Monday, May 30, 2016

John - Session 2

The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday morning Adult Bible Study is embarking on an exhaustive study of the book of John.  Of the four gospels, John’s gospel presents Jesus as God most forcefully. John explicitly declared Jesus to be God who brought all things into existence. John’s gospel confirmed that Jesus was YHVH of the Jews . He is light and life .   These are the notes of that study.   The audio recording of the study can be found at the end of
these notes.

John, who was the last of the apostles to die, gave us in his Gospel one of four portraits of Jesus written in the decades after Christ's death and resurrection. John's Gospel is unique in a number of ways. It was written long after the others, possibly some 40 years after the end of Jesus' life on earth. Unlike the other Gospels, which were written to present Jesus to different cultural groups, John was written as a universal Gospel written more for Gentiles.

Matthew's Gospel was written to the Jewish people of his day, to be contrasted with Mark's Gospel written to the people in Rome, Luke's written to Theophilus (an actual person or “lover of God” as his name is translated is debated), John really delves into the Man Jesus and to reveal Him as God.

Of course, the other Gospels present the deity of Jesus, but the central message and focus of John's Gospel is Jesus' deity. It is apparent in reading John that it is important that believers come to know Jesus as God.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called Synoptic Gospels. Synoptic means a general summary or synopsis. "Synoptic" is a Greek word meaning "having a common view."

They include many of the same stories, often in a similar sequence and in similar wording.

There are some major differences between John and the Synoptic Gospels ;

John’s Gospel omits a large amount of material found in the synoptic Gospels, including some surprisingly important episodes: the temptation of Jesus, (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13) Jesus’ transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-11, Mark 9:2-13, Luke 9:28-36) and the institution of the Lord’s ( Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:14-23) supper are not mentioned by John. John mentions no examples of Jesus casting out demons. The sermon on the mount and the Lord’s prayer are not found in the Fourth Gospel. There are no narrative parables in John’s Gospel.


John also includes a considerable amount of material not found in the synoptics. All the material in John 2—4, Jesus’ early Galilean ministry, is not found in the synoptics. Prior visits of Jesus to Jerusalem before the passion week are mentioned in John but not found in the synoptics. The the resurrection of Lazarus is not mentioned in the synoptics. The extended Farewell Discourse (John 13—17) is not found in the synoptic Gospels.


According to John, Jesus’ public ministry extended over a period of at least three and possibly four years. During this time Jesus goes several times from Galilee to Jerusalem. The synoptics appear to describe only one journey of Jesus to Jerusalem (the final one), with most of Jesus’ ministry taking place within one year.

4. John’s Emphasizes the person, nature, and role of Christ. AS OPPOSED TO THE SYNOPTICS.


The purpose can be summed up by something in the book itself.

John 20:30-31 (NKJV)30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

That the readers will become convinced that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that life will come through faith in him. The choice of material is calculated to lead to exactly this conclusion.

John's Gospel emphasizes Christ's deity to a greater extent than the others. John began not with Jesus' birth, but with a statement of Christ's preexistence as God.

It was a great day in our history when a man first walked on the moon. But the Bible declares that a far greater event took place two thousand years ago. God walked on the earth in the person of Jesus Christ. John opens his Gospel with a beautiful hymn of exaltation to Christ. It is one of the most profound passages in all the Bible. It is written in simple, straightforward language, yet in studying the depths of its meaning, it is a passage where we never reach bottom. It is an ocean-sized truth, and we have to be content to paddle around in shallow water.

Read John 1:1-18. 

Why do you think John calls Jesus the Word?

John 1:1 (NKJV)1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 (NKJV)
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

By using the title the Word for Jesus, John was declaring that Jesus is the full expression of God to us. Just as we express our thoughts to others through words, God expressed himself to humanity in Jesus.

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV)1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

Colossians 1:15-17 (NKJV)15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

In John 1:1-3 what facts does John declare to be true of the Word?

John 1:1-3 (NKJV)1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

First that the Word was there in the beginning and not only that but that He was God. Second everything that God made was made through Him and if He hadn’t been there nothing would have been made.

Why are these facts significant for understanding who Jesus is?

Because the things that John says about the Word are the same things, qualities or abilities of God..

Genesis 1:1-2:1 The Creation narrative.

What do the symbols of life (John 1:4) and light (John 1:5) tell us about Jesus and why he came to earth?
John 1:4-5 (NKJV)4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Jesus caused everything to exist. He gave *life to everything that God created. The word ‘*life’ is very important in John’s *Gospel. He used this word more than 35 times. In John’s *Gospel, ‘*life’ does not mean the period between birth and death. It does not mean just to have a physical body that is alive. It means that our spirits become alive too.

Life is the opposite of death. When we believe in Jesus as our Savior and our Lord, he gives us eternal life. Jesus lives in us now by means of the Holy Spirit. When we die, we will not separate from him. We have eternal life.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NKJV)5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (NKJV)6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

‘Light’ is another important word in John’s *Gospel. He used it 21 times. Jesus called himself ‘the light for the world’ twice 

John 8:12 (NKJV) 12  Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." 

John 9:5 (NKJV) 5  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

John was not writing about the physical light that comes from the sun. He was writing about spiritual light. This spiritual *light shows what we are really like. Jesus, who is the light, shows us how to live.

In John’s gospel, darkness means everything that is evil. Sin is like darkness. It is spiritual darkness. It is the opposite of God’s light, who is Jesus.

‘The darkness has never understood the light.’ People who do not believe in Jesus do not understand his words. They do not recognise that he is God’s Son. They cannot understand what he offers to us all.

‘And the darkness has never made the light disappear.’ There have always been evil people in the world. But nobody has been able to destroy Jesus. People crucified him. But he became alive again. When the disciples told this good news about Jesus, people put them in prison. But the good news spread across the world. The *church continues to grow. More and more people are hearing the good news about Jesus. The light of Jesus continues to shine in the darkness. The darkness will never defeat it.

John then introduces John the Baptist

John 1:6-10 (NKJV)6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

John the *Baptist was a prophet, a person who speaks God’s messages to people. His task was to be a witness for the One bringing life and light to the people. Luke gives more extensive information about who John the Baptist is. Luke 1:5-25, 57-66.

John the Baptist was not God’s light. He was not the Messiah. In his Gospel, John emphasised this. The Jews were looking for their Messiah so some may have been thinking or saying that he was the Messiah. John wanted to emphasise that John the *Baptist was not as important as Jesus. God sent John the Baptist to show people who Jesus was.

John 1:11-18 (NKJV)11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' "16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

The Jews knew all the prophecies about the Messiah. These prophecies were in their scriptures, which is the Old Testament. The Jews expected the Messiah to come. They were waiting for him. But when he came, most of them rejected him. They did not recognise him as the Messiah. But some of them realised who Jesus was. They believed in him. Like these people, when we trust Jesus, our spirits are born again. Then we become God’s children

How would you explain to someone both the meaning and results of receiving Jesus (John 1:12-13)?

1 John 5:11-13 (NKJV)
11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Anyone who trusts Jesus can become a child of God. In order for that to happen they must be born again (verse 12). When we believe in Jesus, we join God’s family. We become new people in our hearts, our minds and our spirits. We will want to obey God. We will be calm in our minds and our hearts, even when bad things happen. We will know that God loves us. We will know that he is very close to us always.

What does it mean to be born again?

Jesus made this statement to a man named Nicodemus who was a ruler of the Jews. Nicodemus had heard Jesus preaching about a new kind of kingdom, and he came to ask Jesus questions about it. Jesus told him that the way to enter this new kingdom was to be born again.
Nicodemus asked Him the same question you or I might ask: How can a man be born again? Can he enter into his mother’s womb again? Jesus explained to Nicodemus that the new birth He was talking about was not physical but spiritual. It was the beginning of a new life in a new kingdom.

John 3:1-8 (NKJV)1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come
from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

Jesus called it being born again—a new birth. He also called it being saved. These terms all mean the same thing. What we call this remarkable experience isn’t as important as understanding that God made a way to bring us back to Him and give us new life!

Mark 16:15-16 (NKJV)15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.7. According to John 1:14-18, what specific aspects of God's character are revealed to us through Jesus?

John 1:14-18 (NLT)14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.18 No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

According to John 1:14-18, what specific aspects of God's character are revealed to us through Jesus?
‘We saw his *glory (verse 14).’ John and the disciples had lived with Jesus during his time on earth. They had seen him do wonderful things by God’s power. They had seen God’s qualities in him. The Greek word ‘saw’ means ‘to look carefully in order to understand something’. John was not writing about an idea or a dream. He had actually seen God in the form of a man.

‘It was the *glory of the Father’s only Son (verse 14).’ All Christians are God’s children. But there is only one person who has always been God’s Son. Jesus has a special relationship with his *Father.

Jesus was human, like us. But he had always existed, although not as a human person. He had been with God the *Father in heaven, before he was born. He showed us the truth about God. He showed us how much God .loves us God is kind to us, even when we do not deserve it. (grace)

Read John 1:19-34. According to these verses, what steps did John take to guarantee that people would not look at him but at Christ?

John 1:19-34 (NKJV)
19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No."22 Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?"23 He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the LORD," ' as the prophet Isaiah said."24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees.25 And they asked him, saying, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?"26 John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.27 It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose."28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!30 This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.'31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water."32 And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."

He took great pains to tell them that he was not the Messiah the Christ.  He told them that, although he wasn’t the Messiah, he knows who the Messiah is because he baptized Him and afterwards he saw the Holy Spirit descend on Him and that was that God who had sent him had told him when he saw this that this man was the One.

Then they pressed him about who he really was and why he was doing what he was doing in his ministry.

Such a minor role did not seem sufficient justification for John's administration of baptism. But he defended himself—it was merely with water. It proclaimed the presence of sin and the need of a purification which he himself could not effect. The ultimate work of purification (so he hinted) rested with a greater than he, One who was still an unknown to the authorities (1:26). John counted himself unworthy to be His servant. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

How would you summarize John's testimony concerning Jesus?

He called Jesus ‘God’s Lamb’. The lamb was a sacrifice for the people’s *sins

Exodus 29:38-42 (NKJV)38 "Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs of the first year, day by day continually.39 One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight.40 With the one lamb shall be one-tenth of an ephah of flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of pressed oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering.41 And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; and you shall offer with it the grain offering and the drink offering, as in the morning, for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD.42 This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet you to speak with you. Their *sins deserved punishment. So the *lamb died on their behalf. But the priests had to offer this *sacrifice twice daily, because people *sin all the time.

God provided the perfect sacrifice: his Son, Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, he received the punishment for everybody’s sins, for all time.

1 Peter 1:17-19 (NKJV)17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

1 Corinthians 15:3 (NKJV)3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

Romans 5:8 (NKJV)8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Hebrews 2:9 (NKJV)9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit. After Jesus had returned to heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit to the *disciples and other believers.

John 14:15-18 (NKJV)15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

Acts 2:1-4 (HCSB)1 When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place.2 Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying.3 And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them.4 Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech.

Acts 10:44-48 (NKJV)44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,47 "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

Acts 2:1-4 (NKJV)1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Read John 1:35-51. In these verses we are introduced to five men: Andrew, Simon, Philip, Nathaniel and one unnamed disciple (John). How did each man respond to the testimony he heard about Jesus?

John 1:35-51 (NKJV)
35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples.36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!"37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), "where are You staying?"39 He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ).42 And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas" (which is translated, A Stone).43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me."44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."46 And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!"48 Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"50 Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these."51 And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and when he heard John say who Jesus was he followed him and then went and told his brother, Simon that they had found the Messiah. When Andrew introduced Simon to Jesus is when Jesus called him Peter and that who he become know to be, Peter (A Stone or Rock). Jesus, Himself, found Philip and after Philip decided to follow Jesus he went and found his brother. What’s interesting is that Andrew, Simon, and Philip don’t seem to have questioned why Jesus was they just followed, Andrew because of what John the Baptist said, Simon, because of that his brother Andrew said, Philip because of his encounter with Jesus, but with Philip’s brother Nathanael, it wasn’t that easy. Philip told Nathanael that they had found the Messiah, but he told him that Jesus was from Nazareth. Nathanael was from Cana, a town near to Nazareth. We do not really know why Nathanael insulted Nazareth, perhaps Nathanael thought that the *Messiah would come from a more important place than Nazareth. However he went to meet Jesus anyway.

Jesus had never met Nathanael. But Jesus knew about him. Nathanael was surprised that Jesus knew this. It convinced Nathanael that Jesus was God’s Son and *Israel’s king. But Jesus said that Nathaniel would see greater things than this. Then Jesus said something that seemed strange

John 1:51 (NKJV)51 And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

He may have been referring to Jacob’s dream of the ladder between heaven and earth where the angels were going up and down.

Genesis 28:12 (NKJV)
12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Jesus is like the ladder where man can have direct access to God like the angles between heaven and earth.

He called Himself the Son of Man.

A title denoting a supernatural, heavenly figure in Dan 7:13 and in the Jewish apocalypses, was Jesus' preferred method of designating himself, according to the Gospels. This name was preferable to "Messiah" because it did not suggest political aspirations along lines of a temporal kingdom such as most Jews were looking for. The glory of the Son (Jn 1:14), seen in part by these early followers (vv. 39, 46), was to unfold more hereafter. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

John records several names or descriptions of Jesus in this chapter. What are some of these?

John 1:1 (NKJV)1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:4 (NKJV)4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

John 1:14 (NKJV)14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:18 (NKJV)18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

John 1:23 (NKJV)23 He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the LORD," ' as the prophet Isaiah said."

John 1:29 (NKJV)29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

John 1:38 (NKJV)38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), "where are You staying?"

John 1:41 (NKJV)41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ).

John 1:49 (NKJV)49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"

John 1:51 (NKJV)51 And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Delight Yourself In The Lord

Tuesday night Bible Study at Church of Divine Guidance Christian Church (CDG).  The audio recording of the study can be found at the end of these notes.

Psalm 37:3-4 (NKJV)3  Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.4  Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
This is a scripture that we Christians take great pleasure in quoting.  We quote and claim this because we believe that if we do in fact delight ourselves in the Lord He will give us whatever we ask.  
John 14:13 (NLT) You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.
1 John 5:14-15 (NLT)14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
Well most of us know from experience that God doesn’t always give us what we want.  So does that mean that we aren’t delighting ourselves in the Lord?

Maybe the first question we should ask is what does it mean to delight ourselves in the Lord?
Then when you know what it means how do you do it?
Delight yourself in the Lord
Why does David say what he does about delighting ourselves in the Lord?  As we read the Psalm it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t want those who love and follow  the Lord to be upset because those who don’t seem to prosper.   

The major problem for the psalmist is the inconsistency connected with the prosperity of the wicked. Although tempted to doubt God's goodness, the author quiets his own mina and his hearers' by appealing to patience and trust. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

Psalm 37:1-2 (NLT)1 Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong.2  For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

They don't follow God and yet everything appears to be going great for them.  But when you read the entire psalm you see that while the wicked delight in carnal or physical things we should never be envy them.  Take a look at

Psalm 37:9-10, 9  For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.10  Soon the wicked will disappear. Though you look for them, they will be gone.)

12-15, 12 The wicked plot against the godly; they snarl at them in defiance. 13 But the Lord just laughs, for he sees their day of judgment coming.14 The wicked draw their swords and string their bows to kill the poor and the oppressed, to slaughter those who do right. 15 But their swords will stab their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.

20-21, 20  But the wicked will die. The LORD’s enemies are like flowers in a field— they will disappear like smoke.21  The wicked borrow and never repay, but the godly are generous givers.

32-33, 32  The wicked wait in ambush for the godly, looking for an excuse to kill them.33  But the LORD will not let the wicked succeed or let the godly be condemned when they are put on trial.

35-36,  35  I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil.36  But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them, I could not find them!

38  (NLT)38  But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future.  

Hmmmm their end doesn’t sound so good.  

On the other hand the fate of the godly will be different.   The righteous, who delight themselves in the Lord, will be rewarded.

Psalm 37:5-8, 5  Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.6  He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.7  Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.8  Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.

16-19, 16  It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich.17  For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the LORD takes care of the godly.18  Day by day the LORD takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.19  They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

22-31, 22  Those the LORD blesses will possess the land, but those he curses will die.23  The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.24  Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.25  Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.26  The godly always give generous loans to others, and their children are a blessing.27  Turn from evil and do good, and you will live in the land forever.28  For the LORD loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly. He will keep them safe forever, but the children of the wicked will die.29  The godly will possess the land and will live there forever.30  The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong.31  They have made God’s law their own, so they will never slip from his path.

34,  34  Put your hope in the LORD. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you by giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed.

37 (NLT)37  Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.

39-40 (NLT)39  The LORD rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble.40  The LORD helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in him.

All that to say

Psalm 37:3-4 (NKJV)3  Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.4  Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
The word “delight” here is a Hebrew word, “anog”, and means something “delicate” or “soft” that a person would enjoy, and take delight in.
Isaiah uses the word of a nursing child who delights in his mother;
Isaiah 66:11 (NKJV) That you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom, That you may drink deeply and be delighted With the abundance of her glory."
He also uses it of the luxuries found in palaces.
Isaiah 13:22 (NLT) Hyenas will howl in its fortresses, and jackals will make dens in its luxurious palaces. Babylon’s days are numbered; its time of destruction will soon arrive.
When you delight in something, your thoughts are constant towards it; you think about it all the time.  When you think about it you smile.  When things get tough, thinking about it lifts your spirits.  That’s the kind of delight David is talking about.
This Delight is Mutual
As our scripture says we are to delight ourselves in the Lord and if we do He will give us the desires of our hearts.  That signifies a mutual relationship.  We delight in the Lord and He gives us our heart’s desires.
Here’s an example of what I mean from the book of Zephaniah
Zephaniah 3:14-17 (NLT) 14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15 For the LORD will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the LORD himself, the King of Israel, will live among you! At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster. 16 On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, “Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! 17 For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
What Zephaniah said is that we are to rejoice with our whole hearts, in other words delight ourselves in the Lord because He is with us.  Then he says, in verse 17, that because the Lord is with us, He will delight in us.  We are to find our delight in our relationship with the Lord.
Isaiah 58:14 (NLT)   Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
Psalm 16:11 (NLT) You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
Psalm 40:8“I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (NKJV).
Romans 7:22 (NKJV) For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
Psalm 1:1-2 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. 2 But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.
How do we delight ourselves in the Lord?
We delight ourselves in the Lord by doing what pleases Him and putting His law, His Word, in our hearts. Matthew Henry in his Exposition of the Old and New Testaments said “He has not promised to gratify all the appetites of the body and the humours of the fancy, but to grant all the desires of the heart, all the cravings of the renewed sanctified soul. What is the desire of the heart of a good man? It is this, to know, and love, and live to God, to please him and to be pleased in him.”
Delighting ourselves in the Lord, means that our thoughts are constant towards God and that everything we do is in obedience to Him. Now we all know that we are often not in complete obedience to Him, we have not come the the place where we have been conformed to the image of Christ which is God’s purpose of working everything together for our good.  Let’s go to one of our favorite scriptures again for a second.

Because we are not yet completely conformed to the image of Christ, we can’t do this on our own.
Romans 8:28 (NLT)28  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

And what is that purpose?

Romans 8:29 (NLT) For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
We’re not there yet so we need the work of the Holy Spirit to help us delight ourselves in the Lord.
John 14:26 (NLT) But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
The Holy Spirit helps us but here are some things that we can do to delight ourselves in the Lord:.
    Confess sin - 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
    Trust - Genesis 15:6 (NLT) And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.
    Pray - Luke 11:11-13 (NLT) 11 “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
    Meditate on God’s word -   Ephesians 6:17 (NLT) 17  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Psalm 119:16, 24, 35, 47, 77 (NKJV) 16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. 24 Your testimonies also are my delight And my counselors. 35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it. 47 And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love. 77 Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; For Your law is my delight.
    Wait on the Lord - Psalm 27:14 (NLT) Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.
All of this sounds good and we are able to do these things when all we have to deal with are the normal day-to-day issues of life; going to work, going to church, dealing with the bills, the kids, typical marriage struggles, normal sickness like colds and the flu.  But what about those times where a loved one is seriously ill,  a marriage is falling apart,  your finances are at the point where you are going to lose your home, you just lost your job with no prospects for finding another one, you have a wayward child, or any other catastrophic life event.
You are doing the five things I just mentioned that help you delight yourself in the Lord and things don’t change.  Your desire is, of course that these things change.  The key is to believe in the promises of God and to trust that what He says He can and will do.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)  For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Remember that to delight yourself in the Lord is to completely submit to His will and in submitting, to accept His will and I talked about that on Sunday.   That’s impossible for us to do to do, on our own, when catastrophe strikes, but it is only possible when we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit.  When we run out of words to say or pray, the Holy Spirit does the praying for us with groanings that we don’t understand.
Romans 8:26-28 (NLT)26  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.27  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.28  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
1 Corinthians 2:11 (NLT)11  No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.
So the Question Again Will God Really Give You the Desires of Your Heart?
Delighting ourselves in the Lord means that we find peace and fulfilment in Him.  Our scripture says that if we delight ourselves in Him then He will give us what we desire.  Does that mean if we go to church every Sunday, bible study every week, have a long quiet time with Him every day, and “seek and save the lost”,  that He will give us a new Mercedes, a big new house, a wife or husband?  He may do those things but that’s not what Psalm 37 or other scriptures say. The idea in Psalm 37 and other scriptures is that if we really delight in the things of God, then our desires will start to look like His.  When that happens He will fulfill every one of our desires, as our heart’s desires begin to match up with His will.  Chances are that when you delight in the Lord your greatest desires will not be for material things but your priority will Him.
Matthew 6:33 (NLT) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Philippians 4:19 (NLT)  And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
While wealth, status, and material possessions are good things, and there is nothing wrong with any of them, they are temporary and can never really satisfy.  The more material things we have the more we want.  The more prestige we have the more we want.  The more money we have the more we want.  Again there is nothing wrong with any of these things but they are all temporary.  The things of God’s kingdom are the things that will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Here’s the way Solomon puts it;
Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NLT) “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NLT) 13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14  God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
On the other hand;
1 Timothy 6:6 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.
1 John 2:15-17 (NLT) 15  Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
Material things, prestige, position and the other things the world offers will never completely satisfy or fulfill us.  God is the one who will meet all of our needs.   He will always provide above and beyond our expectations.
John 4:14 (NLT) But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
God will satisfy the desires of anyone who is truly delighting in Him because those desires will be according to His will.  The key to enjoying life is not in getting God to give us what we want. It’s in learning to want, but rather in learning to want what a loving God wants to give us.  When we truly delight ourselves in the Lord, then we desire His will more that our own. Yes, God really does give us the desires of our hearts when we delight ourselves in Him.

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