The Gatekeepers

Welcome to the Renew blog, a Six Step Bible Study.

We are a united group of Ladies from the UK, who believe in the transforming power of the Word of God for our lives. We meet every Wednesday at Create church, (part of Rising Brook) in Huntington and would love to welcome you to our group, if you live local.

Our Church Website

We are on week 12 of our study in the book of John and we’re continuing with Chapter 10.

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John 10 (The Passion Translation)

The Parable of the Kind Shepherd

10 Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Listen to this eternal truth: The person who sneaks over the wall to enter into the sheep pen, rather than coming through the gate, reveals himself as a thief coming to steal. But the true Shepherd walks right up to the gate, and because the gatekeeper knows who he is, he opens the gate to let him in.[a] And the sheep recognize the voice of the true Shepherd, for he calls his own by name and leads them out, for they belong to him. And when he has brought out all his sheep, he walks ahead of them and they will follow him, for they are familiar with his voice. But they will run away from strangers and never follow them because they know it’s the voice of a stranger.” Jesus told the Pharisees this parable even though they didn’t understand a word of what he meant.[b]

So Jesus went over it again, “I speak to you eternal truth: I am the Gate for the flock.[c] All those who broke in before me are thieves who came to steal,[d] but the sheep never listened to them. I am the Gateway.[e] To enter through me is to experience life, freedom, and satisfaction.[f] 10 A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter,[g] and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, [h] more than you expect[i]life in its fullness until you overflow! 11 I am the Good[j]Shepherd who lays down my life as a sacrifice for the sheep. 12–13 But the worker who serves only for wages is not a real shepherd. Because he has no heart for the sheep he will run away and abandon them when he sees the wolf coming. And then the wolf mauls the sheep, drags them off, and scatters them.

14 “I alone am the Good Shepherd, and I know those whose hearts are mine, for they recognize me and know me, 15 just as my Father knows my heart and I know my Father’s heart. I am ready to give my life for the sheep.

16 “And I have other sheep that I will gather which are not of this Jewish flock. And I, their shepherd, must lead them too, and they will follow me and listen to my voice. And I will join them all into one flock with one shepherd.[k]

17 “The Father has an intense love for me because I freely give my own life—to raise it up again. 18 I surrender my own life, and no one has the power to take my life from me. I have the authority to lay it down and the power to take it back again. This is the destiny my Father has set before me.”

19 This teaching set off another heated controversy among the Jewish leaders. 20 Many of them said, “This man is a demon-possessed lunatic! Why would anyone listen to a word he says?” 21 But then there were others who weren’t so sure: “His teaching is full of insight. These are not the ravings of a madman! How could a demonized man give sight to one born blind?”

Jesus at the Feast of Renewal

22–23 The time came to observe the winter Feast of Renewal in Jerusalem.[l] Jesus walked into the temple area under Solomon’s covered walkway 24 when the Jewish leaders encircled him and said, “How much longer will you keep us in suspense? Tell us the truth and clarify this for us once and for all. Are you really the Messiah, the Anointed One?”

25 Jesus answered them, “I have told you the truth already and you did not believe me. The proof of who I am is revealed by all the miracles that I do in the name of my Father. 26 Yet, you stubbornly refuse to follow me, because you are not my sheep. As I’ve told you before: 27 My own sheep will hear my voice and I know each one, and they will follow me. 28 I give to them the gift of eternal life and they will never be lost and no one has the power to snatch them out of my hands. 29 My Father, who has given them to me as his gift, is the mightiest of all, and no one has the power to snatch them from my Father’s care. 30 The Father and I are one.”

31 When they heard this, the Jewish leaders were so enraged that they picked up rocks to stone him to death. 32 But Jesus said, “My Father has empowered me to work many miracles and acts of mercy among you. So which one of them do you want to stone me for?”

33 The Jewish leaders responded, “We’re not stoning you for anything good you did—it’s because of your blasphemy! You’re just a son of Adam, but you’ve claimed to be God!”

34 Jesus answered, “Isn’t it written in your Scriptures that God said, ‘You are gods?’[m] The Scriptures cannot be denied or found to be in error. 35 So if those who have the message of the Scriptures are said to be ‘gods,’ then why would you accuse me of blasphemy? 36 For I have been uniquely chosen by God and he is the one who sent me to you. How then could it be blasphemy for me to say, ‘I am the Son of God!’ 37 If I’m not doing the beautiful works that my Father sent me to do, then don’t believe me. 38 But if you see me doing the beautiful works of God upon the earth, then you should at least believe the evidence of the miracles, even if you don’t believe my words! Then you would come to experience me and be convinced that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

39 Once again they attempted to seize him, but he escaped miraculously[n] from their clutches. 40 Then Jesus went back to the place where John had baptized him at the crossing of the Jordan. 41 Many came out to where he was and said about him, “Even though John didn’t perform any miracles, everything he predicted about this man is true!” 42 And many people became followers of Jesus at the Jordan and believed in him.

Study

In this parable the gatekeeper would represent John the Baptizer who recognized Jesus as the Shepherd. John opened the gate for him to be introduced to Israel at Jesus’ baptism. (John 10:3 ) Now because we have invited Jesus to dwell within us, we are gatekeepers too. We have the opportunity to open up the gate of Wisdom to speak life into those that Jesus is calling. We become attuned to His voice and hear the words He wants to speak into people’s lives, it’s our job to be obedient to Him, that’s what we signed up for when we said yes. 

Can you recall a time that you heard the voice of Jesus either in your head, in your heart, through someone else, or audibly?

Last night I watched a programme about god, not God as I know Him but god how the world and different religions see him. Morgan Freeman goes around visiting different places to try and get an understanding of different faiths to see what the world believes about god in their eyes. It was quite liberating for me to watch, it affirmed to me that as a Christian I’ve made the right choice and this parable indicates why. Take a look at what the footnotes say in The Passion Translation regarding John 10:6;

They didn’t understand this allegory of the Old Testament law as the sheepfold that became the religion of Judaism, was like a pen that confined the people. Christ is the gate that not only allowed everyone in, but he let them out in the New Testament to enjoy all the riches of the pasture. The Holy Spirit is the gatekeeper and the false prophets and Pharisees are the thieves and robbers. Remember that this chapter follows the healing of the blind man who was cast out of the “sheep pen” but accepted in Christ. 

All these other religions that Morgan was looking into had rules and regulations, laws, procedures or some way of going about things to earn their way to freedom. If the people did as they were told and lived in a certain way, they could eventually have a life free from evil and pain and receive peace to just be. 

As Christians Jesus offers us that life now, eternity is ours, the eternal life offered in the famous scripture John 3:16 is available to us NOW! By living in a relationship with Jesus and accepting the Holy Spirit to dwell within us we are given wisdom, here and now, we are no longer slaves to legalism, the Holy Spirit gives us the fruit that we need to live a life free from evil, we no longer have to live in a way cut off to the world unlike these religions I was learning about on this programme.

Again we see here from the footnotes in The Passion Translation that we are saved through Jesus, He brings us into this direct relationship – John 10:7 As translated from the Aramaic. There is a word play with “I” (ena) and “flock” (ana). As the gateway, he brings us to the Father and his kingdom realm. As the shepherd, he cares for us and shows us his loving heart.

But as with any relationship this can not be one sided. A relationship needs to be worked at and the more we work at it the more we come to know Jesus and His nature, the more we hear His voice, and more is revealed as to how we can live more freely. As we embark on this journey of freedom with Him, we begin to see how to live, and more importantly how to become like Him, a Gatekeeper. We have the same power within us that raised Jesus from the dead, and that power is to be used for His kingdom. And this is what we call naturally supernatural. 

Everyday God is calling people to His kingdom, freeing people from legalistic religion and allowing them to enter His Kingdom and we are part of that amazing plan. In order to see and do what we are called to, we must push deeper into the relationship. It’s no use looking at others and desiring their relationship, we must create on of our own, and when we do, life becomes a beautiful journey.

God wants us to play our part in the rescue mission, we see in John 10:8 that Jesus is speaking about the people that broke in before him, they still exist! The footnotes explain; In the Old Testament it refers to the kings of Israel and Judah as “shepherds.” These kings along with false prophets are shepherds who don’t always have God’s heart for the sheep. After the healing of the blind man, the Pharisees refused to acknowledge Jesus’ rightful place as shepherd of his flock, so the thieves coming to steal would also refer to them.

How can you identify thieves coming to steal in todays age?

Although we still have a choice when we become Christian to either press in to become acute to the voice of Jesus or not. Those that do will live the eternal life offered, those that don’t are still saved and still very much Christian but will not live the life God ordained for us to have when Jesus died for us. If we look at John 10:9 we can see how that is explained. 

A sheep pen was an enclosure with walls and no roof that would often have the sheep of an entire village kept within. After the sheep were brought in for the night, it was common for the shepherd to sleep at the entrance, so he could protect his sheep. Only the shepherds of the sheep would be recognized by that gatekeeper. Jesus is the one who will remain with his flock and keep his sheep living in peace and safety. His teaching (voice) will guard us from the unreliable teachers who want to steal our hearts and bind us to themselves. They steal and rob the affection that belongs only to Jesus, our kind shepherd.

Where would you like God to use you? Dream big here, what would you like to see in the world changed, place it before the Lord and ask Him what you can do with Him to make that happen?

This week’s Study Scripture.

Galatians 3:23 (TPT)

So until the revelation of faith for salvation was released, the law was a jailer, holding us as prisoners under lock and key until the “faith,” which was destined to be revealed, would set us free.

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Open the eyes to my heart

Welcome to the Renew blog, a Six Step Bible Study.

We are a united group of Ladies from the UK, who believe in the transforming power of the Word of God for our lives. We meet every Wednesday at Create church, (part of Rising Brook) in Huntington and would love to welcome you to our group, if you live local.

Our Church Website

We are on week 11 of our study in the book of John and we’re continuing with Chapter 9.

In the last chapter we saw Jesus have a discussion with the religious scholars about what salvation means, he’d dealt with their attitudes about them breaking the law but Jesus didn’t use any words at all! The actions he made spoke louder than any words that could have been said. Here in chapter 9 we see again, Jesus’ actions speak louder than words!

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John 9 (TPT)

Jesus Healed a Man Born Blind

Afterward, as Jesus walked down the street, he noticed a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Teacher, whose sin caused this guy’s blindness, his own, or the sin of his parents?”

Jesus answered, “Neither. It happened to him so that you could watch him experience God’s miracle. While I am with you, it is daytime and we must do the works of God who sent me while the light shines. For there is coming a dark night when no one will be able to work.[a] As long as I am with you my life is the light that pierces the world’s darkness.”

2011-10-066-jesus-heals-a-man-born-blind-1920x960

Then Jesus spat on the ground and made some clay with his saliva.[b]Then he anointed the blind man’s eyes with the clay. And he said to the blind man, “Now go and wash the clay from your eyes in the ritual pool of Siloam.”[c] So he went and washed his face and as he came back, he could see for the first time in his life![d]

jesus-annoints-a-man-born-blind.jpg

This caused quite a stir among the people of the neighbourhood, for they noticed the blind beggar was now seeing! They began to say to one another, “Isn’t this the blind man who once sat and begged?” Some said, “No, it can’t be him!” Others said, “But it looks just like him—it has to be him!” All the while the man kept insisting, “I’m the man who was blind!”

10 Finally, they asked him, “What has happened to you?”

11 He replied, “I met the man named Jesus! He rubbed clay on my eyes and said, ‘Go to the pool named Siloam and wash.’ So I went and while I was washing the clay from my eyes I began to see for the very first time ever!”[e]

12 So the people of the neighborhood inquired, “Where is this man?”

“I have no idea.” the man replied.

13 So the people marched him over to the Pharisees to speak with them. 14 They were concerned because the miracle Jesus performed by making clay with his saliva and anointing the man’s eyes happened on a Sabbath day, a day that no one was allowed to “work.”

15 Then the Pharisees asked the man, “How did you have your sight restored?”

He replied, “A man anointed my eyes with clay, then I washed, and now I can see for the first time in my life!”

16 Then an argument broke out among the Pharisees over the healing of the blind man on the Sabbath. Some said, “This man who performed this healing is clearly not from God! He doesn’t even observe the Sabbath!” Others said, “If Jesus is just an ordinary sinner,[f] how could he perform a miracle like that?”

17 This prompted them to turn on the man healed of blindness, putting him on the spot in front of them all, demanding an answer. They asked, “Who do you say he is—this man who opened your blind eyes?”

“He’s a prophet of God!” the man replied.

18 Still refusing to believe that the man had been healed and was truly blind from birth, the Jewish leaders called for the man’s parents to be brought to them.

19–20 So they asked his parents, “Is this your son?”

“Yes,” they answered.

“Was he really born blind?”

“Yes, he was,” they replied.

So they pressed his parents to answer, “Then how is it that he’s now seeing?”

21 “We have no idea,” they answered. “We don’t know what happened to our son. Ask him, he’s a mature adult. He can speak for himself.” 22 (Now the parents were obviously intimidated by the Jewish religious leaders, for they had already announced to the people that if anyone publicly confessed Jesus as the Messiah, they would be excommunicated. 23 That’s why they told them, “Ask him, he’s a mature adult. He can speak for himself.”)

24 So once again they summoned the man who was healed of blindness and said to him, “Swear to God to tell us the truth![g] We know the man who healed you is a sinful man! Do you agree?”

25 The healed man replied, “I have no idea what kind of man he is. All I know is that I was blind and now I can see for the first time in my life!”

26 “But what did he do to you?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”

27 The man responded, “I told you once and you didn’t listen to me. Why do you make me repeat it? Are you wanting to be his followers too?”

28 This angered the Jewish leaders. They heaped insults on him, “We can tell you are one of his followers—now we know it! We are true followers of Moses, 29 for we know that God spoke to Moses directly. But as for this one, we don’t know where he’s coming from!”

30 “Well, what a surprise this is!” the man said. “You don’t even know where he comes from, but he healed my eyes and now I can see! 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but only to godly people who do his will. 32 Yet who has ever heard of a man born blind that was healed and given back his eyesight? 33 I tell you, if this man isn’t from God, he wouldn’t be able to heal me like he has!”

34 Some of the Jewish leaders were enraged and said, “Just who do you think you are to lecture us! You were born a blind, filthy sinner!” So they threw the man out in the street.

35 When Jesus learned they had thrown him out, he went to find him and said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”[h]

36 The man whose blind eyes were healed answered, “Who is he, Master? Tell me so that I can place all my faith in him.”

37 Jesus replied, “You’re looking right at him. He’s speaking with you. It’s me, the one in front of you now.”

38 Then the man threw himself at his feet and worshiped Jesus and said, “Lord, I believe in you!”[i]

39 And Jesus said, “I have come to judge those who think they see and make them blind. And for those who are blind, I have come to make them see.”

40 Some of the Pharisees were standing nearby and overheard these words. They interrupted Jesus and said, “You mean to tell us that we are blind?”

41 Jesus told them, “If you would acknowledge your blindness, then your sin would be removed. But now that you claim to see, your sin remains with you!”[j]

Study

I love how this book of John is filled with so many pictures. We see Jesus here, mixing spit and clay to heal this blind man. This is the saliva that comes from the mouth of a man who is actually God Himself! It can be interpreted as a picture of the word of God coming directly from his mouth. The Bible is our healing, our strength and the living breathing word of God. The clay represents man and as we know, he is our potter. We allow (sometimes) him to mould and shape us into the image he predestined us for.

What I find really lovely in this story is that the spit that Jesus uses has also been the tool of the enemy throughout tis blind man’s life. Around this time in history, people believed that blindness was a curse and we see the disciples ask Jesus about that too. This man would be used to being rejected by people because of this and was probably quite used to the sound of people spitting at him as they would walk by, as he sat and begged. 

But this day was different! Jesus came so that we might be free from fear, whatever that fear looks like he came to break the chains and he was using the very tool the enemy used to make this man feel rejected….His spit! This would be the last time that this poor man would ever associate spitting with a root of rejection.

I love how Jesus uses all things for our good, those fears imbedded in us he pulls them out gently and subtly, showing us how they can be used for good. We slowly but surely open our eyes to see a different perspective and we begin to understand how we’ve lived with that curse all of our lives but actually we can take that pain and suffering and use it for the glory of Jesus. What a beautiful saviour we serve! 

What fear could Jesus be gently tugging at in you?

For me it’s the fear of rejection. 

Jesus taught in the last chapter that he is light of the world, and here as I said at the beginning of the blog we see him putting actions to those words. This poor man has lived his whole life in darkness, which also represents mankind. Here we have Christ whom through his birth has become a man, a man of clay, giving a beautiful picturesque image of how the world will receive light. 

Jesus rubs the clay onto the blind mans eyes and then tells him to go and wash in the pool of solam which is when his sight is restored. In the same way, we are clay and when we are washed by the water of His word our spiritual sight is restored.

Where are you blind today? Ask Jesus for your sight to be restored.

In verse 38 the blind man throws himself at Jesus’ feet and say’s “Lord I believe in you!”

Let us think about that for a minute. He had been blind all of his life, he had never been able to read the scriptures, yet he had faith in Jesus. Again, more evidence to suggest that the traditions and superficial knowledge of this day had a blinding effect on the religious leaders of the day. Many of them refused to believe and It’s true today too, many have great knowledge of the Bible, but do they really have a deep rooted belief, do they have faith in our saviour or are they intelligent?

What do you need to do today to allow the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your heart? 

This miracle is proof of God being with us:

Isaiah 35:4 The Message (MSG)

3-4 Energize the limp hands,
    strengthen the rubbery knees.
Tell fearful souls,
    “Courage! Take heart!
God is here, right here,
    on his way to put things right
And redress all wrongs.
    He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”

6 R'S

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We believe that the word of God is powerful and life changing. When the word of God is applied to your life, you will be renewed!

How to handle conflict

Welcome to the Renew blog, a Six Step Bible Study.

We are a united group of Ladies from the UK, who believe in the transforming power of the Word of God for our lives. We meet every Wednesday at Create church, (part of Rising Brook) in Huntington and would love to welcome you to our group, if you live local.

Our Church Website

We are on week 10 of our study in the book of John and we’re continuing with Chapter 8.

In this chapter we witness the story of Jesus with the adulteress and it’s a great example of how our beautiful leader handles conflict.

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John Chapter 8

Jesus walked up the Mount of Olives[a] near the city where he spent the night. Then at dawn Jesus appeared in the temple courts again, and soon all the people gathered around to listen to his words, so he sat down and taught them. Then in the middle of his teaching, the religious scholars[b] and the Pharisees broke through the crowd and brought a woman who had been caught in the act of committing adultery and made her stand in the middle of everyone.

Then they said to Jesus, “Teacher, we caught this woman in the very act of adultery. Doesn’t Moses’ law command us to stone to death a woman like this?[c] Tell us, what do you say we should do with her?” They were only testing Jesus because they hoped to trap him with his own words and accuse him of breaking the laws of Moses.

But Jesus didn’t answer them. Instead he simply bent down and wrote in the dust with his finger.[d] Angry, they kept insisting[e] that he answer their question, so Jesus stood up and looked at them and said, “Let’s have the man who has never had a sinful desire[f] throw the first stone at her.” And then he bent over again and wrote some more words in the dust.[g]

Upon hearing that, her accusers slowly left the crowd one at a time, beginning with the oldest to the youngest,[h] with a convicted conscience. 10 Until finally, Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there in front of him. So he stood back up and said to her, “Dear woman, where are your accusers? Is there no one here to condemn you?”

11 Looking around, she replied, “I see no one, Lord.”[i]

Jesus said, “Then I certainly[j] don’t condemn you either.[k] Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.”[l]

Jesus, the Light of the World

12 Then Jesus said, “I am[m] light to the world and those who embrace me will experience life-giving light, and they will never[n] walk[o] in darkness.”

13 The Pharisees were immediately offended and said, “You’re just boasting about yourself! Since we only have your word on this, it makes your testimony invalid!”

14 Jesus responded, “Just because I am the one making these claims doesn’t mean they’re invalid. For I absolutely know who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going. But you Pharisees have no idea about what I’m saying. 15 For you’ve set yourselves up as judges of others based on outward appearances, but I certainly never judge others in that way. 16 For I discern the truth. And I am not alone in my judgments, for my Father and I have the same understanding in all things, and he has sent me to you.

17 “Isn’t it written in the law of Moses that the testimony of two men is trustworthy?[p]18 Then what I say about who I am is true, for I am not alone in my testimony—my Father is the other witness, and we testify together of the truth.”

19 Then they asked, “Just who is this ‘Father’ of yours? Where is he?”

Jesus answered, “You wouldn’t ask that question if you knew who I am, or my Father. For if you knew me, you would recognize my Father too.” 20 (Jesus taught all these things while standing in the treasure room of the temple.[q] And no one dared to arrest him, for it wasn’t yet his time to surrender to men.)

“I Am Not from This World”

21 One day Jesus said again, “I am about to leave you. You will want to find me, but you will still die in your sins.[r] You won’t be able to come where I am going.”

22 This so confused the Jewish leaders that they began to say, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What’s he talking about—‘You won’t be able to come where I am going’?”

23 Jesus spoke up and said, “You are all from the earth; I am from above. I am not from this world like you are. 24 That’s why I’ve told you that you will all die in your sins if you fail to believe that I AM who I AM.”[s]

25 So they asked him plainly, “Who are you?”

“I am the One I’ve always claimed to be.” Jesus replied. 26 “And I still have many more things to pronounce in judgment about you. For I will testify to the world of the truths that I have heard from my Father, and the Father who sent me is trustworthy.” 27 (Even after all of this, they still didn’t realize that he was speaking about his heavenly Father.)

28 “You will know me as ‘I AM’ after you have lifted me up from the earth[t] as the Son of Man. Then you will realize that I do nothing on my own initiative, but I only speak the truth that the Father has revealed to me. 29 I am his messenger and he is always with me, for I only do that which delights his heart.”[u] 30 These words caused many respected Jewsto believe in him.

The Son Gives Freedom

31 Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “When you continue to embrace all that I teach, you prove that you are my true followers. 32 For if you embrace the truth, it will release more freedom into your lives.”[v]

33 Surprised by this, they said, “But we’re the descendants of Abraham and we’re already free. We’ve never been in bondage[w] to anyone. How could you say that we will be released into more freedom?”[x]

34 “I speak eternal truth,” Jesus said. “When you sin you are not free. You’ve become a slave in bondage to your sin. 35 And slaves have no permanent standing in a family, like a son does, for a son is a part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free! 37 Even though you are descendants of Abraham, you desire to kill me because the message I bring has not found a home in your hearts. 38 Yet the truths I speak I’ve seen and received in my Father’s presence. But you are doing what you’ve learned from your father!”[y]

39 “What do mean?” they replied. “Abraham is our father!”

Jesus said, “If you are really Abraham’s sons, then you would follow in the steps of Abraham. 40 I’ve only told you the truth that I’ve heard in my Father’s presence, but now you are wanting me dead—is that how Abraham acted? 41 No, you people are doing what your father has taught you!”

Indignant, they responded, “What are you talking about? We only have one Father, God himself! We’re not illegitimate!”

42 Jesus said, “Then if God were really your father, you would love me, for I’ve come from his presence. I didn’t come here on my own, but God sent me to you. 43 Why don’t you understand what I say?[z] You don’t understand because your hearts are closed to my message!

44 “You are the offspring of your father, the devil,[aa] and you serve your father very well, passionately carrying out his desires. He’s been a murderer right from the start! He never stood with the One who is the true Prince, for he’s full of nothing but lies—lying is his native tongue.[ab] He is a master of deception and the father of lies! 45 But I am the true Prince who speaks nothing but the truth, yet you refuse to believe and you want nothing to do with me. 46 Can you name one sin that I’ve committed? Then if I am telling you only the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 If you really knew God, you would listen, receive, and respond with faith to his words. But since you don’t listen and respond to what he says, it proves you don’t belong to him and you have no room for him in your hearts.”

48 “See! We were right all along!” some of the Jewish leaders shouted. “You’re nothing but a demon-possessed Samaritan!”[ac]

49 Jesus replied, “It is not a demon that would cause me to honor my Father. I live my life for his honor, even though you insult me for it.[ad] 50 I never have a need to seek my own glory, for the Father will do that for me, and he will judge those who do not. 51 I speak to you this eternal truth: whoever cherishes my words and keeps them will never experience death.”

52 This prompted the Jewish leaders to say, “Now we know for sure that you’re demon possessed! You just said that those who keep watch over your words will never experience death, but Abraham and all the prophets have died! 53 Do you think you’re greater than our father Abraham and all the prophets? You are so delusional about yourself that you make yourself greater than you are!”

54 Jesus answered them, “If I were to tell you how great I am, it would mean nothing. But my Father is the One who will prove it and will glorify me. Isn’t he the One you claim is your God? 55 But in reality, you’ve never embraced him as your own. I know him, and I would be a liar, like yourselves, if I told you anything less than that. I have fully embraced him, and I treasure his every word. 56 And not only that, Abraham, your ancestor, was overjoyed when he received the revelation of my coming to earth. Yes, he foresaw me coming and was filled with delight!”[ae]

57 But many of the Jewish leaders doubted him and said, “What are you talking about? You’re not even fifty years old yet. You talk like you’ve seen Abraham!”

58 Jesus said to them, “I give you this eternal truth: I have existed long before Abraham was born, for I AM!”[af]

59 When they heard this, they picked up rocks to stone him, but Jesus concealed himself as he passed through the crowd[ag] and went away from there.

Study

Picture the moment……

Whilst Jesus is in the temple he is surrounded by many bystanders and as He teaches, people are listening intently to all He has to say. Jesus teaches with authority! Mid flow, Jesus is rudely interrupted by the Pharisees. They enter the temple dragging in a poor defenceless female, possibly naked and they are doing this for no other reason than to trip Jesus up! They had deliberately orchestrated this moment to set Him up. The text says that they caught the woman in the act of adultery, which is why I predict that she was possibly naked. The Pharisees had one goal in mind, to catch Jesus out with no regard for the dignity of this poor woman! Where’s the love in that?

Jesus then pauses, stoops down and begins to write in the sand, turning His back on the accusers. He takes a still moment, possibly praying to His Father and then begins to write in the sand. What is He writing? 

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What a great example! Jesus turns His back and stoops to the ground, coming down to the same level as the accused woman, as I imagine her slumped across the floor, trying desperately to cover herself. How often do we take a moment before we give our response in order to allow God to speak? I know I don’t, I’m normally listening to the accusations and building up my response, ready to defend myself. 

Jesus then asks for the person that has never sinned to cast the first stone – Perfect! 

He then crouches again and continues to write in the sand, what was He writing? 

jesus-in-sand

Some say that Jesus was writing a list of names from oldest to youngest, others say he was writing the law of Moses for the men to think over. Whatever it was, it did the trick because beginning with the eldest, the men each started to walk away. 

I did some research on this and we do find that these men were breaking the law in what they were doing. The reason being is this, whenever someone was caught in adultery, both the man and the woman would be brought to the Nicanor temple gates and accused. If witnesses could be gathered to confirm that adultery had been committed, two eyewitnesses must be present, and there is no mention of the witnesses’ presence in this scene. The Scribes and Pharisees just say she was caught in the act. But by who?

Then there would be a ceremony in order to bring judgment. Within the ceremony the priest was required to stoop down and write the law that had been broken, along with the names of the accused, in the dust of the floor of the Temple (which Jesus did).

By doing this, Jesus showed these accusers that THEY were not keeping the law, but He would anyway.

There’s so much I can talk about in this passage of scripture alone, like the finger of God and how Jesus was about to judge the Scribes and Pharisees, but I’d like to keep focussed on the ‘dealing with conflict’ topic. In this first portion we see that Jesus keeps His eyes fixed on the Father for His wisdom. So, the first question today is this:

Thinking of a recent conflict, can you think where your focus might have been whilst trying to resolve it?

As we discussed last week it can be so easy in these times of conflict and controversy to speculate and jump to conclusions, if our eyes are fixed inwardly thinking about ourselves we only think about our perspective, if they are fixed outwardly on the other person we only think about what they think of us, we need to remain still in the presence of Jesus and ask, what is His opinion on this? If each and every time we encounter conflict, we come back to His commandment which is to love one another, we no longer have our agenda, we are challenged to find a way to allow love to overflow.

In the next part of the chapter we have another one of Jesus’ famous I AM quotes, and here He is talking about being light of the world. No coincidence is it that in the previous part we see these Scribes and Pharisees in the shadow of darkness after the way they abused this poor woman? 

I’d like to hone in on the second sentence of verse 14 from The Passion Translation where Jesus says to the pharisees “For I absolutely know who I am”. In the first question I asked who your eyes were fixed on during conflict and I stated that if they were fixed inwardly you would only see the conflict from your own perspective, however, if they are fixed inwardly on He who lives in you, you then gain the ability to see through the eyes of Jesus! 

Because Jesus knew absolutely, without a shadow of doubt (forgive the pun!) that He was the light of the world  and He was able to confidently challenge opposition. Yes, I know that sounds like a contradiction, I hear you saying, “But Rachael, how do we love people and challenge people which causes offence at the same time?!”

We do so in love.

Once we become aware absolutely of who we are in Jesus, we gain freedom, freedom from fear. Fear of rejection is now gone! And when that fear is diminished, we no longer have an agenda to get our point across, we no longer desperately need to have our opinions heard, we no longer feel the need to ALWAYS be right, because we are at peace with who we are and that my beautiful ones has a BIG impact on how we deal with conflict.

So, my second question for today is more of a task:

I’d like you to think about who Jesus says you are and write a list.

Jesus then goes on to explain to the Pharisees that He is not from this world and would soon be gone. Of course they didn’t understand and Jesus then explained to them that through Him they would gain freedom, but again they didn’t understand, bar one – Nicodemus.

If you’ve been following our study we looked at the conversation Jesus and Nicodemus had back in chapter 3 and at the end of the last chapter and we see Nicodemus being quite controversial. Keep a look out for him throughout the back end of this book, if you follow the timeline it’s quite a story of salvation and wonderful animation of what Jesus is describing in these verses.

My third and final question today is:

What does freedom look like to you? 

In order to handle conflict, we need to firstly fix our eyes on Him who is within us, we need to know absolutely who we are in Christ and we need to hold on to what freedom means to us in order to let go of the worldly agenda. If we hold on to these 3 things, we let go of the need to be right, we let go of the need to compare and we become peaceful and still in the presence of the ‘Light of the world’.

This week’s study scripture:

Hebrews 12:2 (TPT)

We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.[a] His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his,[b] he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation,[c] and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!

 

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For more information on the 6 R’s Bible Study CLICK HERE to watch the how to video.

We believe that the word of God is powerful and life changing. When the word of God is applied to your life, you will be renewed!

Controversial Jesus

Welcome to the Renew blog, a Six Step Bible Study.

We are a united group of Ladies from the UK, who believe in the transforming power of the Word of God for our lives. We meet every Wednesday at Create church, (part of Rising Brook) in Huntington and would love to welcome you to our group, if you live local.

Our Church Website

We are on week 9 of our study in the book of John and we’re continuing with Chapter 7.

Read

John Chapter 7

Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles 

After this Jesus travelled extensively throughout the province of Galilee, but he avoided the province of Judea, for he knew the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were plotting to have him killed. Now the annual Feast of Tabernacles was approaching. So Jesus’ brothers came to advise him, saying, “Why don’t you leave the countryside villages and go to Judea where the crowds are, so that your followers can see your miracles? No one can see what you’re doing here in the backwoods of Galilee. How do you expect to be successful and famous if you do all these things in secret? Now is your time—go to Jerusalem, come out of hiding, and show the world who you are!” His brothers were pushing him, even though they didn’t yet believe in him as the Savior. 

 Jesus responded, “My time of being unveiled hasn’t yet come, but any time is a suitable opportunity for you to gain man’s approval. The world can’t hate you, but it does me, for I am exposing their evil deeds.  You can go ahead and celebrate the feast without me—my appointed time has not yet come.”

Jesus lingered in Galilee until his brothers had left for the feast in Jerusalem. Then later, Jesus took a back road and went into Jerusalem in secret. During the feast, the Jewish leaders kept looking for Jesus and asking around, “Where is he? Have you seen him?”

A controversy was brewing among the people, with so many differing opinions about Jesus. Some were saying, “He’s a good man!” While others weren’t convinced and insisted, saying, “He’s just a demagogue.” Yet no one was bold enough to speak out publicly on Jesus’ behalf for fear of the Jewish leaders.

Not until the feast was half over did Jesus finally appear in the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jewish leaders were astonished by what he taught and said, “How did this man acquire such knowledge? He wasn’t trained in our schools—who taught him?”

So Jesus responded, “I don’t teach my own ideas, but the truth revealed to me by the One who sent me.  If you want to test my teachings and discover where I received them, first be passionate to do God’s will, and then you will be able to discern if my teachings are from the heart of God or from my own opinions. Charlatans praise themselves and seek honor from men, but my Father sent me to speak truth on his behalf. And I have no false motive, because I seek only the glory of God. Moses has given you the law, but not one of you is faithful to keep it. So if you are all law-breakers, why then would you seek to kill me?”

Then some in the crowd shouted out, “You must be out of your mind! Who’s trying to kill you?”

Jesus replied, “I only had to do one miracle, and all of you marvel! Yet isn’t it true that Moses and your forefathers ordered you to circumcise your sons even if the eighth day fell on a Sabbath?  So if you cut away part of a man on the Sabbath and that doesn’t break the Jewish law, why then would you be indignant with me for making a man completely healed on the Sabbath? Stop judging based on the superficial. First you must embrace the standards of mercy and truth.”

Then some of the residents of Jerusalem spoke up and said, “Isn’t this the one they’re trying to kill? So why is he here speaking publicly and not one of the Jewish leaders is doing anything about it? Are they starting to think that he’s the Anointed One? But how could he be, since we know this man is from Galilee, but no one will know where the true Messiah comes from, he’ll just appear out of nowhere.” 

Knowing all of this, Jesus one day preached boldly in the temple courts, “So, you think you know me and where I come from? But you don’t know the One who sent me—the Father who is always faithful. I have not come simply on my own initiative. The Father has sent me here, and I know all about him, for I have come from his presence.” 

 His words caused many to want to arrest him, but no man was able to lay a hand on him, for it wasn’t yet his appointed time. And there were many people who thought he might be the Messiah. They said, “After all, when the Anointed One appears, could he possibly do more signs and wonders than this man has done?”

So when the Pharisees heard these rumors circulating about Jesus, they went with the leading priests and the temple guards to arrest him.

Then Jesus said, “My days to be with you are numbered. Then I will return to the One who sent me. And you will search for me and not be able to find me. For where I am, you cannot come.” 

 When the Jewish leaders heard this, they discussed among themselves, “Where could he possibly go that we won’t be able to find him? Is he going to minister in a different land where our people live scattered among the nations? Is he going to teach those who are not Jews? What did he really mean by his statement, ‘You will search for me and won’t be able to find me. And where I am you can’t come’?”

Rivers of Living Water

Then on the most important day of the feast, the last day, Jesus stood and shouted out to the crowds—“All you thirsty ones, come to me! Come to me and drink! 38 Believe in me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your innermost being, just like the Scripture says!” 

Jesus was prophesying about the Holy Spirit that believers were being prepared to receive. But the Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out upon them, because Jesus had not yet been unveiled in his full splendour. 

Divided Opinions about Jesus

 When the crowd heard Jesus’ words, some said, “This man really is a prophet!”  Others said, “He’s the Messiah!” But others said, “How could he be the Anointed One since he’s from Galilee? Don’t the Scriptures say that he will be one of David’s descendants and be born in Bethlehem, the city of David?” So the crowd was divided over Jesus, some wanted him arrested but no one dared to lay a hand on him.

The Unbelief of Religious Leaders

So when the temple guards returned to the Pharisees and the leading priests without Jesus, they were questioned, “Where is he? Why didn’t you bring that man back with you?”

They answered, “You don’t understand—he speaks amazing things like no one else has ever spoken!”

The religious leaders mocked, “Oh, so now you also have been led astray by him? Do you see even one of us, your leaders, following him? This ignorant rabble swarms around him because none of them know anything about the Law! They’re all cursed!”

Just then, Nicodemus, who had secretly spent time with Jesus, spoke up, for he was a respected voice among them. He cautioned them, saying, “Does our law decide a man’s guilt before we first hear him and allow him to defend himself?”

They argued, “Oh, so now you’re an advocate for this Galilean! Search the Scriptures, Nicodemus, and you’ll see that there’s no mention of a prophet coming out of Galilee!” So with that their debate ended, and they each went their own way.

Study 

Here we have a story that involves manipulation, controversy, speculation and division where all of these deceptive flaws lead into one another. John Chapter 7 holds valuable life lessons I’d like to look at today.

In the beginning of this chapter we witness Jesus’ brothers ‘encouraging’ Him to do something against the will of the Father. Why was that? Were they jealous or were they wanting Him to be successful and famous and therefore encouraged Him as any loving family member would do?

I feel that there could possibly be a hidden motive of Jesus’ brothers in their attempt to get Jesus to unveil His splendour prematurely. The reason for this is the text states that, ‘they didn’t believe in Him as the Saviour’, so why would they encourage Him to go in all His glory to show Himself off and become “successful” and “famous”?

This type of behaviour can be seen in the world too. A person may encourage someone else to do something and on the face of it will look like encouragement but underneath, the motive is very different. Jealousy is at the centre and they are actually hoping that the person they are encouraging will indeed fail!

I love the way that Jesus dealt with this behaviour and He gives us such a great example. He moves aside from it, explaining to His brothers that they are free to celebrate with the world but He would not be partaking until His appointed time. Jesus’ eyes are fixed on the Father and His will and are not fixed on the expectations of man.

We are to be challenged to fix our eyes on God also, just as Jesus did.

We then move on to a scene where we see lots of people arguing, shouting out their opinions, the atmosphere is tense, with aggression and hostility in the air, people are battling it out to get their agenda across and they want to be in the right. The text describes it as controversy broke out. The word controversy is described in the dictionary as ‘a prolonged public disagreement’ or ‘heated discussion’.

In the world we generally see people take sides when in the middle of a debate. They believe one thing or the other. we see it all the time in politics, at work, at school, even in our families; disagreements where people listen to one side of the story and decide, “Yes, that’s true.”

How do we come to that conclusion though? If it’s with factual evidence then that’s fine but if it’s on the weight of a person’s argument, then we are only speculating. In this context there was a group of leaders that came up with the ideas that the people followed. These ideas came from scripture, the law of Moses but were interpreted by these power hungry leaders. The people who listened to what the religious leaders taught, believed it, lived their lives by it and were followers, which is again something we see in the world.

As we continue to see this debate unfold, there are many people throwing in lines of who Jesus might be and what He came to do. This is what is known as ‘speculation’. The problem with speculation is that they are developed without firm evidence. When we speculate we’re not totally sure that we’re right but the person with the loudest voice is normally the one that people will follow. Jesus deals with this so well by directing the people to the Father. Again though, they are unsure and we still have those with the loudest voices shouting their opinions and obtaining followers, which in this case were the people shouting, “You must be out of your mind! Who’s trying to kill you?”

The religious leaders knew that their plot was to do away with Jesus and they were using manipulation, controversy and speculation in an attempt to make Jesus look like a fool! 

What we see here again is people with their eyes fixed upon people. We’ve talked about this time and time again but this week here’s some evidence of what happens when we keep our eyes on people and not on God – Division.

The people had divided opinions on who Jesus was and then the religious leaders did too, it says at the end of the chapter that they each went their own way.

It happens so much in the world. We manipulate to get our own way, have people on our team, be the leader, the influencer, it can start with all good intention but before we know it our opinion dominates the group of people we are influencing then it spreads. It’s like Chinese whispers; we say something and then it’s repeated in another version. Before we know it people are believing something that doesn’t even exist. In a world full of people that have so many stories, we need to be listening and not be opinionated.

The issue is that when we listen, we are listening in order to respond. Not because we want to understand but because we all want to be right! And that’s what happened here. Listening resulted in a spread of opinions, with a little bit added and a little taken away. Then we see people try to make sense of nonsense and we see speculation. Along with that is guess work and because there’s no weight to the speculative opinions and comments, people lose faith, they lose hope and trust and they walk away.

Now, more than ever do we need to focus on the truth, the facts the evidential truth. We need to ensure there is weight to our stories and we need to be listening, not just to have an opinion but to understand. We need to be spreading the truth of Jesus and we need to be united in the truth of Jesus, not divided by manipulation, controversy or speculation.

This week’s study scripture:

2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

6 R'S

For more information on the 6 R’s Bible Study CLICK HERE to watch the how to video.

We believe that the word of God is powerful and life changing. When the word of God is applied to your life, you will be renewed!

Jesus, the Living Bread.

Welcome to the Renew blog, a Six Step Bible Study.

We are a united group of Ladies from the UK, who believe in the transforming power of the Word of God for our lives. We meet every Wednesday at Create church, (part of Rising Brook) in Huntington and would love to welcome you to our group, if you live local.

Our Church Website

We are on week 8 of our study in the book of John and we’re continuing with Chapter 6.

Read

John 6 Verse 22 – 31

22–23 The next morning, the crowds were still on the opposite shore of the lake, near the place where they had eaten the bread he had multiplied after he had given thanks to God. Yet Jesus was nowhere to be found. They realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus’ hadn’t boarded, and they concluded that his disciples had left him behind. 24 So when the people saw on the shoreline a number of small boats from Tiberias and realized Jesus and the disciples weren’t there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum to search for him.

25 When they finally found him, they asked him, “Teacher, how did you get here?”

26 Jesus replied, “Let me make this very clear] you came looking for me because I fed you by a miracle, not because you believe in me. 27 Why would you strive for food that is perishable and not be passionate to seek the food of eternal life, which never spoils I, the Son of Man, am ready to give you what matters most, for God the Father has destined me for this purpose.” 

28 They replied, “So what should we do if we want to do God’s work?”

29 Jesus answered, “The work you can do for God starts with believing in the One he has sent.”

30–31 They replied, “Show us a miracle so we can see it, and then we’ll believe in you. Moses took care of our ancestors who were fed by the miracle of manna[q] every day in the desert, just like the Scripture says, ‘He fed them with bread from heaven.’[r] What sign will you perform for us?”

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Here we go again! The people are asking to see signs and wonders in order to believe in Jesus. Wasn’t it enough that he’d just fed the 5000 families with 2 pieces of fish and 5 loaves, let alone the rest of the miracles? These people were reliant upon seeing in order to believe. 

The thing is, Jesus wants us to live a life filled with signs and wonders but we can end up looking in the wrong places (as we will see throughout these verses).  Let’s reflect on our own lives and what these scriptures could mean to us now.

There’s no evidence here in the behaviour of the Jewish people, that they believed in any sort of a relationship with Jesus. They only saw him as just a man and they looked up to many different men but not the one that held the answers they were looking for.

Ponder on this question:

Can you think of times you’ve gone to Jesus begging for signs and wonders without placing your relationship with Him first?

Let’s continue to read on from verse 32:

32 “The truth is,” Jesus said, “Moses didn’t give you the bread of heaven. It’s my Father who offers bread that comes as a dramatic sign from heaven.33 The bread of God is the One who came out of heaven to give his life to feed the world.”

34 “Then please, sir, give us this bread every day,” they replied.

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life.Come every day to me and you will never be hungry. Believe in me and you will never be thirsty.36 Yet I’ve told you that even though you’ve seen me, you still don’t believe in me.37 But everyone my Father has given to me, they will come. And all who come to me, I will embrace and will never turn them away.38 And I have come out of heaven not for my own desires, but for the satisfactionof my Father who sent me.39 My Father who sent me has determined that I will not lose even one of those he has given to me, and I will raise them up in the last day.40 For the longing of my Father is that everyone who embraces the Sonand believes in him will experience eternal life and I will raise them up in the last day!”

41 When the Jews who were hostile to Jesus heard him say, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” they immediately began to complain, 42 “How can he say these things about himself? We know him, and we know his parents. How dare he say, ‘I have come down from heaven?’”

 

jewishleaders

They don’t get it at all do they? The religion and logic have the better of them, they complain and grumble about Jesus, having no idea of who He is. Their eyes are fixed to what they’ve always known and the people they’ve always followed. Despite seeing all He’s done, they can’t see that He is the One they have been waiting for. 

Power hungry and desiring authority of their own, the religious leaders of this day had these people right where they wanted them; small minded and too self-righteous to have the humility to say,

“Maybe, just maybe, this man, son of Mary and Joseph, the carpenter, is the one that can change our lives.”

Much like the world today, we see so many people that are lost and searching for answers but still hold on to the drink, the drugs, the lying, the cheating, the money, the job, the control, whatever it is they don’t want to let go with fear of getting it wrong, it’s all rooted in pride and Jesus has the answer;

43 Jesus responded, “Stop your grumbling!44 The only way people come to me is by the Father who sent me—he pullson their hearts to embrace me. And those who are drawn to me, I will certainly raise them up in the last day.”

45 Jesus continued, “It has been written by the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God himself.’If you are really listening to the Father and learning directly from him, you will come to me.46 For I am the only One who has come from the Father’s side, and I have seen the Father!

Still they didn’t understand! They believed in man to set them free, Moses was the one that had freed them, he was the one that provided for them and he was the one that was placed above Jesus. They were looking to man and not to God for their freedom. They idolised and turned to the religious leaders of their day for the wisdom they needed. They lived their lives to the law, in the belief it would make them righteous, that they could earn their way to righteousness and maybe even authority.

It’s much like this in the world too. We only have to look into corporations and how people behave to climb the ladder at work, or at the celebrity world, or even in church. People put people on pedestals! We lift them up and gaze at them in awe, developing an infatuation to be like them one day. I know, I’ve done it and the very reason I developed an addiction to nicotine was due to my awe of a girl older than me, more popular than me, prettier than me. I wanted to fit in. The point is we weren’t made to fit in, we were made uniquely, fearfully and wonderfully and the Bible tells us, in the image of God Himself. We are an image of  the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, why would we need to gaze upon people of the world and become more like them when we are all we were ever created to be? All we need to do is understand the One who created us in order to understand who we are! 

The problem with this behaviour is that we begin a spiral of sin, we disconnect ourselves from the One who created us for union with Him. Before we know it, we are idolising the mere person we look up to and we begin a cycle of wanting to please that person and be approved by them. So we pour out works of the flesh in order to make them notice us. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to respect people and encourage them for good things that they do, but when we are consistently looking to them in replacement of Jesus, therein lies the problem.

So my second question for you is,

Who do you look up to? 

In Verses 47 – 59, Jesus goes on to explain what they needed to do and why:

47 “I speak to you living truth: Unite your heart to me and believe—and you will experience eternal life! 48 I am the true Bread of Life. 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the desert and died. 50 But standing here before you is the true Bread that comes out of heaven, and when you eat this Bread you will never die. 51 I alone am this living Bread that has come to you from heaven. Eat this Bread and you will live forever. The living Bread I give you is my body, which I will offer as a sacrifice so that all may live.”

52 These words of Jesus sparked an angry outburst among the Jews. They protested, saying, “Does this man expect us to eat his body?”

53 Jesus replied to them, “Listen to this eternal truth: Unless you eat the body of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have eternal life. 54 Eternal life comes to the one who eats my body and drinks my blood, and I will raise him up in the last day. 55 For my body is real food for your spirit and my blood is real drink. 56 The one who eats my body and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him. 57 The Father of life sent me, and he is my life. In the same way, the one who feeds upon me, I will become his life. 58 I am not like the bread your ancestors ate and later died. I am the living Bread that comes from heaven. Eat this Bread and you will live forever!”

59 Jesus preached this sermon in the synagogue in Capernaum.

There is so much wisdom and knowledge in the world now that we look up to people a lot. We value human opinions, we discover things from them and begin to place their wisdom before His. It’s so important now more than ever that we discover who Jesus is and who we are in Him over everything.  Unless we yield ourselves to Jesus then we have nothing, apart from him we are nothing, there is absolutely nothing in this world that can satisfy us apart from His living breathing word. It’s no wonder that when we busy ourselves looking to man to approve of us we become worn out, offended and exhausted. Here’s what happened next; 

Many Disciples Became Offended

60 And when many of Jesus’ followers heard these things, it caused a stir. “That’s disgusting!” they said. “How could anybody accept it?” 

61 Without anyone telling him, Jesus knew they were outraged and told them, “Are you offended over my teaching? 62 What will you do when you see the Son of Man ascending into the realm from where he came? 

63 “The Holy Spirit is the one who gives life, that which is of the natural realm is of no help. The words I speak to you are Spirit and life. But there are still some of you who won’t believe.” 64 In fact, Jesus already knew from the beginning who the sceptics were and who his traitor would be.

65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one embraces me unless the Father has given you to me.”

As I said in the beginning, once we begin to engage in the behaviour of the world, we commence a cycle, we build up the people we are looking up to and before we know it, they are our gods. Hanging on their every word, we find their wisdom exceptional, we portray them to be something superior and we idolise them, we long to become more like them and we let go of the living bread Himself. We end up busying ourselves, working harder and harder to earn their respect, longing for their admiration and seeking their approval. We wind up working so hard that we become exhausted and we can’t physically do any more. The compliments then become less and less and the expectancy becomes more and more. The people we put up high upon that throne, slowly but surely let us down and there we are; burnt out, fed up and totally offended. Still lost, still hurting and still very much broken.

On the other hand, we could just as easily be the person that someone is placing upon a pedestal. If we allow ourselves to become inflated with knowledge, thinking we know better and taking the moral high ground whilst handing out advice and never thinking we’re wrong. I’ve done it myself, only to land up feeling more than inadequate and having let the people down I intentionally tried to help.

Maybe you are in one of these positions now, either looking up to man to solve your problems or being the problem solver with someone putting you on a pedestal. Maybe you find what I’ve written offensive. That’s the thing with The Word of God, it’s there to be challenging. I’ve been reading the Word countless times and felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit, there have been so many times I’ve sobbed my heart out once realising what I’ve done. Equally there is a huge amount of joy in this sort of conviction, because if we weren’t challenged it means we are stood still, unteachable, not flexible, rigid and proud, stuck in our ways and not His. It means that our growth is stunted, and we are beginning to turn the other way.

Peter’s Confession of Faith

66 And so from that time on many of the disciples turned their backs on Jesus and refused to be associated with him. 67 So Jesus said to his twelve, “And you—do you also want to leave?”68 Peter spoke up and said, “But Lord, where would we go? No one but you gives us the revelation of eternal life. 69 We’re fully convinced that you are the Anointed One, the Son of the Living God, and we believe in you!”

70 Then Jesus shocked them with these words: “I have hand-picked you to be my twelve, knowing that one of you is the devil.” 71 Jesus was referring to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, for he knew that Judas, one of his chosen disciples, was getting ready to betray him.

One of the reasons that people turn their backs on Jesus is because their eyes are fixed on the wrong thing, they are fixed on man or self. They want their own way, they are looking for a solution in mere human beings, they are looking at church (the building and its work) and wondering what they can receive from it, looking for them to solve the problem, which is what churches do, and very well. Please don’t get me wrong here. I do believe that the church as a building and as a people can provide a safe place for people in need, the problem begins when people don’t see Jesus, they see people. As followers of Jesus we must be providing a safe place but, in His will, not ours, the cycle begins when we as humans take control, when we as fleshly humans become the solution and not Him.

Peter knew that Jesus was the One. He is the answer to every question we have, if we walk united with Him then the eternal life we seek, the joy we seek, the peace we seek is ours. But we MUST take our eyes off everything else, no man, no woman, no child, no job, no house, no car, no ministry, no church is ever going to answer our deepest cries for help.

My final question for you is:

Where in your life can you see areas you need to let go of control?

This week’s Study Scripture: 

Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. – Romans 12:2 TPT

 

6 R'S

For more information on the 6 R’s Bible Study CLICK HERE to watch the how to video.

We believe that the word of God is powerful and life changing. When the word of God is applied to your life, you will be renewed!

What’s in the waiting?

Welcome to the Renew blog, a Six Step Bible Study.

We are a united group of Ladies from the UK, who believe in the transforming power of the Word of God for our lives. We meet every Wednesday at Create church, (part of Rising Brook) in Huntington and would love to welcome you to our group, if you live local.

Our Church Website

I’m so glad to be back into a routine this week, we had some time off last week, as here in the UK, it was half term for our children. We had a lovely week as a family doing lots of fun things and we also had the opportunity to chat to my eldest boy Kyan, aged 7, about his thoughts on this weeks study. You’ll be able to see that on our YouTube video later this week so be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss it!

Let’s get started……

So, we are now on Chapter 6 of the book of John. I’m really enjoying what we are learning from the Holy Spirit and I know that the ladies at Renew are being quite blessed with all God is saying to them through the 6-step study.

I want to start this week by thinking about times in our lives that we are waiting for something to happen. Have you ever waited so long for something you thought it would never come? I have! 

I spent so long waiting for healing in the beginning of my walk with Jesus, that I thought I was kidding myself that I could be transformed into His image! In my mind, whilst waiting, I was just an unworthy no hoper that would always be the same, after all “a leopard never changes his spots!” There were so many people at my church who were constantly sharing their stories of healing and redemption but I just wasn’t seeing any change in my own life. I was still angry, still drinking and most definitely wasn’t showing any evidence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within me on my exterior.

In this story we see the disciples doing a little bit of waiting of their own, which set me to thinking what we do in our own periods of waiting.

Let’s have a look at this week’s scripture found in John 6:16-21 from The Passion Translation:

“After waiting until evening for Jesus to return, the disciples went down to the lake. But as darkness fell, he still hadn’t returned, so the disciples got into a boat and headed across the lake to Capernaum.

By now a strong wind began to blow and was stirring up the waters. The disciples had rowed about halfway across the lake when all of a sudden they caught sight of Jesus walking on top of the waves, coming toward them. The disciples panicked, but Jesus called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. You know who I am.” They were relieved to take him in, and the moment Jesus stepped into the boat, they were instantly transported to the other side!”

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We pick up this story right after Jesus had just fed 5000 families from a couple of bits of fish and bread.  Consider and imagine how the disciples were feeling left hanging around after all this excitement of seeing Jesus perform this amazing miracle. Maybe they were reflecting on their own thoughts, processing what had just happened and probably feeling very excited and expectant for what will happen next. But as they wait the thoughts continue to mull around in their mind. They get to thinking about who they are, who they’re not, what they can and can’t do, why they are there, what they are waiting for..…. 

As I mentioned in the beginning of the blog, I too was having to do a little waiting of my own. Waiting is something we will all have to do many times in our lives, whatever that might look like. It could be waiting for a man to marry, to conceive a child, for a ministry to birth, for a new job to come, for a new house, for a change in financial circumstance, for an illness to be healed, for a relationship to be restored, the list goes on……. which leads me to my first question to provoke your remove journaling today:

What are you waiting for? 

From what I can see from this wonderful story and also in my own times of waiting is that it is in the waiting that we experience huge growth. God says I want you to have this thing you are waiting for but I’m not about to give it to you on a plate. We have to continue to go through a process of refining. 

This process is when the storm descends, just as it did that day on the boat.

It’s in the storm that we learn resilience, it’s in the storm that we discover how strong we can be, it’s in the storm we recognise the area’s we need to develop.

The disciples discover in this story that their area of development needed to be a little more faith. In the two other accounts we see Peter step out in that addition of faith quite literally, he trusts Jesus and takes hold of His hand to walk on the water, but in the split second he takes his eyes off Jesus, he begins to sink.

In the storm we learn so much if we allow……

There are many different ways in which we deal with waiting and here are three I can think of that I’ve seen in my own life:

  • We could be still and peaceful resting in faith that the promise will come to pass. This person would continue to worship and praise God in the storm, be rooted in The Word and speak life continually into their problems.
  • We could strive and push in our own strength, setting unattainable goals and challenging ourselves to breaking point in the mindset of, “If I want it I must go out and get it.” This person would be so busy, they don’t have time to be still and allow God to speak. They would continually be pushing on doors that have closed and be totally determined that they are right and the things against them are wrong. 
  • We could give in and stop and let go of the promise we’ve been waiting for. This person would be someone that’s fed up and burnt out possibly as a result of continually pushing against God’s will. They’ve not had time to rest in God so therefore have lost focus of His promise and come to the conclusion they are barking up the wrong tree. So they give up completely, or worse, they are completely exhausted and have been made to give up.

The next question I want you to ponder on is:

What do you do in the waiting? 

Do any of the above resonate or do you imagine any of your own descriptions?

The fact of the matter is that Jesus came and spoke to the storm. The disciples, faithless as they were, Jesus came and calmed that storm, the winds and waves were no more, and peace was restored. This is what He will do for us if we choose to recognise it, every season of our lives are an opportunity to learn, be stretched and grow but without the storm in the waiting, we won’t grow.

Have you ever seen a child that is given everything they ask for without question? We generally call them spoilt. The fact is we are spoilt too, we are a fallen humanity, spoiled with sin. God wants us to learn where those weak spots are and to do that He has to allow us waiting and, in the waiting, we are tested by the storms.

God wants to teach us to navigate these life storms, he wants us to sail through and grow whilst on the move. This is the reason why Jesus gave us His living church services to attend. The sermon we here on a Sunday isn’t just a speech, it’s the living breathing Word direct from the mouth of God. He doesn’t want us to just sit and listen to it, He wants us to WAIT in it, ACT upon it, STUDY it, PLANT it firmly in our hearts in order to GROW, in order that we might navigate those high winds and waves, as the experienced sailors He ordained us to be! 

What can you speak to your storm?

Let’s move on now to our first step which is remove. Take the 3 questions and mull them over. What thoughts do they provoke? Is there anything else on your mind that you can clear out to make room for God to speak?

This week’s study Scripture:

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV) 13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.14 Do everything in love.

 

The 6 R'S Bible Study

For more information on the 6 R’s Bible Study CLICK HERE to watch the how to video.

We believe that the word of God is powerful and life changing. When the word of God is applied to your life, you will be renewed!

See you all next Wednesday and be sure to listen to the YouTube video tomorrow, where Rachael and Hayley will discuss this week’s study.

Be still and know

Welcome to the Renew blog, a Six Step Bible Study.

We are a united group of Ladies from the UK, who believe in the transforming power of the Word of God for our lives. We meet every Wednesday at Create church, (part of Rising Brook) in Huntington and would love to welcome you to our group, if you live local.

Our Church Website

We are now on our sixth week of studying the book of John but before we begin and read Rachael’s study, let’s have a bit of a re-cap.

In our first week we looked at John Chapter 1 where Jesus called His first disciples. (This study isn’t on the blog yet but we’re hoping to put it on soon). The main point we looked at was Jesus’ question to His disciples, “What do you want?” Their response was to ask Jesus, “Where do you abide?” Little did they know, this was the correct answer! Jesus then took the disciples on a journey, which we are now following in the book of John.

Our first blogpost was centred around John Chapter 2 and Jesus’ first miracle at a wedding, where He turned water into wine, which we translated as turning meaningless religion into joy. See post Say cheers to endless joy

We then watched Jesus discuss the logic of religion with Nicodemus and the Woman at the Well, followed by Him healing the Officer’s Son from afar and freeing and healing a disabled man from his religious attitude and disability. Last week we studied how Jesus was given the authority to do such things and we talked about His communion with the Father. (See post for whose glory).

This week we are looking at another great miracle in John Chapter 6. Throughout Jesus’ ministry we discover that He is continually showing and teaching His disciples HOW to do things and this week we witness a little test for Philip!

Read

John 6:1-7

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Lake of Tiberias, which is also known as Lake Galilee. And a massive crowd of people followed him everywhere. They were attracted by his miracles and the healings they watched him perform. Jesus went up the slope of a hill and sat down with his disciples. Now it was approaching the time of the Jewish celebration of Passover, and there were many pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem in the crowd.

As Jesus sat down, he looked out and saw the massive crowd of people scrambling up the hill, for they wanted to be near him. So he turned to Philip and said, “Where will we buy enough food to feed all these people?” Now Jesus already knew what he was about to do, but he said this to stretch Philip’s faith.

Philip answered, “Well, I suppose if we were to give everyone only a snack, it would cost thousands of dollars to buy enough food!”

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I love this! Jesus didn’t ask Philip if they had the money to buy the food, He asked where will we buy enough food? Philip went straight into the logical, just as we’ve seen before with Nicodemus, the woman at the well and the disabled man. Philip has seen all these miracles first hand and you’d think he’d know better by now, wouldn’t you?

I think that this is a great example of us in the natural. We’ve seen how Jesus has changed our lives, we’ve encountered miraculous wonders, received supernatural strength in situations beyond our control and have felt the touch of the Holy Spirit and yet, there are times where we can’t quite look to Jesus to meet our needs or we struggle to perceive the concept of miracles.

We still lack that faith at times. 

At Create Church on Sunday, we had two great meetings. The first meeting was focussed on how we are the ‘Tabernacle’, the very dwelling place of God. We discussed ways in which our insides inform our outsides and how we need to be filled daily with the Holy Spirit in order to carry Jesus’ light into the world. When we are so full of God’s promises it becomes impossible for the negative to come out, there isn’t any in there to speak!

Then Sunday evening we had a night of sharing testimonies with one another and thanking God for all He’s done, all He’s doing and what He is about to do. It was such an amazing day!

My first question for you to ponder today is:

Who do you look to?

Who do you look to, to supply all your needs? Who is it you count upon? Yourself, your partner, your friends, your pastor, your leaders or Jesus?

John 6:8-9

But just then, Andrew, Peter’s brother, spoke up and said, Look! Here’s a young person with five barley loaves and two small fish . . . but how far would that go with this huge crowd?”

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Now it’s Andrew’s turn to be tested, a young boy comes from the crowd with all He has, to help feed everyone, did this young boy know exactly who Jesus was? I find it quite the coincidence that the Bible tells us to come to Him like children and here we have a child coming forward with all he has allowing Jesus to multiply! What happens next is a great example of what happens when you bring all you have to Him. When we give of ourselves, Jesus will take what we have and multiply it.

My second question then is this:

What would you like to give to Jesus for Him to multiply today?

I don’t believe that you need to work harder in order to bring more to Jesus. I see people all the time working harder and draining themselves in the belief that the more they give, the more they will receive. People have a tendency to believe that God will give them the strength that they need to do all that they are doing, and He will, but we have to be doing it His way and not ours. That blessing is dependant upon the heart that it’s given with. Look what Jesus goes on to teach them next.

John 6:10-12

 “Have everyone sit down,” Jesus said to his disciples. So on the vast grassy slope, more than five thousand hungry people sat down. Jesus then took the barley loaves and the fish and gave thanks to God. He then gave it to the disciples to distribute to the people. Miraculously, the food multiplied, with everyone eating as much as they wanted! 

When everyone was satisfied, Jesus told his disciples, “Now go back and gather up the pieces left over so that nothing will be wasted.” The disciples filled up twelve baskets of fragments, a basket of leftovers for each disciple.

 

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He had everyone sit down! Imagine this, over 5000 people were there that day. (I say over because the Bible tells us that this only counted men). I imagine it was complete chaos, people clambering over one another to catch a glimpse of Him but Jesus wanted peace and order. Jesus wanted each and every person to see what He was about to do, for them to see the direct access He has to the Father, to see the glory be given to God.

I believe this was something that He wanted them to take away with them, this is a lesson He wanted the world to learn. We don’t have to be striving to work hard to see the miracle or receive the living bread, the nourishment that comes from heaven.

Jesus wants us to SIT and receive, REST and receive, BE STILL and receive! 

Let me ask you my third question:

When was the last time you were still? 

Jesus teaches us in this small portion of scripture exactly how to live a life of abundant peace. 

  1. Bring what you have
  2. Look up
  3. Give thanks
  4. Rest
  5. Receive

It really is that simple. This young boy came and gave what He had to Jesus for Him to use for the good of others. It wasn’t much and I believe that was intentional. We don’t have to be breaking our necks; working hard, giving hard, but we do need to humbly bring what we have to Jesus. Our time, finance, resources…. whatever the Holy Spirit prompts you to think about here. We lift that up to God, look up and give thanks for what we have, not reflecting on what we don’t have. We then rest in His presence and receive the multiplication. 

I can honestly say that this has worked in my life, although I forget that sometimes too. I can worry over things and try to take it into my own hands but then I’m still…. I study something like this and I’m reminded of times that I have let go, like when I totalled my car and the money came to buy one, like when I had five weeks to do an assignment and spent the first four of them in the word but in the last week received supernatural knowledge and wisdom to complete it!

Or like the time we were stressing over not being able to pay for our holiday, as some projects we had going on weren’t going to be completed in time and the money came via a completely unexpected source, or like the time I worried about having enough hours in the day to complete everything and the Holy spirit whispered ‘be still’, so I did and I got it all done. There are so many of these examples that I could give to you and I’m sure you have many of your own.

As I type this I’m reminded of a conversation I once had with someone. They were wondering how on earth I managed to complete so much in my week. I have three kids aged 7, 5 and 18 months. I help run this Bible study group, I help run a uniform bank, I relentlessly study the word, I help church happen, serving on teams on a Sunday, my kids have clubs to go to. As with many other women yes I’m busy but I get so much accomplished because I’m still.

I’m not saying that I’m the only person in the world that’s busy, I know that we all are and I’m certainly not saying I’m holy and better than anyone else. I’m simply explaining that my chaotic lifestyle all starts with Jesus, unless I’m full of Him I couldn’t do what I do! On the days I miss time with Jesus, my life literally topples over and I turn in to the stressed out monster that the devil loves. So the most important thing to me is to sit and place my bum on the grass and wait peacefully for my portion of bread and fish!

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Look even Jesus knew that He had to have his alone time! 

John 6:14-15

 All the people were astounded as they saw with their own eyes the incredible miracle Jesus had performed! They began to say among themselves, “He really is the One—the true prophet we’ve been expecting!” So Jesus, knowing that they were about to take him and make him their king by force, quickly left and went up the mountainside alone.

Here’s a re-cap of those three questions:

  1. Who do you look to?
  2. What would you like to give to Jesus for Him to multiply today?
  3. When was the last time you were still?

This week’s Study Scripture

Psalm 46:10

     He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

 

The 6 R'S Bible Study

For more information on the 6 R’s Bible Study CLICK HERE to watch the how to video.

We believe that the word of God is powerful and life changing. When the word of God is applied to your life, you will be renewed!

See you all in two weeks, as it’s the half term holidays next week so we’ll be having a rest with our families.