God-Promotion or Self-Promotion? — John 5:30-38

When Jesus said, “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true,” He may have included the idea, “If I promote myself, my self-promotion does not honor God.” Self-promotion seems to be what the scribes and Pharisees did when they loved to be honored by the crowds for their seeming piety.

What is wrong with self-promotion? The world tells us that if we want to “get ahead,” we need to look for ways to promote ourselves in the eyes of those who can help us “get ahead.” Maybe self-promotion works for many. Consider the successes of the Pharisees.

When the Pharisees gave alms to the poor or prayed on the street corners for all to see, they were promoting themselves for reasons probably unknown to us, but Jesus said they had received their reward. So, self-promotion can be rewarding in some way or another. But the Pharisees who through their self-promotion had received their reward in this world were not going to be rewarded again by God in the next world—they had received all the reward they were going to get.

Again, what is wrong with self-promotion? Perhaps nothing. But if our true task is to promote the business or career of someone else, and we use their time and money to promote our own self-advancement or profession instead of doing what they employed us to do, that would not be right.

What example did Jesus leave us? First and foremost, Jesus promoted the purposes of His Heavenly Father instead of His own self-interest. What is our purpose? Jesus perfectly agreed with the purposes of His Heaven Father. Do we agree with the purposes of God? Jesus came to do the will of His Father who sent Him, and Jesus never opposed His Father’s will. Jesus completed the work He was sent to do. If we have responded to Jesus’ call to follow Him, have we also decided to do the will of Jesus and never oppose God’s will for us, the Lord being our Helper, though we still disobey God sometimes?

At all times, Jesus came to do the will of His Heavenly Father and He did; therefore, the Father promoted Jesus among the people He came to serve. With single-minded love and devotion for His Father, Jesus did His Father’s will. Unlike the Pharisees, who needed the crowds to promote their self-interests, Jesus chose to promote the interests of His Father who had sent Him; therefore, the Father promoted Jesus to the right hand of God after Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection. Jesus received the reward of His suffering.

As followers of Jesus Christ, as Bible students and teachers, whose purposes do we seek to fulfill first and foremost with the time, talent, and opportunities God gives us? God the Father testified in behalf of Jesus, who did His Father’s will. For almost 2,000 years, God the Father has testified in behalf of those who have promoted His work through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Let us prayerfully seek to know and do the Father’s will and obey Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit according to the Scriptures, rather than try to use Jesus and truths we learn from the Bible as means of self-promotion.

What do you think? Make your comments below. Do you or someone in your Bible study group have a question? Send your questions to me at lgp@theiblf.com and I will answer them (or try to) on the Forum.

Receive our periodic International Bible Study Newsletter by sending me an email request to lgp@theiblf.com.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now!! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1. Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

Seeking the Right Rewards—Matthew 6:1-8

Whenever I discover that a Uniform Lesson is repeated and I have an archived International Bible Lesson Commentary and/or International Bible Lesson that apply to those verses, I will let you know here on the International Bible Study Forum.

The upcoming Uniform Lesson for February 9, 2020 is from Matthew 6:1-8, and it precedes Jesus’ teaching on the Lord’s Prayer and warns us against hypocrisy. I have added commentary on Matthew 6:1-4, because the Uniform Lesson from November 2011 was from Matthew 6:5-15. I will soon publish the commentary on Matthew 6:9-15 for February 16. Though I have published lesson commentaries on almost all of Matthew chapters 5 & 6, I have none from Matthew chapter 7 (which I will write as time permits).

Below are the direct links to the materials I have on Matthew 6:1-8. As you will notice, over the years the materials on each lesson grew in number, and I only have the commentary on Matthew 6:1-8 from 2011.

Matthew 6:1-8
(From November 2011, with verses 1-4 added in February 2020)

Matthew 6:1-8 Commentary

Matthew 6:1-8 Commentary Large Print

Even though the new International Bible Study Commentary is now a verse-by-verse study through the Gospel of John, I will try to answer any of your questions on each week’s Uniform Lesson, if you will send your questions to me at lgp@theiblf.com. I will answer them (or try to) on the Forum, where you can also make Comments.

Receive our periodic International Bible Study Newsletter by sending me an email request to lgp@theiblf.com.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now!! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1. For private study, weekday Bible Studies, and Sunday schools.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

Jesus’ Temptation in the Wilderness — Matthew 4:1-11

As I told you in our recent International Bible Study Forum Newsletter, whenever I discover that a Uniform Lesson is repeated and I have an archived International Bible Lesson Commentary and International Bible Lesson that apply to those verses, I will let you know here on the International Bible Study Forum.

The upcoming Uniform Lesson for February 2, 2020 is from Jesus’ Temptation in the Wilderness following His baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. The earlier archives do not include as much material as the later archives, but they all include commentaries and Bible lessons as you will see below.

Below are the direct links to the Matthew 4:1-11 archived materials from the new International Bible Study Commentary website.

Matthew 4:1-11
(From May 2014)

Matthew 4:1-11 Commentary

Matthew 4:1-11 Large Print Commentary

Teacher Study Hints for Thinking Further

Teacher Study Hints for Deuteronomy 6:10-19 and Matthew 4:1-11

Large Print Teacher Study Hints for Deuteronomy 6:10-19 and Matthew 4:1-11

Audio Commentary

Audio Commentary on Matthew 4:1-11

Student Class Handout

King James Version and Student Study Handout for Matthew 4:1-11

New Revised Standard Version and Student Study Handout for Matthew 4:1-11

International Bible Lesson

“But Jesus answered, ‘It is written,
“One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”’”

(Matthew 4:4—NRSV).

How Should Everyone Live?

How Should Everyone Live? (Large Print)

How Should Everyone Live? (Bulletin Size)

Even though the new International Bible Study Commentary is now a verse-by-verse study through the Gospel of John, I will try to answer any of your questions on each week’s Uniform Lesson, if you will send your questions to me at lgp@theiblf.com. I will answer them (or try to) on the Forum, where you can also make Comments.

Receive our periodic International Bible Study Newsletter by sending me an email request to lgp@theiblf.com.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now!! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

Honoring the Father and the Son — John 5:19-29

We have learned how humbly Jesus did whatever He saw the Father doing, and He never did anything that the Father would not do. He always did what the Father wanted, and He never did anything that the Father did not want Him to do. Jesus and His Father worked perfectly together and were perfect in everything they said and did. They are totally unlike us in our relationships!

Because of the relationship between Father and Son, we sometimes think of the Father as greater than the Son. However, by example and by word, Jesus showed that as believers we need to think about doing the will of God first and foremost, just as He did His Father’s will. Jesus also served others. He said He came into the world to serve. In Mark 10:45, Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Furthermore, Jesus said to His followers, in Mark 10:43, 44, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” Jesus modeled servanthood toward us. He washed His disciples’ feet and He served us when He died on the cross for us, but we do not think of ourselves as greater than Jesus. Jesus also told us to go and do as He did and serve others, but we do not do that to make ourselves great—and neither did Jesus.

As the Bible tells us to do, we seek to love and obey God first and foremost and serve others. Because of Jesus’ example in word and deed, we tend to think that the Father is greater than the Son. However, in John 5:23, Jesus said that the Father intended “that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” Therefore, we need to always love, honor, and obey Jesus just as He loved, honored, and obeyed His Father—by doing as Jesus did, we love, honor, and obey God. Just as believers in Jesus pray to the Father, so believers pray to the Son and honor both the Father and the Son. Both hear our prayers, and both are worthy of equal honor.

The scribes and Pharisees knew that Jesus was making himself equal to God by what He said and did, and they wanted to kill Him. Indeed, as we have studied the Gospel of John, we have learned that we need to consider the Father and the Son as worthy of equal honor, love, and obedience, so we want to love, serve, glorify, and worship them.

What do you think? Make your comments below. Do you or someone in your Bible study group have a question? Send your questions to me at lgp@theiblf.com and I will answer them (or try to) on the Forum.

Receive our periodic International Bible Study Newsletter by sending me an email request to lgp@theiblf.com.

Return to the International Bible Study Commentary for the verse-by-verse study of this Bible Lesson.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now!! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

If Solomon was Wise, Why did He Sin? — 1 Kings 8:22-30

The full question was, “From Solomon’s lengthy prayer, we know he was devout and wise; so why did he sin?”

First, What is sin? The Bible teaches that sin is a violation of the law. In 1 John 3:4, we read, “Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” Solomon knew that everyone sins. In 1 Kings 8:46, as part of his prayer he said, “If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin.” Despite his devout prayers and wisdom, King Solomon violated the laws of God and sinned, like everyone does. As he grew older, Solomon became increasingly lawless toward God, which was unwise.

Second, Though Solomon was wise, he may have thought he was so wise that he could violate the laws of God without suffering the consequences or the penalty of violating God’s laws. From the life of Solomon, we know that he was so wise that royalty and others from all over the world came to hear whatever he had to teach and answer all their questions. In most people, such adulation could lead to pride. In Proverbs 16:18, perhaps written by Solomon, we read, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Solomon grew proud, and his sins led to the destruction of his kingdom after his death when Israel and Judah divided into two kingdoms.

Third, Solomon’s pride, success, and riches probably led him to fall out of love with God and into love with the people and things of this world. In violation of the laws of God and wisdom, Solomon married many foreign wives who led his heart away from God; therefore, he built idolatrous temples in the mountains around Jerusalem for them and this led the people of his kingdom away from loyalty to God and to its eventual destruction. The Bible warns all of us against this in 1 John 2:15-16, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world.” Despite his wisdom and initial devotion to God, Solomon unwisely turned from loving God to loving the world, and he and his family suffered the consequences.

If devout and wise King Solomon sinned and suffered the consequences, he serves as a warning to each of us, especially as we grow older. We cannot take our initial devotion to God and the Lord Jesus for granted but pray for the Lord Jesus to help us keep reading and obeying all His commands in the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” And in John 15:10, Jesus promised, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

You can ask questions on each week’s lesson by sending your questions to me directly at lgp@TheIBLF.com. I will take questions on the passages in each week’s Uniform Lesson Series Sunday School Lesson and in each week’s Gospel of John lesson that we are currently studying if you send them to me directly. I will try to answer as many as I can. Thank you for your questions!

May the Lord Jesus bless your Bible study and teaching in this New Year!

L.G.

Avoid an Anti-God Mindset — John 5:10-18

When we read the four gospels, we see how many of the religious leaders, the scribes and the Pharisees, had set their minds on carefully examining and critically condemning others based on their laws and traditions rather then setting their minds on God and doing what God would do. Jesus knew what His Father did and would do, and as the Son of God, Jesus worked just as His Father did. Jesus did not walk upon this earth carefully examining and critically condemning others; rather, like His Father, Jesus went about doing good and seeking to help the needy. Many of the religious leaders had an Anti-God mindset rather than the mindset of Jesus and His Father; therefore, they condemned Jesus for doing the good He did because He did not do things their way.

Perhaps we know someone like the scribes and Pharisees (or perhaps we have thoughtlessly become like these religious leaders). They are quick to point out the errors and mistakes of others no matter what the error or mistake—even the smallest ones. Everything others say and do must be compared to their ideas of perfection, of right and wrong, of good and bad, of acceptable and unacceptable, and they believe it is their responsibility to make sure others live according to their ideas in every area of life—as did the scribes and Pharisees. They also tend to remember the sins of others and remind others of their past sins with the idea that this may help the sinner do better and avoid sinning. They have put their ways above God’s ways. They have an Anti-God mindset.

Let’s look at a God mindset. Consider how the Father and Jesus acted differently. They went about looking for good things to say and do, rather than going about looking for people and behaviors they could criticize or condemn. When Jesus saw a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years, Jesus did not seek him out and say something like, “Because of your horrible past sins, you have been sitting here and suffering for thirty-eight years. Now, shape up! Take up your mat and walk. And don’t use your walking to start walking into sin again.” Rather, without reference to his past, Jesus used the way of love and met the man’s immediate need when He healed him completely. Later, when Jesus saw the man in the temple and knew the man had not faced his past and repented of his sins, Jesus tried to help him spiritually as well as physically when He said, “Do not sin any more,  so that nothing worse happens to you.” Without pointing out the man’s past sins, without condemning or threatening the man, Jesus gave the man a choice to make about how he would live in the future with his newly restored health. Jesus sought to meet the needs of the whole person. Rather than go about criticizing others like the scribes and Pharisees did, who never thanked God for all the good they saw Jesus doing, the God mindset seeks to serve others and do good as they have learned from God through Jesus in the Bible. The God mindset looks for ways help people and point people to Jesus, not for ways they can criticize people.

As Christians, let us look for the good that we can do for others seven days a week, because that is the way our Heavenly Father and Jesus work. Living like Jesus and our Heavenly Father will lead us to praise and thank God for the work that we see them doing in the world and even through us.

What do you think? Make your comments below.

Receive our periodic International Bible Study Newsletter by sending me an email request to lgp@theiblf.com.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now!! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

Do Our Good Intentions Count for Anything? — 1 Kings 8:14-21

If we have faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, our good intentions, even though we cannot do the good that we would like to do, still count with God.

King Solomon said that his father, David, had wanted to build a house for the LORD, but the LORD told him, “You did well to consider building a house for my name . . . but your son . . . shall build a house for my name” (1 Kings 8:18-19).

As Christians, we can think of many good things that we would like to do to honor God and help others in the name of Jesus, but for some reason we are not able to do so. Perhaps we lack the time, talent, or treasure to become a missionary or help our church as much as we would like to be more of a help. Everyone reading this can probably think of something they wanted to do or would have liked to do or still would like to do, but that is not possible under the circumstances. For example, a person might want to help people in a foreign land learn about Jesus or learn to read the Bible in their own language, but due to circumstances beyond their control this has become impossible. Instead, they give as the Lord Jesus enables them and they pray, and they pray when that is all they can do—perhaps our gifts and/or our prayers are exactly what someone else needs to do the Lord’s will.

If something like the above can describe your thoughts and desires in some way; then, Jesus can say to you, “You did well!”

In (1 Corinthians 3:12-16), the Apostle Paul wrote, “ Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”

Our good intentions count for something, because we may think we have no “gold, silver, or precious stones” to build with, but only have “wood, hay, and straw;” however, the Lord Jesus sees into our hearts and knows that we would have used what we did not have, if we had had it, for His glory and to express our love for Him and others. We may think what we have done for the Lord was so unlike what King Solomon did for the Lord in building the temple that all our efforts were “wood, hay, and straw,” but the Lord sees into our hearts, and the Lord Jesus will consider that because of our good intentions. “We did well.”

Finally, remember that Solomon did not end well, and neither did his kingdom. As Christians, we can end well at any age and any circumstance, for we can pray when we cannot do anything else, and we can pray that others will come to know the true God and Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. When we do this, if this is all we can do, when we end our pilgrimage on earth, Jesus can say to us, “You did well.” Jesus will be able to say to us as He said in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:23, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”

You can ask your questions in a Comment (I should get an e-mail that you have made a Comment) or you can send your questions to me directly to lgp@TheIBLF.com. I will take questions on the passages in each week’s Uniform Lesson Series Sunday School Lesson and in each week’s Gospel of John lesson that we are currently studying if you send them to me directly or make a Comment on one of my postings. I will try to answer as many as I can.

May the Lord Jesus bless your Bible study and teaching in this New Year!

L.G.

The Physical and Spiritual Healings of Jesus — John 5:1-9

When Jesus led the Samaritan woman, and eventually many in her town, to believe in Him as the Savior of the world, He healed them spiritually. When the townspeople saw her, the Samaritan woman must have looked physically transformed in appearance as well as spiritually transformed from the inside out to inspire a whole town to run to a well on a hot afternoon to meet Jesus. After Jesus healed them spiritually, the townspeople must have joined her in rejoicing, because they asked Jesus to stay with them. John does not tell us, but probably during the next two days Jesus went on to heal many of those who were physically sick in a variety of ways. Jesus wanted to heal people completely—spiritually and physically. However, Jesus focused on healing people spiritually, for spiritual healing  lasts for eternity

As we begin our study of John, chapter 5, look for comparisons and contrasts. Notice, Jesus chose to heal a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. John does not tell us why Jesus chose this man out of the crowd of sick people waiting by the pool. Maybe Jesus wanted to inspire others who were sick to believe in Him and seek Him for healing. Perhaps the man was the neediest person around the pool. Notice, Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be made “well” or “whole” (not healed!). The man would need more than physical healing to be made “well” or “whole.” The man did not answer yes or no, but blamed others for his condition. When the water was stirred, the man said someone else always  stepped into the pool before he could get into the water. Then, Jesus healed the man physically. Immediately, he was strong enough to walk and also carry his mat. But . . .  Jesus healed him on the Sabbath.

Did Jesus also heal the man spiritually? It appears Jesus may have waited to heal the man spiritually later. In John, chapter 5, we will learn what Jesus and the man had to do for the man to be healed spiritually and physically—be made “well” or “whole.”

What do you think? Make your comments below.

Receive our periodic International Bible Study Newsletter by sending me an email request to lgp@theiblf.com.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now!! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

Signs and the Creative Powers of Jesus — John 4

Many years ago, some people were convinced to join a non-Christian group in my town because the “prophets” in the group told them many things about their past that they thought no one else knew. Without getting into the details of how this can be done in the non-Christian spiritual realm, people need to have more than one sign or demonstration of power before they believe that someone or some group are truly God ordained or teaching the truth of God. With His signs and creative powers, Jesus demonstrated in a multitude of ways that He was sent by God and His Kingdom was not of this world.

Consider, Jesus was able to tell the Samaritan woman about her past that she thought He could not have known. From that and other truths He told her, she believed in Him. But making prophecies were not the only way Jesus got people to think about His message and about who He was as the Son of God and Messiah.

In His first sign in Cana, Jesus used water to change water into wine instantaneously. I guess a good magician could do something like that to enthrall a crowd, but few magicians, if any, could produce between 120-180 gallons of wine instantaneously, even with the help of some trick, as easily and as secretly as Jesus did out of love for others and to gratify a distressed groom and bride at their wedding party.

In His second sign in Cana, from twenty miles away, Jesus healed a man’s son in Capernaum from a disease that was killing him. Jesus did so without saying anything to the boy’s father except, “Go; your son will live.” Only God and the Son of God can and would do all the above whenever there was a need, but without a need to impress others.

As we read about Jesus in the weeks ahead, think about the loving miracles of Jesus and the demonstrations of creative power that only God can do. For example, Jesus healed a man who had been ill for thirty-four years and He raised a woman’s son from the dead and later He raised Lazarus from the dead, who had been in the tomb four days. One of His last miracles was His feeding some of His disciples who had been out fishing all night and who had caught nothing. From compassion for them, without needing to go fishing himself, Jesus had a fire going and fish cooking on the fire before His disciples ever reached shore with the fish that He had enabled them to catch.

Before we are ever taken into believing someone or to thinking that some spirit is from God because they can perform a parlor trick or two, remember the vast array of signs and creative powers that Jesus demonstrated and how His teachings were always from the Bible and true to what the Bible of His day (the Old Testament) taught. One reason to study John’s Gospel is to learn many reasons why we can trust Jesus, and ONLY JESUS, as our Lord and Savior.

Please share your thoughts and ideas here on the International Bible Study Forum.

Receive our periodic International Bible Study Newsletter by sending me an email request to lgp@theiblf.com.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now!! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.

Mary, the Shepherds, Jesus, and Us — Luke 2:8-20

The Bible Lessons below are from the former International Bible Lesson Commentary and International Bible Lesson by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr., which can be used for December 29, 2019. The Commentaries for these Bible Lessons can be found at: Luke Bible Lesson Commentaries and Lessons.

Angels Appeared to the Prepared

“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified” (Luke 2:8-9).

In all of the accounts surrounding Jesus’ birth, those who saw Him as a baby were the most prepared to meet Him. The angels did not appear to the shepherds who lived in their fields just because they were poor; rather, this especially chosen group of shepherds probably thought in ways similar to the shepherd boy David, who became Israel’s greatest king and an ancestor of the Messiah. These shepherds had learned about God from the beauties of God’s creation. They may have known and identified with these words of David, “The heavens are telling the glory of God … Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2). But the heavens did not speak words they could hear until the angel of the Lord appeared to them. The glory of God showed around them in a new way, and they heard an angel of the Lord speak their language. The angel put into words what they had learned from the sun and the stars, “Glory to God in the highest heaven” (Luke 2:14). Moreover, they learned about God’s glory in a new way, because the angel proclaimed, “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11). No wonder they left their field with haste to find the baby Jesus in a manger, and then returned “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Luke 2:20).

What Were Mary’s Expectations?

 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

The Bible does not reveal many of Mary’s thoughts after the angel told her that she would be the mother of the Messiah. Because God had shown her favor as the mother of the one and only Son of God, she might have expected that her life would become easier; however, many events made her life more difficult, especially as the time of Jesus’ birth drew near. Instead of relaxing at home and preparing for Jesus’ miraculous birth, an emperor decreed that she had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Instead of God leading her to a comfortable palace where He could give His Son the best of everything, Joseph found no place for them in an inn. Instead of a bed of luxury fit for the mother of a newborn king, Mary had to rest on a bed of hay. The nearest thing available for Jesus’ bed was a manger in a stable. Instead of rejoicing with their family at Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary probably celebrated alone in the company of curious animals. Reality may have contradicted all of Mary’s expectations, and she may have wondered with Joseph, “What has gone wrong!” Unexpectedly, God reassured them with the arrival of some shepherds. They told Jesus’ parents what the angel of the Lord had told them about their child, “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Those who commit themselves to serving God sometimes find their life more difficult, but God always finds ways to reassure them with His peace, power, and presence.

Some Blessings from Believing God’s Words

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20).

The priest Zechariah met an angel in the temple, but Zechariah did not believe his words. When an angel met the shepherds, and announced that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem and they could find Him as a baby in a manger, they believed him and hurried off to see Jesus. From the Bible, we learn about some of the disappointments that can come from disbelief: Zechariah could not speak for at least nine months. From the Bible, we also learn about the thoughts of astonishment and feelings of awe that can come from believing God and His words. Because they believe in Jesus, believers ponder with wonder when they think about God sending His only begotten Son into the world to save them from their sins, cleanse their conscience, fill them with love, restore their peace with God and peace of mind, and give them eternal life. Some of the shepherds might not have lived long enough to hear Jesus teach, but some of them probably did. After they saw Him as a baby, some who believed in His coming might have died and joined the great cloud of witnesses who watched Jesus’ ministry from heaven as in a giant stadium (see Hebrews 12:1). Today, when people hear and believe the good news about Jesus Christ, they respond as the shepherds did after they saw the baby Jesus. They glorify and praise God. They tell others what they experienced after they trusted in Jesus as their Savior. Eventually, they will join the great cloud of witnesses in heaven and continue watching God’s saving work.

International Bible Lessons and Sunday School Lessons

Please share your thoughts and ideas here on the International Bible Study Forum.

Receive our periodic International Bible Study Newsletter by sending me an email request to lgp@theiblf.com.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Begin your study of the Gospel of John now!! OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.