Jesus, With His Father

The Gospel of John chapters 13-17 are particularly close to my heart. I have wondered what it would have been like to be in that room, at that table, and to have heard what Jesus was telling the disciples and to have seen what Jesus did.

Because I have the luxury of moving back and forth in scripture, reading about what took place in the past and knowing what is coming next, it is easy to forget that the disciples lived only in the moment. Also that, theirs was an oral society, so it would be easy to forget some of what Jesus said and did during the three years they followed him around Galilee and the surrounding countryside.

From John 13:1-14:3, we see Jesus doing an unexpected thing, telling his disciples some hard to understand things. Picking up at John 14:4, Jesus says, “You know the way to where I am going.”

“Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way? ” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”

“Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.”

Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves. John 14:4-11 HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Jesus reminded Philip and the other disciples there of times when he had spoken of and to his Father. Below are three familiar incidents that would much later be remembered and written for us to read.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 NIV

At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, because this was Your good pleasure.”

“All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.” Matthew 11:25-27 NIV

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
Matthew 16:15-17

Question: What do you think the word, “way” means? For Thomas it meant: What road are we taking to get to where you haven’t told us yet?

  • Take some time to think about what it means that Jesus is the “way”.
  • Also, think about what it means that “Jesus is In the Father and the Father is in him”
Jesus, With His Father2023-05-27T11:22:45-06:00

Jesus’ Wedding Plans

This past January, my daughter and her fiance became engaged and began planning their August wedding. She was surprised that her fiance (an introvert) wanted thirteen groomsmen. They settled on nine attendants each – which was more than my daughter (an extrovert) had anticipated. This brings up a question. Do men dream about their weddings? Apparently so.

When you read the following part of Jesus’ farewell discourse found in John, chapters 14-17, tune your heart to hear Jesus laying out his wedding plans.

“Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. And you know the way where I am going.” John 14:1-4 NET

His language evokes classic, first century, Jewish betrothal (engagement and marriage) customs. Here’s the full article regarding the above passage. This portion is most relevant:

…the groom would return to his father’s house after the betrothal to prepare a bridal chamber. This process traditionally took a year or more (the length of time being dictated by the groom’s father). When the place was complete, the groom would return and fetch his bride. The bride would not know the day or hour of her husband-to-be’s return, so the groom’s arrival was usually announced with a trumpet call and a shout so the bride had some forewarning.

Go to Matthew 24:29-44 to find more wedding language (with the trumpet call included), and notice this nugget about the groom’s (Jesus’) Father in Heaven:

“But as for that day and hour no one knows it—not even the angels in heaven—except the Father alone.” Matthew 24:36

As the Bride of Christ, we find ourselves in a lengthy (to us) period of waiting. But we are not in a vacuum of waiting. It’s our preparation season. While we wait, we anticipate the most intense level of his glorious presence – the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. Because the Father is the sole determiner of the time, Jesus has sent his Holy Spirit to show us how to prepare for The Big Day.

Then I heard what sounded like the voice of a vast throng, like the roar of many waters and like loud crashes of thunder. They were shouting:

For the Lord our God, the All-Powerful, reigns!
Let us rejoice and exult and give him glory,
because the wedding celebration of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
She was permitted to be dressed in bright, clean, fine linen”
(for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints).

Then the angel said to me, “Write the following: Blessed are those who are invited to the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:6-9 NET

Read Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the ten virgins, to more fully understand how actively we must prepare for the day we meet Jesus face to face.

Applications: Do you have friends who grew up and married in a different culture with ancient marriage traditions? Ask them about their engagement period and marriage ceremony. If you don’t have such friends, search the internet for still existing engagement and marriage traditions in empire cultures such as India, Turkey, and Iran. Be especially aware of preparation requirements for the bride. Alternatively, contemplate meeting Jesus face to face with Sandi Patty’s version of We Shall Behold Him.

Jesus’ Wedding Plans2023-05-27T10:41:22-06:00

Believe God – Believe Also In Me

For the next three weeks we will be using the Gospel of John to focus on the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of John is unique because it has several miracles and events recorded in it that are not included in Matthew, Mark or Luke. John uses the words “love, light, life, word, world, witness, testify, and believe” many more times than any other New Testament writer and often repeats these words in order to emphasize the point he is making. John stated his purpose in writing his gospel as being:

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31 NIV

The section we are focusing on is found in chapters 13 and 14 of John. They are within a larger section that is called the “Upper Room Discourse” that includes chapters 13-17 of John. This conversation Jesus had with his disciples during the last supper they shared together is only found in John.

“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 13:33-14:1 NIV

Jesus was still with the disciples, but soon wouldn’t be. He was teaching them about how He wants them to treat each other when he is no longer there, but Peter focused on the wrong thing – that Jesus was leaving. Then Jesus told Peter he will deny him very soon. There is quite a contrast between the Peter shown in the Gospels and the Peter we see in Acts 2:14-41 and in the rest of the New Testament. The difference is the empowering of the Holy Spirit. In John 13 Peter did not have the power of the Holy Spirit in his life yet. Jesus did tell him and the others how the Holy Spirit would change things for them.

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:10-14 NIV

This is really quite amazing! Jesus told his disciples they will do even greater things than He has done! That is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus also told them to trust in God, to not be troubled. This is something we all need to remember each and every day. Since we have the power of the Holy Spirit, if we believe in Jesus as our Savior, then we should not let our hearts be troubled, but instead trust in God and in the power of the Holy Spirit to be at work in our lives. Read Psalm 56. Listen to why the Psalmist says we should trust in God. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your troubled heart and to enable you to trust in God today.

Believe God – Believe Also In Me2023-05-28T14:04:51-06:00

Red Couch Theology

Sermon Conversations with Alex and Aaron

There’s only so much we can cover in a Sunday morning gathering!
Each week, you’re invited to tune into our podcast at 11 am, on Thursdays – also recorded for later, online viewing.

What can you expect? Pastors Alex, Aaron, and the occasional guest having a casual conversation, diving deeper into ideas related to last Sunday’s teaching.

Ask Questions about the Sermon Series, Between You and Me – “No Healthy We Without a Healthy Me,”
by texting 720-316-3893 prior to, or during the “LIVE” Thursday podcast.

Blog sites:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH

Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767

Red Couch Theology2023-04-17T08:14:53-06:00

A Cord of Three Strands

But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone.  Matthew 19:11

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.  1 Corinthians 7:32-35

A wedding is this joyful moment when two people say something to the effect of, “over all others on this earth, I choose you to be with, you to be rich or poor with, you to be healthy or sick with, you to enjoy the better or the worse with.” While weddings are beautiful affairs (and often expensive), there is perhaps no more preparation for being married than a driving test is for hitting the open road!

Marriage is the complex relationship that follows the wedding! It is two people learning to live as one. As we read scripture, we see marriage is never overly romanticized. In the story of Jacob (Genesis 19), we see a man who is tricked into marrying his beloved’s sister. He marries his beloved a week later while staying married to his first wife. In the book of Job, when the famous long suffering titular character is at his lowest moment, his “helpful” wife tells him to “curse God and die”. If you know the Bible, then you noticed that I cherry picked some of the least controversial marriages for illustrations!

We live in a world where people want to embrace the ‘happily ever after’ moment but don’t always want to work hard at the relationship they have entered into. In this week’s passages, both Jesus and Paul make it clear that marriage is not the easy road. It is a path of sacrifice, and it should be entered into with that in mind. The Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer includes these words in the wedding service:

“Marriage is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God. Into this holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined”

While presenting the challenges of marriage, the Bible also presents the joys. In Ecclesiastes 4 we read these words:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

In this week’s passages, Jesus and Paul remind us that marriage was never designed to be THE central relationship. That place belongs to God alone.

Today, regardless of your relationship status, choose to thank God for his work for you, his relationship with you and his presence in you.

You might:

Take a walk and notice Jesus walking alongside you.
Write a note of thankfulness and gratitude.
Open your hands and surrender each relationship, and recognise it is second
to your relationship with your Heavenly Father.

A Cord of Three Strands2023-04-19T13:38:18-06:00

An Awkward Question

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” NIV I Corinthians 7:1

At first glance, this can be a confusing verse. We need to understand several issues to understand this “awkward” text. First, we must look at this verse within the context of the book of I Corinthians and the city and culture of Corinth around the year of 55 AD. Secondly, we must look at the context of Chapter 7 within the letter of I Corinthians.

The city of Corinth was a wealthy, relatively new Roman city full of many former slaves. Many Corinthians worshiped at the temple of Aphrodite located on the hill above the city. Prostitution and sexual immorality was a common practice at the temple and within Roman society.

Paul wrote the letter of I Corinthians to the church he had started in that city as a reply to several questions they had written to him. Chapter seven begins a new topic of marriage within his letter. The NIV puts quotations around the statement “It is good for a man to not have sexual relations with a woman.”
(I Corinthians 7:1) This indicates that Paul is quoting the Corinthians in this statement. It is possible some people in the church of Corinth believed that sexual relations within marriage was wrong for Christians, because they had the Holy Spirit and didn’t want to corrupt their bodies with sex. Some may have believed that the second coming of Christ was imminent, and since people would not live as married people in heaven, they should begin to live that way now on earth. Others may have been influenced by the popular world view at the time that since their bodies would die, it did not matter what they did with them, they could do anything, even behave sexually immoral – and it didn’t matter.

Paul corrects the Corinthians’ thinking in the next several verses. He is clear that sexual relations within the context of marriage is proper, right and creates a mutuality between husband and wife that would have been somewhat radical for 55 AD. Look at how the Message version translates the next few verses in
I Corinthians 7.

Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? Certainly—but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. I Corinthians 7:1-4 MSG

Both Paul and Jesus often answered complex and “awkward” questions. There definitely are difficult, confusing and awkward scriptures in the Bible. Asking questions of those who have studied it is one way to find answers. Another is to study the question for yourself. Look at various translations, consult commentaries or other study books on the topic or passage. Pray about your questions;i f you seek God sincerely, He promises He can be found.

I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. Proverbs 8:17 NIV

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 NIV

An Awkward Question2023-04-15T22:25:48-06:00

Singleness or Marriage, God Given Options

They shot back in rebuttal, “If that’s so, why did Moses give instructions for divorce papers and divorce procedures?”

Jesus said, “Moses provided for divorce as a concession to your hard heartedness, but it is not part of God’s original plan. I’m holding you to the original plan, and holding you liable for adultery if you divorce your faithful wife and then marry someone else. I make an exception in cases where the spouse has committed adultery.”

Jesus’ disciples objected, “If those are the terms of marriage, we haven’t got a chance. Why get married?”

But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked — or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.” Matthew 19:7-12 MSG

I can only imagine what it must have been like before there were chapter and verse divisions in scripture, as well as the bold print titles of subject shifts in each chapter. In Matthew 19 the shift from divorce, to little children, to the rich young ruler, to reward for those who give up everything to follow Jesus, is a bit too condensed.

I often wish I could have seen how Jesus related to people and heard his voice as he responded to questions. Also I would have wanted more in-depth examples of, in this case, the value of both marriage and singleness.

In my extended family there are examples of marriage and both the singleness of choice and the singleness of widowhood.

My maternal grandmother, born in 1884, got married when she was 30. She was widowed at age 53 and continued single until she died a few weeks short of age 99. She was active in her Methodist church and was partly responsible for raising my sister and me.

My maternal aunt Carol, my mother’s sister, was a “maiden lady” who lived with our grandmother. She worked in several positions for 35 years at Mountain Bell Telephone Company. She also taught children at their Methodist church. At the deaths of our parents she was the legal guardian of my sister and me, even though I lived with family in a different state. Both our grandmother and aunt Carol had a great influence on our lives.

Regardless of whether we get married or continue as a single person, there are foundational scriptural directions for how we are to live our lives as people who call on the name of Jesus as Savior and Lord:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27 NIV

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

Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You — follow me.” John 21:20-23 NIV

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Together with me, ponder and practice these directions for walking in the way of Jesus with his heart.

Singleness or Marriage, God Given Options2023-04-15T08:25:41-06:00

From the Beginning It Was Not This Way

Every culture has ‘hot button’ issues from a persistent set of controversies existing in all cultures and time periods – especially those involving marriage and sexual ethics. These concerns touch some of our deepest longings and conflicts.

In the historical period just prior to and during Jesus’ public ministry, there were sharp disputes about marriage and divorce between two leading teachers of Judaism. These disputes took place between the school of Hillel the Elder (having a lenient interpretation of scripture) and Shammai and his school (with a more strict interpretation).

In Matthew 19:1-15 the Pharisees asked Jesus a question about divorce that reflected these disputes. When they asked him to interpret Deuteronomy 24:1-4, they were testing Jesus against these preeminent teachers. The Deuteronomy passage begins:

If a man marries a woman and she does not please him because he has found something indecent in her, then he may draw up a divorce document, give it to her, and evict her from his house. Deuteronomy 24:1 NET

Although Jesus’ complete answer in Matthew 19:1-15 is most like Shammai’s view, Jesus redirected his answer to the core of the dispute by revealing a hidden reason men sought religious permission to divorce their wives:

Jesus said to them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts, but from the beginning it was not this way. Matthew 19:8 NET

What a remarkable insight about hard heartedness — how it evokes passages in Genesis which reveal God’s original design for marriage. This answer seemed either to satisfy or silence Jesus’ examiners.

It’s worth discovering or exploring again what Jesus meant when he said “from the beginning it was not this way”. In the middle of heated arguments between present day religious experts, Jesus is still the master of marriage and sexual ethics.

Are you frustrated with contemporary tales of tangled, broken relationships or even ones of your own making? It might be refreshing to observe less complicated relationships in the natural world of animals. Spring is here. Birds and other animals are pairing up. Take a walk or drive to a place where you can spot their activities. If you can’t get outside, watch a nature program. Meditate on the timeless simplicity God shows you, and take your frustrations to him in prayer.

From the Beginning It Was Not This Way2023-04-17T08:11:36-06:00

Red Couch Theology

Sermon Conversations with Alex and Aaron

There’s only so much we can cover in a Sunday morning gathering!
Each week, you’re invited to tune into our podcast at 11 am, on Thursdays – it is also recorded for later, online viewing.

What can you expect? Pastors Alex, Aaron, and the occasional guest having a casual conversation, diving deeper into ideas related to last Sunday’s teaching.

Ask Questions about the Sermon, Celebrating Resurrection
by texting 720-316-3893 prior to, or during the “LIVE” Thursday podcast.

Blog sites:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH

Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767

Red Couch Theology2023-04-09T11:46:46-06:00

Those Who Have Gone Before

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

April 2nd, which was on Palm Sunday this year, has deep significance for me. This year it is the 15th “anniversary” of my husband Phil’s home going to be with Jesus. In 2008, Easter Sunday was March 23, the earliest that it will be again until 2160.

The weeks leading up to Easter had been eventful for us. Phil turned 71 on February 26. Our 43rd wedding anniversary was March 12, which we celebrated with a weekend trip to our favorite inn in Estes Park.

Back then, Palm Sunday, March 16th was the start of Holy Week, and we helped set up “Expressions of Easter” in the Worship Center. During that week, the community was invited to walk through an experience of the road to the cross leading up to Good Friday.

On Saturday, we were part of the large crew who cleared the worship center to prepare for Easter Morning. A treasured memory for me from that time is watching Phil and a teenage friend of ours walking together with an arm over each other’s shoulder as they enjoyed a good talk – age and youth delighting in their friendship.

Easter Sunday has been a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and the promise of life in Him now and when He comes again. After Phil had welcomed people in the Fellowship area, he joined me with the team in the sound booth for both Easter services. We had dinner later at the home of some dear friends.

On Tuesday, April 1, 2008, Phil woke up so weak he could barely crawl. An ambulance took him to the closest hospital, which was Porter, and he died at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 2nd. He was diagnosed as having pneumonia with septicemia that had ravaged his whole body. – no warning, no previous indications.

As one who has experienced a lot of death in my own family and, as a long time part of the sound tech team, I have had the privilege of helping with many memorial services. Some of these were for people I didn’t know, and many were people who were friends. The memorials consisted of people of all ages. I still have most of the bulletins from those services, and occasionally look through them to remember the people and their stories.

Hebrews 11 and 12 tell about “heroes” of the faith who believed God’s promises and looked forward to what they didn’t get to experience in their lifetime. They are called “a great cloud of witnesses”. Paul also expresses his hope in 2 Timothy 1:8-12

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Take time in the coming days and weeks to savor the memory of Easter and Christ’s promise to us of resurrection when he returns. In the process of looking forward to that day, grow in living daily with the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit .

Those Who Have Gone Before2023-04-09T12:12:26-06:00
Go to Top