Friday, December 30, 2011

Prophets and Messages

When we think of prophets we usually think of writers of the Old Testament like Isaiah, Hosea and Joel. We think of righteous men of God. But there are at least two incidents in the Bible when men who were not in good standing with God prophesied the truth. One man was Saul the king who tried to kill David (I Samuel 19:19-24). The second man is Caiaphas, the high priest who would be responsible for having Jesus crucified.

“You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should died for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Now this he did not say on his own authority, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, only, but also that he would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” (John 11:49-52).

A message from God is not intended to glorify the messenger. It is to glorify God.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cross Purposes

Friends of Lazarus came for his funeral. The event was not like ours only lasting a couple of hours. The funerals of that day lasted for days. The mourners knew Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days, because they had been part of the burial process. So when they saw Lazarus come hopping out of that tomb, they believed that Jesus was indeed the Messiah (John 11:45).

Some of them went immediately to the Pharisees to tell them what Jesus had done. Perhaps they thought the Pharisees had to believe if they knew what had happened. But the Pharisees were more interested in their political positions of power and Jesus was getting in their way. They decided to get serious about having him murdered (John 11:48, 53).

The people needed a savior, but the Pharisees needed the approval of the Romans. So the needs of the people to whom they were responsible to minister were easily set aside in favor of maintaining power.

It is a good reminder to examine our own motives in our service to others.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lazarus Couldn't Do It Alone

Lazarus’ death and resurrection was a prelude to Christ’s resurrection. Please note that Lazarus came out of the tomb “bound hand and food with grave-clothes” and “his face was wrapped with a cloth.” Jesus had to tell the people to unwrap Lazarus (John 11:44). It would have been impossible for Lazarus to unwind himself. He needed help.

If Jesus was only a man like Lazarus, he too would have needed help to unwind the linen strips that bound him at his burial. Scripture tells us he was buried in linen strips mixed with about 100 pounds of spices (John 19:38-39). It would be impossible for anyone who had been tortured and crucified, and his hands bound to his sides to break through the 100 pound strips of linen and spices. Yet his strips were left in the empty tomb and the head pieces folded up in a place by itself (John 20:3-7).

Jesus raised himself from the Dead (John 10:18).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Power Over Death

The people were about to see proof positive that God had sent Jesus to rescue them. “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. And I know that you always hear me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, hat they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41-42).

Jesus says those famous words, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43).

“And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth.” Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go.” (John 11:43-44).

Jesus had the power over death, physical and eternal.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The symbolic Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree is symbolic of all Christ has done for us.

It is evergreen - we receive eternal life through him.
It is a tree - Jesus died on a tree for our sins
The Bulbs - represent the fruit of the spirit
The lights - He is the light of the world and we carry his light to the world
The gifts - He gave us the greatest gift, eternal life
The gifts - we share his gift and love to others
The tree - points to heaven where we will live with him forever.

Friday, December 23, 2011

shortest Verse

Jesus did not attempt to explain things to Mary. He simply responded by asking where they had put the body. Then we read the shortest verse in the Bible that contains volumes of information. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

We know he was not weeping for Lazarus because he knew that he would be a live again in a matter of minutes. But he wept for Martha and Mary (John 11:33-34).

Jesus bore our grief and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). Though God knows what good will eventually come out of our sorrow, he does not lightly dismiss us. He had compassion for our confusion and what we must suffer in the moment.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Who's at Fault

Mary responded in much the same way as her sister. She ran out to Jesus and fell at his feet. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).

When tragedy hits, we are all prone to question the wisdom of God. But when something happens during the Christmas Holiday we are especially vulnerable to criticize God. How could a loving God allow this to happen, especially now?

We forget that it was mankind that brought sin into the world, and when sin was introduced death, suffering, disappointment and senseless tragedy came with it.

The marvelous thing is God did not leave us in this hopeless state. He sent his son so that regardless of the physical tragedy that comes into our lives, we are comforted by knowing God will work all things for everyone’s good who loves him; even “senseless tragedies”.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Went Her Way

Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again. She was too angry to contemplate his words. She could only respond, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24). She must have been thinking, “I don’t know why you are telling me this now. The last day is a long way off and I am hurting now,” so she brushed him off.

Jesus again attempted to reach past her anger. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in meet shall never die. Do you believe this”? (John 11:25-26).

Martha was finished with what she thought was a pointless discussion. “Yes Lord I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’ Then she turned and “went her way” (John 11:27).

When we find ourselves in pain, let’s not flippantly answer the questions burning in our hearts. Let’s ponder and wait to see what God will do.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Angry Disappointment

Many people had come out for Lazarus’ funeral and the grieving process that would follow. Some late comers must have told Martha that they had passed Jesus on their way to the sisters’ home. Martha immediately runs out to meet Jesus, leaving her sister in the house with the rest of the guests (John 11:17-20). Why? Jesus would eventually arrive. Lazarus was already dead. What was the point?

We know from her responses to Jesus’ words that she certainly did not expect Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-39). So what did she mean when she said to Jesus, “…even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you”? (John 11:22).

I think we are seeing her angry disappointment in Jesus. In our language she might be saying. “I sent you a message in plenty of time to get here and heal my brother. God gives you whatever you want; couldn’t you have found the time to come a little faster?” She still believes he is the Messiah (John 11:22-28). She just was angry with him.

Are you?

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Twin

Thomas has gotten a bad rap by many Christians. He has been nicked named by some as doubting Thomas because he did not believe the disciples that they had seen the Lord alive after his resurrection. The disciples didn’t call him that. They called him the Twin.

Read what Thomas said in response to Jesus insisting on going to Judea, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). He knew the Jews were out to kill Jesus and anyone associated with him. The death would not be as easy as being bludgeoned by a sword. It would mean crucifixion.

True, he eventually fled when the soldiers came into the garden, but he and the rest of the disciples had every intention following Jesus to the death. They would later gain the strength through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but for now it is good to honor their intent.

Let’s not be so quick to judge Thomas, or anyone else for that matter.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What if He Had Been There?

Jesus told the disciples, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, hat you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him” (John 11:14-15).

Besides the fact that Jesus was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, what was the correlation between Jesus not being there and his disciples believing? Would he have healed his friend if he had been there when Lazarus was near death? If he had been there and allowed Lazarus to die and be buried how would that have affected all of his friends? How would it have affected those who had been curious about him? How about his enemies?

Jesus did all things well and at perfect timing. He allowed everyone to go through a grieving process so that that would believe in God.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stumbling About

Jesus often spoke in figurative speech (John 16:25). His answers to some of their questions sounded off track like he had not heard their question. This is one of those instances. Jesus had told the disciples that he was going to return to Judea to see Lazarus. The Disciples were rightfully worried. “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone you, and are you going there again?” (John 11:7-8).

Jesus’ answer seemed to ignore their question. “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. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” (John 11:9).

I wonder if he is not saying, “Right now the light is not in you, but I am going to be the sacrifice so that the light may be in you and you will no longer stumble about in spiritual darkness” (John 12:35-36, 46).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Not unto Death

When Jesus hears of Lazarus’ illness, he says something that must be confusing to first time readers of this story. “This sickness is not unto death” (John 11:4) yet just a few short verses later we find out Lazarus does indeed die. So why his comment?

Jesus is speaking of the eventual outcome. He sees beyond the moment into the eternal. He saw that the illness was for the glory of God. God had allowed both the sickness and the death to occur so that people would see the glory of Jesus (John 11:4).

We will see that Martha and Mary still had to experience the grief of their brother’s death. Sometimes God allows us to experience grief for a while, but his joy will return (1 Peter 1:6-7; Ps 30:5; James 1:2).

Our trial is not unto our death but for God’s glory.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Introduction to Lazarus

We now come to the story of Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead. It was by design that this occurred right before the crucifixion of Jesus. It was a kind of picture of what was about to happen. It showed that Jesus had the power of life within himself. There are several lessons within the chapter that we will explore.

Martha, Mary and Lazarus were good friends of Jesus. Scripture specifically points out that Jesus dearly loved them (John 11:5). When it became apparent that Lazarus was seriously ill, the sisters’ first thought was to send for Jesus (John 11:3). They felt confident he would come in time.

But he did not…or least they thought he didn’t. But God had a different plan. There is a song that says, “When you can’t see his hand, trust his heart.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Question

Jesus told the Pharisees who were angry that he was “making himself out to be God” (John 10 33), “If I do not do the works of my father, do not believe me; but if I do, though you do not believe me, believe the works that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:37-38).

He will later tell his disciples, “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin…”(John 15:24). Not only his works, but the abundance of his works testified that he was the Messiah.

Let me ask a question. If everyone did the same amount of miracles as Jesus did, how would people know which person was the Messiah? Could that be why no one has ever accomplished the number of miracles Jesus did?

We will see this question again in John 14.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mocking God

The Jews knew exactly who Jesus was saying he was. Look at John 10:31-33. “We don’t stone you for good works but we stone you because you make yourself out to be God.” (Paraphrase).

How then can we be cavalier about what he has taught us? Do we really have the option to take it or leave it? If we casually follow when we want but chose our own way when it conflicts with his, are we not putting ourselves in a perilous situations?”

James writes “When desire has conceived it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown it produces death. Don’t be deceived” (James 1:15-16). Paul writes, “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption …(Galatians 6:7-8).

Don’t try sin. You won’t like it in the long run..

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Misplaced Salvation

You are not going to wake up one morning and find you have misplaced your salvation. You will not one day be walking down the street and your salvation accidently fall out of your pocket or purse. No one is able to come up to you and rob you of your salvation. How do we know this?

We know it because Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand. My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of my father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30).

Your salvation is secure. You may choose to walk away, but you will never accidently lose your relationship with God.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Standing Firm

The Jews surrounded Jesus while he was taking a walk on Solomon’s porch. “How long do you kep us in doubt If you are he Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24).

I’m not sure how much more plainly Jesus could say it. “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). “My doctrine is not mine, but his who sent me” (John 7:16). “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father” (John 5:22-23). “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12).

If someone does not want to believe, no amount of miracles, words or works will convince him. Therefore Jesus gave them the following answer to their question.

“I told you and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I said to you “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10;25-27).

Jesus set his limits and did not conform to their demand for more proof. There comes a time when we need to stop convincing and simply stand firm.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Demented Miracle Worker?

It was a very confusing time for many of the Jews. Here was a man who did unbelievable miracles. And he didn't just do them now and then; he was continually healing people of diseases, raising the dead and casting out demons. Yet their "ministers" were telling them this man was a heretic and anyone associated with him could forfeit their lives.

Some told themselves that he was crazy and had a demon (John 10:19). Others argued that the accusation didn't make sense. "These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?" (John 10:20).

That is pretty descriptive of what men must decide today. They must convince themselves that Jesus was a demented fool who happened to do miracles or he was who he claimed to be.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Other Sheep

John 10:16 is especially important to those of us who are biologically Gentiles. Jesus said, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

Jesus first came physically to the Hebrew people, but he also calls to the Gentiles to be his sheep (Mathew 15:22-28; 27:34; John chapter 4; Acts chapter 11; Romans 9:22-26; 11:25-28).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Under Shepherds

John 10:-13 compares the good shepherd with the hireling. Jesus is the shepherd of the sheep, but he also has under-shepherds. They are commissioned to take care of the flock until the Shepherd returns. Some hirelings pretend to be shepherds but when they see the wolf coming they high tail it out of there and leave the sheep to tend to themselves.

Peter wrote to the elders of the church, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:2-4).

Those who pretend to be shepherds but have a hireling mentality forsake sheep when the sheep are hurting. They may verbally abuse the sheep, continually insist on financial control, and demand strict adherence to their rules. Good shepherds walk the talk, are compassionate and are examples of the Shepherd who gave his life for the sheep.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


When we read that Jesus gives his life for the sheep we usually think of the crucifixion. But if we look at what he says about the hireling we may get a broader and deeper understanding of what he means.

“The hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep” (John 10:11-13).

Wolves do attach the flock, but Jesus gives his sheep his life to his sheep.

When the wolf comes to temp you, to rip your assurance out of your heart and devour your faith, Jesus is there to fight off his ferocious attack. He will give you his life so that you are able to avoid spiritual eternal death. He gives you life the moment you need it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Among Many?

Jesus said he gives his life for the sheep (John 10:11).

Unfortunately we tend to think of the entire flock when we read those words. We say to ourselves, “He died for everyone and I can come because everyone can come. I am not special.” We find it difficult to remember he also said the shepherd “calls his own sheep by name.”

When we have our first child we cannot imagine loving another child like we do the first. Yet no matter how many children we give birth to, each one is special to us. We note their differences and joy when we see them mature. Why would we think God is unable to feel less than we feel?

Remember, he did die specifically for you, so that you would no longer be forced to live outside of his peace. He knows your name and care deeply for who you are.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


If we could only get it into our hearts that thieves come to steal, kill and destroy, we would find it much easier to resist temptation to do things our way.

Adultry, lying, deceiving, judging, condemning, gossiping, greed, lewdness, and all other manner of self seeking fulfillment, cannot help but end in death. These actions cause death in relationships, trust, honor, compassion, love, joy, peace and gifts of righteousness.

How much better it is to eat in God's green pastures and live in peace, though it may mean sacrifice of momentary comfort.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fresh Pastures

Jesus said he is the door of the sheepfold. Those who enter into a relationship with him will have “eternal life and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).

Can you imagine what the sheep fold would be like if the sheep simply stayed inside the four walls. The odor would be enough to make your eyes water. The sheep would most likely become emaciated and die from lack of fresh water and food. At beast they might become diseased. At worst, they would die.

But sheep go out to the pasture to eat and have cool running water to drink. They need the sunlight and fresh air.

Jesus said the sheep will go in and out and find pasture. There is activity among his sheep. They are secure in their relationship with their shepherd and are not afraid to follow him into new places.

Friday, November 25, 2011


We know that Jesus often spoke in parables to hide the meaning from those he did not want to know the truth (Mk 4:11-12). But if someone truly wanted to understand Jesus would explain further (John 10:6).

We also need to be patient with those who honestly do not understand. If we forget how many years it took us to reach the point of maturity where we are at the moment, we can become harsh and judgmental toward less mature believers.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Voice of Strangers

Jesus said his sheep will not follow a stranger because they do not know the voice of strangers (John 10:5). When we hear of a teaching that contradicts God’s Word, there is a kind of emotional red flag that rises in us, our breath kind of catches in our throat.

Unfortunately some people are so afraid of hearing a stranger’s voice, that the refuse to listen or consider any new thoughts. I knew a woman who refused to read any other book than the Bible, even though it was a Christian author. She was fearful of being fooled. What she did not take into account was her own human tendency to distort the truth.

We all need to consider what a fellow believer has to say since scripture makes it clear that each child of God has something to contribute to others ( Romans 12: 1-10; I Corinthians 12:1-11; Galatians 6:6;); Ephesians 4:11-16)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ungodly Counsel

We said yesterday that some people are so fearful of strange teaching that they will not even consider what another brother or sister has to say. But the other end of that spectrum is just as unhealthy. We do not need to listen to ungodly counsel about godly matters (Psalm 1:1-3).

We need to do what Jesus said his sheep would do, flee (John 10:5).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

By Name

There are precious treasures in chapter ten. Don’t miss them. Hold them in your hand. Examine them. Meditate on what they mean to you personally. There is much hope and encouragement for you in these specific words of Jesus.

Look at John 10:3. Jesus calls his sheep by name. He knows your name, intimately knows your name. He specifically called you by your name. He said I want _____ (fill in your name).

Yes, I know you are not worthy. Neither am I. None of us are. That is what makes his love so great.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Opening Doors

The Shepherd, Jesus, enters the sheepfold by the door and says the doorkeeper opens the door (John 10:1-2). Who then is the doorkeeper?

There are two ways in which to look at the doorkeeper. One interpretation is that Jesus is also the doorkeeper. In Romans 3:11-18 we learn that we would have no desire to know God unless the Father himself placed that desire in our hearts (John 6:44-45). He must open the door of our hearts.

The second interpretation is that we are the doorkeepers of our own hearts (John 6:37; Hebrews 11:6; Revelation 3:20).

You can be assured God wants you as his child, because you would have no interest in him unless he revealed himself to you. You also are required to respond (open the door).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thieves and Robbers

We will begin chapter 10 of John by saying that Jesus is the door to salvation and the shepherd of the sheep of God (John 10:7, 11).

Jesus tells us that if anyone tries to come to God any other way than through him, that person is a thief and robber (John 10:1, 10). How does attempting to get to heaven another way than through Jesus make one a thief and robber?

First we need to understand that Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30). Jesus is God (John 1:1-3, 14; Hebrews 1:1-2, 8). So to try to get to God without coming to God is impossible.

Secondly God is the source of love, joy, peace, righteousness, forgiveness, strength and all good things. Therefore to reject God (Jesus) is to reject the source of all that is good (James 1:17; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 6:13-17).

Thirdly, what we do and say influences those close to us. When we reject Jesus, we are helping the enemy to steal all the good things Jesus offers from the very ones we love. Therefore we are thieves and robbers.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Harsh Words

At first glance Jesus’ comment about that “those who see will be made blind” appears mean spirited. Why would God blind anyone? (John 9:38; 12:37-40).

If your son or daughter were continually made fun of, ridiculed, rejected and a victim of adults who plotted to kill him or her, what would be your response? (11:53)

The Pharisees knew who Jesus claimed to be, saw his miracles and knew that he fulfilled scripture to be the Messiah (John 10:33), but they were more concerned for their political power, than humbling themselves before God. They did not want to see, so God granted their wish (John 11:46-48, 53, 12:42)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Made Blind

In the story of Jesus healing the man who was born blind is a small phrase that is extremely important. It is only four words and easily read without a second thought. The phrase is “And he worshiped him” (John 9:38).

This simple phrase carries the doctrine of the deity of Jesus. Scripture continually instructs us not to worship anyone or anything but the only true God. Yet when this man worships Jesus, Jesus does not correct or rebuke him. He accepts his worship and in fact confirms it, not only with his absence of rebuke but his following comment.

“For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and hat those who see may be made blind” (John 9:39). Since there is no recording of Jesus ever striking someone physically blind, we understand he is referring to spiritual sight. The healed man saw Jesus for who he was and responded appropriately.

Take a moment now and follow his example.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sickness and Sin

The disciples and the Pharisees both thought the man was blind because someone sinned (John 9:2, 34). Why? Maybe they thought this because Psalm 66:18 says “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” And in Exodus 15:26 God told Israel, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.”

Yet Jesus clearly stated the blindness was not caused by the sin of the parents or the man (John 9:3).

We need to be careful not to build doctrines on assumptions. God’s promise to Israel regarding diseases was not a blanket promise they would have no illnesses or diseases, but a promise to protect them from Egypt’s diseases and to safeguard them until they reached the promise land.

God is definitely our healer (Psalm 103:3; James 5:16). But, don’t we first need healing in order to be healed? Didn’t James tell us some of us would become ill? (James 5:14). And yes, some illnesses are because of sin (John 5:14; James 5:16). But it is dangerous to try to see into another person’s heart (Isaiah 16:7; Mt 7:1; 2 Cor 10:12)

Let’s not try to guess about the cause of brother’s illness. Let’s ask God to help us examine our own hearts (I Cor 11: 28-32; Romans 14:12-13).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Believing Pharisees

Not all Pharisees refused to believe. Some of the men reasoned, “How can a man who is a sinner do such things?” (John 9:16). A seed had been planted deep in their hearts. We saw one of these men in Nicodemus in chapters 3 and 7. We will see him again in chapter 19 along with Joseph of Arimathea. The believing Pharisees are also mentioned in John 12:42-43.

Those who did believe were divided into two groups; the group that followed Jesus, even if it was in secret (John 3:1; 7:50-53; 19:38) and those who believed but did nothing about it (John 12:42).

It is not enough to believe. We must act (James 2:17, 22-25). However, we cannot see into other people’s hearts. We can recognize most mature believers but other persons remain a mystery. Was the seed recently planted or is it about to pop through the soil of faith?

Paul gives us excellent advice. “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stubborn Unbelief

The Pharisees believed that God would not hear the prayer of a sinner. They believed certainly did not believe a heathen could perform miracles. So when Jesus healed the man who was born blind they were faced with a problem. If they admitted he did a miracle, he had to be from God. If he was from God that meant they were rebellion against Jehovah. That simply was not acceptable. They had to come up with an excuse, some reason this was not a miracle.

A group of Pharisees said making clay on the Sabbath was work, therefore it could not be a miracle from God(John 9:16). Other men refused to believe the man had been born without his sight (Vs 18). I supposed if he was not born blind it could be a trick.

The difficulty was that the blind man had been begging so long that all his neighbors and everyone who frequented the temple recognized him. They all knew he was blind. Then his parents admitted that he had been born blind. The Pharisees were backed into a corner. So they did the only thing they knew how to do. They kicked the man out of the temple.

Stubborn unbelief makes one unreasonable.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cast Out

Jesus spat on the ground, made clay with the saliva and then put it on the blind man’s eyes. “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” he told the man. The man went and washed in the pool just as Jesus directed him and he immediately was given his eye sight.

John points out that the name Siloam meant Sent. That is exactly what happened. The blind man was sent, first to a pool, then afterwards to witness to his neighbors and then to the Pharisees. What was the result of his obedience? Were people saved? Were the Pharisees convinced of who Jesus was because of the miracle?

No, actually his parents were put in danger of being kicked out of the temple (John 9:18-23) and he was thrown out (John 9:34).

In our culture if we were cast out of a church, we would simply join another. But there was no other. For them to be barred from worshiping in the Temple meant you could not worship God. It was paramount to being eternally lost. If you could not bring sacrifices to God, you could not be forgiven.

But the former blind man came to know something the Pharisees did not understand. He had met God (John 9:1-38).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Born Blind

When the blind man received his sight his appearance completely changed so that his former acquaintances barely recognized him (John 9:1-9). If you have ever spoken with someone who has a weak eye, your natural tendency is to stare. A blind person sometimes covers his or her eyes with dark glasses so that people can focus on what they are saying and not on his or her inability to see.

Imagine that person now being able to see. Their entire appearance would change. He or she could look right at you, his or her gaze hungrily observing every facial expression. We who have seen all our lives have become much less observant. The intense stare of the recently healed may be unsettling.

So it is spiritually. When we first come to Christ everything is alive in us. We are keenly aware of every comment or insight into spiritual things. In time we learn that this intensity is not appreciated by most people and we may tone down our zeal.

May we learn wisdom and still never lose our enthusiasm for God.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

While it is Day

Jesus told his disciples, “I must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”

This statement applies to us as well as to Christ. We have tasks appointed to us by our Heavenly Father. We are to clearly, lovingly represent him to those who walk in darkness. When the life goes out of our bodies, we will no longer be lights in the world. All of our opportunities to share the love and acceptance of God will be gone.

We also must work while it is still day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Light of the World

Now that we have pondered Friday’s questions over the weekend, let’s take a stab at understanding at least a part of what Jesus said. “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).

Jesus, as The Word (John 1:1-3) has always been the Light because the Father is Light and they are one (James 1:17). While Jesus was physically in the world, the Light was in the world in physical form. When Jesus ascended into heaven the Light was no longer physically in the world. Instead, small lights of God were sent all over the world manifested in his people (John 12:13).

In a very real since, we are now the bearers of the Light of the World shining in its darkness. How clear is our light? Is it made dull by condemnation and rejection or is it made clear with compassion, forgiveness and patient.

Friday, November 4, 2011

No One Can Work

Reading Jesus’ words in John 9:4 and 5 puzzle me. “I must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Did he mean it would be darkness after he left? If it is dark, and no one can work, why do we see miracles in the book of Acts after Jesus was no longer on the earth? If he was the light of the world as long as he was in the world, is there no light now that he is gone?

The truth is Jesus did not always speak in ways we can fully understand. Does this trouble you? Maybe that is why Jesus said it the way he did, because we are too eager to be wise in our own eyes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Blame the Blind Man

Jesus told the disciples that the man had been born blind, not because of sin. They needed to get their focus off of blaming people and onto the glory of God working through people. God would be revealed to people because of the healing of this man (John 9:1-3).

I am not sure why we are driven to find the reason for everything. Curiosity is not evil, but pointing fingers is. Why not look for God even in the difficult circumstances.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fickle People

I think one of the most puzzling questions asked by the disciples was when they passed by a blind man. “And his disciples asked him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned this man or his parents ha he was born blind?” (John 9:2).

Really? The man was blind when he came out of his mother’s womb. That has to mean they believed a baby could sin before it was born. It could not mean the sinful nature, or everyone would be blind at birth. We may be tempted to laugh at such superstitious thinking, until we examine our own process of believing.

Are there things you used to believe that you have now rejected as an error? Did you ever condemn someone for something only to repeat that very act yourself? We are fickle people, quick to take up our own defense and quick to judge others.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Heart Language

After Jesus called himself, “I AM”. The Pharisees picked up stones to stone him. They knew exactly who he was proclaiming to be.

Human responses to Jesus' claim fall into two categories; those who believe and follow and those who do not believe and do not follow.

Those who follow do not usually follow perfectly but their focus is on that goal. They may be like Peter who struggled at first, but grew to follow even to his death. Others may be like Paul who followed from the moment he met Jesus till he was murdered.

Those who do not follow may claim they believe, but their lives say otherwise. Others reject his claims outright.

Either way, we will live what we truly believe. Our actions speak the language of our hearts.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What Does It Mean?

Jesus called himself, “I AM” (John 8:58). What does that name mean?

It reflects eternity. At any point in history, in the present or in the future his name is I AM.

I am life
I am your creator
I am the one who sees you
I am your healer
I am your provider
I am your Savior
I am your God
I am your defender
I am your bread
I am your breath
I am the way
I am the Truth
I am the Life
I am the Word
I am who I am

(Genesis Chapters 1,2; Genesis 16:13; Exodus 15:26; Ps 147:8; 2 Samuel 22:3; Isaiah 43:3; Exodus 14:14; John 6:35; Genesis 2:7; John 14:6; John 1:1-3; Exodus 3:14).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Who is Watching

Many people think that saints in heaven are completely unaware of what is happening on earth. Others think their loved ones who have died are constantly watching over them. The truth lies somewhere between these two views. We see here in John 8 54-58 that Abraham was aware of Jesus coming to earth. Angels came to announce Jesus’ birth and to comfort him both at the begging of his ministry and the end of his life (Lk 2:13-15; Mk 1:13; Lk 22:42). And in Hebrews 12:1 scripture mentions that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.

We, however, do not interact with those who have gone on before us. Their focus and our focus is on God. If they see us, they are rejoicing over what God is accomplishing in and through us. We glorify God by doing all the Father has given us to do, obeying his commands and loving him. (Ephesians 2:10; John 15:9-10).

God gets all the glory.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Holy Invitation

Jesus did all that the Father told him to do and kept his word always (John 4:34; 8:54-56; 15:10; 17:4). He knew the Father and the Father knew him (John 10:15). He loved the Father and the Father loved him (Mt 3:17; John 15:9).

You have been invited into this relationship. There will never be a more important invitation in your existence than the one you have been given to join in the union between our Heavenly Father and his Holy Son. Don’t miss walking in it today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The Jewish leaders had the same reaction as we did to Jesus’ promise that those who kept his word would not see death. Everybody dies. Even the most righteous people like Abraham and the prophets died. None of it made sense. Then Jesus takes it a step further, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).

The Pharisees were infuriated. “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus could have explained, “Abraham is in heaven. He saw me leave heaven to come to earth and knew why I came. He was glad because I am bringing the good news of God’s forgiveness and mercy.” Instead Jesus infuriated them further by using the name of God to describe himself.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). Jesus always existed and will always exist. Before coming in the form of man he was known as the Word (John 1:1-3). At his birth he took on the name Son of God, and Jesus (Luke 1:31, 35). He was God, is God and will always be God (Hebrews 1:8; Revelation 1:8, 17-18; 22:12, 16).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two Deaths

Everyone who has ever believed in Jesus in the last 2,000 years has died. So why on earth did Jesus say, “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he shall never see death” (John 8:51)?

There are two definitions of death. One is death of the body. The other is death of the spirit, or separation from God. If we keep Jesus’ words we will never find ourselves separated from our heavenly Father.

One day our physical suitcase we call a body, will cease to function. It is like the clasp or zipper on the suitcase breaks and the contents come pouring out. Our spirits will soar to God forever released from corruption (1 Peter 1:4).

If Jesus waits to come, we will all experience the first death, but not all of us will experience the second.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Situational Goals

We read how the Jews accused Jesus of being a Samaritan and having a demon. Jesus answered plainly, I do not have a demon; but I honor my father and you dishonor me. And I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.’ (John 8;49-50). In other words, “I do not seek my own glory, but you seek yours”.

Jesus certainly could have shown his glory, so that they would immediately fall on their faces in fear (Ezekiel 3:26-28). But his goal was not to glorify himself or to manipulate people into following him. His goal was to proclaim his Father’s message. “I honor my Father” (John 8:49).

What is our goal today in the situation we find ourselves in?

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Samaritan Devil?

The Jews as a hole were extremely prejudiced against other races. They knew God had chosen them but they had forgotten the purpose of God’s choosing a people. God intended to show the world what it meant to trust him. The Hebrew nation was to be a visible invitation to the people to come to him (Isaiah 9:1-2; Mt 12:4-15; 10:18; 12:18, 21).

His own people continued to reject anyone that was not full blood descendent from Abraham. They accused Jesus, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48). They knew Joseph was not his father and they refused to believe God the Father had created him in his mother’s womb. To do so would mean they had to listen to what he had to say and act on it.

They rather trust in themselves. Would you?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Not His Way

Why do people not believe what Jesus said? He was kind, compassionate and always spoke the truth. He was not prejudice, offered forgiveness and taught people to love one another. What fault could anyone find in anything Jesus spoke?

Jesus himself asks this question, “Which of you convicts me of sin? And if I tell the truth why do you not believe me?” He then answers, “He is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God” (John 8:46-47).

People reject Jesus’ message because it is a message of holiness and exclusivity (John 14:6). Individuals want to create their own way to heaven. They want to be the author of the rules. If their proclivity is in conflict with God’s word, they want the right to reject all claims for authority but their own.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end of that way is death (proverbs 14:12).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cast Out

Jesus gives us insight into Satan’s intentions. Satan is a liar and his intentions are always to kill. Notice Jesus said Satan was a murderer from the beginning. When did Satan murder anyone?

Satan’s first murder was his rebellion against God (Isaiah 14:12-17; Rev 12:7-9). His action caused a multitude of angels to be cast out of heaven and separation from God (Jude 6). He went on to successfully temp Adam and Eve to separate themselves from God (Genesis chapters 2 and 3). He went on to

Satan’s motives have not changed throughout the centuries. He destroys relationships with God by convincing people that God is not good and cannot be trusted. Thankfully God has not left us to his devices without a way out (John 3:16; 1 John 1:9; John 6:35-37).

Jesus is our restoration (Romans 5:11).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The Pharisees are indignant that Jesus had the nerve to tell them they were not spiritually free. They tell him first that Abraham is their father. When push comes to shove they slur Jesus’ reputation and say, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father – God” (John 8:37-41).

The irony of calling God their Father is almost palpable, because not too long in the future they will seek to kill Jesus because he says God is his Father (John 10:31-33).

Jesus is straight forward in his response, “You are of your father the devil and the desires of your father you want to do” (John 8:44).

They said they were worshiping God, yet Jesus told them they worshiped Satan. How could he say that when they had never bowed their knee to an idol or false God? He could say that because they were rejecting the one God had sent to save them from their sins (John 8:42-47). These men were not of God therefore they were of Satan.

There are not three choices, God, Satan and Self. There are only two. Satan is self serving, so if we serve only ourselves, we have partnered with him.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What Does it Mean to Be Free?

What does it mean to be free (John 8:34-36)? It means our bodies do not control us, we control it (I Cor 6:13). It means we have the strength to engage self control (Galatians 5:22). It means we regulate our anger (Ephesians 4:26-27). We are free from the need for revenge (Romans 12:17-21) and are not bound by fear (Mt 28:20, 1 John 4:18, Romans 8:28-29).

It means we can enjoy the life God has given to us (Romans 15:13).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Human Trafficking

Imagine being someone’s slave. You came to America on a work visa owing your sponsor a quarter of a million dollars with his promise of good pay and good work. Instead you find you are paid below minimum wage and live in a grimy basement with little to no heat in the winter and no air conditioning in the summer. Your days are filled with scrubbing toilets, digging trenches or meeting the bodily needs of your capture. You do not know the law or the language so can see no way to gain your freedom.

Then one day the Son of your slave driver tells you that his father has died and you are free to go. He gives you several thousand dollars and a plane ticket back home. You are set to leave at 5 PM, just enough time to pack your bags. Your heart will barely keep in your chest. You head for the door at 4:30 pm, anxious to get out of that cold damp basement. But when you reach the top of the stairs you are informed that the Son was killed in a car accident and you someone else purchased your loan. You are no longer allowed to leave.

But Jesus lives forever, therefore if he sets you free; you never have to be enslaved again.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jesus Bypasses

Jesus bypasses discussions of culture, religions and politics and goes straight to the heart of the matter. “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever” (John 8:34-35).

Paul expounds further explaining, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).

What looks like gratification of a driving desire would result in bondage for the one violating God’s command. What appears as an innocent act results in a prison sentence within our own spirit, but God’s directives bring us life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blind Pride

At first the Pharisee’s response to Jesus’ words about freedom looks absurd. “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” (John 8:33). Weren’t they being occupied by Rome even as they spoke? Weren’t they lead into captivity by the Babylonians in Jeremiah’s time?

Maybe they were saying, “We have been obeying Abraham and have never followed any other religious teaching. But wasn’t the reason they were lead captive in the Old Testament because they were worshiping other gods?” It seems the Pharisees were so blinded by their pride that they could not speak the truth at any level.

It seems pride in one’s own righteousness is a dangerous thing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Removing the Veil

As Jesus carried on a conversation with the Pharisees in front of the crowds, some of the people believed (John 8:30). Jesus said to those who believed, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples in deed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

Negative experiences in life have a tendency to blind us to eternal truth. We put up guards to protect ourselves from being hurt any further. Equating being vulnerable with being hurt, we do not realize we are hardening our hearts against love as well.

But Jesus has told us that living in God’s word will remove the veil from over the eyes of our understanding and we will see life as it is, not as Satan wants us to see it. We will know that we are the Children of God and all that occurs will eventually bring him glory and will benefit us.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lifting up the Son of Man

Jesus told the people, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father taught me, I speak these things” (John 8:26).

The term Son of Man comes from the Old Testament. It was part of the prophecy of the Messiah. The people also knew what it meant when someone was “lifted up”. It was a euphemism for being crucified (John 12:34). If they did not know he was the Son of Man when they saw the miracles, what would happen at the crucifixion that would make them believe?

At the moment Jesus gave up his spirit there was a huge earthquake. Rocks and mountains were split. The temple shook at the vale between the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies was split. The most amazing thing was the opening of graves and that some of the people who were buried came to life (Mathew 27:48-54). It was enough to make one of the Roman Centurions believe (Mt 27:54).

It is an amazing thing. When our lives are in danger we find it much easier to believe in God. We believe because we want him to rescue us. How much better it is to get to know him before tragedy strikes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Jesus' Stance on Tolerance

There is no room for a margin of error in Jesus’ words. He told the people plainly, “…for if you do not believe I am he, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

From the time I was a child in grade school until now, America’s view of Christianity has drastically changed. As a child most citizens believed in the Christian God and attended church at least on Christmas and Easter. Then sometime in the 60s we began to hear about tolerance of other cultures and belief systems. At that time tolerance meant, not attacking or taking actions against people of other persuasions while holding to the truth.

Tolerance has come to mean that no one can or should claim there is only one way to God. To do so is to say you and your beliefs are better than everyone else’s and to be ostracized from the culture at large.

In Jesus’ day it not only meant disapproval from both secular and political cultures; it meant death. Nonetheless Jesus did not hesitate to speak the truth. The eternity of others depended on it, as it does today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


When Jesus told the people for the second time that they would look for him but not find him, some of them thought he was going to commit suicide (John 8:22. Did they think the pressure of people wanting him dead was too great (John 7:25)? Did they think he would rather kill himself than be crucified by the Romans? Jesus responded definitively. “You are from beneath: I am from above. You are of this world: I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins: for if you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins” (John 23-24).

Jesus would not commit suicide no matter how much pressure he was under or how much suffering was before him. He knew that his Father had a purpose that he must fulfill and that his Father would be with him through everything (John 16:31-32).

More Christians have dealt with feelings of giving up or taking their own lives than what we want to admit. But for those whom Satan has tempted to end their lives, may I tell you, God is able to bring us peace. It does not mean we will understand all that has happened to us (Philippians 4:6-7). It does mean God is able to turn our sorrow into something good, though it may take a very long time (Romans 8:28-29).

Make a decision to put your trust in God in spite of what others have done to you or what you have done to others. He will make it worth the wait.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Like Father Like Son

Jesus told the people, “You know neither me nor my father. If you had known me, you would have known my father also” (John 8:19) To know God the Father is to know the Son. To know the Son is to know God the father (John 12:44; 14:7,9).

If the Father hates sin, the Son hates sin. If the Son forgives, the Father forgives. If the Father loves, the Son loves. If the Son judges, the Father judges. If the Father speaks, the son speaks.

The Father’s goal for us is to become like his son and thus become like him (Romans 8:28-29).

Meditate on how that practically works out in your life today.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Does He or Does He Not Judge?

John was compelled to write the unabridged words of Jesus, even if they appeared to be contradictory. We see yet another example in Jesus words to the crowd after forgiving the woman caught in adultery. “I judge no one,” he says. Yet earlier in John 5 we read, “The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son…” (John 5:22) and that the Father “has given him (Jesus) authority to execute judgment also, because he is he Son of Man” (John 5:27). So does Jesus judge or doesn’t he?

The answer is partially seen in John 12:47 “And if anyone hears my words and does not believe, I do no judge him, for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” When Jesus was on the earth he did not judge anyone. His sole purpose was to bring the offer of salvation of a changed life. But when the end of this world finally comes, he will then judge all (Romans 14: 10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 4:5).

We do not need to be afraid if we have accepted his offer of forgiveness, the fruit of the Spirit and hope. His grace saves us from the wrath to come. We are wise to accept his gift now (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Witness

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

The Pharisees did not pay attention to the message Jesus had given them. They zeroed in on the fact that he was speaking of himself. You can hear the sarcasm in their voices. “You bear witness of yourself; your witness is not true.”

They are referring to Jesus’ words after he had healed the lame man by the pool of Bethesda. “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true” (John 5:31). But once again they were applying Jesus’ words out of context. Jesus had gone on to say, “…But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given me to finish, the very works that I do, bear witness of the, that the Father has sent me. And the Father himself, who sent me, has testified of me” (John 5:36-37). In other words he had far more than his own witness to prove he was the Son of God.

If people took Jesus’ words out of context in an attempt to entrap him, do not be surprised if it happens to you as well.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Dark World

Jesus said to the crowd, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). Those words must have sounded as strange to the crowd as they do to those who do not trust in Jesus today. What does he mean when he says they will not walk in darkness?

Remember he had just been talking to the woman caught in adultery. She knew what he meant. The day when those mean burst into the bedroom where she lie with her lover and dragged her in front of the crowd was one of the darkest days of her life. If she had not agreed to be intimate with someone not her husband, she would not be shamed openly.

Take deceiving someone as an example. When a person makes the decision to lie to someone, they have to forever remember what they said. They may have to tell other lies to cover the first one. Eventually they develop a habit of deceiving others to the point that they no longer know which is a lie and which is the truth. They daily live in the dark world of deception.

Indeed living according to what Jesus taught frees us from the dark world of shame, deception, anger and hatred. Instead we live in the light of freedom.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Christian Inhumanity

We do not know what kind of life the adulterous woman had before she was brought before the crowd. We do know she must have had a lot of sorrow because no one commits adultery without some kind of pain in their life. It is difficult to imagine the kind of shame she felt when a gang of men burst in on her in the middle of intimate act. She most likely was led away screaming, crying and kicking. She may have called out the name of the man she was with. He obviously did not help her and may have been in on the conspiracy from the beginning (John 8:1-11).

Sinners should not be treated inhumanely by those who claim to be believers. When fighting sin becomes a greater focus than the compassion for the sinner, we have lost sight of the message of salvation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Calling a Spade a Spade

It is not the recognition that another person has sinned that is the problem. It is the condemning of the person as one without value or hope of redemption (John 8:1-10; Mathew 5:22).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Stone's Throw Away

Early in the morning Jesus went into the temple and the people gathered around him to hear him teach. They had heard him before and were impressed with his demeanor and his words. He had substantiated his message with miracles. Those who heard him before must have come with anticipation. Those who heard him for the first time must have been fascinated. But there were a group of men who were not favorably impressed. They were afraid of losing their influence over the crowds and so were seeking a way to entrap him.

These men, the scribes and Pharisees brought an adulterous woman and put her in front of Jesus where everyone could see her. “Teacher,” they said, “This woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?” (John 8:1-6).

If he had her stoned, he would lose his reputation of kindness and forgiveness. If he did not have her stoned he would be breaking Moses’ law and would be seen by the crowds as a heretic.

Jesus at first ignored them, giving them time to dig their whole deeper. Then raising himself up he said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” This was a problem because to throw a stone would mean they thought they were perfect, which was as unacceptable in their time as it is in ours. There was nothing to do but leave (John 1-9).

Thrown any stones lately?

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Silent World

We have been reading about the Pharisees and Chief Priests putting political pressure on all of their employees and associates to reject this Christ. After an afternoon and evening of debate, “everyone went to his own house” (John 7:53).

It is a simple sentence that is easily over looked. But its weight is far more important than at first glance. In our homes is where the pretensions fall away. Those who live with us know who we really are. It is there we wrestle with our demons. When we lay our heads down to rest we cannot escape our own thoughts. The pressures come in relentless memories of words spun to impress us. Threats hang over us like clouds of doubts and threatening storms of lost reputations.

It is in the stillness of the night most decisions are formed. We will either cry out to the One who made us or we will turn away into the silent world of unbelief.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Picking Sides

The pressure was increasing to reject Jesus. His popularity was waning. It was certainly no longer politically advantageous to know him. We saw how the soldiers changed their mind when the pressure was applied (John 7:45; 19:6). We saw the crowds begin to dwindle (John 6:66). But one man, a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus (the one who came to him by night) was gaining strength in his belief. When the rest of his political party rejected Jesus he did not sit silently by.

“Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” Nicodemus confronts his contemporaries (John 7:51). They are not impressed. “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” (John 7:52). In other words, “Be careful or your political career is over.”

Unlike the officers Nicodemus’ faith did not waver but grew in strength (John 19:39).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where are you going?

We saw yesterday how the Pharisees and Chief Priests put pressure on the Temple officers to reject Christ. The sad fact of that encounter was that the religious were successful in distracting the officers. John 19:6 reveals what result of the pressure. “Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw him, they cried out saying, “Crucify Him, crucify him!”

The one they once admired they join in crucifying. Walking away from God will take us where we never thought we would go.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Political Pressure

The Chief Priests and Pharisees sent officers (soldiers) from the temple to arrest Jesus. When they reported back without Jesus in tow, the officials were furious. “Why have you not brought him?” (John 7:45). The officers responded, “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46).

The response came back sharp and sarcastic. “Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in him? This crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” (John 7:47).

So here is there premise. 1) You are deceived (we aren’t). 2) None of us important smart people are fooled by this man (If you believe you are fooled). 3) The crowd is made up of ideates who are uneducated and easily mislead. (If you believe you show your ignorance and are not worthy of being associated with us.

Has anyone ever made you feel like that for believing?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Controversial Subject

“The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves…” (John 6:52). “So there was a division among the people” (John 7:43). “And there was a division among them” (John 9:16).

Jesus is no less controversial today. On which side of the controversy are you standing?

Do people who know you know where you stand?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jumping to Conclusions

I was recently in Monterey on a business trip. I was privileged to visit Carmel by the Sea, a beautiful tourist attraction with sun-filled streets, lovely display windows and happy shoppers. The village brags the original location of the first Thomas Kinkaid shop tucked away in an alley garden, a perfect location for perfect pictures.

As I sauntered down the sidewalk my companion was surprised that a certain retailer had a shop there, because it was a national chain that was usually found in shopping malls, not in quaint sea-side vacation spots. I replied, “This is probably its place of origin.” I had to laugh at myself. Why did I say that? There was absolutely no indication that such a thing was true. My mind had jumped to an outrageous conclusion because I knew of the Thomas Kinkaid store.

It is our nature to jump to unjustified conclusions. The people surrounding Jesus did the same thing. When individuals said this must be the Christ, others responded, “Will the Christ come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” So there was a division among the people because of him” (John 7:40-43).

They had the scriptures right, but they did not have accurate information about Jesus. Let’s be careful not to jump to conclusions. They too easily lead us and others away from the Truth.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pin the Tail on the Sheep

People who do not believe are quick to point out errors of Christians, seeming inconsistencies in various teachings and conflicts between denominations. They are sheep examiners and find fault with the apparent weaknesses of those who follow Jesus. In their ridicule, criticism and mocking they miss looking at Jesus directly.

Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Only Jesus can quench our thirst for truth, peace and joy.

We love each other. We do not follow one another. We follow Christ, or at least that is who we are supposed to be following.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


When Jesus announced that he was going away, everyone was speculating as to why he was leaving and where he could possibly going. Some thought he was going to the Country of Greece (John 7:35). Others speculated that he was going to commit suicide (John 8:22).

When things happen that we are not expecting or things do not turn out the way we think they should, we also are prone to speculate about God’s involvement. Perhaps we would be wiser to simply hold steady and wait to see what happens.

It often is not easy to have faith, but it is the way of peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Angry Clouds

Jesus told the crowd, “You will seek me and not find me and where I am you cannot come” (John 7:34). He is speaking of his immediate death. He repeats this saying several times to his closest friends (John 7:21; 13:33). He tells Peter that Peter cannot come with him now, but will follow later (John 13:36-38).

There are times when nothing appears to go right. We seek God and cannot find him. The heavens are made of angry clouds and we feel helpless to find God.

When that happens remember his promises never to abandon you. Wait for him. He will speak to you again.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When the Christ Comes

When Jesus walked the earth it was a confusing time for many people. The debates about this strange man continued non-stop. Was he the Messiah everyone had been taught about as long as they could remember, or was he an imposter?

There was a group who argued, "When the Christ comes will he do more signs than these which this man has done?" (John 7:31). Jesus later tells the disciples, "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both me and my Father" (John 15:24).

No one else has ever worked as many miracles before or since Jesus. The miracles point to who he is. We need to look to him for what we need. He will answer us one way or another. He will not leave us or abandone us (John 14:18). We need to stop looking to ourselves.

Monday, September 12, 2011

No Place for Sarcasm

Jesus healed people on the Sabbath. This bothered the Pharisees. They considered it work. Yet they performed circumcision on the Sabbath for fear of breaking Moses’ law that a child should be circumcised on the eighth day (John 7:21-24).

Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

We are appalled at the Pharisees for their lack of sympathy for the one in need of healing. But I wonder, do we come across as Pharisees to unbelievers when we harshly explain Biblical principles? We tell them God loves them but our tone of voice is far from loving. Leaving room for someone to express their viewpoint without responding in sarcasm is not compromising the Truth. It is respecting the individual’s right to believe as he or she chooses.

God treated us with love and respect before we knew him. Let’s do the same for others.

Friday, September 9, 2011

In My Opinion

Jesus said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his who sent me…He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory…” (John 7:16, 18).

I have heard church teachers after reading a passage in the Bible say, “What God is trying to say is…” then they fill in with their interpretation of the words. It makes it sound like God was not able to say what he meant and needed us to interpret for him.

We are in dangerous waters when we try to maneuver God’s words to say what we think they should say. How much better it would be to take his words at face value. To do more may be an indicator that we are seeking our own glory.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Holding Hands

My mother was recently in the Emergency room. My father sat by her bed holding her hand praying silently that God would spare her life. When the nurse pulled aside the curtain, he noticed my mother and father’s display of attention. “You two are so cute,” he smiled. My father told him they had just celebrated 64 years of marriage. The young man said he and his wife hoped to have that good a marriage as well.

My mother and father depend on one another, respect one another and love one another. Their relationship reflects the Son’s relationship with the Father. The Son taught only his Father’s doctrine (John 6:16). He spoke only the words that his Father told him to say (John 14:24) and did only what the Father showed him to do (John 5:19-20).

But we tend to add words to the simple language of the Bible and teach our own persuasions as though they were clearly taught in the Word.

The slightest distortion of the truth is deadly. We need to examine what we want to say. Does the Bible clearly state what we teach someone else, or are we using the Bible to get our own point across? Are our words truly Jesus’ words?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Daily Cross

In the beginning of chapter 6 great multitudes were following him. By the end of chapter 6 the crowds had dwindled to 12 disciples. Now we read that his family is rejecting him. The closer he gets to the time of the cross, the greater the earthly losses.

Being a Christian can be costly.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The World Hates Me

Jesus' words, that the world hates him because he testifies that its works are evil teach us that we also may be hated by the world (John 7:7).

We do not set out with the intention of making others hate us. We are not abrasive on purpose, but our message sometimes provokes unbelievers.

Truth is painful for those who wish to avoid it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Question of Fame

After the feeding of the 5,000 and using the parable of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, Jesus went home to Galilee. The religious leaders were seeking an excuse to kill him, so he no longer walked in Judea (John 7:1-2). But there was a feast called the Feast of the Tabernacles and all good Hebrews must attend if at all possible.

So Jesus' brothers suggested that Jesus go back to Judea and show his disciples his signs and miracles. They either thought he wanted to be famous or they were speaking sarcastically to him. "No one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be well known. If you do these things, show yourself to the world." Scripture says, "For even his brothers did not believe in him" (John 7:1-5).

Have you ever had someone challenge your faith by demanding a miracle?

Jesus responded "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil" (John 7:7). He focused the attention back on those who ridiculed him.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Life experiences can force us to the question is it worth it to follow Jesus? Our beliefs often conflict with cultural values. Our physical loses cause us to wonder where God is. We try to have faith to move a particular mountain, and then open our window to see the mountain isn't moved yet.

When we face impossible circumstances Peter's words to Jesus question, "Do you also want to go away" speak volumes. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:65).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Part of a Crowd?

Shortly after feeding 5,000 men with five barely loaves and two small fish, Jesus told the crowd, "The words I speak to you are spirit and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe" (John 6:63-64).

John tells us, "From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more" (John 6:64).

Following Jesus' signs and wonders is not the same as following Jesus.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


"The flesh profits nothing" (John 6:63). Some may interpret these words to mean it does not matter what we do with our lives. As long as we accepted Jesus' sacrifice for our sins, we are home free. "God would never throw one of his kids into hell," some said to me.

But Jesus gave a powerful warning, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words" (John14:23-24).

John wrote later, "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth" (1 John 1:6). "Now by this we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He who says, I know him and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 1:4).

When we respond to Christ's call, he changes us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spirit Versus Flesh

Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe" (John 6:63-64).

We tend to want to interpret God's Word by our culture and traditions. But our human reasoning profits us nothing. It is important that we recognize that we need the Holy Spirit to interpret scripture.

This is not to say we throw out our reasoning. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). But it does mean we need to be careful to rightly divide (interpret) the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15). A reliance on Holy Spirit to speak to us as we meditate on God's Word will bring to life his words to our specific situation.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Am I His?

God teaches us about himself (John 6:45). Without God’s intervention, we would have no desire to seek God, or to know him (Romans 3:10-18).

If you are struggling with wondering if you are God’s child, remember you would have no desire for him unless he called you. The fact that you are concerned over pleasing God tells you, he has already called you.

Enjoy your heavenly Father today.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Centuries of Debate

In the 6th chapter of John, Jesus says several things that people have debated for centuries and will most likely continue to debate. The follow three comments by Jesus are the bases of these arguments.

1. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).
2. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him:” (John 6:44).
3. “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to me unless it has ben granted to him by my father (John 6:56).

The following is what everyone on both sides of the debate agree on.

Unless God by his mercy calls us to himself, we have no hope. We cannot save ourselves. God sent his Son that we might be his children.

I am overwhelmingly grateful.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


When people began to question Jesus’ strange words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood he explains his words. “It is the Spirit who gives life: the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe” (John 6:63-64).

In other words, we get our life from being engulfed in Jesus’ teaching, by being consumed by God’s Spirit. Consuming Jesus means all our choices are based on the Truth. Paul puts it this way, “I was crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20).

We consume Truth and are consumed by the Truth.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


“For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). Jesus is about to shock people with his teaching. His speech sounds like a kind of cannibalism. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink” (John 6:53-58).

He had spoken to them plainly. He had done miracles while they watched and they still refused to believe. Now he would speak to them in symbolic language. Those who truly wanted to know him would remain, waiting for him to explain. Those who were only interested in miracles or the fame of being near him would drop out.

The test of a true believer is not in understanding everything, but in trusting God when we don’t understand…yet.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


There are times when I am reading about the Pharisees that I want to say to them, “Dah!” The story in John 6 is one of those times. Jesus fed 5,000 thousand men with five barley loaves and 2 small fish one day. The very next day they are asking Jesus to perform a miracle to prove he is the Son of God (John 6:30). How obstinate can a people be?

Then I remember times he has healed me instantaneously yet at other times I have doubted his involvement in my personal life. Perhaps I need to look in the mirror and say “Dah!”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Unlimited Power

Jesus told the people to seek God for food which does not perish. There response is as far off as the darkness in their hearts was from the light that was in his. “What can we do that we may work the works of God?” (John 6:28).

They wanted to do miracles. Imagine being able to provide food for your family and everyone else’s family with nothing but a boys lunch. It was amazing to think of the power that could be at their fingertips.

But Jesus quickly put it all in perspective, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom he sent” (John 6:29).

The purpose of the miracles was to point to the Savior. It was not to give people power.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Full Belly

The next morning the crowd woke to find Jesus and the disciples had not returned. Now they were hungry and still far from any markets. Spying a couple of boats that had just landed a group of them decided to cross over to Capernaum where someone had heard the disciples were headed. When they arrived they were surprised to see Jesus standing there. They had seen the disciples get into boats, but saw Jesus heading toward the mountain alone. So how did he get there?

When they asked Jesus he answered, “You ask m, not because you saw he signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal on him” (John 6:26-27).

Don’t just seek God so that he will fill your bellies. Seek God.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Night Terrors

The waves are slamming against the side of the boat. The disciples are putting every muscle against the oars in an attempt to stay afloat. They knew these water and how traitorous the sea could be. They most likely began to fear for their lives.

One of them spotted the white form moving across the water and pointed it out to the others. The next moment it was gone. They may have shook their heads and pushed harder against the oars. There it was again, the white spot moving up and down the crescent and deep troughs of the troubled waves. It started taking human shape, but that was impossible. “It has to be a spirit” one of them screamed above the roar of the wind. “Row! Row! We can’t let it get near us.”

But they were not making any progress and the form was gaining on them. Suddenly it was next to them and they froze in fear. Then the familiar voice called out “It is I: do not be afraid.” It was Jesus. Gladly they welcomed in the boat and immediately they were on the shore where they were headed (John 6:16-21).

Even in our ignorance God will get us where we need to be.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Row Row Row Your Boat

It had been an extremely exciting yet exhausting day for the disciples. Dealing with crowds can take the strength out of you. Then add that to the excitement of the miracle of the five barely loaves and two small fish and you can understand why the disciples were anxious to get home. They had much to tell their family members. Their bodies must have been pumping all kinds of adrenaline because of the hope of a coming kingdom and the role they would be playing.

They waited for Jesus to come back from his walk as long as they could. We are not told who first brought up the idea, but someone said, “Let’s just get home. It’s dark already. He probably plans to spend the night out there. He’s done it before.” Exciting news to the family and a warm bed sounded awfully inviting, so they all got into the boat and started rowing.

The problem soon became evident when the wind started howling and the waves began tossing the boat first up on side then down the other.

Rushing ahead of God’s timing always causes trouble.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Battle of the Wills

Every temptation pits our will against our Fathers. It is a form of glorifying ourselves above God simply because we are elevating our desires above his.

“Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he departed again to the mountain by himself alone” (John 6:15).

Jesus did not allow people to manipulate him into doing anything contrary to his mission. He removed himself from temptation. He left to be alone with his Father.

Have you been alone with your Father today? How do we imagine we will be able to withstand temptation to glorify ourselves if we do not go to the source of spiritual strength?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Timing is Everything

Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world." Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he departed again to the mountain by himself alone" (John 6:13-15).

The men were right that his was the profit that was to come into the world. But their response to that revelation was wrong. They did not comprehend that Jesus had to suffer death first. Many centuries would come and go before he will rule on earth.

How often do we understand a truth but misapply it? We are wise to remain humbly teachable.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pass the Bread Please

Jesus thanked his Father for the bread first. He was teaching us that all provision comes from our Father. He then distributed the bread to the disciples and the disciples distributed the bread to the people (John 6:10-12).

The fact that he gave bread to the disciples to distribute is symbolic of the gospel message. God gives us the good news and we share it. He allows us to participate in the miracle of new birth of yet another one of his children.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bread and Fish

It almost seems like Philip was quick to give up when Jesus asked him how they were going to feed the multitude of people. "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” Andrew was doubtful that anything could be done, but he at least tried saying, “There is a lad here, who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” (John 6:1-9).

At other times Jesus rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith, but in this case he simply said, “Make the people sit down” and he proceeded to miraculously provide for the people.

Philip seems to have no faith and Andrew very little, yet they both experienced the miracle of the bread and fish. God sometimes works miracles in our life despite our lack of faith because he wants to teach us about himself. God is indeed merciful to his children who are learning to depend on him.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

From the Foundation of the World

When we are surprised with the impossible it is no surprise to God. Just as Jesus knew how he would feed 5,000 men before he asked Philip, he knows what he is about to do in your life.

The writer of Hebrews said the Children of Israel were not allowed to enter the rest in Canaan because they did not believe, "Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world" (Hebrews 4:1-3).

Our victory has already been prepared at the beginning of creation. Stand back and watch God accomplish his plan for you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Feeding the Crowds

Some people have a habit of testing people they love to see if they will respond the way the individual thinks they should. If questioned about the tactic, he or she will respond, "So and so ought to know I need them to ____ fill in the blank. As a counselor I advise people never test someone else. You will always be disappointed simply because we do not all think alike.

Only God has a right to test others. When he does, he already knows the answer. His test is simply to show the individual what is in his heart. So it was when Jesus tested Philip. We read the story in John 6:1-6. Jesus asks Philip where they can buy food to feed a multitude. Scripture tells us, "But this he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do."

Sometimes God places impossible situations in front of us so that we will see our need for dependence on him.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Tutor

Many Christians completely ignore the Old Testament. The common remark is, “That is the Law and Christ has set us free from the Law.” That Christ has set us free from the law is a wonderful truth, but there are at least two things that are missing in their overgeneralization. 1) Only a relatively small portion of the Old Testament is the Law. 2) Jesus said he did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it.

Jesus was not against knowing the Law. He was against misusing it. Jesus told the Pharisees, "Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. "But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (John 5:46-47).

Moses taught about the Messiah that was to come. We learn about God’s nature through the stories in the Old Testament. The entire Old Testament points to Christ. It teaches us our need for a Savior (Galatians 3:21-24). There was glory in the Law and greater glory in Christ (2 Cor 3:6-11). Knowing the Old Testament gives us a more complete understanding of the marvelous grace in which we now live.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Deadly Praise

Spiritual pride is connected with praise of men. Jesus said, “"How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (John 5:44).

Seeking the approval of others can be deadly (Mt 7:13-14). We not only endanger ourselves by refusing to stand for truth; we endanger the spiritual life of everyone we know.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Favorite Tool

The religious people of Jesus’ time knew the scriptures. Each man had to have at least Genesis through Deuteronomy memorized. Leaders had the books of the prophets memorized. Knowing what the scriptures taught about the messiah, they still did not trust Jesus. Jesus said to them “You search the scriptures because "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

Paul wrote, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6).

Spiritual pride is a favorite tool of the enemy of our souls. It makes us un-teachable and blinds us to our errors.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Crushed Legs, Hardened Heart

There were plenty of signs and clear statements as to the identity of Jesus as the promised Messiah. Jesus refers to three of these in this passage. 1) the Father bears witness(John 5:32) 2)John the Baptist bears witness 3) Jesus' works (miracles) bear witness. Yet many of those who saw and heard these things did not believe.

I knew a man who was involved in a extremely serious motorcycle accident. Every bone in his legs were crushed by an automobile. He was told he would never walk again. He made a deal with God that if God would heal him, he would be a faithful Christian.

God healed him. He walked again, with no cane, no crutch, and no pain. Did he keep his promise? Unfortunately for him, no.

We can never serve God on our own strength. We must trust him for the faith to believe (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). If we try to do it on our own or out of obligation, we will indeed fail.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Jesus said, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true" (John 5:31) yet he was God incarnate (God in the flesh). Why did he say this?

Referring to God the Father Jesus continues, "There is another who bears witness of me and I know that the witness which he witnesses of me is true" (John 5:32).

Several times during his ministry the Father speaks from heaven saying, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him"(Lk 9:35).

Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, "...The Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak..." (John 16:13).

These passages show us that the Trinity works together in unity and never separately.

Do we?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Babies Cry

Babies cry when they are hungry, thirsty, uncomfortable or in pain. When they grew older and learn words, they begin to demand their own way. At first it looks cute when a child places his tiny little fists on his or her waste and says “No.” But that cute little rebellion quickly becomes ugly as the child physically matures into adolescence then into an adult.

Our natural inclination is to want our own way. But Jesus said, “I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent me” (John 5:30). To be like our Savior, we too must learn to say no to our desires and say yes to God’s direction for our lives. Only then will God be able to bless others through us. It is part and parcel of belonging to God.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Wise Choices

At first it looks like Jesus is repeating himself in John 5:25 and 28. But it is possible that the first call to life is referring to eternal life, as in salvation of the soul, a changed person (Ephesians 2:4-7) while the second call is to eternal existence.

There is life after death for everyone born into this world. One will rise out of the grave to be with Jesus forever. The other will rise out of the grave to be separated from Jesus eternally (John 5:28).

It is a wonderful gift our loving Father to give us life now and an invitation to live physically with him forever. But how terrifying to be forever separated from the source of love, mercy, and forgiveness.

Be wise in your choices.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Called to Live

The interpretation of this entire discourse of Jesus found in John 5:19-30 has been debated in Christian circles for centuries. Some point to his words as a foundation for predestination, others fall on the side of free will choice. Let’s not get sidetracked in the debate, but focus on the truth that is revealed no matter which side of the camp we have pitched our tent.

Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live” (John 5:25). The Son of God has called us to life. We do not earn it. We cannot make it happen. A dead person cannot do a single act or make a decision. He cannot make himself alive.

Thank God Jesus calls forth life in us. We owe him everything.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Most of us have done something in the heat of the moment that we have later regretted. Some decision we made that did not turn out like we hoped has caused us to grieve our losses. Our lives have forever been changed negatively because of our choice. It is a common human habit to live under a shadow of regret.

But Jesus said whoever believes in him will not come into judgment but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24). Whatever our poor choice, whatever our unwise decision, whatever our sin was it is now under the blood of Jesus. If we have come to God in humble contrition, that thing will never be held against us.

Our lives are new. That which once brought us death will be changed into life in God’s timing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Slow Drivers

Imagine driving down town. You are in a hurry. You are due in traffic court in ten minutes and it usually takes you fifteen to get to the court house. Some grey haired woman is poking along down the street. You know you shouldn't do it, but you pass a double yellow line, swerve quickly back in your lane to avoid hitting an oncoming brown pickup.

Breathing a sigh of relief, you pull into the courthouse parking lot with five minutes to spare. With quick steps you make your way to the appointed room and wait for ten more minutes for court to start.

The bailiff calls, "All rise," and in walks the gray haired lady with a black robe.

God has committed all judgment to the Son. So regardless of popular thinking, if you reject Jesus, you are passing the gray haired lady on a double yellow line (John 22-23).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Raised From the Dead

“For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom he will” (John 5:21).

Jesus raised several people from the dead, Lazarus being the most well known (John 11). God raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 3:15) and many of the saints were raised from the dead at the time of Jesus’ resurrection (Mt 27:52).

But Jesus is not only speaking of life in our physical bodies. He is speaking of eternal life. We do not bring ourselves into eternal life. We did not earn it. We were as spiritually dead as those were physically dead. The dead cannot raise themselves. Neither could we raise ourselves spiritually.

Jesus gives us spiritual life of his own free will.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

We are called to be like Christ (Romans 8:28-29). We follow Jesus’ example.

The Father showed the Son all things that he did. The Son responds by following his Father’s instructions. (John 5:20). So we too must follow the Father and the Son.

Keep your spiritual eyes open today so you can follow through on the opportunities God gives you today.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Exact Image

When the Pharisees persecuted Jesus for healing the man on the Sabbath, he answered, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” (John 44:17). Immediately the Jews were offended that he had called God is Father. This was considered sacrilegious. No one called God Father. Giving God that titled was equivalent to making one’s self equal with God.

Jesus knew exactly how the Pharisees would perceive his statement. Jesus was indeed calling himself equal to God (John 1:1-3). Jesus goes on to say, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do; whatever he does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19).

Some have cut off Jesus’ sentence in the middle quoting, “The Son can do nothing.” But that is stopping mid sentence and gives an inaccurate account of Jesus’ words ( 2 Tim 2:15). Jesus is not declaring his inability to work miracles. He is declaring that he does nothing without the Father. In fact he says, “What he sees the Father do, whatever he does, the Son also does.

God the Father and God the Son work together in unity. The Son is the exact representation of the Father in every way (Hebrews 1:3). What we learn about the Son we are learning about the Father.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


The man by the pool had no idea who Jesus was. Jesus does not mention a level of faith. When Jesus spoke, "Rise, take up your bed and walk,” the man was immediately made well. The sensation of strength flooding his limbs must have been overwhelming. I imagine he fairly leaped off his mat.

This story makes me thing of my allergy to sugar, caffeine and bananas. If I consume them I get a three day migraine. At the end of the third day when that headache begins to lift, my heart becomes lighter and lighter. When I suddenly realize the pain is completely gone, you can’t keep me from smiling.

That is how it feels when you realize God has forgiven your sin by his grace. You did no earn it. He simply did it for you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lord of the Sabbath

Jesus did nothing without purpose (John 5:19), so when he heals the man by the pool and tells him, “Pick up your bed and walk” he knew how the Pharisees would respond. It was the Sabbath so “the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath: it is no lawful for you to carry your bed” (John 5:8-10).

They were so wrapped up in works of righteousness that they forgot to see the man, the human being. The did not rejoice with him. They had no compassion for him. Their only thought was to destroy Jesus (John 5:15-16).

Jesus showed he was Lord over the Sabbath. The Pharisees showed they were in bondage to the Sabbath.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Confession and Healing

We have been discussing the healing of the man by the pool of Bethesda found in John 5:1-14. After healing the man, Jesus later tells him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you" (John 5:24).

Not all sicknesses come from sin, but some do. James writes, "And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your faults to one another that you may be healed" (James 5:15-16).

Scripture never tells us to condemn someone who is sick or to judge them or to say they have sinned. It does not say that all sickness is from sin. It does however, indicate that the one who is sick is to examine his own heart. If your illness is connected to a sin, God will reveal that to you.

If you have searched your heart and asked God to reveal anything between you and him yet nothing comes to your mind, then rest in the Lord. If something does come to mind. Repent. Stop practicing that sin. Then look for God's healing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Do Want to Be Well?

Jesus asks the man beside the pool, “Do you wish to be made well?” It seems like an unusual question. Why would he not want to be well? Why would he be lying by that particular pool for so many years?

It is not as an unusual question as we might think. I heard of one person who did not want to be healed of back pain because the person would lose their SSI support. Some may not wish to be well because they would have to work for a living. Some work for cash under the table while collecting disability. Some continually complain of illnesses to get attention. There can be many motivations to remain sickly.

We think most of us want to be well. But then I remember how much unhealthy food we consume daily, how little we exercise, how little water we drink in a day and I have to ask myself. Do I honestly want to be well?

Perhaps my actions are speaking louder than my words.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Pool

There are many unusual things God did before the death and resurrection of Jesus. Scripture gives us brief insights into the miracles done under Old Testament life. We see one of these in John 5. John tells us of a pool with five porches called Bethesda. An angel would come and stir up the water. Whoever was the first person to step into the pool was healed of whatever ailment he or she had (John 5:1-4).

Then Jesus steps into the picture and bypasses the entire process. With one word he heals the man who had been trying to make it into the pool for a very long time. Jesus is demonstrating his preeminence over the old ways. We no longer have to wait for the troubling of the waters or a special revival meeting. God can heal us this instant (John 5:1-8).

We swim in the pool of God’s grace.