Jesus’ Prayer for Us


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 18-20; Psalm 93; John 17

Today’s Key Passage – John 17:5-26

 

When was the last time someone prayed for you?  Was it a prayer spoken in the privacy of someone else’s heart that you found out about after the fact, or was it another believer praying over you in person?  If you have ever experienced this, you know it can be a very moving moment in our faith.  We know that, “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)  We also know that, “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15)  These two Biblical truths are what make prayer from another person so powerful, and they are also what make today’s key passage so important.

In the seventeenth chapter of John, Jesus prays an extended prayer for all of His disciples.  He prays not only for the disciples who were listening to Him at the time, He also prays for all of us who are following Him today.  In His prayer, He asks God for many things on our behalf.  He prays that we will all be unified as one body of Christ (Vs. 11), protected from the evil one (Vs. 15), and sanctified by the truth of God’s Word. (Vs. 17)  Perhaps my favorite part of Jesus’ prayer is when He asks God to allow each of us to live with Him so we can see His glory. (Vs. 24)

So why did Jesus pray this prayer for us and why is it recorded in the Bible?  Jesus had an intimate relationship with the Father, and did not need to pray this prayer aloud for His own benefit or to make sure God heard Him.  He did it for one reason and one reason only – so that we all might have the full measure of Jesus’ joy in our lives. (Vs. 13)  Experience the joy that comes from knowing that Jesus Christ prayed this prayer for YOU, and that He continues to intercede on YOUR behalf today before God.  Since no man has ever been more righteous than Jesus, no prayer has ever been more powerful or more effective.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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What Kind of Tree Would You Be?


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 16,17; Psalm 96; John 16

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 17:5-8

 

Years ago, I was interviewing for a new job when the interviewer asked me perhaps the most clichéd question in the history of employment – “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”  To this day, I have never really known how to answer this question.  I have always been a pragmatic person, so a question like this has always seemed silly to me.  I could have said I would be an oak – strong and dependable, or a pine – flexible and resilient.  I could have said I would be an evergreen – full of life every single day.  To be honest, none of these answers would have really meant much to me.  Fortunately, today I found a much better answer to this question in God’s Word.

In today’s key passage, God is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah about the difference between putting our trust in men versus putting our trust in God.  He says that some people put their trust in men and depend on their own strength as they turn away from God. (Vs. 5)  These people are like a barren bush living in the desert. (Vs. 6)  In contrast, some people put their trust firmly in God.  These people are like a tree planted next to a stream, whose leaves are always green and who never has to worry about a drought because it will always bear fruit. (Vs.  8)

As we walk through our lives, we have a choice to make every day.  Which kind of tree will we be?  Will we put our trust in men and settle for a life barren and devoid of God’s blessings, or will we put our faith and trust in God and bear fruit for Him daily?  The next time I am asked this question in an interview, I will know exactly how to answer.  I want to be a tree planted by a stream.  I want to put my whole trust in God.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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The Linen Belt


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 13-15; John 15

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 13:1-11

 

In today’s key passage, we find a very interesting illustration.  God tells Jeremiah to buy a new linen belt and wear it around his waist. (Vs. 1)  At that time, a linen belt was an intimate piece of clothing, comparable to the underwear of today.  After Jeremiah wore the belt, God directed him to take it off and hide it in some rocks near a river. (Vs. 4)  After many days, God told Jeremiah to return to Perath and retrieve the belt. (Vs. 6)  After sitting in the elements, the belt that was once perfect and clean was ruined and completely useless. (Vs. 7)

The belt was symbolic of the people of Judah.  They were once a people who were close to God, just as the belt was once close to Jeremiah.  Over time, though, the people of Judah allowed pride to come into their hearts, and this pride was as damaging to the people of Judah as the elements were to the belt.  Eventually, that pride ruined them and rendered them completely useless to God.

This perfect picture of backsliding is as relevant today as it was for the Israelites.  When we are first saved, we all begin a close personal relationship with God.  If we are not careful, though, we can allow the “elements” to damage that relationship.  We can start to feel pride about our salvation or about our good works, and pretty soon, we end up ruined and completely useless.  Do not allow anything to come between you and God, because with Him, we are clean and new, but without Him, we are just a dirty belt.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Ignoring the Scarecrows


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 10-12; John 14

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 10:1-5

 

When a farmer is having trouble with birds eating his crops, he erects a scarecrow or two in his field.  When the birds see the scarecrow, more often than not they are so afraid that it might be a real person they do not bother landing in the field or eating the crops.  The interesting thing is that scarecrows alone have no power.  A scarecrow in a field cannot actually hurt a bird, but the birds do not realize this and are afraid anyway.  If the birds were smart, they would come to understand that a scarecrow is not something to fear, because a scarecrow is really just an advertisement that there must be a good crop of food.

Most of the things that we fear most in life are like scarecrows.  We worry that we might lose our jobs, that we might be diagnosed with a terminal illness, or that something bad might happen to someone we care about.  These “what if’s” cause us to live our lives with fear.  In today’s key passage, God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, is warning the people of Judah about some of the irrational fears they had.  He says, “Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.” (Vs. 5)  See, when we see a scarecrow popping up in our lives, we have to make a choice.  We can hide and be afraid based on the chance that the scarecrow might be real, or we can realize that the scarecrow has no power.  Sometimes the scarecrows in our lives are really an advertisement for God’s blessings.  When we are afraid to step out in faith and do something great for God, that scarecrow should tell us that we might be afraid because a “good crop” of God’s blessings is ahead.  Instead of living your life in fear of the “what if’s”, remember the words of Jesus when He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)  This peace that Jesus gives us allows us to walk without fear.  This peace allows us to ignore the scarecrows.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Unconditional Love


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 7-9; John 13

Today’s Key Passage – John 13:1-20

 

Most of us today hear a lot about unconditional love.  We hear about it at weddings as the bride and groom promise to love each other unconditionally for the rest of their lives when they recite their vows.  We see it in the love a parent has for a child.  It is referred to in movies and television shows as characters claim to love one another unconditionally, only to later show that their love is really more conditional in nature.  In today’s culture, the idea of unconditional love has almost become a bit diluted, which can make it difficult for us to fully grasp its true meaning.   Fortunately for us, to truly understand unconditional love, one needs to look no further than the life of Jesus Christ.

In today’s key passage, we get to see the true nature of unconditional love played out in Jesus actions.  He knew that His time on earth was coming to a close.  He knew that He would soon be betrayed by Judas and handed over for a painful crucifixion.  He knew that His disciples would all turn and run away at His arrest, and that many would remain in hiding for some time.  He knew that Peter, the disciple who most strongly claimed to love Him, would deny Him three times by the end of the day.  Knowing all of these things, our own sinful human nature causes us to assume Jesus might have been bitter or angry towards His disciples.  We wrongly believe He might have held a grudge against them or judged them for their wickedness.  Instead, we see Jesus washing the feet of the very people who would betray, turn from, and deny Him.  In this simple, sacrificial act, we see a true picture of unconditional love.

Many times, we tend to think of God’s love for us as conditional.  We wrongly believe that God only loves us when we are “good”.  The fact is God knows every sinful thing we have ever done and every sinful thing we will ever do; yet, He loves us anyway.  Knowing all of our downfalls and all of our brokenness, He still gave His only Son to die on a cross for our sins.  This is true unconditional love.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Immediate Response to Sin


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 5,6; John 12

Today’s Key Passage – John 12:1-6

 

Last night, while on a business trip, I placed a video call to my daughter to catch up with her.  While it was a great way for us to talk “in person” even though I was thousands of miles away, we did encounter a few problems.  Several times, I would ask her a question and would not get an immediate response.  Each time, I would wrongly believe that she had not heard me, but each time I found that her response was simply delayed by a slow connection.

In today’s key passage, we read the story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume.  In the story, we learn that Judas was stealing from the disciples’ money bag.  This fact is interesting not because of Judas’ actions, but because of Jesus’ response.  Obviously, Jesus knew that Judas was stealing money, but Jesus chose not to immediately respond to his sin.  Most likely, Judas wrongly believed that since Jesus never corrected him, He must not have known about his theft.

We have learned in the past that sometimes God does not answer our prayers right away.  Sometimes we have to wait for His perfect timing to bless us.  The same is true with our sin.  Sometimes God chooses not to immediately respond to our sins.  Sometimes He does not do anything to stop us when we get off track.  It is important, though, that we understand that even when we do not receive an immediate response, it does not mean that God is not fully aware of what we have done.  All sin pulls us further away from God and all sin ultimately leads to death. (Romans 6:23)  Do not wait for God’s reaction to your sin, wondering if there are going to be repercussions.  When you find sin in your life, confess it to Him as soon as possible and restore your relationship with Him.  While God’s response to our sin might not always be immediate, His forgiveness always is.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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The Emotions of Jesus


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 3, 4; John 11

Today’s Key Passage – John 11:32-36

 

Have you ever noticed that some cars look like they have emotions?  Most car manufacturers design the front of their cars with a particular emotion in mind, and that comes through in the placement and shape of the grill and headlights.  Some cars look happy, while others might look sad or angry.  I remember as a child when we would go on family road trips, I would often try to pass the time looking for the different emotions in the cars that were going by on the other side of the highway.  Interestingly, while it is relatively easy for most of us to picture a car having emotions, it can sometimes be more difficult for us to picture God having them.

Many people tend to think of God as a mysterious being in the sky who watches the world without any emotion.  They tend to believe that God simply does not care that much about us, which is why he “allows” so many bad things to happen.  As we read His Word, however, we quickly realize that this is not an accurate reflection of God at all.  In fact, when God walked the earth in the person of Jesus Christ, He displayed many different emotions.  He showed righteous anger when driving the moneychangers from the temple.  He rejoiced when the seventy disciples returned from their journey.  He was even frustrated with the lack of faith found in the people around Him.  In today’s key passage, we find possibly the most descriptive story in the Bible of Jesus’ emotions.  As He witnessed the mourning of Martha and Mary over the death of their brother, He was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” (Vs. 33)  He was so moved, in fact, that He wept. (Vs. 34)  Now keep in mind that Jesus did not weep because He was mourning the death of Lazarus, because He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead at any moment.  He wept for Martha and Mary because of His heartbroken compassion and love for them.

Our God is a never-changing God.  He still weeps today over things that He sees.  He is still deeply moved in spirit and troubled over things in this world.  As we grow closer to Christ, we will find that eventually we will start to weep over the same things He weeps for and will be moved and troubled over the same things that move and trouble Him.  When our hearts start to break over the same things that break His, we know we are moving in the right direction.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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The Reluctant Servant


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 1, 2; John 10

Today’s Key Passage – Jeremiah 1:4-19

 

In the Bible, we find numerous stories of reluctant servants.  Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we see countless examples of people who are afraid, for one reason or another, to step out in faith for God.  Moses did not feel he was good enough to lead his people. (Exodus 3:11)  The Israelites did not feel they were strong enough to face the “giants” living in the Promised Land. (Numbers 13:31)  Today we find another example in the story of Jeremiah.

During the reign of King Josiah, God spoke to Jeremiah and told him that he was to be a prophet to the nations (Vs. 5), but Jeremiah responded by saying, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” (Vs. 6)  Jeremiah was lacking in self-confidence.  He did not feel that he was adequate enough, and his fears and his doubts about himself were threatening to keep him from stepping out in faith for God.  Of course, God was not going to let Jeremiah’s fears keep him from fulfilling His plan.  He rebuked Jeremiah for thinking he was “only a child” (Vs. 7), and said, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.” (Vs.  8)  Then, God reached out his hand and touched Jeremiah’s mouth, saying, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.” (Vs. 9)  See, God understood Jeremiah’s fears.  He knew that Jeremiah was reluctant not because he did not want to serve, but because he did not think he was good enough to serve.  Knowing this, God eased Jeremiah’s fears by promising to be with him and by giving him the power to do what God was asking him to do.

I think we find so many stories in the Bible of reluctant servants because God knows His creation so well.  He knows that most of us are going to be fearful when He shows us His plans for us.  He knows that most of us are going to feel like we are not good enough, strong enough, or knowledgeable enough to step out in faith and serve Him.  That is why in each of these stories, He shows us that the promises He made to the people in the Bible are the same promises He makes to us today.  He promises that He will be with us and will rescue us, and then He gives us the power we need to fulfill His vision for our lives.  Do not let your doubts about yourself stop you from doing what God is calling you to do.  Focus on His promises and His power, and allow Him to guide you as you step out in faith.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Purifying Our Lips


Daily Bible Reading – Zephaniah 1-3; John 9

Today’s Key Passage – Zephaniah 3:8-20

 

About a week ago, I was having a conversation with my wife about a situation involving one of our friends.  As we were talking, I began one of my sentences by saying, “I know I should not say this, but”.  At this point, I honestly do not remember what I said next or even what it was about, but I do remember how I felt when I completed my sentence.  As soon as the words flew out of my mouth, I felt the undeniable pang of conviction as the Holy Spirit corrected me for my words.  The worst part was that before I even spoke the words, I knew I should not have said them based on how I began my statement, but for some reason I chose to say them anyway.

As I read today’s key passage, I thought about that day.  In it, God is speaking through the prophet Zephaniah about what the new earth will be like once Jesus returns in glory.  Among all of the wonderful ways He describes our new home, he says, “Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder.” (Vs. 9)  In the new earth, God is going to purify our lips in two ways.  First, everyone will speak the same language so we can all praise God together without any barriers.  Second, and perhaps more importantly, He will purify our hearts so that the words we speak will always be directly in line with God’s perfect will.  On that day, we will not have to worry about what we say because our words will always be holy and pure.  Until then, however, we have to carefully follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit before opening our mouths.

Most of us have times when we speak without really thinking.  Other times we use qualifiers like I used last week to try to justify what we are going to say.  When we begin a statement with, “I know I should not say this” or “With all due respect”, it is almost as if we are trying to give ourselves permission to say something sinful.  The problem is that the use of a qualifying statement before saying something hurtful or rude does not really make our statements any less hurtful or rude.  Our words still affect others and they still affect our witness for Christ.  The good news is that when we hear ourselves using those qualifiers, it gives us just enough time to stop ourselves before we say something we might regret.  The next time you find yourself starting a sentence with, “I know I should not say this”, stop yourself and make the choice not to say anything at all.  In the end, you will feel much better about yourself, and you will protect the health of your relationships.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Complaining to God


Daily Bible Reading – Habakkuk 1-3; John 8

Today’s Key Passage – Habakkuk 1:2-2:1

 

Most of you have probably heard of or seen the grenade complaint department paperweight.  It is a relatively old joke involving a grenade at a complaint department asking the complainer to take a number, which happens to be the pin of the grenade.  I am not sure where this joke originated, but I am sure it was pretty funny at the time.  It might sound strange, but I thought about this joke today as I read our key passage.  See, before I really knew God I looked at Him a lot like the grenade complaint department.  As I saw it, the last thing God needed or wanted was to hear me complaining to Him about things in my life.  After all, He is the God of the universe and I am just a sinful man, who at the time was not even following Him.  After I was saved and I started to get to know God, I realized that my thinking was severely flawed.

The book of Habakkuk teaches us a lesson about complaining to God.  Habakkuk had a complaint.  He could not understand why the evil people in the world seemed to prosper, so he brought his confusion to the only Source who can provide comfort. (Vss. 1:2-4)  Once God provided an answer, Habakkuk had a second complaint about how God could use the Babylonians (a people even more evil than his own) to punish the people of Judah. (Vss. 1:12-17)  After voicing his complaints to God, Habakkuk could have rebelled against God or lost his faith, but instead he simply waited expectantly and watched for God to answer. (Vs. 2:1)

There are times when all of us are confused by the world around us or we do not understand why things are happening the way they are.  In these times, we have two choices.  We can choose to complain to other people (which does not do anyone any good), or we can take our complaints to God.  Please understand that there is a right way and wrong way to complain to God, and I am not suggesting that we shout at, curse, blame, or stop trusting God in our complaints.  When we go to God respectfully, though, and cry out to Him for answers, He will hear our prayer.  Like Habakkuk, once we have voiced our complaints the best thing we can do is wait patiently for God and watch for His answer, knowing that even if we do not understand it, God is ultimately in control and has a plan in mind.  When we take our complaints to Him in an honest and heartfelt way and expectantly wait for Him to show us His truth, we will surely not be disappointed.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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