January 1 – A Worthy Resolution. 

With this post we begin the seventh year of writing and sharing these brief devotionals. We hope they continue to be an encouragement for all who choose to follow them.

“He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” – John 21:17 (NASB)

Jesus has a wonderful way of restoring us when we fail Him. He does not humiliate us. He does not criticize us; He does not ask us to make a resolution to try harder. Jesus takes us aside and asks us to reaffirm our love for Him. It was the third time Jesus asked Peter if He, Simon by name, loved Him. First in verse 15, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” Second in verse 16,  “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Third in verse 17 – our verse for today. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He used a word for love that signified total commitment. Peter replied using a word for love that signified his love for Jesus, but not necessarily his total commitment. This was because he had been disobedient and denied the Lord in the past after a bold declaration of being committed. The resolution we might do well to consider this year would be to submit to Jesus’ demand of total commitment as His follower. Place our love for Jesus above our love for all else in our lives. 

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December 30 – A Matter of Priorities

“ Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. ” – John 4:34 (ESV)

t was a common for the priorities of Jesus to be very different than the concerns of his disciples. Jesus, hearing how his activity in Judea was stirring up interest, he heads out of the region to avoid conflict with the powers in Jerusalem. He makes his way from to Galilee using the road through Samaria. An unusual route for a Jew but not for Jesus. He did so to be at Jacob’s well at just the right time of day. Jesus had an appointment with divine destiny in meeting the Samaritan woman, to whom He would reveal His messiahship. While waiting, the disciples go into a nearby town for food. They return just as Jesus’ conversation with the woman is finished. Having brought Him food, they offer it and encourage him to eat. But Jesus speaks of “food” differently than what the disciples did for him. For Jesus, fulfilling the will of His Father was more important to him than taking care of a passing physical need. That is what He lived for. He wanted his disciples and He wants us to recognize that God’s purposes and works have s a higher priority than satisfying even important physical needs. 

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December 23 – The Only Way

“ Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 (ESV)

If we know a verse really well and have heard it and seen it posted many times, it becomes easy to let its power and meaning fade a bit. Let’s not do this with this verse. This is the sixth of seven occasion that John records Jesus using the “I AM” in his proclamations regarding who He is and what He has to give to all who believe. Thomas asks what all thought, “Where are you going? How do we follow you there?” One of the 12, Thomas and all the others had a ways to go to understand fully the mission and purpose that brought Jesus to earth. Jesus declared that He is the way to God because He is the truth of God* and the life of God*. In this verse, the exclusiveness of Jesus as the only approach, the only door, the only way to the Father is emphatic. Jesus emphasized that salvation, contrary to what many people think, is not obtainable through many ways. Only one Way exists*. Jesus is the only access to the Father because He is the only One from the Father.

*(cf. John 1:14; John 3:15; 11:25; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy. 2:5)

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December 22 – Even Dying, Not Ever Dead

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” John 11:25-26 (NASB)

Of the seven significant and purposeful uses of the phrase “I AM” by Jesus that John recorded, this is the fifth one. It’s context is very important. Lazarus had died. Along with his sisters Martha and Mary, Lazarus was a dear friend of Jesus. Martha had an abstract belief in the resurrection that will happen “on the last day.” But Jesus wants Martha to know Him as the only one who can bring the dead back to life. Jesus is the resurrection and the life which a dead person is resurrected to. Jesus abides in us and He has, because who He is, life to give for He created all life in the first place. Jesus asked Martha, “Do you Believe this?” Martha confesses her belief that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of God incarnate. Dwelling in all who believe, He is the resurrection and life to all who also dwell in Him. We live, we die, but since we have been born again by God’s Spirit we have the Son of God, who is our life and we will never die. Our life is Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life eternally living in us.

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December 21 – How We Kno

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” – John 10:11 (NASB)
“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:15 (NASB

Shepherds worked very difficult jobs. Sheep were important to the lives and the livelihood of sheep owners and an important industry. Finding a good shepherd, one that could be trusted, was not always easy. Here, Jesus declares himself the Good Shepherd. A strict more literal translation is “I am the shepherd, the good one.” A good shepherd would be willing to hazard his all for the sheep. King David was a shepherd who risked his life to protect the sheep from wild predators. A shepherd may, indeed, risk his life in the defense of his sheep (1 Samuel. 17:34–36), but he does not really lay down his life as a voluntary sacrifice. But our Good Shepherd has a different relationship than a hired shepherd. To save His sheep, the Good Shepherd sacrificed his life so that they can live. Jesus doubles this promise and He did lay down His life for the sheep because He knows each intimately by name and they know and follow Him. His sheep know him in the same way as God the Father and God the Son know each other for they are one. Perhaps difficult to understand, it is His promise to us.

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December 20 – To and For Door

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” – John 10:9 (ESV)

The metaphor is the door that protects us when we believe. This truth is revealed to us given a twofold application. Jesus is the door to the sheep as well as He is the door for the sheep. In verses 7-8 Jesus appears as the door to the sheep; in verse 9 as the door for the sheep. We paraphrase, “I assure you truthfully, all who do not enter the sheepfold by faith believing in Me and have an appointment by Me, enter illegitimately proving to be a thief and a robber. Believe this, all who came before me have evil intent and are thieves and robbers. But he who enters justifiably is the shepherd of the sheep.” For the true shepherd, He is the door. For every true sheep He is also the door. For the shepherd He is the door to the sheep. For the sheep He is the door to all the blessings of salvation. The figure is very proper: a door leads both in and out: it gives the shepherd access to his sheep that are inside. It gives the sheep access into the fold, and out to the pasture which is outside.

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December 19 – Being The Door

“So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” John 10:7 (ESV)

Jesus is the Son of God and the manifestation of God Himself who came to earth to live a life that his created humans lived. He claimed to be the Bread of Life, the Living Water, Living Light, and now we learn the Good Shepherd. The shepherds in that time would sometimes lead their sheep into a fold. This round pen would be most likely have a rock wall with one opening. To protect the sheep at night the shepherd would sleep in the gateway as the door. He would know if anyone came to rob the sheep. When Jesus says, “I—emphatic; i.e., I alone—am the door of the sheep,” he means that he is the only One through whom anyone obtains legitimate access. There simply is no other entrance. The sheep in this way were saved from the threats and dangers in the world. No predator would be allowed in to frighten or molest the sheep. The Shepherd protected them with His life. Jesus promises, when he says, “I AM” the door that He was the only way sheep found safety and we are invited to enter by faith believing into His flock by trusting His promise. 

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December 18 – Expelling the Darkness

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” –  John 8:12 (NASB)

The story we remember and celebrate at this time of the year is the birth of Jesus on Earth when he emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men. He did so in order to offer redemption and salvation to all who believed in Him. Today’s promise comes from another of Jesus’ “I AM” statements recorded by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel of the Apostle John. Those who do like darkness do so to hide their actions. True darkness is the absence of light. Remove the light and what remains is darkness. We all understand this. If we want to expel the darkness from a room, we turn on the light switch that we have faith will cause energy to flow to a light source. In the same way Jesus says to us to follow Him because He is eternal light. In Him there is no darkness and from Him we have the Light of life, eternal life. Following is an act of faith and the Light is an act of Grace and the ability to do so, it a gift promised from God.

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December 17 – Unending Satisfaction 

““For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”” – John 6:33-35 (ESV)

Unbelief is overcome only by the Holy Spirit. Otherwise it is a powerful evil influence as we see demonstrated in today’s passage. Those to whom Jesus was speaking had been a part of the large crowd that had been fed to their filling with miraculous created bread and fish. 5,000 was the number of men not including the women and children. Possibly as many as 20,000 had been fed. They continue to ask Jesus for a sign that they could hang their belief on⸺a meal of fish that never swam in the lake was not enough. The people don’t get it. All they could think of was their physical hunger. They wanted more. Jesus makes a better offer and declares “I AM the bread of life.” That is the promise, if we believe in Jesus, we will not have a gnawing hunger for spiritual peace with God. Jesus also promises that those who believe will never thirst. It’s a promise of unending bread and water for our spiritual lives. Because of their unbelief, Jesus repeats with “Truly, truly” in John 6:47-48,. Unbelievers fail to accept the miracle of eternal life Jesus promised to those who believe.

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December 16 – He Who Is

“The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us. Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” – John 4:25-26 (NASB)

This is part of the account of Jesus’ encounter with a woman at the well of Jacob in Samaria. It is recorded in the greater passage (John 4:1-45). Jesus, when he traveled from place to place seems to always have a purpose and often an appointment to meet specific people. That is the case with this story. While not fully understanding, this woman needed Jesus desperately and Jesus knew that for He knew all about her history. Yet she believed the Messiah was coming. Here in our verse Jesus tells her that He who was talking to her is the promised Messiah. It is interesting how Jesus identifies himself by saying “I (who speak to you) am He. However the word He has been added by translators for clarity. What Jesus says to her is “I (who speak to you) AM.” Twenty-three times in all we find our Lord’s meaningful “I AM” (ego eimi, Gr.) in this gospel. In several of these, He joins His “I AM” with seven metaphors which are expressive of His saving relationship toward the world. This is the promise, that Jesus of Nazareth was and still is the Christ, sent from the Father. 

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