Friday, April 29, 2011

Law as Teacher

“The Law came through Moses, but grace and truth come through Jesus Christ” (John 1:7). Paul writes to the Christians in Galatia that the law was our tutor. It taught us our weakness, that we could never fulfill the righteousness of God by our own will power. The law prepared us for the good news of Salvation through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:21-25).

Paul wrote “What the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh…he condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us…” (Romans 8:2-3).

We are able to live righteous lives because Jesus sets us free from our addictions to self by causing us to face the truth and giving us grace to live in truth.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


John the Baptist was the Son of the high priest Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth (Lk 1:5-20, 57-66). Elizabeth was already pregnant with John when the angel Gabriel brought the message to Mary that she would conceive the Messiah (Lk 1:26). That of course means John was physically older than Jesus by about a half a year.

John the Baptist says, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, because he was before me” (John 1:15). In other words, “regardless of the fact that I was born first, Jesus existed before I was conceived.”

John is pointing out that Jesus was fully God and he was fully man. After establishing this he says, ”And of his fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). We know he understands us because he was fully man, (Heb 4:15-16) and we know he has the right and ability to forgive us because he was and is fully God (1 John 1:9).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cup of Coffee

When I buy a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop, they ask if I take cream. It is not that they are going to pour the cream in for me. They just want to know if they should leave room. If I am pouring coffee into a guest’s cup, I don’t pour it till it overflows onto my dining room table. I don’t even pour it to the brim lest they burn themselves when they pick up the cup to drink.

But Jesus is filled to the brim and overflowing with Grace and Truth. Every word he speaks is full of Grace and Truth. Every gift he gives us is overflowing with Grace and Truth. Every discipline he administers in our lives is full of Grace and Truth (Hebrews 12). In every circumstance, look for the Grace and Truth in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-29).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Full of Grace and Truth

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). What was that glory? John mentions three aspects in this verse. 1) begotten of the Father 2) grace 3) truth.

Though we who have accepted Christ are his sons and daughters (John 1:12), there is only one begotten Son of God. He is and always has been God (John 1:1-3, Hebrews 1). We have been partakers of his divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), but we are not gods.

Jesus is full of grace. Most of the letters in the New Testament begin with “Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus gives us the grace (patients, wisdom, strength and power) to deal with all life circumstances we face today.

Jesus is full of truth. Truth sets us free from the deceptions of living in a sinful world and from the bondages of unhealthy habits, addictions and self-centered focus.

The abundance of Jesus’ grace and truth overflows to us, today.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Not Blood, Flesh or Man

Remember why John wrote his book. “These things are written that you might know that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Keeping that in mind, we read, “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13).

There are five points here:
1. We have a right to be children of God – by trusting Christ and believing in his name (in other words trusting in him).
2. We are not born into his kingdom by being related to anyone (not by blood)
3. We are not born into his kingdom by someone deciding we will be (not of the will of flesh)
4. We are not born into his kingdom because mankind has come up with the idea (not the will of man)
5. We are born into his kingdom because God decided it to be so (but by the will of God)

It is God who brings us life.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Three Groups

In verses ten through thirteen, John address three kinds of people to whom Jesus came. The first was the world at large. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world did not know him.” The world at large rejected Jesus and still does.

The second group is the Hebrew nation. “He came unto his own and his own received him not.” His relatives and his culture rejected him.

The third and final group is individuals who believe. “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name.”

A relationship with God can only be personal. It is not a world religion. It is not a family religion. It is not a cultural religion. It is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as our individual savior.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Light

John writes that John the Baptist came to bear witness of the Light. The Light is Jesus. It is through Jesus that we have the faith to believe (John 1:7; Hebrews 12:2). God has given us faith as a gift (Ephesians 2:8). We do not earn it. We do not figure these things out on our own, separate from God’s intervention (Romans 3:10-18). God has chosen to reveal himself to us (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Knowing this brings great assurance in the fact that we belong to God. We would have no interest in God unless God himself placed it in us. How marvelous that we are saved by his grace and not because we understand everything perfectly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sent by God

It is so easy to skip over sentences without catching the significance of what is being said. John’s next sentence is one of those. “There was a man sent from God whose name was John” (John 1:6). God himself sent John.

God has appointed different people at set times (Hebrews 1:1) to bring his message of forgiveness; Jesus being the chief messenger (Hebrews 1:2; Ephesians 2:19-22).

Scripture tells us we were formed by God in our mothers’ wombs (Isaiah 44:2, 24, 49:5). Even before we were born God knew us (Jeremiah 1:5) and appointed us to a specific work (Ephesians 2:10).

Be encouraged. God has appointed this day for you. Watch for the opportunities he has prepared for you today. In all that you do today, let it be as though you are doing it for God, because you actually are (1 Cor 10:21; Col 3:17, 23). Know that he will reward you for the good you do today (Ephesians 6:8).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Light Overpowers Darkness

John says, "And th the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend (overtake) it.

The darkness is not able to keep out God's light. He breaks through our darkness to show himself to us (Ephesians 2:1). Satan is not able to block out the truth (1 John 4:4).

We have much to be thankful for.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Source of Life

We are reading the book of John, keeping in mind the purpose John gave for writing it. “These things are written that you may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). John began by immediately establishing the Word as divine. We saw in verse 14 that he is talking about Jesus, (“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”).

Now John tells us, “In him was life and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Look at verse 9. “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.”

This tells us two things. 1) God gives each person life (Genesis 2:7; 1 Timothy 6:13). 2)and God reveals himself to some measure to everyone (John 3:16-19; Romans 1:18-23).

Life comes from God. Light (understanding) comes from God. What you understand about Jesus being your Savior came from God and not your own cleverness (Mt 16:16-17). This is a source of great joy because he has called you to himself.

Friday, April 15, 2011

With God

John is teaching us that Jesus is the Son of God so that believing we may have life in his name (John 20:31). We have not gone past the first three verses and we already understand Jesus is God because 1) He was in the beginning 2)He was God 3) He created all things.

John tells us, “The Word was with God.” Why did John think it important to say that the Word was with God? It was important because it points out Jesus’ individuality. He is God, yet he is unique to the Father. They move together as a unit yet are individuals.

I marvel at how much doctrine John manages to express in such few words. But I should not be so surprised because scripture actually comes from God (2 Tim 3:16).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jesus the Divine

After stating that Jesus is God (the Word was God), John states that Jesus was with God in the beginning. The only thing existing before the “beginning” is God. So if Jesus was with God in the beginning, he is God.

John further substantiates Jesus' divine nature when he tells us, “All things were made through him (Jesus), and without him nothing was made that was made."

There are those who would say Jesus was created. But John makes it clear that NOTHING was created that Jesus did not create. The only logical conclusion is that Jesus could not be created but is himself the creator (John 1:1-3).

Remember John’s goal. “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”

We only worship God who is manifested in three persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Beginning

Mathew and Luke start their books with the story of Jesus’ birth. Mark begins with Jesus’ baptism, but John’s first words go immediately to his goal of establishing Jesus as the Son of God (John 20:31). “In the beginning was the Word.”

Verse 14 establishes he is referring to Jesus. (And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.) With that in mind, let’s read the first verse inserting The Word’s earthly name, Jesus.

In the beginning was Jesus (the Word) and Jesus was with God, and the Jesus was God.”

It was man who rebelled against God, so man had to be punished (Genesis 2:17). The dilemma was that man could never earn his way out of the wrath of God yet God loved us and wanted us to know him. So he determined to come in the form of man to take the punishment on himself (Philippians 2:5-8).

That is why we can once again have communion with God.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

John's Journey

I thought we would look at the book of John next. Mathew, Mark, and Luke are called the synoptic gospels. Basically that means they cover the same stories and give slight variation of details. But John has an entirely different approach. His book is so full of doctrinal teachings that many recommend new believers start by reading the gospel of John.

The author tells us at the end of his writting why he wrote his book. “…but these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). We well keep this in mind as we begin our journey with Jesus through John’s experience.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Anxious for Nothing

“Be anxious for nothing” Paul writes to the Philippians. How can we not be anxious? Is that even possible with what we see, read about and experience on a daily basis?

Yes, most certainly. Paul tells us how. “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known unto God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:6-7).

Have you noticed when you are anxious your heart is heavy, almost like you are grieving? Anxiety brings depression with it so that your minds are affected in a downward spiral. But as we turn to God, we know he has the power to do something about those things that trouble us. We know that he loves us. Therefore we are able to rest in him as we tell him about our requests.

Friday, April 8, 2011


The last words of Jesus that Mathew records are the source of great comfort. “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Mathew gives a last comment to all his writings. “Amen”, which mean, “so be it.”

Let’s join in Mathew’s Amen and meditate on the fact that Jesus is with us today.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Mouthpiece

Does the saxophone play the music, or does the musician?

After Jesus rose from the dead, he told his disciples, “All authority has been given me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…;” (Mathew 28:18-20). He made a direct connection between his authority and telling the disciples to go and make disciples.

Jesus gives eternal life to individuals (John 17:1-2; John 5:21). He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) and Paul wrote that faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

So we have nothing to fear in telling the Story of Jesus and making disciples. God is the one who convicts men of sin; we don’t (John 16:5-11). We are simply his mouthpiece.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stolen Body

Before the Crucifixion, it was the religious leaders and Hebrew politicians who were in a tether about Jesus. Now that the body of Jesus was missing, the Romans were upset. How would they solve the problem of his missing body? The Jews couldn’t very well say he had risen from the dead because that would mean they had part in killing the Messiah. The Roman leaders didn’t want an uprising. There was only one reasonable thing to do. They gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, his disciples came at night and stole him away while we slept” (Mt 28:11-15). So the rumor began and has been passed from generation to generation of unbelievers.

How did eleven poor men over power a Roman guard? Why did not at least one of the eleven disciples confess to the hoax instead of being tortured to death? Roman soldiers who lost prisoners were killed. So why weren’t these soldiers? How did five hundred people claim Jesus had appeared to them at the same gathering? Why did his brother James, who did not believe in him when he was alive, suddenly risk his life by saying he had seen him after his death? If someone else besides the disciples stole his body, why didn’t they produce it when the rumors of his resurrection started flying? How could a man survive in a tomb for three days without food and water when he had suffered a crucifixion and had his heart pierced by a spear?

Too many questions and not enough answers for those who do not believe in Jesus’ resurrection.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Some Doubted

The following is one of the most puzzling events in scripture. “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted” (Mt 28:16).

What did they doubt? He was standing in front of him. They had touched him (John 20:19, 27; 1 John 1:1). They had eaten fish and bread with him (Luke 24:30-35; John 21:9-13). Surely they could not have been doubting he was alive.

We need to turn to Acts 1:1-3 to get a possible explanation. There we find out that Jesus had been telling them things pertaining to the kingdom of God. He told them that they would make disciples of all nations. They would baptize people and teach them to observe all Jesus had told them (Mt 28:18-20). Maybe those who doubted were remembering how they had failed him, fleeing in the garden and leaving Jesus to face the Romans alone. It must have been difficult for them to see themselves as mighty men of God.

They now knew how weak they were in their own strength. But they were about to be filled with the Holy Spirit and be transformed into steadfast witnesses of eternal life in Christ Jesus (Acts 1:8).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Full Circle

The angels tell the women, “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed he is going before you into Galilee; there you will see him. Behold, I have told you” (Mt 28:7). Mary Magdalene was still in such shock at not finding what she expected, the body of Jesus, that the angel’s words did not penetrate. She turns from the angels and sees Jesus standing there, but her shock prevents her from recognizing him. She assumes he is the gardener and pleads with him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away” (John 29:14-15).

Jesus calls her by name, “Mary”. There was no mistaking that voice. She knew who it was, “Rabi”. Then Jesus gave her the same commission as the angels, “…go to my brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my father and you father, and to my God and your God.’” Scripture tells us that Mary did just that.

It was a woman who committed the first sin (Genesis 3:6), and it was a woman to whom Jesus gave the first commission to bring the news of his resurrection.

Isn’t God’s forgiveness wonderful?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Annointing Spices

After the Sabbath the women who followed Jesus went to the tomb to anoint his body with spices (Mk 16:1). We do not know why no men were with them, but we know they were talking about who would roll the stone away from the tomb for them (Mk 16:3). I can’t imagine why they would want to add more spices to the 100 pounds that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had wrapped him in. Perhaps they didn’t know it had already been done. We do know they expected to find Jesus’ body there.

Mary Magdalene was so shocked to see the empty tomb that she ran to get Peter and John (John 20:1-2). She was beside herself with sorrow, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tom and we do not know where they have laid him.” Peter and John both run to the tomb and discover the linen strips and the headpiece. They are scared half to death and leave Mary Magdalene and the rest of the women weeping by the tomb (John 20:6-10; 21:11).

After the men left, the angels suddenly appear to Mary and the other women. “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he is risen, as he said. Then the angel gave the women the great commission “Go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen (Mt 28:5-7).