Tag Archives: evil

John 6:52-8:20

52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

John 6:52-52, NIV

Very truly. Jesus is telling the truth. But many of the disciples don’t understand.

60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

John 6:60-66, NIV, emphasis added

In time, all Jesus says will make sense, but at the time, many did not, could not, would not understand.

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

John 7:1-6, NIV, emphasis added

The Jewish leaders knew enough about Jesus’s teaching to consider it a threat to either their own authority and power, to their own belief system, or to God. They wanted Jesus silenced permanently. Jesus’s own brothers did not believe him and wanted him to go public in their unbelief–perhaps to mock him or to justify themselves in their unbelief. Did they expected Jesus to fail? Did they expect him to fail big? Did they want him to fail big?

Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil.

John 7:6-7, NIV

When Jesus does go and speak at the Festival, I hone in on the crowd–some were amazed at his teaching; some wanted to discredit him because they knew where he was from; some said he couldn’t be the Messiah because no one would know where the Messiah was coming from; others downplayed the threat on his life by calling him demon possessed; some were trying to decide if his miracles were enough or if another Messiah would do more; they pick at each sentence, repeating it, but not understanding the ultimate context. As I read through the full of John 7, the reactions (to Jesus, to his teaching, to the truth) seem all over the place. And if this is how he was treated as he walked among them, why would the reactions be any different in his absence?

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”

19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”

“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

John 8:12-19, NIV

So much of this reading felt draining to me–the confusion, the arguing, the challenging, the denying (I guess that’s because so much of what I read on social media is much the same). But truth does not grow weary. It is not changed by questioning or attacks. It stands. Lord, I crave your light. Help me to keep my focus on you, renewed and strengthened by you, held-loved-known by you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 21-23; Psalm 101; Revelation 16

Job’s story reminds me–there is a spiritual realm. And if I didn’t know the beginning of his story, when Satan and God spoke of Job, my opinions would bounce around as much as Job’s and his friends’ do. It’s hard to find logic and cause-and-effect in situations that don’t make any sense. I understand Job’s resentment that evil people get away with doing evil things–they may even be honored through it. Or, like Eliphaz, I might think that bad things happen because someone (however unknowingly) brought it upon himself. Job was known for his faith, but even as he speaks, I hear the deep grief and grappling of his thoughts. If a man who was known by God to have a strong faith is tossed about by his emotions in crisis and calamity, oh, what of me? There is a lesson here.

If I live in ignorance of the spiritual realm, then the hard things that happen in life can seem a logical reward when there is cause-and-effect, but when life doesn’t make sense, the hard things just seem cruel. When I live with a Kingdom focus, I can see the refining work of God through trial. If he never built me up through difficult situations, I may not be capable of withstanding disaster. Job talks of cliches, and I think of the phrase I’ve thought and spoken, “God equips those he calls.” And maybe this equipping sometimes comes through training and trial.

What does spiritual warfare look like in end times?

So the first angel left the Temple and poured out his bowl on the earth, and horrible, malignant sores broke out on everyone who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue.

Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse. And everything in the sea died.

Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs, and they became blood […] … and they cursed the name of God, who had control over all these plagues. They did not repent of their sins and turn to God and give him glory. (Revelation 16:2-4, 9, NLT)

In the midst of disease, calamity, torment, the people curse God’s name, angered that he had the power to stop it, but didn’t. They do not repent of their sins. They do no turn to God. They do not give him glory. They are unaware of the true battle and the battlefield. They do not understand their role in it.

While not part of today’s reading, this verse stood out to me recently: This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful. (Revelation 13:10b, NLT)

I think of Job. Standing outside these stories, it’s easy to throw down a trite response. In fact, reading through parts of Revelation, I couldn’t help but think, “Y’all need Jesus.” But today, this moment, I say to myself: God, I need you. I need your word in my head, in my hands, in my heart. I need your guidance. I need your strength.

Father God, I used to look at the wounds and hurts of life as fractures, but now I see them as chiseling away to define (strengthen) me and to make me more like the image of your son. Help me to keep a Kingdom focus, to live with clarity, to stand in faith, to bring you glory.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 25; 2 Chronicles 36

A siege that lasts two years. A famine. A city succumbs. Its king (Zedekiah) tries to escape at night past enemy (Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon’s) troops. Zedekiah is caught. The last he sees before his sight is taken is the slaughter of his sons. A city is dismantled as an enemy carries off bronze, silver and gold that had been used by Solomon to adorn and uphold the temple of the Lord. That is one side of the story in Second Kings.

Second Chronicles tells another perspective–of a lineage that repeatedly did evil in the sight of the Lord. It tells of prophets who came to warn and a leadership that mocked, scoffed and refused to listen.

11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. 12 But Zedekiah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and he refused to humble himself when the prophet Jeremiah spoke to him directly from the Lord. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, even though he had taken an oath of loyalty in God’s name. Zedekiah was a hard and stubborn man, refusing to turn to the Lord, the God of Israel.

14 Likewise, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful. They followed all the pagan practices of the surrounding nations, desecrating the Temple of the Lord that had been consecrated in Jerusalem.

15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent his prophets to warn them, for he had compassion on his people and his Temple. 16 But the people mocked these messengers of God and despised their words. They scoffed at the prophets until the Lord’s anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done.

17 So the Lord brought the king of Babylon against them. (2 Chronicles 36:11-17a, NLT)

While this may not be the birth of the saying, “Pride comes before the fall,” it certainly is another example of deceitful pride’s consequences. I wonder if one examines hardship or catastrophe, what would be the root? Even here, a list of heart attitudes that set a man, his entourage and an entire population against the Lord: refusal to humble; deceit; hard and stubborn; unfaithful; mocking and scoffing; disdain and contempt for/of truth. These thoughts are the birth of catastrophe–strong enough to not only bring down a man but an entire city, leaving behind ruin.

Lord, may I always be mindful of my heart attitudes, open to your direction and truth, and discerning of influences in my life.

Courtney (66books365)

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Daniel 7-9; Psalm 91; John 19

Daniel gets visions that terrify him, images and meanings he doesn’t understand.

26 “This vision about the 2,300 evenings and mornings is true. But none of these things will happen for a long time, so keep this vision a secret.”

27 Then I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for several days. Afterward I got up and performed my duties for the king, but I was greatly troubled by the vision and could not understand it. (Daniel 8:26-27, NLT)

They are explained to him, and the end result, after all the struggle, is victory.

26 “After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. (Daniel 9:26, NLT)

Psalm 91 proclaims the Lord’s presence and protection. Terrors, disease, deadly traps, the Lord says:

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16, NLT

They mocked Jesus, slapped him, crowned him with thorns. Pilate knew enough to fear.

Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”

When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”

The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. 10 “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”

11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:5-11, NLT)

The love of the Lord and his victory are woven throughout the scriptures–the thread that breathed existence holds the world together. Forces that punish, manipulate, deceive are put in proper light. Battles waged on earth are fought also in heavenly realms. An Anointed One is killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing … taken down from a cross, wrapped in a cloth, and put in a tomb. It may have looked like an end, but the victory was and is always his.

This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him. (Psalm 91:2, NLT)

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 38-40; Hebrews 1

Happy Valentine’s Day!

My wife and I celebrated a little bit earlier in the week.  We attended a Comedy Night sponsored by Focus on the Family.  Leland Klassen is one of my favourite comedians and he did not disappoint.

I still remember the day I gave my heart to Jesus, still one of my favourite memories when it comes to matters of the heart. He promised to be with me always, to never leave me, to guide me and lead me in my life and for His purposes.

Those moments I experienced were usually not as intense as when the children of Israel were crossing the desert, however, His peace was just as reassuring.

 No matter where the people traveled, the Lord was with them. Each day his cloud was over the tent, and each night a fire could be seen in the cloud. – Exodus 40:38   CEV

There is something about giving my heart to Jesus that changed quite a few things in my life – but today I will tell you two of them.

First, there was a change in me from how I viewed life.  I was a mean kid, made my older brother mad and made my younger brother cry.  I was a bully at school. Love has a way of reaching into an angry heart and soothing it.  Jesus gave me eyes like His and I saw things differently and saw the needs of others more clearly.

Secondly, I noticed I was different from others and others noticed I was different than them.  Often people would come up to me and ask me how I stayed happy even when they could see the world against me.  I would gladly tell them of Jesus.

You loved justice
    and hated evil,
and so I, your God,
    have chosen you.
I appointed you
and made you happier
    than any of your friends. – Hebrews 1:9  CEV

It is my prayer today, that as we celebrate with the one we love, that we remember the One who loved us first.  I have found my love for Him is an incredible foundation and reservoir of love for me to give away.

Father, thank you for loving so much and giving so much love that when You asked me to love I had more than enough to give away.  I do thank you so much for my wife.  I love her more than any other person and am so happy that she is part of my life.  Today, as I take a moment to remember the day You became the holder of my heart, my love for You knows no bounds.  How often the English language fails me in expressing my love for You.

Erwin

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