John 1-5: Close Encounters
By Kenny Grant
The book of John is an amazing book. Written for the expressed purpose of pointing people to the Lord Jesus so that they might be saved. The key verse of the book is hung near the back door, John 20:30-31, which states: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name”.
The miracles recorded in John were specifically chosen to prove who Jesus was. They offer many insights into the heart of God.
Of particular interest to me, are the people who cross our paths as we read through this book. Their close encounters with Jesus instruct and encourage us as we seek to live as His disciples today. Those who truly encounter Him, then or now, can truly ever be the same.
In John 1, we see Jesus simply and sublimely introduced to us as the one who is coexistent, coequal, coessential, and coeternal with the Father. We are told of John the Baptist’s close encounter with Him as he sees the Holy Spirit descend and remain upon Him. John’s mission as the forerunner or messenger was drawing to a close as he pointed to Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (vv. 29). We are soon in the company of Andrew and John as they leave John the Baptist to follow Jesus (vv. 37). We see Simon Peter’s first encounter with the Christ as he is brought by his brother Andrew (vv. 42). The very next day Jesus Himself marks Philip as a disciple and bid him to simply follow Him (vv. 43). An enthused Philip finds his somewhat skeptical friend Nathaniel and brought him to Christ. The lives of these men would never be the same after each of their close encounters They each set out on life’s greatest adventure of following Christ.
In chapter 2 we find ourselves as guests at a wedding. But for Jesus, the wedding would have been a disaster, “NO WINE”. We are not introduced to the bride and groom and know little to nothing about the other guests who were there, but we do know that Mary, the mother of our Lord was there, and she notified Jesus of the crisis. The interesting thing about this His first miracle was that lowly servants were really the only ones privy to it. The bride and groom were clueless, the master of ceremonies didn’t know about it, the guests were beneficiaries of the ‘good wine”, but didn’t know where it came from. The scriptures clearly state that the servant who cooperated with Jesus knew what happened (vv. 9). They had a life-changing close encounter. So it is today; those who cooperate where He operates are the ones who see the miracles.
In chapter 3 We are brought into the presence of a man who was by all accounts truly conflicted. Nicodemus was an influential and wealthy man who also held a seat in the Jewish senate. He comes and encounters Jesus at night. We know that during his close encounter with Christ that the darkness of confusion began to give way to the dawn of conviction, (7:50ff) and finally to the daylight of confession, (19:39) as we see him in full faith identify himself with the crucified Savior.
In chapter 4 we see the loving and redemptive way Jesus deals with the woman at the well in Samaria. Her close encounter with Him shows us again something of the heart of God. Jesus had dealt with one of Israel’s most respected leaders in the last chapter, and now he deals with this woman who would have been considered a social “throw-away”. She came to know who it was with whom she was talking. She had perceived him to be a prophet (vv. 19), but she found out that He was more than just a prophet. At the end of the chapter, we see a desperate Jewish official’s plea for the life of his son. Again Jesus who is the Christ of every crisis graciously heals his son. His close encounter with Christ had changed his life, and the life of his entire household (vv. 53).
Chapter 5 introduces us to an invalid with a chronic and critical case for 38 long years. This man’s life would be radically and dramatically changed as Jesus interrupted his daily routine of waiting for the moving waters in the pool. Because of his close encounter with Christ, he would experience the person and power of the God who could make him walk (vv. 9). Sadly there were those in this chapter who persecuted Jesus and sought to kill Him (vv. 18). The close encounter with Him revealed the nature of their own hearts. They would forever be lost if they would not repent.
As it was, so it is; those who have a close encounter with Christ can never be the same. Some will be made the better, but some, the worse. The very name of Christ draws or it drives. The gospel of Christ brings conversion or aversion. The people of God are a fragrance of death unto death or a fragrance of life unto life (2 Cor.2:16). Which is it for you?
Psalm 95: Celebrate, Worship!
By Derward Poole
Psalm 95:1-7 “O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God And a great King above all gods, In whose hand are the depths of the earth, The peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it, And His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you would hear His voice, …” (NASB)
Dr. Charles Stanley said of worship, “Of all the things Christ wants for us, loving Him and focusing our attention on Him are the most important.” When we celebrate Jesus, we have a sense of revival. When we come to worship, we should expect to hear God’s voice and to understand God’s voice. The tragedy in our society today is that many are looking and wanting some entertaining, emotional movement. When we worship “focusing all our attention on Him,” it builds a foundation for a true experience with the Lord.
In Psalm 95, we have an Invitation to Worship. The method of worship is spelled out for us. First, in verses 1-2, 6, we are exhorted to worship:
=Joyfully (v. 1): Spiritual joy is the heart and soul of thankful praise. Drawing near to God is the reason for rejoicing in the Lord.
=Readily (v. 2a): The anticipation of going to meet Him! There is a readiness of heart offered with pleasure and zeal.
=Gratefully (v. 2a): The grateful recognition of God’s gracious dealings with us and all the blessings He has bestowed on us.
=Reverently (v. 6): The posture of profound reverence in attitude. Joy wedded together with seriousness, gratitude wedded with humility, confidence wedded with reverence, and zeal wedded to Holy awe.
In the passage, there is also found the Motives of Worship. We are motivated because:
=The Lord is Supreme (v. 3): He is exalted far above the highest position ascribed to the gods of this world. He is ruler over all!
=The Lord is the Creator and Owner of All (vv. 4-5): From the peaks of the mountains, the deepest, darkest caverns, the depths of the sea, He is the absolute owner and ruler.
=The Lord’s Relations to His People (vv. 1b, 7): Our Maker made us capable of worship. It is to Him alone that our worship should be offered. He is the “rock of our salvation.” He is unchangeable, faithful, protecting, providing, governing, and watching. He is “our God,” and the shepherd of our souls. “Come let us worship and bow down!”
Bumper Bag SundayAs we did last year, we will be packing 100 holiday meal bags for needy families. To fill those bags, we will be have two bumper bag Sundays. The first will be November 1st in which we are asking that you bring: -Boxed Mashed Potatoes x2 -Gravy packets x2 -Boxed Stuffing x2 Place these items outside your car before service and they will be collected from there.
Candy CrushThis year, we will be hosting Candy Crush, and event for the whole family! At the end of service on November 1st, kids can enjoy getting some candy by walking around the foyer to different decorated tables for candy! They can come dressed in their costumes and have a blast gathering lots of candy! This event is free and open to everyone attends service. Please register your children to ensure we can follow safe protocol. Also consider hosting a table! There will a prize for the best decorated table! To register you children or sign up to host a table head to cbtsavannah.org/candycrush
Harvest Health FestivalJoin us in hosting Harvest Health Festival, this Saturday, October 24th! This is a free event for the community to come and get free health services! We will be hosting a variety of venders put on by The Lighthouse and Lions Club. Calvary will have a booth at the event and we would love for you to join us!
2 Chronicles: Praise - A Weapon of Warfare
By Patrick Mulvehill
In 2 Chronicles we read about King Jehoshaphat who was facing a "...great multitude against thee from beyond the sea…" In verse 3 we see the humanity of the king when we read, "...Jehoshaphat feared…" isn't that our natural response when the enemy surrounds us and threatens our peace?
What is it that is shaking your peace today? Are you having problems in your marriage? Is something threatening your job? Do you feel like you are on the verge of a breakdown? Have you gotten bad news from the doctor? How is the enemy attacking your peace? Whatever it is, why don’t you do the one thing that the enemy doesn’t expect? It is one of the hardest things to do when you are feeling attacked. That’s right, just praise the Lord.
Praise is a spiritual weapon! We see it throughout the Scriptures, when God’s people are in trouble, they turn to worship. When Jehoshaphat was facing the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites he didn’t prepare his finest warriors and put them on the front lines... no, he called out to the Lord and when the Lord assured him that the battle was not Jehoshaphat’s to fight but that it was God’s battle, Jehoshaphat did the only logical thing...
“And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord ; for his mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.” 2 Chronicles 20:21-22 KJV
When we praise God we acknowledge our need for Him and that the battle is not ours to fight but His. Praise helps us to focus our thoughts and fears on the only one in existence that can actually do anything about it. When we do this it allows us to experience the VICTORY that God wants to give us.
Find a song today that you can sing or a scripture that you can recite to the Lord. Make it your victory cry and just praise the Lord!