human and God. God took on the limitations of humanity so he could live and die for the salvation of all who believe in him.

Verse 24: And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,

Verse 25: but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; he named Him Jesus.

Verse 24 study: Joseph did change his plans quickly after learning Mary had not been unfaithful to him (1:19). He obeyed God and proceeded with marriage. People were disappointed in his decision, but Joseph went ahead with what he knew was right. We tend to avoid doing the right thing because of other people’s thoughts. Like Joseph, we should obey God rather than seek approval from others.

Verses 18-25 studies: Joseph faced a challenging situation after he learned Mary was pregnant. He knew taking Mary would be humiliating, but Joseph decided to follow the angel’s advice to marry her. Four actions revealed his admirable qualities:

  1. Righteousness (1:19).
  2. Discretion and sensitivity (1:19).
  3. Responsiveness to God (1:24).
  4. Self-discipline (1:25). 

Thank you, Father, for sharing your wisdom with us. We will never understand the gravity of our situation unless you are involved. Therefore, let us be humble enough to come to you with our problems and open our hearts to hear you. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

More of Jesus’ Ancestry

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Sunday, November 7, 2021

12-16 When the Babylonian exile ended,

Jeconiah had Shealtiel,

Shealtiel had Zerubbabel,

Zerubbabel had Abiud,

Abiud had Eliakim,

Eliakim had Azor,

Azor had Zadok,

Zadok had Achim,

Achim had Eliud,

Eliud had Eleazar,

Eleazar had Matthan,

Matthan had Jacob,

Jacob had Joseph, Mary’s husband,

the Mary who gave birth to Jesus,

the Jesus who was called Christ.

17 There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David,

another fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile,

and yet another fourteen from the Babylonian exile to Christ.

-Matthew 1:12-17 The Message

Verse 12: After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah fathered Shealtiel, and Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel.

Verse 13: Zerubbabel fathered Abihud, Abihud fathered Eliakim, and Eliakim fathered Azor.

Verse 14: Azor fathered Zadok, Zadok fathered Achim, and Achim fathered Eliud.

Verse 15: Eliud fathered Eleazar, Eleazar fathered Matthan, and Matthan fathered Jacob.

Verse 16: Jacob fathered Joseph, the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

Verse 16 study: Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant. Matthew lists Joseph as the husband only to Mary, not the father of Jesus. Matthew’s genealogy gives Jesus’ legal lineage through Joseph. Mary’s ancestral line is recorded in Luke 3:23-28, Mary and Joseph were direct descendants of David, and Matthew traced the family tree back to Abraham. Luke traced it back to Adam. Matthew wrote to the Jews, so Jesus was shown as a descendant of their father, Abraham. Luke wrote to the Gentiles, so he emphasized Jesus as the Savior of all people.

Verse 17: So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

Verse 17 study: Matthew breaks down Israel’s history into three sets of 14 generations. There are probably more generations, but it is not listed. Genealogies usually are compressed history, as in not recorded of all ancestors and generations. The phrase the father can be translated to “the ancestor of.”

Father, Joseph had a hard decision ahead of him when he learned of Mary’s pregnancy. Like a lot of us, we all have tough choices ahead of us. So come into our hearts and give us your wisdom in direction. It is always best to go to you in these situations. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Jesus’ Ancestry

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Saturday, November 6, 2021

1 The family tree of Jesus Christ, David’s Son, Abraham’s Son:

2-6 Abraham had Isaac,

Isaac had Jacob,

Jacob had Judah and his brothers,

Judah had Perez and Zerah (the mother was Tamar),

Perez had Hezron,

Hezron had Aram,

Aram had Amminadab,

Amminadab had Nahshon,

Nahshon had Salmon,

Salmon had Boaz (his mother was Rahab),

Boaz had Obed (Ruth was the mother),

Obed had Jesse,

Jesse had David,

and David became king.

6-11 David had Solomon (Uriah’s wife was the mother),

Solomon had Rehoboam,

Rehoboam had Abijah,

Abijah had Asa,

Asa had Jehoshaphat,

Jehoshaphat had Joram,

Joram had Uzziah,

Uzziah had Jotham,

Jotham had Ahaz,

Ahaz had Hezekiah,

Hezekiah had Manasseh,

Manasseh had Amon,

Amon had Josiah,

Josiah had Jehoiachin and his brothers,

and then the people were taken into Babylonian Exile.

-Matthew 1:1-11 The Message

We are about to learn more of Jesus, this time his family tree and his birth. To have a relationship, we should learn all we should know about Jesus, big or small. So let’s get into it.

The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

Verse 1: The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

Verse 1 study: Verses 1-17 share the ancestry of Jesus. We will finish the rest in tomorrow’s blog. This piece of writing and facts of history was preserved carefully. Matthew is writing and is doing it mainly for a Jewish audience. This is an exciting way Matthew starts off this book. Matthew begins with proof of two things.

  1. This shows that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, the father of all Jews, and a direct descendant of David, fulfilling Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah’s line.
  2. What Matthew recorded showed Jesus is the true Messiah.

More than 400 years have passed since the last Old Testament prophecies. Then, faithful Jews everywhere were waiting for the Messiah (Luke 3:15). Matthew wrote this to the Jews to present Jesus as King and Messiah. The promised descendant of David who would reign forever (Isaiah 11:1-5). The Gospel of Matthew connects with the Old and New Testaments and contains many references that show Jesus and how he fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy.

Jesus entered human history when the land of Palestine was controlled by Rome and was an insignificant outpost of the vast and mighty Roman empire. The Roman soldiers’ presence gave Jewish military peace but cost them oppression, slavery, injustice, and immorality. This is the world that the Messiah came to.

Verse 2: Abraham fathered Isaac, Isaac fathered Jacob, and Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers.

Verse 3: Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez fathered Hezron, and Hezron fathered Ram.

Verse 4: Ram fathered Amminadab, Amminadab fathered Nahshon. Nahshon fathered Salmon.

Verse 5: Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth, and Obed fathered Jesse.

Verse 6: Jesse fathered David, the king.

David fathered Solomon by her, who had been the wife of Uriah.

Verse 7: Solomon fathered Rehoboam, Rehoboam fathered Abijah, and Abijah fathered Asa

Verse 8: Asa fathered Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat fathered Joram, and Joram fathered Uzziah.

Verse 9: Uzziah fathered Jotham, Jotham fathered Ahaz, and Ahaz fathered Hezekiah.

Verse 10: Hezekiah fathered Manasseh, Manasseh fathered Amon, and Amon fathered Josiah.

Verse 11: Josiah fathered Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

Verse 11 study: In 586 B.C., the deportation or Exile happened when Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylonia, conquered Judah, destroyed Jerusalem, and took thousands of captives to Babylonia.

Verses 1-17 studies: A total of forty-six people, which spans over 2,000 years, also all ancestors of Jesus, but had different personalities, spirituality, and experience. Some were heroes of faith; Abraham, Issac, Ruth, and David. Some had had shady reputations; Rahab and Tamar. Some were ordinary; Hezron, Ram, Nahshon, and Achim. Others were evil; Manasseh and Abijah. God’s work through history is not limited by human failures or sins but works through ordinary people. God uses all kinds of people to bring his Son into the world to achieve his will and accomplish it. God wants to use you as well.

Father, thank you for this recording of Jesus’ ancestors. This gives us a better strength in our relationship with Jesus to grow. Let us continue to have the education of Jesus, even in the small things. We don’t have to be perfect for you to use us. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Mind Your Business

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Friday, November 5, 2021

17-19 Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”

20-21 Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. So when Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?”

22-23 Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.” That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?”

24 This is the same disciple who was an eyewitness to all these things and wrote them down. And we all know that his eyewitness account is reliable and accurate.

25 There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books.

-John 21:17-25 The Message

Verse 17: He *said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” So Peter was hurt because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” So Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep.

Our Times Are in His Hand

Verse 18: Truly, truly I tell you, when you were younger, you used to put on your belt and walk wherever you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will put your belt on you, and bring you where you do not want to go.”

Verse 19: Now He said this, indicating by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had said this, He *said to him, “Follow Me!”

Verses 18-19 study: This is a prediction of Peter’s death by crucifixion. Peter was crucified for his faith, as tradition would indicate. He didn’t feel worthy of dying as his Lord did. Despite Peter’s future, Jesus told him to follow him. We can be uncertain and fearful of our own future. If we know God is in control, we can follow Christ with confidence.

Verse 20: Peter turned around and *saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them—the one who also had leaned back on His chest at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who is betraying You?”

Verse 21: So Peter, upon seeing him, *said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?”

Verse 22: Jesus *said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

Verse 21-22 studies: Peter asked Jesus how John would die. Jesus told Peter not to concern himself with that. We want to compare our lives to others when it is not necessary at all, especially to rationalize our level of devotion to Christ or to question God’s justice. “What is it to you? You follow me!” That’s how Jesus responded to Peter.

Verse 23: Therefore, this account went out among the brothers, that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”

Verse 23 study: Records show during the early church that after John spent several years as an exile on the island of Patmos, he returned to Ephesus, where he died as an old man towards the end of the first century. 

Verse 24: This is the disciple who is testifying about these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

Verse 25: But there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they were written in detail, I expect that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

Verse 25 study: John’s purpose in writing his Gospel was to show that Jesus was the Son of God. He presented and systematically shared evidence for Jesus’ claims. When you enter a courtroom to present a case, the evidence has to be given. The jury that hears it must make a choice. It is no different here. Whoever reads the Gospel of John must make a choice; is Jesus the Son of God or isn’t he? You are the jury. Evidence shows everything clearly. Make the decision. Read John’s Gospel and believe!

Father, we have an obligation to follow you. But, we also have a responsibility to not worry about others’ commitment to you. Jesus told Peter, “you follow me.” That’s the point; we can’t worry about others. Let us stay focused on you and your plans for us, and not how others plans to either follow you or not. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

The Conversation

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Thursday, November 4, 2021

12 Jesus said, “Breakfast is ready.” Not one of the disciples dared ask, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Master.

13-14 Jesus then took the bread and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus had shown himself alive to the disciples since being raised from the dead.

Do You Love Me?

15 After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”

Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”

-John 21:12-16 The Message

Jesus Provides

Verse 12: Jesus *said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to inquire of Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord.

Verse 13: Jesus *came, and *took the bread and *gave it to them, and the fish likewise.

Verse 14: This was now the third time that Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.

The Love Question

Verse 15: Now, when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Tend My lambs.”

Verse 16: He * repeated to him, a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” Finally, he *said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”

Verses 15-17 studies: This is a conversation at the beach where Jesus led Peter through an experience that removed the cloud of his denial. Jesus asked three times, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter said yes, then Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep. Anybody can say that you love Jesus, but it is about the willingness to serve him. Peter repented, and Jesus asked him to commit his life. Peter’s life changed when he realized who Jesus was. His occupation changed from fisherman to evangelist; his identity changed from careless to rock, and his relationship with Jesus changed. He was forgiven and finally understood the importance of Jesus’ words about his death and resurrection. The first time Jesus asked, “do you love me,” was in greek.

Agape: volitional, self-sacrificial love. The second time, Jesus did the same thing and focused on agape in translation. The third time, Jesus used the Greek translation phileo. Finally, Jesus asked Peter, “are you, my friend?” Peter responded in Greek as phileo. Quick answers do not satisfy Jesus; he has a way of getting into the heart of the issue. Peter had to face the music about his true feelings and motives when Jesus confronted him. What’s your response if Jesus asked you, “do you love me?” Do you really love him? “Are you even my friend?”

Father, if you ask me if I love you, the answer would be yes. Am I your friend? The answer to that is I make too many mistakes to be your friend. I can’t lie when I say I wouldn’t betray you because there have been many situations where I have. Can I be a better person? I can be if I stop being stubborn. Father, let this serve as a reminder that we can only be faithful to you, but you always stay loyal to us. I can’t say thank you enough because I struggle to follow you. Thank you for listening. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Face The Music

Sincerity Having Peace Instagram Post. 11/3/2021

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Fishing

21 1-3 After this, Jesus appeared again to the disciples at the Tiberias Sea (the Sea of Galilee). This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. First, Simon Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.”

3-4 The rest of them replied, “We’re going with you.” So they went out and got in the boat. They caught nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him.

5 Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?”

They answered, “No.”

6 He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.”

They did what he said. Then, suddenly, there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in.

7-9 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!”

When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, stripped for work, and dove into the sea. The other disciples came in by boat, for they weren’t far from land, a hundred yards or so, pulling along the net full of fish. When they got out of the boat, they saw a fire laid, with fish and bread cooking on it.

10-11 Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” So Simon Peter joined them and pulled the net to shore—153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn’t rip.

-John 21:1-11 The Message

Jesus Appears at the Sea of Galilee

21 Verse 1: After these things, Jesus revealed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He told Himself in this way: 

Verse 2: Simon Peter, Thomas who was called Didymus, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together.

Verse 3: Simon Peter *said to them, “I am going fishing.” So they *said to him, “We are also coming with you.” So they went out and got into the boat; that night, they caught nothing.

Verse 4: But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach, yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

Verse 5: So Jesus *said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish to eat, do you?” They answered Him, “No.”

Verse 6: And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find the fish.” So they cast it, and then they could not haul it in because of the great quantity of fish.

Verse 7: Therefore, that disciple whom Jesus loved *said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he was stripped for work) and threw himself into the sea.

Verse 8: But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land but about two hundred cubits away, dragging the net full of fish.

Verse 9: When they got out on the land, they *saw a charcoal fire already made, fish placed on it, and bread.

Verse 10: Jesus *said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.”

Verse 11: So Simon Peter went up and hauled the net to land, full of large fish, 153; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

Verse 1 study: This chapter will explain how Jesus appointed Peter. Peter probably needed encouragement after denying Jesus as he may have felt worthless as well. Verses 1-14 will set the scene for the conversation between Peter and Jesus.

Verse 7 study: Only one disciple recognized Jesus in the dim morning light because Jesus performed a similar miracle earlier (Luke 5:1-11). That disciple Jesus loved was John.

Father, the hardest thing for anybody to do is to face the reality of their situation. Peter had to face the music at some point for denying Jesus. I pray today that we can confess to you, share our problems, and when we make a mistake in hiding, I pray the fear of confrontation will be peaceful and a lesson. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Doubt

Sincerity Having Peace Instagram Post. 11/2/2021 8:00am

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

24-25 But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.”

But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”

27 Then, he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”

28 Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”

29 Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

30-31 Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. Nevertheless, these are written down, so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in how he personally revealed it.

-John 20:24-31 The Message

Verse 24: But Thomas, one of the twelve, who was called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

Verse 25: So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Verse 26: Eight days later, His disciples were again inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be to you.”

Verse 27: Then He *said to Thomas, “Place your finger here, and see My hands; and take your hand and put it into My side; and do not continue in disbelief, but be a believer.”

Verse 27 study: Jesus resurrected body was unique. It’s not the same kind of flesh and blood Lazarus had when he came back to life. Jesus’ body doesn’t have the same laws of nature as before his death. He can appear not as a ghost or an apparition because he can be touched and can eat. His resurrection was literal and physical; he is not a disembodied spirit.

Verse 28: Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Verse 29: Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you now believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

Verse 29 study: Do you believe people need to see a miracle or a sign of it to have people start believing in Jesus? We are blessed if we can believe without seeing. The proof is in the writing in the Bible and the testimony of believers. Jesus making a physical appearance would not make him any more real than he is now.

Verses 24-29 studies: How do you feel about Thomas’ situation? Do you agree that you want to see Jesus physically? Do you want to have a moment to touch him, hear his words and advice? God’s plans are always wiser. He didn’t limit himself to one physical body. You can talk to him, find his words in pages in the Bible, and he can be as real as he can be as he was to Thomas.

Verses 25-28 studies: There is nothing wrong with doubting. With Thomas, he doubted Jesus and had a ton of skepticism. If your doubts lead to questions, which leads to answers, and you accept those answers, doubt did its work. What makes doubting bad is when it becomes stubborn and leads to a lifestyle that mistrust harms faith. If you are in doubt, don’t stop there. Let it deepen as you continue to dig deep to search for answers.

Why This Gospel Was Written

Verse 30: So then, many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;

Verse 31: but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing you may have life in His name.

Verses 30-31 studies: Studying the Gospels is a way to fully understand Jesus and his life. John tells us his Gospel records only a few of Jesus’ life events on earth. But the gospel includes everything we need to know to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, in which we receive eternal life.

Father, everybody has an uncertain future. That uncertainty can turn into fear. I pray that every day fear creeps in that you are there to remind us that we should have faith and know you are in control. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Not Your Strength

Monday, November 1, 2021

Sincerity Having Peace Instagram Post. 11/1/2021 8:00am

To Believe

19-20 Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side.

20-21 The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were awestruck. So Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”

22-23 Then, he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”

-John 20:19-23 The Message

Jesus among His Disciples

Verse 19: Now, when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were together due to fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and *said to them, “Peace be to you.”

Verse 20: And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Verse 21: So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be to you; just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

Verse 21 study: Jesus identified himself with his Father. Jesus also told the disciples the authority he did his work. He passed the job to his disciples of spreading the gospel of salvation around the world. For any reason God asks you to do something, remember this:

  1. Your authority comes from God.
  2. Jesus demonstrated by words and actions how to accomplish the job he has given you.

As the Father sent Jesus, Jesus sent his followers and you.

Verse 22: And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

Verse 22 study: At the time of the Pentecost in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit may have been a unique filling for the disciples. A foretaste of what believers would experience and forever after. To do the work of God, we need guidance and the power of the Holy Spirit. The essential thing here is to avoid doing his work on our own strength.

There is life in the breath of God. Genesis 2:7 reminds us that man was created but didn’t come alive until God breathed the breath of life into him. God’s first breath made man different from all other forms of creation. Now, through the breath of Jesus, God put in eternal, spiritual life. With this inbreathing came the power to do God’s will on earth.

Verse 23: If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

Verse 23 study: Jesus gave the disciples their Spirit-powered and Spirit-guided mission. Preaching the Good News about Jesus so people’s sins might be forgiven. The disciples didn’t have the power to forgive sins as God was the only one to forgive sins. But Jesus did give them the privilege to tell new believers that their sins have been forgiven because they accepted Jesus’ message. All believers have the same privilege. We can announce the forgiveness of sin with certainty when we find repentance and faith.

Father, it takes courage to do your work. It also takes your strength to get your work done. Let us remember that the work you give us is upon your strength and not our own. Thank you for taking the load to help get the Good News out. In Jesus’ name. Amen!