Monthly Archives: September 2020

John 16 Devotion

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Before we became a follower of Jesus, we were his enemy. We were of the world. We were, primarily, citizens of a particular state as well as a citizen of Babylon. For the most part, people of this world have much in common. You are on the inside and one of the crowd.

As Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure, it is necessary to explain to them how the world will look at them now. We enemies of God have received forgiveness and are now accepted into God’s Kingdom and family. Jesus, the friend of sinners, has changed us and our position in this world. We are now strangers and foreigners in the world but citizens of heaven and children of God.

Though that is a true reality it is not yet complete. We remain in this world for many purposes. One in particular from this context is to testify about Jesus. And when we believe in and speak with certainty concerning the things of God and the gospel, the world will hate us. They will hate us because they do not know (love…believe…trust in) Jesus nor God the Father.

We could speak more about why the world hates us but the reason Jesus tells his disciples these things before they happen is so that they do not fall away. You might be shocked to hear that Jesus’s followers will suffer in this world. In fact, our world is now more difficult in much of the same way it is more difficult to pick up and move to a foreign land.

Becoming a follower of Jesus draws a clear line in the sand. Though we are sinners like the rest of mankind, we have come to believe that God will punish all sinners (indeed He must to be just) unless we repent and believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and being justified by faith alone. We live for the glory of God now instead of making a name for ourselves. And most often, when we believe the world is wicked and in need of salvation through Jesus that brings about division in our relationships in the world.

Jesus goes on to explain the amazing gift and role of the Holy Spirit after he goes to the One who sent him. Indeed, it is to our advantage that Jesus goes to the Father and sends the Spirit to dwell in us. If for no other reason, the Spirit will lead us into all truth. Truth brings freedom…something everyone wants but cannot have apart from the truth. In fact, the world thinks they live in absolute freedom but really they are in bondage.

The world believes they are happy. Again, this is something that every human being wants and will go to great lengths to get it but in reality their happiness is at least temporary but also empty. To trust in Jesus is to find one’s greatest joy and happiness. Nothing makes us more happy than Jesus himself. And this happiness is eternal and full. And someday when we see him, no one will ever steal our joy again.

Maybe this is a place to ask you if Jesus is enough? Are you completely satisfied in him? Is he the treasure of your life? Do you love him more than your family and even yourself?

If this is not true of you then I plead with you…indeed command you to repent and believe in Jesus! Turn from the false hopes of this world…turn from the empty pleasures of sin. Give yourself to Jesus and you will live forever in his perfect Kingdom and your heart will be full of pleasure forever in Jesus. Do not delay.

(Rom. 10:8-13) “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

A Prayer Born from John 14

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Before writing this prayer, I would like to point out something pretty amazing. My last post gave a brief but important observation about the purpose of Jesus’s love. He loves in such a way to lead people to believe in the greatest news in the world–the gospel!

In the immediate context, the death and resurrection of Lazarus was the means by which Jesus deployed to make himself known. And more precisely, to make it known that God the Father had sent him into the world to save his people.

Some who witnessed this amazing work believed but others went to tell the religious leaders of the day what had happened. These leaders then say this: (Jn. 11:48) 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.”

In other words, if they let him go on raising people from the dead everyone will believe he is Messiah. First, it’s almost like your 2 year old raising their finger to the parent that is towering over them and saying, “NO!” to their commands. Can you imagine saying something like this: I’m taking down that guy who raises people from the dead.” In other words, that guy is so powerful that he can call the dead back to life but I have enough power to make him dead.

It is pretty funny to think about. It’s also funny that they think they can stop his works by only stopping that guy, Jesus. What they do not realize is that his works will continue on without his bodily presence. And part of the means by doing so is allowing them to “make him dead.” Jesus’s death was the payment for sinners in need of salvation. The works will continue as a result of the finished work of Jesus which is reworking his broken people to do his works in the world.

The Father did His works in Jesus. Jesus is and will do his works in his disciples which glorifies Jesus and ultimately glorifies the Father!

Let’s now, pray the promises of Jesus!

We come before you, merciful Father, to ask in the Name of Jesus that which he has promised to do. He told us that whoever believes in him and the works that he did will do greater works. Because Jesus went to you, he promises to give us whatever we ask in his Name so that You may be glorified.

Jesus came to save his people and we want to join him in that mission. Lord, we want to make disciples of Jesus. We want the nations to know You. We want to share the gospel and baptize those who receive the gift of salvation. We want to teach them how to walk in Your ways.

Holy Father, send us out. May You cause us to do these greater works in the power of the Holy Spirit. Give us a place and opportunity to do these works among a people who will make more disciples that make more disciples. And ultimately, Your great Name is glorified!

We plead these promises. Your Son said he would do anything we ask in his Name. We are Yours. Do with us as You please, Lord. May we do the works of Jesus in bringing glory to You.

Eternal Father, You know we are seeking a place and people in the Name of Jesus. You know all the places we have “knocked” but nothing has opened. We “seek” but we have not found. We are asking You, oh great God of highest heaven, to open a door of opportunity to us.

We ask this in Jesus’s Name, amen!

John 11-12 Observation

Jesus loves in ways we might not understand. He demonstrated love by not going to Lazarus when Jesus knew he was sick and would die. But why?

  • and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” – John 11:15
  • So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 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.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” – John 11:41-43
    • …that they might believe…
  • 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. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. – John 12:9-11
    • …many were believing in Jesus

Jesus’s love had purpose.

Jesus’s love resulted in his intentions.

Jesus’s love was painful but temporary.

But Jesus’s love is also eternal.

How does this change how you encounter suffering and pain in your own life as a believer?

How does this change how you see suffering and pain in the lives of others around you?

The Lausanne Covenant

I think this covenant should be adopted by churches in addition to their statement of faith. And I furthermore believe we should regularly be reminded of this covenant so that we can make adjustments to our lives when we drift away from the purpose and mission of our Lord Jesus.

Consider reading this document or rereading it.

The Lausanne Covenant

John 10 Devotion

One of the most frequent topics of early Christian art was undoubtedly that of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Maybe Psalm 23 was as dear to the heart of the early church as it qis now. For whatever reason, it is an amazing and comforting truth.

It seems this identity of Jesus (and certainly Jesus is more than Shepherd) is a very humble title for the Son of God. Yet, David writes that same thing when he says, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. – Psalm 23:1.

That’s not the only humble image we have in John 10. Jesus is also called the door or gate. We know that a door or gate is the entrance point of a walled city. We might think of a pasture that has a fence around it and the gate would be the place to enter.

You might already know but our English word for pastor comes from shepherd. The shepherd or pastor would take the livestock out to pasture. Of course, there were no fences. That’s why we no longer have shepherds in America. The fence keeps the animals in and hopefully keeps the predators out.

The shepherd/pastor was responsible for leading the sheep to food and water. He was also responsible to protect them. The sheep were absolutely defenseless against bears or lions. There were no fences to keep them out.

Now having said that, do you not ask questions when the text says this: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. – John 10:11. Does he mean to say that the Good Shepherd would lay down his life to protect the sheep? Is that what he means? Certainly that is true but is that what he means?

In other words, if the shepherd lays down his life for the sheep who then will protect the sheep? Do you see? That’s why I think this means more than Jesus’s willingness to lay his life down. One answer or way he can continue to protect the sheep is this: For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. – John 10:17

So, even though the shepherd lays down his life for the sheep he will also take it up again. In other words, he will rise from the dead. You might have another question. Why did the shepherd have to lay down his life for the sheep and if he has the power to raise himself from the dead why didn’t he just protect the sheep with that power?

Let’s hear these amazing truths and then answer that question.

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.” – John 10:27-30

You only read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) for the first time only once. And even then, many of us heard about the cross before we read the Gospel Story. So, the Gospels intend for you to read them with the cross of Christ in mind.

Therefore, when you hear Jesus, the Good Shepherd, say things like laying down his life for the sheep you know he has the cross in mind. And when he says take his life up again you know he means the resurrection.

So, these glorious truths of the Good Shepherd calling his sheep by name and they hear his voice is a clear picture of when we hear the gospel and the Spirit opens our eyes to hear and believe.

That which we believe is in part that Jesus laid down his life for my protection from not just wolves but from God. My greatest enemy is my sin. Sin destroyed the relationship mankind had with the Creator in the beginning because God is holy and just.

And for God the remain just He must punish all sin. That’s bad news for sinners and all of us are sinners. However, God is not only just. He is also merciful. Mercy is not getting what I deserve. But how can God forgive sinners and remain just? Someone must pay for the penalty and guilt of our sin.

Sin brings death. Therefore Jesus, the Good Shepherd, took our death for us…in our place so that we could be forgiven and have a right legal relationship with God.

If you will repent and believe in Jesus you will have eternal life and you are forever protected by the Good Shepherd!

John 9 Observation

John 9:6-7 When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.

The Potter remaking the broken clay vessel for his glory! Amazing!

John 6 Devotion

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5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.

(Jn. 6:5-6)

The definition of test is this: (2) put to the test, examine, try (RV 2.2); in a good sense of God’s actions toward his people prove, put to the test, try (HE 11.17)

This scene of feeding the 5,000 and the Bread (i.e. manna from heaven) of life explanation parallels the scene in Exodus.

4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.

(Exod. 16:4)

The wilderness was the testing grounds. Upon crossing the Red Sea on dry ground and merely watching the Lord destroy the entire Egyptian Army, you would think that when they encounter the need of water and food they would consider the power and love of God and then trust and ask Him to provide that which they need. As you know, they complained and quarreled with Moses and God.

They had just listened to Miriam sing a song of triumph! They rejoiced over the fall of Pharaoh and his army. They worshiped! And then they murmured.

What happens in John 6 is very similar. Phillip was present when Jesus turned the water into wine. Jesus asked Phillip where bread could be purchased to feed this crowd. Israel thought God had saved them from slavery in Egypt only to let them die in the wilderness. Phillip makes quick work to show Jesus how absurd it was to consider buying only enough bread to barely feed them a bite.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this. I suppose it’s easy to watch these stories unfold and see more clearly than they did. But I’m pretty sure we are/were just like them. I know I still struggle to believe sometimes. It is only by God’s amazing grace that I see anything.

Let’s hear how Phillip responded to the Lord of the test. “Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” (Jn. 6:7).

What would it sound like to believe when Jesus tested him? And just know that we have an advantage in this story. Jesus didn’t say, “Oh, by the way Phillip, I’m testing you,” It’s similar to reading the book of Job and seeing the behind the scenes meeting in heaven. Job wasn’t at the meetings.

Since hindsight is 20/20, what should Phillip have said? How would you have responded? Or better yet, how have you responded?

Well, Phillip should have said, “Lord, I saw you turn water into wine. I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus, you have the power and authority to cause bread to fall from the sky. And our forefathers picked up manna from heaven. You can cause quail to be gathered before us all. You can make water flow from a rock. Lord, we don’t need to go anywhere to buy bread. We don’t need any money for supper. If you are the Son of God, then you can do all things. Nothing is too hard for you.”

“Furthermore, I believe you are the Bread from heaven. I need nothing else but you, Jesus.”

There were two tests that day. Jesus tested Phillip but Phillip tested Jesus. Phillip failed the test but Jesus didn’t fail. We need a Savior who doesn’t fail. Indeed, he is sufficient for our failings. I trust you know what to do if you have experienced the merciful salvation of Christ. If you have not, please comment below and I would love to help you know how to be saved.

If you have the Bread of Life, you will never hunger again!

Life is a test. Do you believe in Jesus or not?

John 5 Devotion

The first half of John 5 displays Jesus at work! The second is Jesus explaining why he’s working.

It’s a simple observation, but Jesus only does what he sees the Father doing. So the work that Jesus does is the work and will of the Father. That means God is on a mission to restore and save the world THROUGH His Son.

Over and over you hear Jesus repeatedly say that the Father has sent him and his works bear witness. The Son does the works that testify that God had sent him. His work is that of salvation. The Father is saving broken humanity through the Person and works of His Son.

God is on mission to save by sending and witnessing through His Son. That same pattern continues. God is on mission to save through the finished work of His Son THROUGH those Jesus has saved. Salvation, in part, has the distinct purpose of being sent by God to bear witness about the salvation accomplished by His Son.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

– John 5:24

This was Jesus’s mission and we who believe have the same mission to tell the gospel to others that they too might hear and believe and have eternal life with Jesus!

How can you make steps towards being on mission with God to make known this glorious gospel?

I had a friend of mine remind me of the purpose of the story of David and Goliath. It’s not about selecting the right stones. It’s not about facing your giants. But rather it is so that the nations would know that there is a God in Israel! (1 Sam. 17).

Who has the Lord put in your path and/or on your mind that needs to hear the gospel? God is on mission through you. You have been sent to bear witness about Jesus!

Is that something you are thankful for or something you dread? I have prayed for every person that reads this blog post to gladly go and make disciples of Jesus. As I was reminded from John 6 this morning: Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” – John 6:27

A Simple Observation

Simeon Peter, a *servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: – 2 Peter 1:1

When Peter introduced himself in this letter, he stated that he was a servant first and an apostle second. I think that’s very important to see.

As followers of Christ, we are all servants of Jesus first. We may serve in various ways as Peter served as an apostle.

This is important because it serves as the foundation from which we serve the Lord and others. That means, we should seek to serve in the various ways that may be needed.

It’s easy to disregard lesser tasks when your foundational understanding of who we are isn’t a servant of Jesus. May your identity be a servant who seeks to serve Jesus in the capacity and gifts and needs that come up around you.

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. – 1 Corinthians 9:19

May this be so!

1 Peter 5 Devotion

10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:10-11

I didn’t see much in the Word today but the contract between suffering for a little while and the eternal call of God was very encouraging. Because His dominion is forever not just a little while.

That’s it. That’s all. Blessings!