Category Archives: John

Deut. 3; Ps. 85; Isa. 31; Rev. 1

Visions of things to come…

“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:17-18

As a Christian, death is one of the more challenging experiences to reconcile… from a spiritual perspective, we rejoice in knowing where our loved ones will be for all eternity and Who they’ll be spending eternity with! But on a human level, we miss our loved ones very much…  we’re left hoping that all we know about our faith is true; that like Jesus, Who endured pain, but conquered death, is alive forever!

We are reassured by our Savior not to be afraid… that He was able to conquer death and is now in control. Delving deeper into these two verses in Revelation revealed significant meaning that offered me comfort after losing my Dad several years ago. That we are never alone, as He is “the first and the last”, paralleling “the Alpha and the Omega” described in Revelation 1:8…

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

… and referencing “I am” reflecting Jesus’ claims in the Gospels of Matthew 14:27, Mark 6:50, John 6:20, and 8:58, connecting Him with His Heavenly Father. Jesus also tells us that He is “the living One” as He was described in Daniel 6:26, Revelation 4:9, 10:6, and 15:7… the foundation of our salvation! By rising after death, Jesus offered the assurance to those who believe that we will be forever with Him. And, if that wasn’t enough, Jesus reveals that as a result of His resurrection, He now holds the “keys of death and Hades.” Death, as a condition of the body, and Hades, as a place associated with death, Jesus is in control!

Researching the meaning of keys in the Bible found that keys are a sign of power and authority. Jesus’ obedience to His Heavenly Father in the Garden of Gethsemane resulted in Jesus having the authority to decide who dies and who lives; He has authority over life and death.

So in the midst of the incredible tragedies and darkness that have consumed our lives lately, perhaps our hope lies in the message Revelation holds in what Jesus offers for our future to all who believe. I know I will see my father again… in the meantime, I will continue to hold onto the promises my Savior offers, ready for when He decides to call me Home… I can only imagine!

Heavenly Father, by saying “No” to Your son in the Garden of Gethsemane when He asked that You take His “cup” from Him, Your Son demonstrated complete obedience to You, to fulfill Your will. Help us to remain faithful so that we can join You for all eternity! Amen.

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Leviticus 2, 3; John 21; Proverbs 18; Colossians 1

18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others[f] will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers[g] that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (NLT)

I love Peter! There is just something about him that is so relatable.  He has such a love for Jesus, messes up, yet still pursues Him.  Jesus loves him despite everything that has happened.  Peter is the first one out of the boat when Jesus appears to them on the shore after the resurrection.  Even though he denied Christ he didn’t hold back in shame, he ran to greet the man he had walked so closely alongside for three years.  As they are having a meal together, Jesus pulls him aside and has a personal conversation with Peter and gives him a purpose for his life:  Feed his sheep!  He wants Peter to pick up where He left off.  Then Jesus tells him how one day he is going to die in a way that will glorify God.  Peter looks over at John and asks Jesus: “What about him?” He wants to know what will happen to John. The scripture doesn’t say this, but I wonder if it was out of concern for his “brother” that he asked the question.  The two of them had been closer to Jesus than the others during the course of his ministry.  I think Jesus’ answer was to get the focus off of something that was going to happen in the future, and back to what He wanted him to do now.  Of course, their conversation was overheard and the rumors started that John was not going to die.  Proverbs 18:8 warns of this:

 Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart

I can imagine this caused quite the buzz among the other disciples. When we only hear part of a conversation or personalize something someone else has said, it can really dishearten us. Jesus didn’t say that John was not going to die; he was merely stating if that is what was in store for him that was not something that Peter needed to worry about.  Peter was to follow Jesus.  The same can be said for us.  We get ourselves into trouble when we compare our walk with someone else’s or worry about what God is doing in someone else’s life.  We need to keep our focus on Jesus!  We need to follow Him.

Peter was forgiven for denying Jesus. He sat in the presence of Jesus.  He was still used mightily by God to promote the gospel of Jesus to the Gentiles. Not only did he walk with Jesus, he was given His Spirit to continue His work, to feed His sheep.  Colossians 1 says the same about us.  We were once far from God, yet through the death of Christ, we have been reconciled to God.

21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

Paul also spread the message of hope to the Gentiles which has been passed down for generations to reach this time in history. Jesus laid the foundation, then passed the baton to Peter and the other disciples. He called upon Paul to travel all over to spread the Good News. The lives of Peter and Paul both show us that no one is beyond being used for God’s purposes—it doesn’t matter how many times we’ve messed up.  We all have a story of redemption to share.  We have all been sent out to “feed my sheep”.

Thank you, Lord, for revealing the message of redemption. Because of this, I am reconciled to You.  I have Christ living inside of me.  That is something that is beyond my comprehension; all I can do is trust it is so. Thank you that you love me even though I’ve messed up plenty of times.  Help me keep my focus on You, Jesus. I want to follow You.  In your name I pray.

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Exodus 40; John 19; Proverbs 16; Philippians 3

It is so hard to come to terms with the purposes that God has laid before my life and yet those plans He has for me are what makes me the follower of Jesus I am today.  I was anointed for the journey I was about to undertake as a joint heir in the kingdom of God.

Then you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it shall become holy -Exodus 40:9

When will I learn that the power of purpose does not reside in my title, or position?  When will I realize that the purposes of God are being carried out in my life regardless of what others may or may not be thinking?  When will I rest in Jesus because the power all resides in God our heavenly Father?

Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” – John 19:11

The Book of Wisdom sets it pretty straightforward, my purpose lies in committing my work, every day, to the Lord.  He has made everything for its purpose – especially me.

The plans of the mind belong to mortals, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.  All one’s way may be pure in one’s own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.  Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.  The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. – Proverbs 16:1-4

Every once in a while when I am in a room and people are asked to share where they graduated from, I find myself in a bit of a pickle – I never graduated.

Imagine how I felt today reading Paul’s thoughts on his own education and then defining what real purpose was all about.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.  More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ,[e] the righteousness from God based on faith.  I want to know Christ[f] and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death. – Philippians 3:7-10

Lord, in those moments when I feel so inadequate, without purpose and value, thank you for drawing me into You.  You are my everything and whatever You have me to do, may my life be one of anointing, may my life be one marked with holiness.  May I be the vessel You choose to use. Thank you so much.

evanlaar

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Exodus 39; John 18; Proverbs 15; Philippians 2

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.” Proverbs 15:33 NLT

Just when I think that I’m being humble, God shows me the humility of Jesus. And I realize that I have so far to go. My selfishness creeps in and my humility turns to pride. I start to think about all the things I have to give up, instead of everything I don’t deserve. My pride keeps me from loving people like Jesus did. I am thankful that he is still refining me in this area. Without him, where would I be?

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.” Philippians 2:14-16 NLT

My 9 yr old son was telling me that a friend at school tells him all the tings that she is better at.   I told him that his friend was trying to make him look bad, so that she looks better. These lessons are usually for myself too. I can hear God prodding on my heart saying, “Where is your security?” Is it in myself or Jesus? My pastor spoke about encouragement. When my focus is on myself, it is hard to encourage others. How quickly I can get discouraged. But, when I am in his word and prayer, he fills me up. And gives me the power to speak life into someone else.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on the cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and earth and under the earth. And every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.” Philippians 2:1-11 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice. Dying on the cross for my sins. Forgive me for when I forget how much you have done in my life. I can lose sight of that so easily. I feel small compared to your vastness, but thank you that you care about the smallest details of my life. I pray that I would remember your goodness. That everything I have comes from you. And apart from you, I can do nothing. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Exodus 34; John 13; Proverbs 10; Ephesians 3

I looked to the past for the key. But because of the estrangement and the years, I had no answer. How many generations did it go back? One. Two. Three? More?

“Yahweh! The Lord!
    The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
    and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
    I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
    I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
    even children in the third and fourth generations.” Exodus 34:6b-7, NLT

I wanted something different for my children. I told them of a better way. I told them of the woes to come if they continued on a path. They saw my struggle. How could I impress upon them the power of love when my own heart was guarded? The question haunted me.

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35, NLT

God breaks strongholds. He takes impossible situations and he brings good out of them. I sat at my sister’s hospital bedside days ago. I spoke encouragement to her, told her she is a fighter. In a moment of clarity, she said to me, “God is always fighting for us, and he lets us think we’re the warriors!”

Her words are treasure. I laughed and cried with joy at her insight. Oh, God, you are mighty. Dear God, you are good.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21, NLT.

The power of love, at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus, through all generations. Forever and ever. Amen.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 33; John 12; Proverbs 9; Ephesians 2

I may be a bit morbid, but I think a lot about the living and the dead. On one level I am asking the ageless questions about who lives and who dies and why. These questions pave the path of pain that leaves a jagged swatch of loss I cannot conceal. If you know me well, you have sat with me during those times of grief. On a deeper level I am wrestling with existential crisis questions such as the meaning and purpose in this life. These thoughts are universal.

In John 12:1 we read, “Then, six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.” How fitting that Jesus would be in the house of the man who had tasted death and returned to life after three days!” Perhaps Jesus thought of His own imminent physical death by crucifixion. Can you imagine how that memory of seeing Lazarus walk from the cave into the light and now sitting next to him impacted Christ? Was this inspiration for Jesus to prophecy His own death?  Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain,” (John 12:23). The souls saved through the miracle of raising Lazarus would pale in numbers to the generations of souls saved through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So what did Lazarus do to deserve life after death (the first time)? Can we add to a lifespan, or is the numbering of our days unlikely to change? My curiosity was piqued after reading this interesting passage in Proverbs 9:10-11. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding, For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you,” (my emphasis.) Can it be that life is extended through the wisdom and word of God?

Of course, my next thought is an automatic negative one that says, “Yea, but what if I have molded the golden calf?”

Sometimes the New Testament Jesus is preached as if Christ brought love to a world which had only known the wrath of the God of the Old Testament. I’ve come to believe that this line of thinking may be an example of how our ways are not like His. For in Exodus 33:18, 19 when Moses had asked for a demonstration of God’s favor (remember this is after the Israelites’ faithless worship of their man-made golden calf). God said, “I shall make all My goodness pass before you, and I shall call out with the Name Hashem (Mercy) before you; I shall show favor when I choose to show favor, and I shall show mercy when I choose to show mercy.” God was about to show Moses the 13 Attributes of Mercy (see Exodus 34,) that Moses was to teach His people. God wanted them and us to invoke these attributes of mercy in prayers.

Mercy is for the living. Ephesians 2:1,4, and10 declares, “And you He made alive…God who is rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

My prayer: God, give me revelation and understanding. Without Your mercy, I have nothing. And like Moses, I say that without Your Presence, I will not move. Even though I have done nothing to deserve Your favor, I seek Your goodness through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, my Savior. Praise You for however many days to come, continually living in Your presence.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Exodus 30; John 9; Proverbs 6; Galatians 5

The disciples consider whose fault it is that a man was born blind. Jesus ends the debate by revealing the purpose of the man’s blindness— to reveal God’s glory, His character.  Jesus spits on the ground, makes a bit of mud and applies it to the eyes of a blind man and tells him to go and wash it off. He does as instructed and for the first time, sees.

No one can quite believe what has just happened. Three times, he is asked to tell his story. It appears that his audience would like him to change his narrative and when he refuses, they turn on him. The formerly blind man will have none of it:

“Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this nam were not from God, he could do nothing.” John 9:30-34.

Here is my take away: I have had parts of my life that have been crippling in a variety of ways. There are times when repentance is required, but other times, pointing my finger at myself or others is in vain. Sometimes, bad things just happen, but Jesus is the master of using the ordinary stuff of life, the things that aren’t glorious or pretty to work his wonders.

The formerly blind man gets it right. He isn’t willing to change his story to accommodate others’s desired narrative; he gives credit where credit is due.  He believes.

Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” John 9:39.

Lord Jesus, thank you for bringing healing into my life. Help me to be true in the telling of how you have healed me. May the glory of your character at work in humble lives, shine through. Amen.

Kathy

 

 

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