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.