Jesus Is Better Than Your Plan (Bible Study John 5 part 2)

Today we are diving into part two in a series on a story in John 5

Jesus is in Jerusalem and ends up by a pool near the sheep gate.  It was believed that when the waters were stirred (perhaps a spring occasionally bubbled up there) that the first person in the water would be healed.  Because of this there were many lame, blind, and otherwise ill people laying there.  One such man was paralyzed and had been in that condition for 38 years.

Jesus approaches the man and asks him, “Do you want to get well?”  Last time we looked at some probable reason why Jesus asks this question.  Today I want to look at this man’s response, and ours, to that question.

The man says this, “Sir, I have no one to put me in the pool when it is stirred up.  I start to go there but because of my condition someone gets there before me.”

Here is what is interesting about this answer.  This man has a plan to get well.  He is counting on this plan.  He might need a little help to get there but he doesn’t need a new or different plan.  His plan is the only one that can work.  He’s had 38 years to think about this obviously.  It’s not his first rodeo and I’m sure it’s not his first plan.

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Do You Want To Get Well (Bible Study John 5 Part 1)

Today I want to begin to take a look at the story in John 5.  Here are the basics.

Jesus is in Jerusalem and ends up by a pool near the sheep gate.  It was believed that when the waters were stirred (perhaps a spring occasionally bubbled up there) that the first person in the water would be healed.  Because of this there were many lame, blind, and otherwise ill people laying there.  One such man was paralyzed and had been in that condition for 38 years.

Jesus approaches the man and asks him, “Do you want to get well?”  Wait!  What?!

I want to stop here and consider this moment.  First, let’s just get a few facts out of the way.  Jesus can for sure heal this guy.  He’s already done some healing previous to this.  He has the power to heal this man.  And this man has been in the condition for a long, long time.  Frankly it’s a minor miracle that he lived that long in those times while in that condition. He is also at the pool, hoping to get in at the right moment.  Why else be there but for the hope of being healed?

So why does Jesus ask him if he wants to get well?

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Will We Be Equal In Heaven? (Bible Study The Rich Young Man Part 5)

That last several bible study posts we have been looking at the story of the rich young man’s encounter with Jesus.  We started by looking at the original context and the most likely meaning.  Then we looked at two ways that Christians often get money wrong.  Next we looked at our own generosity and finally we talked about what I would consider the main point that we can apply; that is do we own our life or does God?

In this last post on this story I want to consider something that I think often gets lost when we read this.  And that is the last part where Peter and Jesus talk about the disciples and what they have left to follow Jesus.

Following Jesus’ teaching on how only God can let people in and that if you don’t surrender all to Him you won’t get in, Peter responds.  You can see the wheels turning in Peter’s head.  He says, “We have left everything to follow you.  What will there be for us?”

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Do You Own Your Life Or Does God (Bible Study The Rich Young Man Part 4)

Over the course of several posts we’ve been looking at the story of the rich young man’s encounter with Jesus.  We looked at the original context, the two errors that we make about Christianity and money and the idea of starting with judging our own generosity before judging others.  Today I want to look at what it means to walk the line with wealth and the Kingdom and avoiding the fate of the rich young man.

The first thing I want to note is that the this man had it all.  He had prosperity by any standard.  He was not only in the top 1%.  In his day he was more likely in the top .01%.  Not only that but by all accounts he was a morally upstanding guy.  He kept the ten commandments at least generally.  Heck he probably tithed his 10% to the temple.

And yet, something was missing and he knew it.  Otherwise why would he have come to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

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Is Christianity Inclusive or Exclusive? Yes!

I’ve seen a lot of conversions (or arguments might be a better word) about the inclusivity of Christianity. Some say that Jesus was all inclusive. Others say that it is a narrow road and that the Kingdom is actually very exclusive. I want to offers some thoughts on this.

First I think that our current culture inclusivity it a sort of virtue. It seems that many want everyone to be included in everything. There is a lot good about this idea. Far too often people have been left out, or even kept out, of opportunities and experiences that they should not have been. That’s a fair critique of parts of our society. So everyone wants everyone to be included. I think that’s a good desire.

The flip side of this is that not everyone is the same. People don’t all have the same skills, talents and even desires. And, no matter how we might try to rig society we will never have equal outcomes for all. It’s literally impossible and extremely unreasonable.  And frankly a dangerous plan.

But the real question as a Christian is what does Jesus teach and what does He say about the Kingdom in this regard? Here are my thoughts.

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Start With Yourself – Are You Generous? (Bible Study The Rich Young Man – Part 3)

In two previous posts we’ve been considering the story of the Rich Young Man’s encounter with Jesus.  We discussed the story itself and then in the last post we looked at two major errors Christians make in thinking about money.  Today I want to start with the idea that we need to start with ourselves before we judge others.

One of the problems in our society is that we like to create groups of people and then judge the groups that we don’t see ourselves in.  This is true in many aspects of our lives but I think money is a great example and it’s the theme of this thought we are in right now.

You hear all the time about wealth or income inequality, the 1%, the 10% and so on.  We talk about people that have an income over a certain amount.  Mostly we like to judge whatever group has more than us.

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Are We Called To Love The Dead? (How To Study History as a Christian Part One)

A few weeks ago I wrote a 5 part study on the parable of the Samaritan.  Following that in a related post we looked at the idea of what it might mean to love our enemies.  In a way this all points toward the idea of loving our neighbor.

Jesus uses the parable of the Samaritan in response to a Jewish lawyer who had asked what the greatest commandment was.  Jesus answered that the greatest commandment was to love God with all of our heart, strength and mind.  The second follows; that is to love our neighbor.  The lawyer then asks who is our neighbor.  Jesus uses the parable to make the point that every person, yes even our enemy, is our neighbor.

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What Does Christian Leadership Look Like (Leadership Series Part 5)

In the last few posts we’ve been discussing the idea of leadership.  We’ve looked at leadership in general.  We’ve looked at the difference between effective leadership and moral leadership – at least as we’ve defined it.  We’ve determined that there are many different styles of leadership that can be both great and effective.  And we’ve looked at how context plays a role in who ends up leading.

Today I want to look at what we might call Christian leadership.  Really at the end of the day that should be our goal as believers if we want to lead.  This is not as simple as “lead like Jesus” although obviously we want to look at Jesus who was without a doubt the greatest, most effective leader of all time.  And He still is.

So what does it mean to be a Christian leader?  How do we do it?

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The Circumstances Of Effective Leadership (Part 4 Leadership Series)

Think about the following short list of people who could be considered great leaders in history.  People who were effective by my working definition of effective leadership: “An effective leader is someone who has followers and gets them, through his/her leadership, to accomplish something.  The more followers they have and/or the greater the accomplishment; the more effective the leader.”  Some of these are more moral than others but we’ll leave out the completely immoral examples.  Here’s the list:

  • Martin Luther King Jr
  • Walt Disney
  • Bill Gates
  • Winston Churchill
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Martin Luther
  • Pope John Paul II
  • Harriet Tubman
  • Mother Teresa
  • William Wilberforce
  • Joan of Arc

Now I could list a ton more people in every context.  Religious, business, countries and causes.  This is just a few that came to mind right away that I think most people would say had a huge impact.  They had lots of followers and accomplished real change in their context.

Obviously most of us, or more accurately probably none of us, will be on any future list like this.  But I think we can learn something here about leadership from these folks.  What do they have in common?  What made them effective leaders?

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What Do The Soils Look Like & Which Soil Are You? (Parable Of The Soil Study – Part 2)

Last week we began to look at the parable of the sower from Luke 8.  Today I want to take a closer look at what these soils look like.

The first soil is that by the road.  This is the soil that the seed falls on but then the devil comes and steals the word before it can take root.

This soil is what we might call the people who reject the word outright.  They have a hard heart and therefore the word just stays on the surface.  It’s like when I seed my lawn and some of the seed gets on the driveway or sidewalk.  It has no chance.

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