Archive for November, 2012

Promoting Someone Else (John 7:1-31)

November 30, 2012

“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of  him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”  John 6:28

Those of you who know me well know that the Andy Griffith Show is one of my all time favorite shows.  A particular episode comes to mind.  In this episode Barney runs for sheriff against Andy.  The show climaxes as Barney gives a speech in which he condemns Andy.  But as Andy speaks Barney realizes how awesome Andy really is as a sheriff and how wrong he is.  Barney stands and proclaims to the crowd, “I am supporting Andy!”

Question, “in light of John chapter seven, who are you supporting?”  By John 7 the ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is in the fish bowl of men’s opinions.  2 examples are before us:

1.  His brothers sought for Jesus to take glory to himself, Vs: 3-4

2.  His brethren (Countrymen) struggled with whether Jesus was God or a hoax, Vs: 5-13

In these moments we are challenged by the example of Jesus.  Notice what Jesus does:

1.  He seeks to glorify His father, Vs: 17-18

I stand amazed at the teaching and the true judgments of Jesus.  Here is one who is pointing people to His Father and here is one who paid the price for our freedom before the Father.

2.  He is seeking to gain only the glory of his father, Vs: 19-31

Jesus always lifted up his father because he knew everything about his father.  Herein lies our greatest problem.  You and I spend so much time consumed with self-absorption and self-advancement that we fail to see our Savior.  But as we see the Savior, the more and more we want to serve our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

This day I offer you a challenge, “Spend this day only focusing on discovering all you can about Jesus.”  At the end of the day you will have a fresh and glorious view of our Great God!”  You will proclaim with Barney, “I am supporting _____.” But it will be Jesus instead of Andy.

For further reading consider Revelation 4-5.  

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What Do You Know? (John 6:41-71

November 29, 2012

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no help at all.”  John 6:63

“You are no help at all.”  This statement was made by a friend who was being needled by another friend.  In this instance the friend was just having fun with their friend about something that really wasn’t very important.  However, there are many moments when situations in life are very important.

Consider John chapter 6.  The question before those who engaged Jesus is this, “Who has the words of eternal life?”   Jesus has boldly proclaimed of himself, “I am the bread of life.”  To those of us who know Christ, this statement makes complete sense because in Christ alone do we have that which gives us life!!!  But for others it made no sense to them. So what made the difference?  Stay tuned for the answer.  Notice a simple outline of our text:

1.  The sinful side (The flesh) is of no help, Vs: 41-58

Many in this debate could not wrap their minds around what Jesus was saying.  Notice a description of how their flesh was at work: 1) They grumbled, Vs: 41.  2) They were slinging mud, Vs:42.  3) They were groping in the dark, Vs: 44-48. 4)They were greatly mistaken, Vs: 52-58.

2.  The Spiritual side (The Holy Spirit) is of great value, Vs: 60-71

Here we see a much smaller group of people.  But notice the difference in these people: 1) It is clear that they are followers of Christ.  2) It is clear that they knew whom to follow.  These were those who would walk all the way with Jesus.

The difference between these people is clear in what they know.  So what makes the difference?  The Holy Spirit!!!  Brothers and sisters the wisdom you and I have is the result of the Spirit’s work.  This day, I challenge you to praise our great and merciful God who has blessed us to see and to know.

I also challenge you to share what you know with those who do not know.  If not for grace, you and I would still not know.  Sow the seed and trust the Lord to open the hearts and minds of people just like you and I.

Working For The Wrong Things (John 6:22-40)

November 28, 2012

“Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.  For on  him God the Father has set his seal.”  John 6:27

Americans are working more and more but getting less and less.  Question, “Is this a fair statement?”  Let’s broaden the statement, “People all over the world are working more and more but getting less and less.”

Consider my missionary friend in Malawi Africa.  His country is economically devastated.  There is not even enough gas for the ambulances to be able to run.  The life expectancy in his country is 33-35 years.  Still yet the people work so very hard for so little in return.

In our More For Christ readings we see just the opposite in the crowd that followed Jesus, “They did nothing to gain so much.”  Jesus had feed them (6:1-20) and now they had gotten a taste of free food and they wanted more.  Sadly this is an accurate picture of our lives.  We are always looking for a quick satisfying thing that has no lasting value.

Jesus goes to the heart of the matter when he seeks to move the crowd to an understanding of what is really important.  Here is a simple outline of Jesus teaching:

1. Labor to understand what is really important, Vs: 25-34

Here we discover two things:  1) Life is in the Son of Man.  2)  One must believe in the Son of Man to have life.  This seems so simple, but it is so hard because the masses of people do not believe this.

2.  Liberation comes to those who understand what is really important, Vs: 35-40

When one understands he or she believes Jesus is the only way of salvation.  He or she is accepted by Christ.  Such a person now has the Bread of Life!  This life is free to us and it is fulfilling beyond anything we can imagine.  Such a person now is working for the right things.  He or she occupies their life with things of eternity.

Question, “Are you working for the wrong things?”  Those who are working for the right things will face tough moments.  But they know they are fighting from victory to victory (Vs: 38-40) because their warrior leader has everything under control.

Please join me in praying for the parts of our world that have never heard of the Bread of Life and join me in seeking to take the gospel to these places.

For further reading on the battle, check out Psalm 91

 

What’s the Sign For? (John 6:1-21)

November 27, 2012

“And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.”  John 6:2

Recently I saw a sign that said, “Lodging, turn right.”  Underneath this sign was another sign that said, “State prison.”  Do you see the laughter here?  Signs have great importance in our lives.

In John chapter 6 Jesus performs a sign.  We are familiar with this sign, “The feeding of 5000.”  But do we really know what the sign was for? In John’s writing’s we actually find 7 signs and they all have the same purpose.  They point us to Jesus glory in different parts of His ministry.  Here the sign is to point us to this great fact, “He is the bread of life.”

Our Lord and Savior is the one whom we look to for life (True and lasting life).  Now it is important that we always understand the signs given to us by John.  In these we grow in our understanding and love for Christ.

This day, I encourage you to spend some time thinking through all the implications of Jesus being, “The bread of life.” Here is a start, “The life we have in Christ is substance for this moment and for every moment throughout eternity.”  I found this to be so real in Psalm 90.   For more implication read the rest of John 6.

Praise you oh God for being, “Our Bread of Life.”

What Others Have Said (John 5:27-47)

November 26, 2012

“If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true.”  John 6:31

Have you ever been accused of not telling the truth?  Recently I was called into question by my wife in regard to a missing energy bar.  She and I were driving to the local gym to work out.  She had gotten an energy bar to eat on the way.  But now she could not find it.  She immediately turned to me and asked, “Where did you hide my energy bar?”  I immediately denied any foul play.  She insisted that I had taken her energy bar. Finally I asked, “Why don’t you believe me?”  Here response was amazing, “This is something like you would do!”  No sooner had she said this than suddenly she felt the bar underneath her leg. In this moment, she had to say, “I am sorry.”  But the greater deal was, “how does my life speak to my words?”

Here in John 5 Jesus is facing critics who are accusing him of falsely saying, “He is the Son of God.”  In Jesus response, we find a 4 fold witness to his being the Son of God.  This was twice the number of witnesses the law required (2 to be exact).  Here are the witnesses:

1. The witness of John the Baptist, Vs: 32-35

2. The witness of Jesus, Vs: 36  (His mighty works)

3.  The witness of the Father, Vs: 37

4.  The witness of the Scriptures, Vs: 43-47

Jesus gives these witnesses for one purpose: “But I say these things so that you may be saved.”  In this moment one must realize, those who questioned Jesus already thought they were followers of God.  But Jesus makes it very clear, “They did not have the love of God nor do they desire to live for the glory of God.”

Question, “What are the witnesses saying about our lives?”  Certainly there will be critics and there will be enemies who speak in error about our lives.  However we need to know what the Father, what the scriptures, what the Spirit, and what others are saying about our lives.

Oh how I pray, that our’s are lives that point others to the reality of Christ alive in our lives.  Daily you and I should seek to grow in this walk with Christ so that others might know that he is Lord of all.  This day allow the scriptures to tell you about what others are saying.

Ministry in a Foreign Context (John 4:1-30)

November 23, 2012

“So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph,” John 4:5

Each day he dreaded it more and more.  Each day this man would have feelings of great anxiety as he waited for the clock to go off.  Then he knew it was time to get up and get ready for the awful assignment of going to work once again.

Question, “Does this sound like you and your day?”  If so, you are in the company of many people.  I wonder, must Jesus have felt this way as his work had brought him into this world (His foreign context)?

Our answer comes to us clear in our More For Christ readings.  Jesus even though weary stayed focused on his work.  Here we find him in the region of Samaria.  This was truly a foreign context for the Jewish carpenter.  Any standup Jew would not even go near these people who were considered outcasts from the Jewish people.  But we see Jesus intentionally going here.

Very quickly we understand Jesus purpose in going.  There was a woman of Samaria who was in great need of the gospel.  As Jesus engages this woman it is clear to see, “She is focused on earthly things whereas our Lord is focused on eternal things.” Here is what Jesus said, “The water that I will give you will become in you a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.”

The conversation continues as Jesus is moving her to a place of understanding that the Messiah is our greatest need.  After much discussion Jesus has her ready for the most important revelation.  Here is what Jesus says, “I who speak to you am he.”  

In this moment we discover a life change in this woman.  She immediately goes out and proclaims Jesus to others.

Question, “If this were to happen at your place of work, would it change you mindset?”  I mean, would you have a desire to go to work if the gospel would work like it did for Jesus?  Well brothers and sisters I have good news, ‘The gospel will work if you share it with the love and joy of Christ.”

This day I was greatly convicted to have the right attitude toward every part of my life.  I was reminded, “This world is not our home.”  I was reminded, “In this foreign context, I am to sow the seed of the gospel so that many may come to Him!!!”

A Day Of Thanksgiving

November 23, 2012

For the Lamb is in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  Revelation 7:17

On this Thanksgiving day, we pause and we give thanks for many things.  Those things may include, “family, health, our nation, friends, and so many more.”

For me the greatest thanks goes to our Father who has sent His Son to this earth to redeem us from the curse of sin.  This day, I am thankful and I rejoice in that we serve a great and awesome God!!!

So wherever you are in the world today, give thanks for Jesus who has redeemed you and is preparing a place for you to reside forever and every.  So take heart this day, for the best is yet to come!!!  Happy Thanksgiving!

I Cannot Do It On My Own (John 3:1-21)

November 21, 2012

“How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  John 3:4

Admit it, there are things we cannot do on our own!  If you do not believe me, “Get out your ladder, place it on the side of your house, and climb up onto the roof.  Now that you are there, try to jump off and fly into the skies.”  Just kidding, do not try this at home.  The fact is, there are many things we cannot do.  Some are silly things and some are serious things.

Maybe this is a day when you are feeling the weight of these things?  It could be in your marriage, your ministry, or it could be with money?  The hard part of a person’s life often comes when we face these hard moments.

In John chapter three a leader of the Jews comes to Jesus.  It is clear, he has questions on his mind.  I believe he is trying to reconcile what others are saying about Jesus.  This man is very learned in the Old Testament.  He knows Messiah will come (Malachi 3:1, 4:5).  He knows his religious buddies are saying, Jesus is not the Messiah.  But he also knows, these miracles are not being accomplished by any ordinary man!    So he comes to Jesus!

As he comes, he tries to blend all views with this one statement, “teacher we know that no one does these signs unless God is with him.”  This is a true statement, but it falls short of true understanding of who Jesus is.  Jesus response goes to the heart of the matter. The conversation that ensues awakens this man’s mind, heart, and life to the truth of the gospel.

In this we discover three things man cannot do on his own:

1.  He cannot be born again, Vs: 1-15

This is God’s work and only God’s work.  I see grace upon grace in these verses. This man struggles with the truth.  But in the end God would bring him to the truth.

2.  He cannot love the world, Vs: 16-17

Only Christ has unconditional love for the world.  Jesus came to a condemned world and gave his life as a ransom for many.

3.  He cannot live in the light, Vs: 18-21

Man’s deeds are evil and he loves to do evil deeds in the dark.  Jesus came to call men out of darkness.  He does this because He alone can make us new (Born again).  He alone loved us to do what was necessary so we could be born again (Gave his life).  He alone gives us the insight and power to walk in the light (His light).

So, I take heart in knowing that Jesus does what I cannot do on my own.  This being the case, I realize, I must bring everything to Jesus.  If he can do these things, nothing is impossible with God.  Praise be to our God for His work in our lives.

The God who was there (John 2:1-25)

November 20, 2012

“Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples,” John 2:2

Brothers and sisters we live in a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to know who is on the up and up and who is for us and who is against us.  Allow me to explain, “Two weeks ago the director of the CIA resigned after admitting he had been unfaithful to his wife.”  Now it seems that the scandal could be worse as it seems that others were unfaithful in matters of national security.”  At the same time we wonder just who is for us as a people and who is against us.  Only time will tell.  However one thing is for sure (God is for us)

The Gospel of John tells us the story of a loving and glorious God who came to this earth to redeem us from both the curse of sin and the wrath of God.  John’s great desire is that we would come to see and know this God.  In John chapter 2 we have 3 examples of God’s loving interaction with people:

1.  A wedding in Cana, Vs: 1-12

Here we see the glory of God being revealed as Jesus turns the water (Old order) into wine (New Order).  Our Lord and Savior came so that which was dead could come to life.  We are made new in Him.

2.  The temple during the Passover season, Vs: 13-22

Here we see the glory of God being revealed as Jesus proclaims, “This is my Father’s house.”  Again we see the order being changed as now we see God in our presence.

3.  The Passover itself, Vs: 23-25

During this time Jesus worked many miracles.  Again we see the glory of God on display.  We serve a great and awesome God who in every moment of life is there!!!

Question, “Do you believe God is there in your circumstances of life?”  Notice the last verse of John 2, “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”  

The fact is, “God was there and he saw what was in man.”  Jesus did not commit himself to their sinful lifestyles.  But to those who came to him in repentance, He granted them eternal life.  How could he do this?  Because he was there!!!  Jesus gave his life on the cross for these people and for you and I.

My challenge to you this day is simply this, “Submit yourself to the God who is in your circumstances.”  As you do, “You will experience his glory in all you face.”

Hearing What You Say (John 1:29-51)

November 19, 2012

“The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.”  John 1:29-51

Imagine the shock of a parent after hearing shocking words coming from their child’s mouth.  The father asks, “Where did you hear such words?”  The son replies, “I heard them from you dad.”  In this moment there is the greater shock of failing to say the right things before others.

This morning we begin a new book in our More For Christ readings.  This book is the gospel of John.  This book’s goal is to reveal Jesus Christ to its readers so that they might know and believe Christ.  This is what John wants us to hear and believe.

In verses 29-51 we discover the life of John The Baptist who was tasked with preparing the way for Jesus first coming.  As we read this text, we discover how John was successful in what he said.  Two of his disciples (Vs: 35-42) so clearly heard his words that they started following Jesus.

Question, “What do people hear us say?”  Who occupies the thoughts and intends of your heart and mind?  For John the Baptist, “It was Jesus.”  In verses 35-42 we discover how Andrew came to this place as well.  Here we discover Andrew looking for his brother (Peter).  Once he finds him, he speaks the following to him, “We have found the Messiah.”

These were joyous words for Andrew and they were life-giving words for Peter.  Brothers and sisters, the words we speak have so much importance.  It is of eternal importance that we speak the right things to those who we encounter, those we have influence, and those who have invested in.

Consider our Savior, Vs: 43-51.  He reaches out to Phillip and says to him, “Follow me.”  In this moment Phillip follows and immediately he starts to speak into the lives of those he has influence in.

This very day, I want to challenge you to speak into the lives of people you encounter.  Many are those you have influence and investment in.  Oh how I prayer others are hearing what you say!!!  You and you alone have the challenge of spreading His word to a dark world.  Do if for His glory.