May 16 – Learn and Obey


“You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.” John 13:13 (NASB)

In Scripture many names are used to identify God whether He spoke them as God the Father or as the Son of God, each is significant in its meaning. During Jesus’ time on this earth, he taught people about Himself using, several names by which people could refer to Him. In today’s verse two names were used especially by Jesus’ disciples expressing what Jesus Christ was for them. These names represent what Jesus is for us too. He is our Teacher and is involved in our lives daily teaching us His truth. We need His teaching and we should be learning from Him all through our lives. Each moment is “a teaching moment” if we pay attention. Jesus, by title and essence is our Lord but let’s not forget that this name is manifest through our obedience. We must obey our Lord. There’s no place for us to say, “No, Lord” and continue to call Him Lord. As we think of these two names, let’s remember to be learning and obeying Him each day. He teaches us and directs each steps of our lives which we need to follow – learn and obey what we learn.

195

April 19 – Knowing His Plan

Things happen and we react. Maybe we’re primed for a response that is not the right response or time to act. When we do, we often learn quickly of our overreach just as Peter does the night Jesus is arrested. Jesus had just gone three torturous rounds in prayer about the cup he was facing. Now Jesus has to ask Peter if he was trying to divert God’s plan. Impetuous Simon Peter, of course—wielding a sword! Peter was no stranger to jumping right in with both feet. He had jumped out of the boat attempting to walk on water to Christ. He had spoken his mind thinking to rebuke Christ. He had offered to lay down his life for Christ and swore he would be true, always. But shortly after stepping up to defend Jesus, fear would grip Peter and he would deny even knowing Him. Our  impatience might push us to interfere with what God had declared, with His  plans. What God has declared; He will do. Let’s learn to put away our figurative swords. Let’s trust God’s plan as we understand it and, wait on His timing. Acting on God’s command is how we serve Him best.

195

April 15 – Good Friday – Finished for Us

“Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” John  19:30 (NASB)

The entire work of redemption had been brought to completion when Jesus said the words “It is finished.” The verb “finished” here carries the idea of fulfilling one’s task and, in this context, has the idea of Christ fulfilling the religious obligations which He did for us.  These last words He spoke mean very much to all of us who have believed in Him. Earlier in verse 28 we learn that Jesus knew that it was done. He said, “knowing that everything had now been finished.” Jesus knew that His death was accomplishing His Father’s purpose in sending Him to this earth.  He came to pay the price for bringing us into God’s family.  He paid the penalty for our sins when He died for us. So after hanging on the cross for about six hours, enduring the separation from His Father which our sins had caused, He knew that God’s purpose was accomplished and so He declared it accomplished. The way was open for you and for me to come to God to have our sins forgiven. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” he was declaring a promise for us. Through His sacrifice and death, we are forgiven.

199

April 14 – Maundy Thursday – Drawing Closer


“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” John 12:32-33 (NASB)

Many of Jesus’ teachings during the days just before his crucifixion were given to His disciples. Other things He told the crowds of people. Today’s verse is found in John’s record. Jesus said that His soul was troubled because of the impending weight of what He was to do. God the Father in and audible voice confirms the glory that will result from the obedience of His Son Jesus. John records how Jesus was revealed the kind of death He knew He was going to suffer and what effect it will have on those who learn of it. Well, isn’t it true that when we heard about Jesus dying on the cross for us it drew us to Him and we believed in Him as our Savior? And even today when we think of Him dying on the cross doesn’t it draw us to Him in love. Let’s think of Jesus dying on the cross. Let’s think of Him often these days especially and each time we think of Him let’s allow Him to draw us closer and closer to Himself. That was His desire the day He died. It is His desire today.

194

April 13 – Holy Wednesday – When a Seed Dies

“And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:23-24  (ESV)

During the last week before Jesus died on the cross he was in contact with many people in Jerusalem. In John’s record we read in Chapter 12 about some people from Greek regions who came looking for Him. They said, “We would like to see Jesus.” When the disciples tell Jesus what the Greeks asked, His reply is found in today’s verse. Instead of responding to the curious sight-seers Jesus begins to talk about his coming death. When Jesus says “the hour,” He refers to the time of His death, resurrection, and exaltation. Up to now, Jesus’ hour had always been future. He knew that by dying on the cross He would do more good for those Greeks (Gentiles) than by just satisfying their curiosity.  We think of Jesus’ death like a seed planted which sprouts to bear many seeds. So Jesus, through his death and resurrection has brought many people into the family of God. We don’t know if those Greeks ever believed in Jesus as their Savior but they could have. They wanted to see Jesus. Maybe they did. Because He died, we have come to know Him and one day will see Him in heaven.

198

 March 11 – Be and Remain

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither you unless you abide in Me. ” – John 15:4 (NASB)

Communion with Christ is a cure for every ill. In our passage today, Jesus encourages us to live within Him. Living near to Jesus, we are covered with the wings of God, and underneath us are His everlasting arms. It is of secondary importance whether we’re famous and prosperous, or live humble lives in comparative poverty. So we’re focusing on the first three words Christ commanded his disciples here, “Abide in Me.’ The word “abide” means to remain or stick around. By “remaining” we confirm that salvation for us is an accomplished act. The evidence of salvation is our continuation in service to our Lord Jesus according to His teaching. An abiding believer is the only genuine believer. Abiding and believing actually address the same blessing of salvation. Let’s not allow anything to keep us from that blessed communion that is the unique relationship of our life hidden in Christ. Let’s always seek to retain His company, for only in His presence will we find either comfort or safety. Jesus is not for us a friend who calls us now and again, but one with whom we are in constant touch. 

191

Drawn in part with revision from C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

March 7 – At The Cross

“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”  Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” – John 19:26-27 (ESV)

How many people were standing around observing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the two criminals? Some were mocking, others overwhelmed with grief. From Matthew and Mark, we know there was a good number. John was the only disciple whose presence was noted. Jesus’ mother was there with John and other women who loved and followed Jesus to the cross. In midst great pain and suffering, Jesus felt Mary’s sorrow. He honored His mother by acknowledging and entrusting her into the care of John, “The disciple who He loved,” was the way John always identified himself in the Gospel he wrote.. Jesus, as first-born of the family, did not give the responsibility of caring for His mother to His half-brothers because they were not sympathetic to His ministry nor did they yet believe in Him. In stark contrast with the cruelty and indifference of the soldiers, this group of women watched with heart-broken love and grief. The promise we find in today’s verse was one given to Mary many years before. The anguish of Jesus’ mother fulfilled the prophecy of Simeon: “A sword will pierce your own soul too.” It was a promise of Jesus’ mission. (Luke 2:35). . 

196

March 3 – Whom To Know

“Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. “I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.” – John 7:28-29 (NASB)

It was not unusual when Jesus was on this earth and during His ministry, He would speak to individuals and to crowds. Without public address systems to amplify, depending on those listening, Jesus would speak loudly enough for all to hear. In this instance Jesus “cries out,” He speaks loudly to the people in the Temple. They thought they knew Jesus and where He was from. But they did not. He sarcastically affirms their assumption. Jesus’ point is that contrary to what the crowds thought, they really had no true understanding of who He was. They knew Him in the earthly sense, but not in the spiritual sense, because they didn’t know God either. Our promise in this passage is that if we truly know God we know Jesus. And, if we know Jesus, then we know God for Jesus came from and was sent by God that we may know Him and receive forgiveness and salvation. Some may think they are acutely perceptive and spiritually oriented, but if they do not accept Jesus, it reveals their spiritual bankruptcy. We rejoice that we do know God because we have believed in Jesus, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior. 

200

 February 21 – Overcome For Us Through Christ


“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NASB)

Today again our verse has the word “take courage.’ Because we live in a world that is hostile toward God and does not believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord we do need to bolster our spirit and strengthen our hearts with faith believing. But we do so not on our own or in our own might. We don’t have the capacity to be courageous in the face of tribulations from the world. In the New Testament, sometimes the word translated ‘take courage’ can be rendered ‘Be of good cheer.’ Another version translates it as ‘take heart.’ How can we do this? By trusting Jesus’ last phrase in this verse, “I have overcome the world.” He is the same ‘I’ that calmed their fears when he came toward his disciples walking on the surface of a stormy lake. The essential ground for our endurance in persecution is the victory of Jesus over the world. It is by His death, that He, rendered the world’s opposition null and void. While the world continues to attack believers, they are harmless to us, for Christ’s victory has already accomplished a marvelous defeat of the whole evil rebellious system.

195

 February 1 – Truthfully Worshiping In Spirit

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:24 (NASB)

Worship is an essential element of the life of all who truly believe by faith in Jesus. True faith cannot be separated from the act of worship and remain true faith. We worship not what is a physical or material nature. We worship The Spirit with our spirit. Much more than the popular use of the word ‘spiritual’ which describes some metaphysical feeling or sense of being beyond the physical. This verse represents the classical statement on the nature of God as Spirit. The phrase means that God is invisible as opposed to physical or material. Therefore, when we worship God there is only one absolutely necessary way⸺we must worship God in spirit and truth. That may well relegate much of the ‘acts of worship’ used to day to the ‘unnecessary category.’ While these may help us focus on God, they are a physical and material means. The word “spirit” does not refer to the Holy Spirit but to our human spirit. Jesus’ point here is that a person must worship not simply externally with traditionalism to religious rites and rituals or places and outward appearance but inwardly (“in spirit”) with the proper heart attitude. 

195