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.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

World Class

We have seen Jesus turn water into wine, tell a woman her history which in the natural he had no way of knowing and heal a boy without so much as giving a command for the healing.

When he turned the water into wine, only the servants (the lower class of people) knew about the miracle. The Head waiter is surprised at the better tasting wine, but scripture says he did not know where it came from (John2:2). Again Jesus is speaking to the under privileged class when he speaks to the Samaritan woman. Finally in the case of the Father and his son Jesus ministers to the upper class (the nobleman).

So far, most of Jesus' ministry is to the poor and lower class. Jesus is about to heal a poor man who is crippled and has no one to assist him.

Now think about where we tend to want to minister? How about a nice, beautiful building with stain glass windows or prayer towers, or steeples, or mega congregations? How about conferences in Hawaii or Florida or world class cruises? How about the poor under the bridge, or the homeless shelter in my neighborhood?

No? Not on your street? Interesting.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

From a Distance

A nobleman had a son who was near death. There is reason to believe he had been at the wedding when Jesus turned the water into wine (John 4:46). He knew Jesus could heal his son if he could only convince him to come to his home (John 4:46-47). But when he asks Jesus to come, he receives what sounds like a rebuke. “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe” (John 4:48).

The father is not daunted from his quest. He simple pleads, “Sir come down before my child dies.” Jesus is pleased with his faith. “Go your way; your son lives.” Scripture tells us that the son was healed on the exact moment Jesus said those words (John 4:46-54).

There will be times when God heals us instantaneously. A wonderful time of thanksgiving and praise comes from our heart and lips when God intervenes on our behalf.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sowing and Reaping Together

As you may remember, Jesus had sent his disciples into town to buy food (John 4:8). He uses the shopping trip to teach them. “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored: others have labored, and you have entered into their labors” (John 4:36).

The disciples had given money in exchange for food. They had not planted the vegetables, nor weeded the garden, nor watered the plants. But they enjoyed the fruit of the other people’s labor by giving the money. Even the money they used had been given them by supporters and was not from their own labor (Mt 27:55-56; Luke 8:3).

So it is with bringing someone to Christ. We may be those who plant the seed. We may be those who water the plants. We may be the teacher that weeds out the false teaching. Or we may be the one who is privileged to do the harvesting when someone makes the final commitment to Christ. “…both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” (John 4:36).

Friday, July 8, 2011

Work and Food

Jesus often took his disciples by surprise. They had gone into town to buy food (John 4:8) but when they offered him something to eat upon their return he responded, “I have food of which you do not know” (John 4:32). They supposed someone else had served him a meal. Jesus explains, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34).

Was he being mystical to call doing God’s work food? I don’t think so. Working for God literally brings life to us. Knowing we are working for the glory of God lifts our spirits. When we are not weighed down with worry, we are much healthier physically. Trusting God wards off diseases which are the result of being anxious.

Trusting God means resting in his ability and desire to do good in, through and for you (Psalm 139, Ephesians 2:10).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

His Words Alone

One of the most amazing things about this particular town of Samaria was their faith. The only miracle Jesus did was to tell the woman her life story in a nut shell. Yet the men in the town declared “We know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the World” (John 4:39-41).

The Hebrew cities saw miracle after miracle, the lame walking, the blind made to see and even the dead raised. Yet they did not believe.

What kind of faith do we have?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


The Samaritan woman has a lot to think about. Here is a man who told her life story in a nut shell, yet did not put her down for it. She recognizes him as a prophet. She is emotionally and spiritually touched by him. She is almost afraid to verbalize the question that is reverberating in her mind. She dare not ask it, so she expresses it as a statement. “I know that Messiah is coming…When he comes, he will tell us all things” (John 4:25)

Jesus answers her unspoken question. “I who speak to you am he.”

If you too are unsure, ask him. He will let you know.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An Odd Comment

Jesus appears to insult the Samaritan woman. “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). Couldn’t Jesus have ignored that part? Why was it necessary to point out that salvation came through the Jews and why rub it in her face that it was not coming through the Samaritans?

I do not understand this fully. He could not be telling her that the Jewish customs were the way to worship because he had just told her that men would not be worshiping based on location (John 4:21). Perhaps he was reminding her of the prophecies that the Messiah would come through the lineage of Judah. He may have been reminding her so that she would make the connection between him and the fulfillment of prophecy.

What do you think was the reason for that statement?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Which Church?

The Samaritan woman is shocked that Jesus knows her entire life. Instantly she recognizes that he is not an ordinary man. “I perceive that you are a prophet” (John 4:19). She has forgotten all about his asking for water or his claim to provide water that satisfies thirst forever.

She knows he is a Jew, which means he worships in a certain way in a certain place. She is suddenly confronted with a choice between her cultural teaching and the ones of the Jews. So she asks the only question she can think of.

“Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship” (John 4:20).

Jesus is not finished surprising her. “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship he Father… The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship he Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship him” (John 4:21-23)

How are we worshiping the Father?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pick a Little, Peck a Little

In the Broadway play, The Music Man, a group of women sing a song, Pick a little, Peck a little. The song connects hens with gossiping women. But it is not only women who pick people apart. It is the sinful nature.

However, Jesus did not make fun of the Samaritan woman’s life. He did not condemn her or call her names for having so many husbands. He did not talk about her behind her back when the disciples returned from their shopping trip. In fact, he does not mention her to them at all (John 4:16-38).

If we are to be like Christ, we need to follow his example. What people share with us, we keep confident. What we know about people we do not reveal to others. Our conversations should be directed toward the needs of the person we are addressing.

Paul puts it this way, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).