Author: danieloh

March 17, 2021

Portraits of God


Bible Passage: Genesis 3

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”


14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,

    cursed are you above all livestock

    and above all beasts of the field;

    on your belly you shall go,

    and dust you shall eat

    all the days of your life.

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,

    and between your offspring and her offspring;

    he shall bruise your head,

and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

   “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;

    in pain you shall bring forth children.

   Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,

    but he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

  “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife

    and have eaten of the tree

    of which I commanded you,

    ‘You shall not eat of it,’

    cursed is the ground because of you;

    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

    and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your face

    you shall eat bread,

    till you return to the ground,

    for out of it you were taken;

    for you are dust,

    and to dust you shall return.”

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Questions to help us go deeper

Reflect on the portrait of God depicted in these passages.

  • What is He like?

  • Reflect on the ways you have experienced this aspect of God.

  • Are there ways that your current view of God needs to be corrected or refined through today’s passage?

  • Praise God for who He is.



March 9, 2017

John 12:9-19

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

Reflection Questions

John 12:9-11, 17-19
• Think about the absurdity of the chief priests’ plan to put Lazarus to death. What does this reveal about people’s relationship to truth?

John 12:12-19
“Hosanna” is a Hebrew expression meaning literally “Save now!” It may be interpreted as a plea for immediate action on the part of the king (John 12:13).”
“There is no doubt at all that Jesus’ claim was a messianic claim. […] The point is that a king came riding upon a horse when he was bent on war; he came riding upon [a donkey] when he was coming in peace. This action of Jesus is a sign that he was not the warrior figure men dreamed of, but the Prince of Peace. No one saw it at that time, not even the disciples, who should have known so much better.”

• When the crowd cried out what they did in v.13, what picture did they have in mind of who Jesus was and what he would do?

• How would their expectations of Jesus have overshadowed the truth of who he was and what he came to save people from?

• Am I interested in Jesus more for solving my life problems than for finding peace with God?

• When were the disciples able to understand fully all that was taking place?

• Why is the death and resurrection of Jesus the key to understanding the person of Jesus?

March 8, 2017

John 12:1-8

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

Reflection Questions

John 12:1-8
“Spices and ointments were quite costly because they had to be imported. Frequently they were used as an investment because they occupied a small space, were portable, and were easily negotiable in the open market. Mary’s offering was valued at three hundred denarii (v. 5) approximately a year’s wages for an ordinary workingman. Perhaps it represented her life savings. […] Wiping his feet with her hair was a gesture of utmost devotion and reverence. The penetrative fragrance of the ointment that filled the house told all present of her sacrificial gift.”
• Reflect on Mary’s outpouring of this expensive perfume. Why was this appropriate in light of what Jesus was about to do (vv. 23-24)?

• What fundamental difference between Mary and Judas was revealed by his objection to what she did?

• With whom can I identify more?

• Think about the progression of Judas’ actions–“used to help himself” to the communal money to “was about to betray [Jesus].”

• How might things have changed for Judas if he had been honest about what was going on in his heart?

John 12:5-6
• Judas expressed outrage by pretending to care for the poor. Are there some ways in which I use similar means to hide what is really going on in my heart?

March 7, 2017

John 11:45-57

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.

55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

Reflection Questions

John 11:45-53
• What were the two responses of those who witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead?

• How was it possible for two groups of people to see the same thing and respond in such drastically different ways?

• What was the real motivation behind the chief priests’ and the Pharisees’ opposition to Jesus (v.48)?

• To what extent is it still true to this day that people resist Jesus mainly because he threatens their autonomy and security?

John 11:49-52
• Although he would probably give a different meaning to his words, Caiaphas, “who was high priest that year,” unwittingly prophesied that Jesus “would die for the nation.” What can I learn about how God works from the fact that he was faithful to the office of high priest till the end, although Caiaphas was faithless?

March 6, 2017

John 11:38-44

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Reflection Questions

John 11:39-41
• Think about Martha’s response. Is it understandable? What perspective does her response represent?

• In what ways am I like Martha in how I think about what God can do in my life or in the lives of others?

• Jesus, who has the power to raise the dead, asked the people gathered there to “take away the stone.” What is the lesson behind this?

John 11:43-44
• What were the two things Jesus commanded, first to Lazarus and then to the others?

• How have I responded to both commands to “come out” and be “unbound”?

March 3, 2017

John 11:17-37

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

Reflection Questions

John 11:25 Ÿ
• Reflect on Jesus’ statement in v. 25. How does my life reflect my belief that Jesus is “the resurrection and the life”? How is my life different from those who do not have this faith?

John 11:33-36 Ÿ
• How did Jesus react when he saw Mary and the Jews weeping for Lazarus? Ÿ

• Considering that Jesus already knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead (v. 11), what explains Jesus’ reaction? Ÿ

• What false notion of God does v. 35 challenge? Ÿ

• Are there times when I am doubtful of God’s ability to sympathize or understand? What should be the ultimate proof of God’s love for me during those times?

March 2, 2017

John 11:1-16

1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died,15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Reflection Questions

John 11:1-6 Ÿ
• What are some ways in which God has redeemed painful experiences in my life “for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through [them]”? Ÿ

• Are there any seemingly hopeless situations in my life through which Jesus may be glorified?

John 11:14-15 Ÿ
• Jesus said he was glad at how events turned out “so that you may believe.” Considering the fact that these were his disciples who had followed him all along, and already believed in Jesus, what can we learn about the nature of believing?

John 11:8, 12 & 16 Ÿ
• The disciples seemed preoccupied with safety concerns (v. 8), and then misunderstood Jesus (v. 12) and the situation (v. 16). Think about the role of fear in affecting people’s perception of reality or in hearing God’s word accurately. What are some fears that may be having a similar effect on my life right now?

March 1, 2017

John 10:31-42

31The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42And many believed in him there.

Reflection Questions

John 10:31-42 Ÿ
• Jesus’ “many good works” were met with acceptance, while his claim to “make [himself] God” elicited a violent response. In what ways does this parallel people’s responses to Jesus today? Ÿ

• Contrast the people’s response in vs. 41-42 to the response of the Jews. Ÿ

• What is behind this desire to separate Jesus’ good works and his claims about who he is? Ÿ

• How clear am I that the most important thing about Jesus is who he claims to be? Ÿ

• Are there some ways that I, too, want to separate aspects of Jesus that are widely accepted (his kindness, high ethics, etc.) from his claims to divinity?

February 28, 2017

John 10:22-30

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter,23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Reflection Questions

John 10:22-24
“The Feast of Dedication, now known as Hanukkah, was established as a memorial to the purification and rededication of the temple by Judas Maccabeus, [who successfully led a revolt against foreign occupying forces and who therefore was regarded as a Messianic figure].”

• Given that this happened during the Feast of Dedication, what might have motivated the Jews to ask the question about Jesus’ identity? Ÿ

• Why would approaching Jesus as a potential political deliverer from the Roman occupiers eventually lead to anger and rejection?

• How does this dynamic play out in people’s approach toward God in our day?

John 10:27-29 Ÿ
• What are the characteristics of Jesus’ sheep? Ÿ

• How do Jesus’ words “no one will snatch them out of my hand” encourage me in my struggles today?

February 27, 2017

John 10:10-21

10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

19There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Reflection Questions

John 10:10-15 Ÿ
• “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Who or what might be “thieves” in our day? Ÿ

• Reflect on the words that describe why Jesus came. In what ways does the gospel lead to an “abundant life”?

John 10:10-11, 14-15 Ÿ
• What are the characteristics of a good shepherd vs. a hired hand? Ÿ

• Reflect on the fact that, as the good shepherd, Jesus has ownership over my life. To what extent have I yielded to his claim on my life?

John 10:17-18 Ÿ
• Reflect on vs. 18 and what this means for me personally.

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