Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Truth Will Set You Free (John 8:31-41)

In this passage Jesus and the Jewish leaders dispute over whether or not they are sons of God. They say they are Abraham's children and therefore children of God. However, Jesus calls them out saying they are neither because they will not listen to the one who comes from God. Instead, they are seeking to kill him. They do this because he says they are enslaved to sin.  If they would only listen the truth would free them. They may be descended from Abraham, but they are not his children (see Romans 9:6).

In the Bible we see that we live among lost souls who are blinded by their ignorance, enslaved to their sin, and dead in their transgressions. They cannot comprehend what they are doing. They are unable to do what they should. They simply cannot do it. They are incapable, of themselves, to even listen to or understand what is standing right before them.

As Paul prayed, "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved (Romans 10:1)." Lord, help me to have patience and grace with those who have not yet come to know you. May your word flow through me, and may the example of my life, guided by your Spirit testify to your goodness and glory that those such as these might come to faith in you.

Monday, October 24, 2016

You Will Die In Your Sins If You Do Not Believe (John 8:12-30)

Jesus again speaks to the crowds declaring himself to be the light of the world and that whoever would follow him will never walk in darkness (see also 1 John & Revelation). This bothers the Pharisees. They claim his remarks are not valid because he is the only one making these claims and they are about himself. According to the Law there must be at least two witnesses to any claim. Jesus replies that his testimony is validated by his Father who sent him. He says they don't really know him or his Father. In their own minds they believe themselves to know God because they are descendants of Abraham and they strive to keep the Law of Moses. But, Jesus says basically "I am from above. I have heard from the Father. He is with me. I am going away to a place you cannot come. I have much to say in judgment of you, and you will die in your sins if you do not believe that I am who I claim to be." Many put their faith in him as he spoke.  

Everyday we come closer to the time in which we will see and know the Christ for all that he is. He will truly be the light of the world (Revelation 22:5). Until then, there is still a great darkness and night. Multitudes will die in their sins without faith in Christ and his claim to be who he says he is. We have an active role to play in this until that day comes. May the message of hope that is found in Jesus Christ shine as a light in this dark world to lead God's people home.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sin No More (John 8:1-11)

I was reading an old copy of my great-grandmother's RSV this morning and took note that 8:1-11 is not included in the main text (but it is included in a footnote). So, I grabbed an NIV and used it today. This passage contains the famous story of Jesus and the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees bring her before Jesus at dawn as he was beginning to teach his followers in the temple courts in Jerusalem. They question Jesus about the Law thinking that they might trap him. "The Law of Moses says we must stone such women. What do you say?" Jesus replies saying it is he who is without sin who should cast the first stone. When they hear this, they drop their stones and depart one by one.

More than once I have heard this scripture used as an argument against the use of church discipline. It is often accompanied by a reference to, "Judge not lest you be judged." But, this is not the case. These scriptures will never be in conflict. The main thrust of this text must therefore be a call against hypocrisy and ultimately a pronouncement of grace.

The closing line is the kicker, "Go and leave your life of sin." Jesus has clearly made a judgment about the situation. She has been caught in sin. He offers grace, forgiveness, as well as a call to repentance. Church discipline is nothing more than this: calling upon our brothers and sisters to repent and leave behind their life of sin. As Jesus said in John 7:24, "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." In instances of known sin, we should not back away from seeking to encourage faith and repentance out of love and a true concern for others.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

No One Had Ever Spoken Like This Man (John 7:45-52)

Amidst the confusion at the Feast of Tabernacles, officers had been sent to apprehend Jesus. They came back to the Pharisees empty-handed. and they were chastised by them. When they were asked why they had not brought Jesus with them, they replied that no one had ever spoken like this man. They were in awe. The officials accused them of being led astray along with the rest of the crowds. Nicodemus challenges them to use the Mosaic Law to determine if Jesus is guilty of any infraction, but the Pharisees accuse him of being led astray as well. Nicodemus had previously visited with Jesus in secret back in chapter three. He had been told by Jesus that he must be born again and that "God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life." Lord, help us all to hear Jesus, trust him, listen to him, and follow him.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Rivers of Living Water (John 7:25-44)

The people in the Temple in Jerusalem were puzzled. They knew the scriptures foretold the coming of the Christ and they knew he would come from an unknown place. He would perform signs to reveal himself. However, Jesus alludes to the fact that he has come from the Father. The Pharisees overhear people in the crowds talking about what Jesus is teaching and they send officers to arrest him. Jesus eludes them. He tells the crowds that have gathered that he will be with them for a while but then he will go to a place where they cannot find him. He stands up on the last day of the feast and proclaims that if anybody thirsts, come to him and drink. This is the same promise he offered to the Samaritan woman at the well. He then claims to be the Messiah saying that the scriptures foretold his coming saying, "Out of his heart would flow rivers of living water." The spirit provides this living water to all who believe in Jesus and receive him. But, this won't happen until sometime later. Again, the people are puzzled. Some want to draw near to him while others seek his arrest. There are things that Jesus will say and do that are hard to grasp. But, he is who he says he is. He is Messiah. All who believe in Him and receive Him will be saved. They will receive the Holy Spirit who provides the water that Jesus and Isaiah describe (Isaiah 44:3)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Judge With Right Judgment (John 7:14-24)

At the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles in Jerusalem in the middle of the celebration Jesus goes up into to the temple and starts to teach the people. Earlier in the chapter he told his brothers that he was going to stay in Galilee away from the crowds because his time had not yet come. He seems to change his mind later and decides to go anyway. He knows that many people want to kill him, but he goes up into the temple and teaches anyway. He will not remain silent. The people are all amazed at his teaching even though he has not formally studied with their leaders and teachers. Then he really starts teaching. He tells them that his teaching is not his own, but it comes from the Father. All who truly believe should be able to understand this. I do not seek my own glory but the glory of God. Moses gave you the Law, but none of you keep the Law.  Why do you seek to kill me? At this, they think he is out of his mind crazy and/or possessed by a demon. Who is trying to kill you? He says they want him dead because he healed a man on the Sabbath. But, they circumcise on the Sabbath to uphold the Law. They judge wrongly. They are hypocrites. "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment (v24)." God has given us a mind. We should use it along with the wisdom he provides us. The teaching that says judge not lest you be judged is perfectly in tune with the above command. We are to use sound judgment, being careful to discern what is right. Jesus is afraid of no one. He does not seek his own status, but glory for God the Father. He is willing to say what needs to be said. The house of God, the Temple in Jerusalem, is governed by those who do not keep the Law. Jesus is challenging them to consider what is right before their eyes. They hear his teaching, they witness his works, they know the scriptures, yet they do not see. Judge rightly. Listen to Christ. Consider God's will.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

They Thought They Knew Him (John 7:1-13)

It was time for the annual celebration of the Feast of the Tabernacles. Jesus' brothers had not believed in him. They told him to go to Judea and perform miracles there. They thought that Jesus had a desire to be famous. At this time there were many in Judea who were plotting to take his life. Jesus planned to wait until the right time, so he told his brothers to go without him. But, he attended the feast in secret. The world was not ready for him yet. He said, "...it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." Very few believed in him. The Pharisees wanted to have him killed. His brothers didn't know what to do with him. They thought he was crazy (Mark 3:21). The world would soon know who he really is. There is a time for everything. Jesus remained faithful to his calling as well as to the Jewish traditions. His ambition was so much more than wanting to be a public figure. He had something much greater in mind.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Where Else Can We Go? (John 6:60-71)

Many of Jesus' disciples found his teaching to be hard and could not accept it. Jesus tells them that there is life in his words. There is true power in what he says, but there are many who will not believe. It is not because his teaching is lacking in anything. He knows even from the beginning which of them are true followers and which ones will betray him.

Then he tells them that nobody can even come to him unless the father first makes it possible. When they heard this many of them left. They could no longer follow him.

Jesus turns to the twelve and asks them if they are going to leave as well. But, Peter replies saying basically where else are we going to go? Why would we leave? You are the holy one of God, and you have the words of eternal life. Then Jesus tells them that even though he has chosen them, he has allowed a betrayer to be part of their company. A devil is in their midst.

Nothing is a surprise to Jesus. All is going according to plan. He is in control. His word is truth. There is life in his teaching. Yet, for some reason, according to this plan, there are many who will not be enabled by the Father to come to Jesus. Some, like Judas, will even be used by God to betray his people. Peter rightly recognizes that there is no other place to go. There is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved.

Lord, Father, draw your people to yourself through your Son that they may believe and be saved.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Future Belongs to Christ (John 6:25-59)

I was watching a show about kids in Korea and one of the segments featured a classroom that had a motto that said "The Future Belongs To Those Who Work Hard Today". Jesus says the work of God is this: to believe in the one whom God has sent.

The crowds finally found Jesus and he says to them basically you are only looking for me because I fed you. You want me to be your king so I can provide for you what you think you need for this life. What you really need is the kind of food which does not spoil which produces eternal life. They ask him then to show them a sign to prove that he is someone to believe in. For, their forefathers ate manna in the wilderness which was bread from heaven. But, it was not Moses who gave it to them. It was from God. Jesus says it is the bread of God that gives life to the world, and this bread is in the form of a person. He tells them, "I am the bread of life." Basically, I am what you need. Without bread/food we will perish. Without Christ we are finished. There are many in the crowd who are witness to this, but they do not believe.

Jesus continues saying, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away... I have come down from heaven to raise up all that the father has given me on the last day, and I shall lose none of them." We cannot come to Jesus unless the Father first draws us. If we are drawn to Jesus by the Father, and we believe in Jesus and come to him, we have everlasting, eternal life.

Jesus is the bread of life. He is what we need. Their forefathers needed to eat manna daily and they eventually died. Jesus says he is the bread of life. When we eat this bread we have eternal life. In other words, when we trust in Jesus we will truly have life. The sacrifice of his body on the cross was given for us, that we would be saved. We eat this bread symbolically when we celebrate communion. It represents the faith that we have in him, his sacrifice for us, and the fulfillment of this promise for us.  

Friday, October 14, 2016

Walking On The Sea (John 6:16-24)

After Jesus had fed the 5000 he went up to on a mountain to be alone and pray by himself. For some reason his disciples decided to leave him and they departed by boat to cross the sea to Capernaum. A strong wind came up and the disciples found themselves rowing for several miles. Jesus comes to them walking on the sea.  He told them not to be afraid. When they brought him into the boat, they found themselves on the shore of the land to which they were going. The crowd that had been fed the day before were looking for him and set out after him on the sea.

It's almost comical. Jesus and his disciples are trying to get away from the crowds who are in hot pursuit. They want something from Jesus but he is leaving them all behind. How often do we see people seeking Christ for the wrong reasons? How often to we ourselves seem to be reaching out to him, yet he seems so distant? Maybe this is a good reminder to check ourselves. Ask yourself, what do I really want from Jesus? Is if what Jesus wants for me?

The sea is raging. The wind is howling. Here comes Jesus walking on the water. He can feed thousands. He can speak the universe into existence and hold it all together. He is capable of anything. Are we only seeking to be blessed by miracles, signs, and wonders? Or, do we seek the truth and his love? Lord show me what I really need.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Where Will We Buy Bread to Feed All These People? (John 6:1-15)

Crowds have gathered coming to be near Jesus. He has performed miracles and healed many who were sick. On a mountainside while sitting with his disciples, he sees thousands and seems to be joking with Philip saying, "Where will we buy bread to feed all these people?" Philip says it wouldn't be enough if we had eight months wages to spend on food. Andrew points out a boy who has five loaves of barley bread and two small fish, but that wouldn't go very far... Jesus has the disciples round up everyone and sit down. There are about 5000 of them there. Jesus takes the loaves, gives thanks, and distributes the bread to those who were seated and gives them as much as they want. He does the same with the fish. Afterwards they gather twelve baskets of leftovers. When the people saw this miracle, they believed he was a prophet and wanted to make him their king by force. But, Jesus escaped and went to a mountain to be by himself.

It's important to note that Jesus always has everything under control. He is not worried when 5000 come to the wilderness to sit at his feet. He can make bread out of stones if he chose to. He comes through for us in unexpected ways. He is the source of great abundance. He is creator. The masses are fed with much left over. When the people seek to take him by force and make him their king for their own benefit... well who wouldn't want a king like that? We would never be in need for anything. With Jesus providing all that we might ever need. But, we don't go to Jesus to get what we want from him. He is more than a provider of food, shelter, safety, wealth, or a good life...

Jesus has the ability, but these people are not ready for his kingdom yet.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Moses & Jesus (John 5:31-47)

John came and testified to the truth. John was like a lamp that gave light for a while and for a time you chose to enjoy his light. He  preached and baptized many. He is now imprisoned. Jesus now has a greater testimony to share. John only pointed the way to Jesus. Every work that he does is a testimony that the Father has sent him. His works prove his genuineness. And the Father himself testified about Jesus. He foretold his coming in the writing of the prophets. The Jewish leaders of the time diligently studied the scriptures because they thought that by them they could possess eternal life (v 39). However, the scriptures testify about Jesus. "You refuse to come to me to have life (v 40)." They seek the praise of each other and make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from God. Moses wrote about Jesus. The Jewish people put their faith in the writing of Moses. But, if they really believed what Moses wrote, they would believe what Moses wrote about Jesus. If we are willing to believe that Moses wrote about Jesus, are we willing to believe what Jesus says? Moses wrote that a greater prophet than he would come and that the people of Israel should listen to him (Deut 18:15). Jesus is who he says he is. The entire Old Testament points forwards to him. Yet, there are those who study it and wait for someone else to come. There is no other. Life will not be found in the writings of Moses. It will only truly be found in the words of Jesus.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

My Father is Always at Work (John 5:16-30)

This is not a commentary or any sort of scholarly work. It is just thoughts written down as I read through the scriptures. I pray that God will move through His word. I pray that He will bless me that I may be a blessing to others = my family, neighbors, church, friends, etc. In this passage the Jewish leaders want to kill Jesus = sounds familiar. They are upset that he is "working" on the Sabbath by healing people. He had just helped a lame man walk again. Jesus says to them,"My Father is always at work to this very day, and I too am working." This is an interesting verse - I need to look into this one more. Scripture says they were upset with him not only because he was healing on the Sabbath but because he was making himself equal with God.  But Jesus basically says I can do nothing on my own. I am limited to the will of my Father. There will be even greater things shown in the future. My Father raises the dead and I will give life as well to whom I am pleased to give it.* The Father does not judge but has given this responsibility to me. All who honor the Father should therefore honor me. Whoever does not honor me does not honor the Father who sent me. If God the Father can do works of mercy on the Sabbath - So can I. Be careful of your judgment of me, for I have been appointed judge. Whoever believes in me and the one who sent me has already crossed over from death to life. Eternal life has been given through your faith. You will not be condemned. All who listen will live. A day is coming when all who are in their graves will come and rise to judgment. Jesus will be that judge. He will be a fair judge who works to please his Father. So, he's basically saying to the Jewish leaders - you just don't get it. You refuse to hear. You try to paint me as a sinner, but you are wrong. You have no clue as to what is about to happen. Pay attention. So much is at stake, but your ignorance has blinded you. This is who I am. I am the Son of God. He has sent me. I do the work of God. I will give life to whomever I want to. It is eternal life. It is for now as well as forever. I will judge the world. Will you continue to judge me and what I do? Or will you listen and see what is to come? This is reality. This is our world that we live in. This is what is yet to come. Will you be ready? Will you listen to what Jesus has to say?

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Pool of Bethsaida (John 5:1-15)

Jesus comes into Jerusalem on a feast day. He finds a lame man by the pool of Bethsaida (Bethesda). He is unable to get to the pool on his own. Others always beat him to it when the water is stirred up. Jesus has compassion on him and heals him. He later tells him when he sees him at the temple to sin no more so that nothing worse happens to you. He is just a random man who Jesus runs into. In an instant, this man who was lame for 38 years, is able to walk. He did this on the Sabbath.

Lord help me to have compassion on those who are not able to take care of themselves. Help me not to be focused just on healing the pains and struggles of this life, but to remind people that something much worse will happen if they do not turn from their sins. I know these things, but Lord help me to live this out.

Presently I am leading a group through a discipleship class at church called "A Call to Joy" and leading the adult Sunday school class through a transition to be more missionally focused.

Father, help me to reach these people that they might be renewed with purpose and passion for your name. You are able to make lame men walk. You are able to revive churches.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Healing from a Distance (John 4:43-54)

Jesus returns to Galilee from Samaria. It is the place where he turned water into wine. Many believe there because they were at the feast when it happened. An official comes to Jesus to ask him to heal his son. Jesus says you won't believe unless you see signs and miracles. But, he just pleads for him to come. So Jesus tells him to go home, your son is well. He heals him from a great distance. The man believes along with the rest of his household. Nothing is beyond Jesus. He can do anything. Lord, heal our church. Help us to become effective and impactful in our community and throughout the world. Heal my daughter of diabetes. Help me lead well.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Samaritan's Believe (John 4:39-42)

The Samaritans believed the testimony of the (unnamed) woman from the well. She had led them to Jesus. As they gathered together and spent time with him they became all the more convinced. They too now agreed that Jesus is Messiah and Savior of the world. We have a role to play in bringing others to Jesus. There is nothing more exciting than hearing of how God is working in the life of new believers. To be part of a group of people that God is using is a great and awesome blessing. Help me Father to share this with others.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Is He the Christ? (John 4:27-28)

The woman from the well was told by Jesus himself that he is the Messiah. She drops her water jar and goes off asking others, "Is he the Christ?... Come see this man who told me all I ever did. He knows all." He is the Christ. How easily do we doubt? We look for confirmation not from him but from others. Is his word not enough?

  • Jesus' food is to do the will of his father. It is what feeds him and nourishes him.
  • What he most wants now is to let his disciples know that the fields are white for the harvest. Notice the context = He took them to Samaria to point this out - The fields are white (ready) among those whom they would consider to be their natural enemies/rivals.
  • Lord help me to see as you see

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Woman at the Well (John 4:1-26)

Jesus is thirsty in Samaria at Jacob's Well. He claims that the water that I give will become a wellspring spring of water welling up to eternal life = The water that we are given will become a source of life for others. What we are given does not just save us in our need, but it wells up and overflows. An hour is coming in the future when true worshippers will worship God the Father in spirit and in truth. The Samaritan woman says that she knows that the messiah is coming and he will tells us all things. Jesus says, "I who speak to you am he." Jesus is claiming to be Messiah. He is the one the prophets foretold. He is the savior who has come to bring about the culmination of all things. He is who he says he is. The day that he spoke of has not yet come, but it will. Until then, we must prepare ourselves and our neighbors for what will take place. The future is certain and I want to be among those who worship, the true worshippers, in spirit and truth. Lord help us to serve you and your kingdom well until that day.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Starting a new Journal project = The Gospel of John

I started reading the Gospel of John as per the instructions in "A Call to Joy" - So far, I have read the first three chapters. So I guess I am going to start Journaling and commit to it as a regular practice... I hope! I am reading at my own pace. I hope to put down thoughts that I might look back on this in the future and maybe learn something.

John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whomever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life"

Ok. That's a start...

(At this point I am typing in some entries that I had handwritten in my journal. Today is actually October 31. I will be back-filling these entries to bring me up to date. I want to keep my notes here, just in case I might lose my paper notebook. I have no great plan for this. I am just jotting down my thoughts. This is not meant to be anything more than that.)