Posted by: Barbara Wilbur for ElysJoy Church | October 6, 2015

The book of Ruth an Unusual Love Story

Book of Ruth

The book of Ruth is a biblical story Disney would be happy to produce.  It has all the elements of a fairy tale:  abandoned girl with no hope, wealthy hero to the rescue, marriage, son, happily ever after!   The book of Ruth is a love story alright but not the kind we are used to.  The book of Ruth is a love story of faithfulness, obedience, hard work and the redemption of Christ.

In Chapter 1 Naomi and her husband leave the land of their home and set out for another country that promises better living conditions.   I would guess it was much like the Syrian refugees fleeing today.  It was a harsh decision to choose on bad situation over another.  The classic should I stay or should i go.   They decide to go and settle in the land of Moab.

In Moab their 2 sons choose wives of that land (a big Jewish no no) and wait ten years but sadly don’t have any kids.  Also during this period, both of Naomi’s son’s die as does her husband.   Ironic for a women who’s name means “my delight”.  She decides to return to her homeland because she hears the crisis is over there.  She really has nothing to loose since she has been left with nothing in Moab.   Even though the tradition for a Jewish widow is to marry the brother of the decesed there is no oher heirs for the daughter in laws to consider.  Naomi graciously releases Orpha and Ruth back to their own families to find new husbands.   They both love Naomi so it’s a super emotional tear filled departure.

Ruth decides however that she is going to return to a land she doesn’t know, to go with Naomi back to her home and choose Naomi’s security over her own.  Likely Ruth understands a warm welcome is not what she should expect in this land of the enemy.   Based on the scriptures, she has a mother and father there in Moab so can easily stay with them.  But Ruth has seen something that others may have missed; the faith of a women that has lost it all.  A women that has accepted her fate knowing that God’s ways are higher than hers.  Ruth in the depth of her grief and dispair sees a glimpse of the power of faith!

Does your walk with God through the hard times in life show those around you the power of faith.  Do you have what it takes to let God shine through your tears when faced with life changing events?  Let’s not forget that our walk may be the only Bible someone ever sees!

To learn more about this incredible story, read Chapter 1 of the book of Ruth!

More coming soon on the rest of Ruth.

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Posted by: Barbara Wilbur for ElysJoy Church | October 5, 2015

I was given a thorn in my flesh to torment me!

Because of the surpassing G5236 greatness G5236 of the revelations, G602 for this G1352 reason, G1352 to keep G3361 me from exalting G5229 myself, there was given G1325 me a thorn G4647 in the flesh, G4561 a messenger G32 of Satan G4567 to fntorment G2852 me—to keep G3361 me from exalting G5229 myself!Do you ever feel like you have an ongoing problem in your life that God just won’t take away.   One of the most challanging things to understand is why God doesn’t take away our chronic problems.  For some it’s pain from an injury or disease.  For some it’s a mental or social condition that doesn’t seem to get any better.  Really it could be anything but to be considered chronic (a thorn in your flesh) it has to be happening consistently on an on going basis.   Paul isn’t talking about a single problem that goes away over time like a broken leg that completely heals, but an ongoing malady that bothers you without an end in sight. An example would be a leg that has been broken and not healed causing pain every time it rains or in the mornings when you arise.

This passage of scripture tells us a things about the chronic ongoing things in our life:

  • Paul tells us that this God has not taken the problem away to keep Paul from exalting himself.  .  Another words, Paul has received some fantastic revelations from God and to keep him humble and dependent on the Lord, he has allowed Paul’s chronic condition to remain. (v7) Paul has asked the Lord 3 times in fact, to take it away (v 8) but the Lord has other plans for Paul’s problem.
  • Paul also tells us this problem is tormenting him so it’s pretty darn bad. It’s not a pricked finger or stubbed toe.  The Greek word translated here torment is defined as a violent beating or to pummel.  It conveys a violent pain or problem.  (v7)
  • This thorn in his flesh acts as a messenger from Satan.  This problem didn’t come from God but from the prince of darkness!  I don’t believe God gives us pain and disease.  I believe He may not heal us from them in this life but uses them instead for His glory and to bring people to Christ.
  • God’s answer to Paul is simple: My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  God does answer Paul but it isn’t to say He will fix it, it is to say if Paul can depend on God to get him through it.   He also promises that Paul’s weakness will be used to reveal God’s Power!

So don’t be discouraged with your struggles, rejoice in them!  God is sufficient to get you through.  Draw close to Him and he will comfort and sustain you! When you are weak “I AM” is strong!

Posted by: Barbara Wilbur for ElysJoy Church | August 22, 2015

Book by Book overview of Joshua

Joshua finally enters the promised land and takes over from Moses as God’s chosen leader of the Israelites.   His conquests of other lands and the defeat of his enemies through the power of God is clearly defined in this powerful book.  Here is a quick overview chapter by chapter to help you get an idea of what’s in this action packed book that leads us into the time of Judges before there were Kings and men of God ruled at God’s direction. You can also download a PDF of this file to print or save using the link below.

Book by Book through the Bible Joshua PDF

Chapter by Chapter Overview of the Book of Joshua

Posted by: Barbara Wilbur for ElysJoy Church | August 20, 2015

Like Father, Like Son

Abraham and Isaac shared many similar traits and life experiences.  We learn from our parents and God in His perfect wisdom shows us that here.  Here is a great visual of the similarities in their life.  Thanks for this great illustration! Learn more by reading the book of Genesis Chapters 12-21!

issac and Abraham Similarities

Posted by: Barbara Wilbur for ElysJoy Church | July 23, 2015

John Chapter 1 Sermon Notes

The gospel of John is one of four gospels that outlines the life and ministry of Jesus.   Unlike the letters of Paul or the recording of the Acts of the Apostles, the gospels focus solely on the ministry of Jesus.   The first three gospels, Mathew, Mark and Luke are called the synoptic gospels.  Put simply they are all recording the same events through the lens of the specific author.  Mathew focuses on the kingship of Jesus, Mark is a believed to be Peter’s firsthand account of this tie period and Luke is a chronological version of the events that took place.

The book of John however is different than these others.   John’s  focus is on the love of Jesus for his people, the fact that the Lord is coming again and the awe of being in the presence of the One that created the world.   John’s Jewish roots show through in this book and we see the humanness of the disciple’s and their relationship with each other.

Chapter 1 opens with the same words that open the book of Genesis….In the beginning. .. John is clearly showing us that God is God then and now.   He clarifies the relationship of the Trinity and tells us the Word – The message of Jesus has been alive since God created the earth.   He makes sure the reader is clear that Jesus in the form of the Word was there at the beginning.  In Him was life and this life is the light of men.

When God created the world in Genesis we see light being called to the formless void of darkness that was the earth.  John wants us to understand clearly that this light IS JESUS!  The sun, the earth’s physical source of light isn’t created till day three (verses 14-19 of Genesis) of the creation story.  John wants us to understand as in the beginning, Jesus was and is light of the world!  God separated light from darkness, good from evil, day from night and he continues to do that today.  These passages at the beginning of the Scriptures that we often take for granted are a map for us to understand the entire counsel of God through His Word, including the New Testament.

This focus of light from darkness can be found throughout the entire book of John.  John shares with us in Chapter 1 that Jesus came to call his own, the Jews into the Light that was him through the Word, but they wouldn’t listen.  They rejected him as a man but praise God the ones that were born of not of blood but of adoption would receive his word and are continuing that today.   Jesus didn’t forget about the Jews, quite the opposite, he sent Peter and James and John and others to continue the ministry to them long after his death.  This happens through the Holy Spirit and continues in many ministries today.   I see more and more as I study, watch Christian television and read reliable Jewish on line publications that the Jewish people are accepting Christ today in record numbers.   We must never forget that Jesus was a Jew, sent to the Jews for God’s purpose.  The Jewish people were created by God, set aside by God and chosen by God.  That never changes and the sharing of the gospel to them is more important than ever.

The gospel of John doesn’t cover the birth of Jesus like Mathew and Luke but instead begins recording Jesus’ ministry with the John the Baptist calling that one is coming that is greater than He.   He doesn’t record the history of John the Baptist or how John the Baptist got to where he is.  He leaves those details to the other gospel writers, we instead show John being confronted by the religious leaders, the priests and the Levites asking him to define who he is.  John the disciple of Jesus, states clearly that John the Baptist has come to fulfill prophecy that was written in the book of Isaiah chapter 40 verse 3.
“A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord I the wilderness, make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.”  NASB

John the Baptist was using the Scriptures these Jewish teachers and upholders of the law would understand.  The Jews were waiting for a Messiah, and John was telling them that he was headed their way!

In verse 21 the Pharisees ask him if he is Elijah.  We know based on the other gospel accounts of John the Baptist’s ministry that he came from the wilderness, eating only locust and honey and that he wore a coat of camel’s hair.  If nothing else we know he kind of looked like what Elijah is described as looking like in 2 Kings 1:8

They answered him, “He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.” NASB

 They also knew that according to Deuteronomy 18:18 there would be one that spoke what God told him before the Messiah would come…

‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

Malachi 4:5 also tells us that Elijah must come before the day of the Lord.   While this may be a prediction of the words later penned by John in Revelation 11 about the two witnesses, John B certainly thought he met that criterion.

“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. Malachi 4:5 NASB

Interestingly Critics say that Scripture contradicts itself here because Jesus clearly tells us in Mathew 11:13-14 that John is Elijah if you care to accept it. But John 1:19-20 tell us that John himself tells us that he was not truly the reincarnation of Elijah which would have been against the Scriptures written by Moses.   This is reconciled simply in Luke 1:13-17.   The angel of the Lord is speaking to Zacharias about the conception and birth of His son John the Baptist.

Verse 17 says “and it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.  Luke 1:17

John the Baptist was sent in the spirit and power of Elijah.  If we accept that we accept Jesus as the Messiah…..if we don’t, maybe we will when Elijah comes again before the great and terrifying day of the Lord when he once again comes to the earth.  Will we see Elijah as one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation?  Maybe, since they are sent to turn people to the Lord as was John the Baptist.  Both would fulfill scripture and accomplish the same purpose.   God is unchanging and throughout scripture we see Him do the same things over and over, just with different players.   We must understand the next coming of Elijah, the witness may look as foreign to religious leaders and John did to the Pharisees of Jesus day.

You see many churches today have become like the Pharisees where there isn’t really a relationship with Jesus, but a list of thing to do or not do. It has become ritualistic worship.  Don’t misunderstand me; there are many Christians in love with Jesus just as there were many Jews in love with God.   John was called to allow them to hear and understand what was coming and they did!   We will be called again to see that the Lord is once again coming and we must be actively looking and waiting without preconceived notions of what that may look like.

If God follows the pattern, at least one witness won’t be dressed to the hilt, neat and tidy or in a priests robe. We must be aware of the great and terrible day of the Lord….It is coming!  While I don’t know when, I want to be ready as Jesus has called us to do!

John’s gospel doesn’t walk us through the actual baptism of Jesus but he does tell us that John testified that the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove at of heaven. (Verse 32)  He reminds us that although John was Jesus’ cousin, he didn’t recognize him as the son of God till the Spirit of God descended on him and stayed!  Remember this was not typical.  The Holy Spirit didn’t stay with any but David for any length of time.   This was a new idea; one that only God’s chosen can have happen.  Aren’t we incredibly lucky that we are god’s chosen and once the spirit of God descends on us it stays because of the work of Jesus at the Cross!

The remainder of the first Chapter of John is the calling of the disciples.   Andrew first, then his brother Peter.  John and James are called and were likely partners with Peter’s family in their fishing business.  At the very least they were working together and following John the Baptist, looking for the Messiah to come and save them from the Roman oppression all around them.

Phillip from the same city of Bethsaida as Andrew was then called and he went and got Nathaniel. Isn’t it cool how the sharing of the good news of Christ started on its own without any direction….They simply knew what they had and wanted to share it with the ones they loved.  We are called to do the same today.

When we are in love with our savior, we can’t help but spread the good news.   I challenge you to think about that.  The disciples spend their life fulfilling the great commission of sharing Jesus with the world, long before Jesus told them in some of his final words that it was their purpose.   When was the last time you shared Jesus with anyone?  When was the last time you told someone about how Jesus changed you and changed the world?  Do you tell of a time when He will return?  A time when we will see him again to be judged worthy through His righteousness or cast from his presence to spend eternity away from the Light and in eternal darkness.   Something to think about huh? If you don’t know Jesus and haven’t accepted him as your lord and savior today is the day!

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