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Fisherman in the Sea of Galilee

In Matthew 4:17 Jesus has started his ministry on earth telling everyone that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

He then walked along the Sea of Galilee. In other places in the Bible and in history Sea of Galilee are the Sea of Tiberias, Gennesaret, and Chinnereth. this sea was source of the Jordan River. The Jordan River flowed from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. We can take a lesson from this when we recognize that the Sea of Galilee is the source. It was alive and teaming with fish and supported the communities that surrounded it. The Dead Sea however only receives water and has no outlet. It is a dead lake where nothing grows. If you take and take and take, you will be as barren as the Dead Sea.

Jesus wasn’t walking along the Dead Sea. He was walking along the Sea of Galilee and as he was walking, he comes across Simon Peter and his brother Andrew and he invites them and then the sons of Zebedee James and John to be his disciples to become “fishers of men”. He took these men and gave them a higher calling. There is no record of them wondering if they should go, whether Zebedee tried to talk James and John out of going, if Peter’s wife was worried about where the money would come from. None of these are recorded. It just says Jesus invited them and they went.

painting of Jesus Christ healing the sick

Throughout Galilee, Jesus started his preaching ministry. He went from synagogue to synagogue preaching the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven. But he did something more, he made a difference in the lives of the people around him. He healed people. He healed all kinds of diseases, but he also healed all types of torments. The word torments here is the Greek word basanos which is thought to come from the root word basia which means to walk, a pace, foot. In other words, this word basanos has to do with anything that makes us feel as though we were going to the bottom or down to the foot.

What Jesus offered and gave to the people were The promise of the Kingdom and the gifts of salvation and healing.

“Well,” you say,” that was Jesus and that was then surely that’s not for us today. God works differently today than he did back then. He uses medicine and doctors today, right?”

I’m not going to answer the question for you of whether trusting in the medical system is God’s work. That’s between you and God. What I will challenge you concerning you  though is what Jesus told his disciples:

At the end of Jesus’ ministry, John records in John 14:12 Jesus spoke to his disciples and said, “Verily verily, I say unto you. He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works shall he do because I go unto my Father.”

What I am challenging myself (and you, if you’re up to the challenge) is this: If we believe the Bible as we say we do, why don’t we do the same works and even greater works than Jesus did? Why do we let the tormenter rule over our lives. Why are we ineffective in delivering others of their diseases and oppressions? Is it God who has changed or is it perhaps that we REALLY do not believe what he says? More importantly, what can we do about it?


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John the Baptist preached and baptized people unto repentance. As Christians, we are called to repent and then be baptized for the remission of our sins. John showed us how to repent. The word translated “repent” when used in Matthew 3 meant to be totally repulsed by your sinful nature that you want nothing to do with it.

In Matthew 3:13-17  there are some very important things to note as Jesus comes onto the scene. Jesus coming to John the Baptist to be baptized. John said that he did not want to baptize him, because John said that he (John) needed to be baptized by him (Jesus). Jesus said that it was necessary for him to be baptized by John because it was “necessary to fulfill all righteousness”.

Why did Jesus do this? He wasn’t coming for the remission of sins because he knew no sin.He submitted to baptism for two reasons. First, as mentioned here, he did it to fulfill ALL righteousness. In John 1:31, he did it to be manifest to Israel.

When Jesus came up out of the water from being baptized, the heavens opened, and the Spirit of God descended like a dove and landed on Jesus. Then John heard a voice from heaven saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Like John, Jesus was on a special mission. Both were sent by God and both had to fulfill what they were sent to do. Both did what God told them to do. Both suffered because of what God called them to do.

In verses 11-12 John had said that he baptized with water, but that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Whose fan was in his hand, and he would thoroughly purge his floor and gather his wheat unto the garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

This is an analogy of judgement that Jesus would divide the sinful from the believers in the end. John saw Jesus not as he was then, but as he would be in the future. In this passage both John the speaker, and Matthew the writer, are letting us know that Jesus is the Messiah that the Jews were looking for.

Here is one of several places in the Bible where the trinity of God is present all at the same time. Jesus the Son, The Holy Spirit and God the father are all here. Jesus being baptized, The Holy Spirit lighting on him like a dove, and God the father speaking that he was pleased with his son’s obedience. One of the most important facts that we can meditate on during our study of the Gospels is the concept of “doing the will of The Father”. If , like Jesus, we could focus our every waking hour to this concept, we could, like Jesus, revolutionize the world around us.


John the Baptist

If we read our Bible in order, Matthew 3 is the first place that we meet John the Baptist, and here we see him preaching a warning at the Pharisees and Sadducees. In Luke1:5-25, however we learn about the unique circumstances of John the Baptist’s conception.

A priest named Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth (who was also of the priestly line because she was an descendant of Aaron’s line) were old and had no children. One day while Zacharias was fulfilling his duties as a priest by burning incense when he went into the temple, an angel of the Lord (Gabriel) appeared to him.

The angel told Zacharias that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son and name him John. John would not drink alcohol and would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born. Because of John, many of the children of Israel would turn to the Lord their God. Because Zacharias did not believe what Gabriel had told him, he could not speak.  Elizabeth conceived.

Mary (with child with the son of God) went to visit Elizabeth when Mary was newly pregnant and Elizabeth was five months pregnant and when Mary announced her arrival, both Elizabeth and the unborn John were both filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary, then, prophesied concerning John (Luke 1:39-56) . John is born and the family wants to name him after his father, but Elizabeth said that his name was John.

When the family asked Zacharias, (because he had the final say), because he was still mute wrote on a tablet that his name was John. Immediately, Zacharias could again speak and the first words out of his mouth was to prophecy. (Luke1:57-79. John grew up strong physically and spiritually and lived in the desert until he began his ministry.

John’s ministry was as a priest and a prophet. He was the one to make way for the coming of the Lord.  John’s ministry was all about repentance. His represented the best of what man could offer before the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The best that man could bring himself to under the law was to learn that he full of sin and that sin was detestable. John’s ministry pointed at the only one who could save us.  That’s where Jesus steps in. He takes us beyond ourselves and into something truly amazing, but first we have to be willing to accept John’s baptism of repentance. We must recognize that we are not able to save ourselves. There is something far more complete–the immersion into the name (authority) of Jesus Christ.


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As we continue our study of Matthew, and our study of John the Baptist in particular, we learned yesterday that Christian baptism did not originate with John the Baptist, but had immersing in water had been part of several types of Jewish religious cleansing rituals.

The word Baptism however, is not a Hebrew word, but came from a Greek word bapto meaning “to dip”. in the New Testament there are seven different ways that the word baptism has been used and by understanding the context of each of these meanings, helps us to understand what baptism is and what it  isn’t.

1. 2. I Corinthians 10:2-11  Speaks of the Baptism of the cloud and in the sea where the children of Israel was more than just a type of our relationship with Christ.

2.  As studied yesterday, there is the baptism of John. His baptism is mentioned in many passages in the New Testament. Besides Matthew 3 there is also Mark 1, Luke 3:, 7:29-30, John 1:31-33; 3:23-26: 10:40, Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:3.

3.    There was baptism of suffering as noted in Luke 12:50 where Jesus spoke of being dipped or experiencing for a short time the experience of death. In this passage Jesus also expressed that he was not looking forward to the occasion, but that he would be glad when the bapto was accomplished.

4.  In John 3:22 and 4:1-2 it speaks about Christ’s baptism in water. It is significant that Jesus was not the one who actually carried out the baptisms, but it was his disciples who did the actual baptizing. It is our duty as disciples of Jesus to immerse new converts in the good news of our Lord and Savior.

5. Christian baptism in water and the Baptism into Christ and His Body  (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38-41,:8:12-16; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; Romans 6:3-7; 1 Corinthians 1:13-17; 12: 13; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12;  Peter 3:21) is one of the cornerstones of Christian faith. This baptism brings the new believer into his body at repentance and the new birth. It is called “one baptism (Ephesians 4:5), because it is the only baptism that saves the soul and brings into the body of Christ. The immersion in water is not what saves a person, but the confession of the faith that precedes the immersion in water. The immersion in water is a symbol of the death of the old life and the Resurrection into becoming a new creation in Christ.

6. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a controversial subject in Christendom. (Matthew 3:11, 14:20-23; Mark 1:8; 10:38-39, Luke 3:16, John 1:33, 7:37-39; Acts 1:5; 11:16, 19:2-3.) Some say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the new birth, others say that it is a separate experience. For now, we will leave  the decision of when this occurs between you and your Creator.

I hope this study of the Gospels is helpful to you. This study, of course, I am not the final authority of the truth that Christ has for us as believers. I would not be so bold as to suggest that I were. What I would hope though, is that this study would help to open your eyes to how great our God is and how much he loves you. Please comment! Maybe you have a question I can help you with. Perhaps you have insights I don’t and we can learn together!


So far we have basically covered just two verses in I Corinthians. We have learned about Paul who wrote the book. We learned about the church, and we learned about Corinth. Today we are going to discuss the Bible’s central person–Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 1:4-9

4) I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you  by Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ gave us God’s Grace when he died on the cross.

5) That in every thing you are enriched by him, in all utterance and in all knowledge;

Paul told the Corinthians that he wanted them to be enriched by Jesus Christ. In other words, Jesus Christ is the source. The term “all utterance” in the Greek is logos–the spoken word of God.. (Another Greek term for utterance apophtheggomal is used in Acts 2:4 on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God came down with tongues of fire, and the worshipers in the upper room spoke in other tongues. This term here therefore is not referring to that kind of utterance.) What this word “utterance” refers to is the idea that God will speak to you in very real terms and as the next phrase states, he will give you all the knowledge you need to make decisions that he approves.Our knowledge comes from Jesus Christ. I remember the first time I  the Bible through.  I didn’t really understand what I was reading, but on each subsequent time I have read it, the Lord speaks his secrets to me. I encourage people to read the Bible all the way through as often as possible. Like me, you may not get much out of your first reading of the Bible, but you will gain insights into how the word relates to you with each subsequent reading. A lot of people get bogged down in Bible reading because they begin in Genesis and read from there. I suggest that you begin in the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the first four books of the New Testament in which they write about Jesus’ life here on earth from four different perspectives. There are parts of it you won’t understand and that is okay. (I don’t understand all of it either.) Don’t just read it through once and call it quits, instead, read it numerous times. Each time you will discover something new and relevant to your current situation. Focus on how Jesus thinks. This will help you know whether you are hearing him in your every day activities.

6) Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you

As you read through the Gospels you will discover an amazing thing happening. The things you read about concerning Jesus will have direct bearing on what is going on in your own life. Questions you had yesterday, he answers today out of his written word. The word testimony is maturion (Strong’s 3140) which means evidence, in other words, you will witness the truth in your own situation. His testimony will be backed up by events in your own life.

7) So that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

This verse tells us that Paul wanted the Corinthian church to have the testimony of Christ so that they wouldn’t miss out on the gifts that Christ’s testimony had to offer. He also says that part of those gifts will come at the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The same is true for us. Jesus is returning and he has presents for us! It will be better than Christmas! (The celebration of the gift of himself his first time on earth.)

8) Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The word “confirm” here is the Greek word bebaloo  (Strong’s 950) which means stands firm. Jesus will stand firm that we are held blameless because we have accepted his provision for salvation.  As it says in  Romans 8:30-32 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? And in Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. Isn’t this cool, Jesus is willing to blot out anything that is held against us. Jesus is on our side!

9) God is faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Just like the Corinthians, you are called into fellowship (friendship) with Jesus Christ, the son of God. You are called, he wants you to have fellowship with him. He wants to be your friend. He isn’t looking for ways to trap you into hell (no fine print!)  Are you ready to accept his call?


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Swans are my favorite animals. They are so beautiful, but swans didn’t start out being the beautiful creatures they grow up to be. As a young cygnet, these birds are often seen as ugly and clumsy. These birds remind me that things don’t stay as they are now. Things change and they can change for the better.

Almost two thousand years ago, a man was condemned to die. He was arrested and his family and friends abandoned him. He was spit on, punched, beaten, and whipped until he was unrecognizable. He was then condemned to die and nailed to a wooden cross. His last hours alive on this earth were filled with ridicule and scorn. He was buried in another man’s tomb. He was dead and you’d think that would have been the end, but things change.

Three days later some women when to his tomb and they found that the tomb where their friend was buried was empty. They went and told the man’s closest followers and they came to look and wonder how could this be? One of the women said they saw their friend alive, but no one believed until he met with two of them on a country road and told them that things had changed.

These friends of this man did not understand who this man really was. They thought that he had come to rescue their nation from the cruel Roman Empire. They didn’t understand that his dying was part of his plan. They didn’t understand that their sin had condemned them to death and that he took their sins and he died so they didn’t have to face eternal death. They didn’t understand that this man was not just a man, he was God too. (I can see their dilemma, I scarcely understand the concept myself.) He gave his life so that they would not have to live forever separated from their creator. They did not understand that he had not come to condemn the world (It had condemned itself!) He had come to save it. Not only was he again alive, their whole way of thinking had changed.

He taught them that the freedom he was offering was greater than just freedom from the Roman Empire. He taught them that what he had to offer, no one could take from them for all eternity. He offered them a transformation from death to life.They learned that he was not just like any other man. He was the son of God. He was able to do what no other man could. He offered forever freedom, and his offer continues to this day.

For God so Loved the World that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.  John 3:16-17.

Now how my spirit sings how I think of how he offered me this freedom! He takes me by the hand and leads me through this life. Though I hear the wicked whispers of the enemy in my ear telling me that I am not worthy of his love, I look into my Savior’s eyes, and see his beauty there. All those lies mute under the love I see. In his eye, like the swan, I see in my reflection. His beauty  frees my soul.

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