Friday, June 29, 2012

Words for Clarification

In most translation of the bible when you see italics it means those words we're not in the original language but were added for clarification in English. Most of the time this is helpful and does not inter free with the meaning of the original meaning of the passage. But every now and again it causes a dulling of the original intent. We now look at one of those instances.

Jesus asked those who came to arrest him, "Whom do you seek". They responded, "Jesus of Nazareth". Most translators write Jesus as saying, "I am He." But the original text does not have the pronoun. In other words Jesus said in response, "I Am".

He referred to himself by the name of Jehovah, "I Am". Jesus is declaring his divinity. The Great I Am willing took our punishment upon himself (John 18:5-6; Exodus 19:45).

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Public Betrayal

Judas publicly stood with those who planned to kill Jesus (John 18:5). He choose a kiss, the usual sign of affection, as his sign of betrayal (Mt 26:48-50).

Everyone would have been talking about the fact that one of his own men brought him to the slaughter. It would have been headline news as proof that the "self proclaimed Messiah" was a phony. Even Peter publicly denied Jesus (John 18:15, 25-27).

So it is today, when believers who carried the name of Christian (Christ follower) make choices that betray their faith. The temptation for Judas was money (Mt 26:15). For Peter it was fear (John 18:15, 25-27). For us it may be power, or popularity, or passion.

Judas never trusted God for forgiveness (Mt 27:3-10). Peter did (Luke 22:31-32).

What will you do?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Jesus knew from the very beginning that Judas would betray him (John 6:54; 13:10-11). He knew about Judas' sticky fingers (John 12:4-6). He knew Judas' heart (John 2:23-25). Now that which had been hidden from the circle of friends was about to become known to the world (Mark 4:22).

Judas was betraying not only Jesus and his friends, he was betraying himself. His name would forever be associated with dishonesty, disloyalty and death.

Every sin is eventually exposed either to the light of God's mercy and grace or to the world.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

So It Begins

Jesus had a favorite place where he like to be alone with his disciples. It was across a small brook called the Kidron. If you use your imagination you can almost hear the frogs and crickets on a summer's night. A soft breeze might be whispering in the trees as a half moon dances silently among the branches. The voices of the small group naturally fall into hushed tones as their foot steps enter the gathering of olive trees.

This is the place away from the crowds. The pace held sacred for confidential chats between friends, a kind of hideout, if you will. The place Jesus only took his closest friends. It was this place Judas choose to betray Jesus. Judas knew exactly where Jesus would go after the evening meal of the Passover.

Only this time, Judas brought torches, weapons and a full detachment of troops and officers. Judas was not only planning on capturing Jesus, he came prepared to lead away all his friends (John 18:1-3)

It had begun.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Everything is Ready

The Father and Son have always been in deep relationship with each other. There never existed any time when they were at odds. They have always existed and always existed in unity ( John 17:24; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 1:8-18). Only the body of flesh was created in Mary's womb. The Son took on the name of Jesus when he came into the world (Luke 1:28-38).

This eternally existing God, (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) chose us to be in him before he made the world (Ephesians 1:4) and his works in our life were accomplished before we were born (Hebrews 4:1-7). Now we are offered the magnificent opportunity to walk in unity with God and experience all he has prepared for us (John 17:20-24) or to turn away in unbelief (Hebrews 4:2-3).

Walk in confidence in his promise for you today. He has prepared everything in advance for you to succeed in his purposes for your life (Isaiah 55:11).

Friday, June 22, 2012

Comparable Love

We learn through Jesus' prayer that the Father loves us in the same manner that he loves his Son (John 17:23,26; 15:10). I am not sure that I am able to wrap my mind around this concept. The impact of this truth boggles the mind. Perhaps we need to examine how the Father loves the Son to get a better glimpse into what this means.

We know the Father glorifies his Son (John 17:5; 12:28). We know he defeats his enemies (1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22; Hebrews 2:8) and has given him all that belongs to the Father (John 16:15; 17:7). We also know the Father gave Jesus a mission to accomplish and a specific message to speak (John 4:34; 5:36; 12:49-50).

There is one thing that has at times troubled me. The Father allowed the Son to be crucified for me. What joy and what terror. Jesus asked that he not have to go through the pain (Hebrews 5:7; Matthew 26:39-42). But when the Father did not remove the cup of suffering, Jesus focused on the eternal outcome (Hebrews 12:1-3).

The Father does not ask us to suffer without an eternal outcome that is far greater than our measure of suffering (Romans 8:18).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Visual Message

Each of us are aware that we are unable to significantly change ourselves. If we break away from one addiction it is usually replaced by another. We determine not to lose our temper only to lose it again. We promise ourselves not to speak ill of someone, only to repeat the offense the next time we are frustrated with someone.

But God changes us from the inside out. He does not just change our outward behavior. He changes who we are. That amazing change is a message to the world, both that the Father sent the Son and that the Father loves us (John 17:21,23). It is a visual message of hope to the world.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Change in Vision

After an encounter with God, we become painfully aware of the cruelty in this world because we have experienced the pure love of the Father. We cringe at injustice. We bristle against those who would enslave others. We are angry when children are abused. But we also become painfully aware of our personal short comings, our proclivity toward evil, injustice, bondage and temptations.

So the offer of Jesus and the Father to be one with them strengthens our hearts with hope. Our character, our desires, our focus is forever changed when God opens our eyes to who he is (Ephesians 1:18-23; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17). We are drawn toward holiness, righteousness, grace and mercy. Our joy, our delight, our sense of fulfillment come from being in God's presence. We revel being like him, imitating him as we would imitate someone we deeply admire. Knowing that he will make us one with him is my greatest treasure.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Start Your Day

What holds your interest? Is it math, algebra, geometry, calculus or trigonometry? Do you find biology, micro biology, dissection, microscopes, the study of genes, DNA or chemistry fascinating? How about history, archeology, hieroglyphics or dynasties? Do you love the great outdoors, hunting, fishing, snow or water skiing, sailing, bicycle riding, swimming, hiking, mountain climbing, sky diving, deep sea diving, or flying an air plane? Maybe you love zoology, monkeys, giraffes, elephants, lions, leopards, hyenas, cats, dogs, fish, shales, porpoise, sharks, gold fish. Does string theory, fourth and twelfth dimensions, space travel get your creative juices flowing?

Maybe you are drawn to books or art. Would you like to have known Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Edger Allen Poe, Steven King, Agatha Christy, Daniel Steel, or Dr Seuss. Would you like to pick the brain of Michael Angelo, Charles-Nicolas Cochin, Claude Monet, Eugene Delacroix or George Brague? Perhaps you would love to sit down with Johan Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Leopoldo Mozart, Itzhak Perlman or maybe Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Joan Baez, or Bob Dylan. Would you like to have a jamming session with Keith Green?

The one who gave each artist their talent, the one who created all of nature you so enjoy, the one who knows personally every person ever born or will be born, has invited you to be one with him (John 17:20-23).

Now that's the way to start a day.

Monday, June 18, 2012


John 17:20-23 is rich with hope for us. Jesus is asking the Father to make us one with them. What does it mean to be one with God? It almost sounds blasphemous to even say the words. We know it does not mean that we become God. That would be blasphemous because there is only one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4).

When a man and a women are married they begin a journey toward becoming one. After many years of union, they are seen as a couple. They know each others jokes. They have heard most of each others stories. They have worked through their disagreements. Often they could finish each others sentences (though they would be wiser to refrain from doing so). They have learned how to please one another.

Jesus is praying that we are so enamored with God that we become one with him. We rejoice in who he is. We trust him. Our decisions are based on his ways. We reflect the character of God so closely that there is no doubt to whom we belong.

Tell me, what prayer of Jesus will the Father not answer?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Series of Messengers

"As you have sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world, and I have sanctified myself that they also may be sanctified" (John 17:18).

Jesus was sent here on a mission, to bring us into reconciliation with the Father (Romans 5:11). There was a set period of time for the mission (Galatians 4:4), and predestined things that were to happen (Acts 4:27; John 13:18, 15:24-25) and specific works Jesus was to finish (John 4:34, 5:36).

Now he reveals that he is sending his disciples into the world in the same manner that the Father had sent him. We are his disciples. He has sent us into the world at an appointed time to carry the same message (Matthew 10:16; John 20:21; Psalm 139:16).

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I read a book titled Necessary Endings. The author uses the illustration of growing roses to teach about times that we need to end unhealthy relationships. The book helped me to make important changes in my life. But my roses have also flourished since reading the book because I learned how to cut off unhealthy branches.

Reading God's word teaches us what we need to cut out of our lives and what we need to change. God teaches us about our relationship with him through his Word.

I was having a discussion with women about a doctrine some years ago. I mentioned several scriptures to substantiate the doctrine. Her reply to me was, "I don't care what scripture says, I just know (thus and thus) is true". She was fully depending on someone else's teaching about God to direct her life choices and had no desire to research or question what scripture had to say.

Jesus said we are sanctified by God's word. All other sources will fail us (John 17:17).

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Set Aside

We have a patch of dirt in front of our house that we have set aside as a garden. There is a building across the street that holds red trucks filled with water hoses that has been set aside as a fire station. There is another building kitty corner from the fire station that has been set aside as a place of worship, the community church.

The definition of sanctification means to be set aside for the purposes of God. We are both immediately sanctified at the moment of salvation and we grow in sanctification throughout our life on earth. But how does this process occur?

Jesus gave us the answer in his prayer to the Father. "Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth"(John 17:17),

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Paris France

I visited Paris several years ago. I traveled with my daughter and my son who knows French. I saw the Louvre with its magnificent paintings. I made it to the third tier of the Eiffel tower before I chickened out and got off the elevator. I saw the shops, ate in the restaurants, and walked along the Seine river. It was beautiful.

But at no time did I think I was French. I knew I was visiting a place that was not my home.

Jesus emphasized in his prayer to the Father that neither he nor we are of this world ( John 17:14, 16). We see the museums, speak some of the language, visit the shops and interact with the people, but we do not belong here. We are citizens of heaven where we will live out eternity.

That knowledge should govern our behavior and our desires.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Physical Protection

We have been considering Jesus' prayer to the Father to keep us from the evil one. We have said the Father protects us spiritually so that we are able to withstand the spiritual attacks of Satan, but that we may also suffer physically in this life. Does this mean we have no physical protection from the Father?

Job teaches us that we have physical and spiritual protection though we may still suffer. The point is that our Father does not allow us to suffer without an eternal purpose.

There are three biblical causes of suffering; Satan (Job 1:9-22; Ephesians 6:12-20), God (Job 1:9-22) and our choices (John 5:14). So how do we know which is the cause? Start by committing yourself to God, resist Satan and he will flee from you (James 4:7-8), put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-20), and base all your decisions on how it will bring glory to God (Colossians 3:17,23). Finally repent and turn away from sin (James 5:13-18).

If you are still suffering, commit it to the Lord trusting that he knows what he is doing (Isaiah 55:10-13).

Friday, June 8, 2012

What is There to Celebrate?

"For some Jesus prayer, "...that you should keep them from the evil one" means no harm will come to them if they have faith and please God. Some of the people who lived in Jesus' time had similar beliefs.

"There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Matthew 13:1-5).

If the Father keeping us from the evil one does not mean protection from all harm, what is there to celebrate? The answer to that question lies in the answer to two other questions. What is more important to me; my physical life or a relationship with God? Is my focus temporal or eternal?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Protected by the Father

There is amazing hope, joy and peace in Jesus' prayer that the Father keep us from the evil one (John 17:15).

No matter what happens to our physical bodies nor what happens to our finances, nor what people do to us, we are always in God's hands. He will never abandoned us to Satan. He will never leave us. He will always be with us, strengthen us, encourage us. He will keep us from the evil one (John 14:18; Matthew 28:20; Ephesians 3:14-19).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

What would happen if the moment you became a Christian you disappeared into heaven? There would be no witness on earth to tell others about God. What would happen if every one who became a Christian immediately became wealthy? What would happen if everyone who became a Christian was never sick again, had missing limbs grow back and those who had been paralyzed immediately walked again?

I imagine the entire world would be Christians. But obviously that is not what happens.

Jesus prayed to the Father, "I do not pray that you take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one" (John 17:15). If the Son of God learned obedience through the things he suffered, why do we think we should not suffer?" (Hebrews 5:8).

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Controlling Factor

Jesus wants us to have joy: "I have spoken these things that my joy may be in you"
(John 15:11); "until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive that your joy may be full" (16:24); "That they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves" (17:13).

Joy is an under flow of knowledge in who God is and who he is to us personally. This knowledge results in peace, strength, gentleness, kindness, honesty and a myriad of other qualities. It controls our actions and makes us who we are.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Focusing or Ignoring

It can be a comfort to know that other people deal with sorrow and death. We do well to recognize that there will be trouble in this life just as Jesus warned the disciples (John 16:33). But there is a danger of either focusing on the difficulties in life or ignoring them.

Jesus did not do either one of these things. He acknowledged the troubles would come, but he focused on the eternal joy. In his prayer he says to the Father, "... These things I speak in the world that my joy may be fulfilled in them" (John 17:13; 16:24; 15:11). How does one have joy while struggling?

We do what Jesus did. We face what we need to, relying on God, and we look forward to the end results - what God is accomplishing in and through us (Hebrews 12:1-2).