Category Archives: 04 – John

Where is Your Focus?


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 45-47; Psalm 105; John 21

Today’s Key Passage – John 21:18-22

 

A few years ago, I was playing golf with a friend of mine on a course that was new to me.  From about 180 yards away, I hit a beautiful approach shot that landed about three feet from the hole.  I will be the first to say I am not a great golfer, so I was understandably excited until I turned to my friend to see his reaction.  As he stared at the green with a shocked look on his face, he slowly turned to me and started laughing.  Unfortunately, I quickly learned that I was incorrectly aiming for the green of an adjacent hole and not the one we were currently playing.  I ended up on the wrong green because I was focusing in the wrong direction.

In today’s key passage, we see that Peter had a similar problem.  Following Jesus’ resurrection, He was walking with Peter and talking to him about the difficult times he would face ahead. (Vss. 18-19)  As Peter listened to Jesus, he noticed that John was following them, and asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” (Vs. 21)  Instead of thinking about how he could serve Jesus, Peter was focusing in the wrong direction.  To this, Jesus simply answered by saying, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (Vs. 22)

All of us can fall into the trap of comparing our lives to other people.  We wonder why others have received a blessing we have not received or why their walk with God is different from our own.  We can even become judgmental and start comparing someone else’s devotion to Christ to our own.  When these temptations strike, we must remember Jesus’ words as he gently says, “What is that to you?”  No matter what is happening with anyone else, our role is to follow Him.  Instead of focusing on what God is doing in other people’s lives, keep your focus clearly aligned on Jesus.  When you do, you will never have to worry about ending up on the wrong green.

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.

It is Finished


Daily Bible Reading – Jeremiah 23,25; John 19

Today’s Key Passage – John 19:17-30

 

Anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact that I am a perfectionist.  Sometimes, this trait can serve me well, but more often than not, I run into problems.  My compulsive need to make everything perfect is particularly a problem when I am working on projects.  No matter what I am working on, I never seem to actually finish.  Even when I think my work is complete and I believe the project is finished, I usually think of one or two things I could do to improve upon my work.  Once I complete those tasks and think I am done, I usually come up with one or two more things I could do to make it better.  It is a frustrating cycle, and it is something I have struggled with my entire life.

Sadly, many people have the same reaction to Christ’s work on the cross.  Though He proclaimed, “It is finished” (Vs. 30), we are still tempted to try to add something to what He did.  We wrongly believe that we need to earn our salvation by our own deeds or actions, when in reality, He has already done everything that needed to be done.  Believing that we need to add to Christ’s work on the cross is not just damaging to our faith; it is actually sin.  When we try to earn our salvation by our own works, we are effectively saying that what Jesus did was not enough for us.  We are saying that though his work was finished, we have found one or two more things we think we can do to try to improve upon His work.  When you think about it in these terms, it is easy to see why focusing on our deeds as a method to salvation is so caustic to our faith.  We are saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  His work on the cross is all we need to receive complete forgiveness for all of our sins.  Do not try to add to His beautiful masterpiece.  It is already finished.

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.

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

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

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

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

Jumping to Conclusions


Daily Bible Reading – 2 Kings 23; 2 Chronicles 35; John 7

Today’s Key Passage – John 7:10-44

 

This may sound strange, but when I was younger, I had a big problem with the New International Version of the Bible.  I grew up hearing and occasionally reading parts of the King James Version of the Bible, and the NIV just seemed too easy.  I was used to struggling through the Bible and not really understanding most of the passages, so when I first saw the clear language of the NIV, it almost felt like I was cheating.  Eventually I got over this hurdle and started reading the NIV, and I quickly realized I had jumped to the wrong conclusion about it.  I made the decision that it could not possibly be a good translation before I really knew anything about it.

Many of the Jews in Jesus’ day jumped to the wrong conclusions about Him.  In the early part of His ministry, Jesus taught at the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles. (Vs. 14)  Some of the people who had heard about Jesus thought He was a “good man” while others believed He was a “deceiver”. (Vs. 12)  When He spoke to the crowd, some people immediately believed He was the Christ (Vs. 41), while others thought He was demon-possessed. (Vs. 20)  Some of the Jews simply could not get past the fact that Jesus was from Nazareth. (Vss. 41-42)  They jumped to the conclusion that the Messiah could never have come from Galilee, so they missed knowing Jesus as Christ.

All of us jump to conclusions on occasion.  We do it in a variety of situations, but none of them are more damaging than when we jump to conclusions about Jesus.  Anytime we fear the worst is going to happen, worry that we are not good enough, or doubt that a situation is going to work out; we are jumping to a conclusion about Christ.  We are jumping to the conclusion that our God is simply not big enough to solve our everyday issues or problems.  This type of thinking, even though most of the time it is unintentional, is toxic to our faith.  Do not let yourself jump to the wrong conclusions about Jesus.  Instead, focus on all that He has done and conclude that He is who He said He is – the Alpha and the Omega and the King of Kings.

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.

The Beginning of Eternal Life


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 65,66; Psalm 62; John 3

Today’s Key Passage – John 3:11-21

 

The check is in the mail.  I will get back to you.  I will sign the contract.  We have all heard promises like these before – promises of some future event.  For most of us, we have learned to doubt statements like these based on past experience.  Even when we trust the people making these promises, it can still be easy for us to worry that they will come through for us in our present circumstance.   This distrust in man can sometimes leak over into our relationship with God, causing us to distrust Him.  Many of God’s promises for us refer to future events.  For example, God promises that He will bless us and our families (Psalm 115:12-15), and that He will provide for all of our needs (Philippians 4:19).  Of course, the difference between the promises for future events made by man and the promises made by God is that God always keeps His promises.  If God says He will come through for us, we can be sure that He will.  Sometimes, though, we do not have to wait for God’s promises to come true.

In today’s key passage, we find perhaps the most well known verse in the Bible.  In John 3:16, we read, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Though we have all heard this passage many times in our lives, if we are not careful we can easily misinterpret what Jesus is actually saying.  When we think of eternal life, we might wrongly think of a future event.  We think of eternal life as something that happens either when we die or when Jesus returns.  The truth, though, is that Jesus is not making a promise to us of a future event in this passage.  Note that Jesus does not say that whoever believes in Him “will have” eternal life sometime in the future.  The truth of the Gospel is that we receive the free gift of eternal life at the moment of salvation.  If you have accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, then you have already received this gift.  Praise God today for the promises He will keep in your future, and the ones He has already kept.

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.

Walking with Someone


Daily Bible Reading – Isaiah 60-62; John 1

Today’s Key Passage – John 1:35-42

 

Customer service is important to any retail store.  We have all experienced the good type of service, and most of us have unfortunately experienced the bad.  Years ago I worked in a department store, and we spent a lot of time talking about customer service.  One of our policies at the time had to do with how we should react whenever guests asked for directions to a certain department in the store.  Instead of pointing out the area or trying to explain where they should go, we were told to walk with them and personally show them to their destination.

We see this same attitude modeled twice in our key passage today.  We first see it when John the Baptist announces to his two disciples (Andrew and probably John) that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, (Vs. 36) and the two disciples followed Jesus. (Vs. 37)  The disciples asked Jesus where He was staying, and instead of simply answering their question or pointing out their destination, he walked with them and showed them. (Vs. 39)  We see it again when Andrew went to tell his brother Simon Peter about Jesus. (Vs. 41)  Instead of trying to tell Peter where to find Jesus, Andrew walked with him and took him to meet Jesus.  In both cases, while pointing to the destination would have been easier, walking with someone and showing him the destination was a better choice.

When faced with someone who is investigating the faith, we can choose to point to Jesus and hope they can find Him on their own, or we can walk with them and help them find Him.  When we are discipling a new believer, we can tell them what their journey might look like and point them toward their destination, or we can walk with them as they grow in Christ.  When given a choice, never decide to take the quick route and simply point the way.  Instead, walk with people and “do life” with them.  Go with them as they journey toward their destination, and help them avoid potential pitfalls or hazards along the way.  When we are walking with someone and showing them the way, we are following the model set forth by Jesus and the disciples, which is always the best choice.

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.

The Carpenter’s Cloth


Daily Bible Reading – John 19-21

Today’s Key Passage – John 20:1-8

 

In his book The Carpenter’s Cloth, Sigmund Brouwer discusses the significance of today’s key passage.  When I first read the explanation Mr. Brouwer has in his book, I was immediately moved, so I want to share with you an excerpt from his book:

During Jesus’ time there was one way a carpenter let the contractor know a job was finished. A signature, so to speak.

Imagine a hot afternoon in Galilee. Jesus has completed the final pieces of a job he has worked on for several days. The hair of his strong forearms is matted with sawdust and sweat. His face is shiny with heat. He takes a final—and welcome—drink of cool water from a leather bag.

Then standing to the side of his work, he pours water over his face and chest, splashing it over his arms to clean himself before his journey home. With a nearby towel, he pats his face and arms dry.

Finally, Jesus folds the towel neatly in half, and then folds it in half again. He sets it on the finished work and walks away. Later, whoever arrives to inspect the work will see the towel and understand its simple message. The work is finished.

Christ’s disciples, of course, knew this carpenter’s tradition. On a Sunday of sorrow, three years after Jesus had set aside his carpenter tools, Peter will crouch to look into an empty tomb and see only the linens that the risen Lord has left behind.

A smile will cross Peter’s face as his sorrow is replaced by hope, for he will see the wrap that had covered Jesus’ face. It has been folded in half, then folded in half again and left neatly on the floor of the tomb.

Peter understands. The carpenter has left behind a simple message.

It is finished.

Copyright(c) 1997. Published by Word Publishing, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee.
Excerpted from The Carpenter’s Cloth by Sigmund Brouwer.
Copyright(c) 1997 by Sigmund Brouwer. Page 125. Used by permission of J. Countryman.

The folded cloth described in John’s Gospel sent a compelling message of hope to the disciples and sends a compelling message of hope to all of us.  So many times, we all wonder if we are doing enough.  We wonder if we are good enough.  We wonder if we really deserve the salvation offered to us by Jesus’ perfect sacrifice.  The fact is that Christ’s message to us is a simple one – it is finished.  His work is done.  We are saved by grace.  Thank you Jesus for saving us.   Thank you for finishing your work here.  Thank you for your grace, mercy, and 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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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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