Week 43, Day 4
October 27, 2022
Scripture: John 9
“Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (John 9:35–41)
A trial of sorts plays out surrounding the man born blind and who has the authority and power to heal. It wasn’t possible in some of the Pharisees and naysayers minds that Jesus had the power to heal. It had to be a ruse.
Assuredly, it was no ruse, but the whole scene is Jesus revealing himself as the Son of Man who came to heal and restore sight to the blind. For Jesus, it becomes a parable of sorts. Will people be restored of their spiritual blindness and see Jesus for who he is, the Son of Man? Or will those who arrogantly think they have it all and know all, remain in the dark? They think they can see, but they are blind.
Jesus states the clearest of explanations of his identity. Often times he skirts around who the Son of Man is, and what he will do. It’s a bit of a mystery. But here he says, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
The man believed and worshiped.
What do we do when we come to see Jesus as the Lord and Savior, the Son of Man?
We believe and worship!
Find a place today to worship and celebrate Jesus today!
Week 43, Day 3
October 26, 2022
Scripture: John 8
““Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”” (John 8:58)
For good reason, there was no greater person of importance for the Jews, than their Father Abraham. It was God’s covenant Promise given him in Genesis 12, 15 and 17 that played the incredible important and foundational purpose of their very identity.
The reason why the Jews were a distinct people, with a purpose of being a blessing to the nations is because of Abraham. The reason they have the special blessing of being God’s people is because of God’s faithfulness towards Abraham.
So, the very foundation of their heritage, their identity, their purpose is rooted in Abraham.
So, you can imagine their saltiness when Jesus says, “Before Abraham was born, I am.”
To be clear, Jesus is saying, “I was with God in the beginning and all things were made in me and through me.” In using the name, “I am.” He is even furthering his connection to God the Father and making himself very importantly as a part of the Trinity. He is God in the flesh, living among them.
What’s the importance for us today?
“Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”” (John 8:51)
They were upset about this, before they were upset about Jesus’ supremacy over Abraham. Why should they listen to him? Why should they obey?
Well as we will see, there is life in Jesus. He is the hope of the world, and in him, obeying his word, leads us to life. He is greater than Abraham. They listen to him wholeheartedly. His point bringing Abraham into is that,”Hey, I’m before your hero, listen up!”
When we trust in him, when we obey his word, we will never see death.
What a great hope we have in Jesus today, the one who was with God in the beginning. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
In Him is Life!
Week 43, Day 1 and 2
October 24 and 25
Scripture: John 6 and 7
“Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”” (John 6:68–69)
“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. You go to the Festival. I am not going up to this Festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”” (John 7:6–8)
John 6 presents Jesus as the Living Bread and the Messiah. Peter answers appropriately, when so many are leaving Jesus behind, Peter holds on and stays along for the ride.
“Where would I go? You’re the one!”
But for many, they are struggling to see Jesus as the Messiah and the Savior of the world. He doesn’t meet their expectations. He is doing and saying things that are quite bizarre to them.
When a Christian reads the book of John, we don’t question why Jesus would want for us to eat his body and drink his blood. To one who has no knowledge of the impending crucifixion and the implementation of the Lord’s Supper that precedes it, this would be an alarming statement. Many fall away and stop following because they don’t know that Jesus will be the Lamb of God, broken and bleeding for the world.
But we do. And Peter saw that, somehow, in his calling he knew that he had to hold on.
We of course know that he will drop out too.
But he will be restored.
So, for us today, it’s the reminder, there are times that we get it right, and times that we don’t. But in all things, there is a chance to say, “Jesus is Lord, and I’m sticking with you!”
Week 42, Day 4
October 20, 2022
Scripture: John 4
“They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”” (John 4:42)
The Father with a sick son comes to believe when his son is healed.
The woman comes to believe when Jesus reveals that he knows her through and through.
The community comes to believe after spending time with Jesus, discovering him to be the Messiah, the Savior of the world. The Samaritan woman shares her story with them.
Today, come find yourself drawn to this wonderful story of Jesus revealing himself to a variety of people. Jesus is the Living Water, in him we will never thirst again.
Come and believe Jesus to be the Savior of the world.
Once we learn of who he is, the response is to continue the work of the Samaritan woman today.
Share your testimony with others that they might come to believe as well.
Who can you share Jesus with today?
Week 42, Day 2 and 3
October 18-19, 2022
Scripture: John 2-3
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16–17)
“The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. The person who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:31–36)
The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.
Today is a good day to trust in the Lord.
It can be difficult to remember these truths, but John 3 might be one of the most important scriptures in all the Bible. It teaches us:
God loves the world.
He’s given us his Son.
Belief in Him offers us salvation and eternal life.
God is in control.
In a world that feels overwhelming in which we have great fear and loss. God is in control, and the one who is in control loves us through and through.
When we believe the falsehood, we have fear: God is angry, God doesn’t care for us, there is no hope for life, only death, everything is out of control… Where there is falsehood, there is fear.
Where there is the Truth, and the Spirit, and an understanding of God’s love, there is hope, peace and deliverance. There is salvation in Jesus, the Truth. He holds all things together.
Today’s a good day to trust in the Lord.
Apart from him is death. In him is Spirit and Life.
Week 42, Day 1
October 17, 2022
““How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”” (John 1:48–51)
Nathaniel comes to believe in Jesus and declare him “Rabbi, Son of God and King of Israel!” Oh, to have Nathaniel-like allegiance. He gave it to Jesus because Jesus saw him under the fig tree. Pretty incredible when you think about it.
I don’t buy a product on Amazon unless it has over a thousand good reviews. I have a hard time committing to anything without a thorough analysis, and even then, I often regret it.
Nathaniel’s review of Jesus went something like, “He everyone! I found what we have all been looking for! He saw me under a fig tree, and he wasn’t there! I was, I WAS Under the FIG TREE!”
He gave his allegiance; he believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and King of Israel.
Jesus was excited to tell him, that if the fig tree wowed him, then just wait, and see what is to come. His mind will be blown! The Best is Yet to Come!
Jesus was with God in the beginning, and all things were made in him and through him. The Gospel of John is written that we would come to believe and give our lives to Jesus Christ, the Son of God and King of Israel. He is the Messiah. Some are Nathaniel’s, they hear about Jesus and come and believe. It’s been what they’ve been missing all along and the simplest of encouragements leads them to the truth of who Jesus is. Others require quite a bit more information. Both though, have their place in the kingdom of God. Today, we celebrate Nathaniel’s faith. May it be our own.
Come and believe! Greater things are to come!
Week 41, Day 5
Scripture: 1 Peter 5
October 14, 2022
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your fellow believers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:6–10)
Cast all your anxiety on God.
The number one industry in America is fear. Consider all of the ways in which we are made to feel anxious. Thousands of advertisements reminding us of what we are missing and what we can’t live without, are supplemented by a barrage of horrifying news articles and videos. WE are attacked by all fronts. The enemy prowls around looking to devour.
Cast your anxiety on God. Give the concerns of your heart and mind to God.
I’ve learned that reading, praying and meditating on Psalm 23 is really good for my heart and mind. This is an act of humility. “The Lord is my Shepherd.” That’s an expression of humility. “God you are the leader of my life,” puts us in a position of humility.
I also enjoying praying the Lord’s prayer to remind myself that I have all I need in Christ. God is caring for me.
These practices help me to turn the anxiety of my heart and mind over to God, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
God is with us. The devil may prowl, and look to devour, but we know that God will, in his grace, “restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
God be with you. He will lift us up.
Week 41, Day 4
October 13, 2022
Scripture: 1 Peter 4
“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”” (1 Peter 4:14–18)
After my baptism I heard several well-intended Christians tell me that I needed to be careful. Because I made a good decision for Jesus, they said, “Satan is going to be on the attack.”
A few days after I was baptized, I received a detention from my teacher because I continued talking during class and was disruptive. On the long walk from the bus stop to my house, I had to think about what I was going to tell my parents, and why I got a detention. I handed the note informing my mom of my detention and I told her, “Satan gave me a detention.”
To my surprise, my mom didn’t buy it. I got in trouble for blaming Satan for my poor behavior.
This is a lighthearted look at a text that teaches us an important lesson on life as Christians. If we suffer because of the evil we do, there is shame in that and we need to take ownership of it. But for the Christian who suffers because they are following the will of God, well that suffering is in fact a blessing and will glorify God because of it.
Let us endure suffering for the glory of God, not for our wrongdoing, but for the sake of the glory of God. Let us hold unswervingly to our faith. May the persecution we face be, not because of our wrongdoing, but the pressure and difficulty of walking in faith and trusting in God in a world that is hell-bent against him.
Week 41, Day 3
October 12, 2022
Scripture: 1 Peter 3
“In that state he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” (1 Peter 3:19–22)
Yesterday, a friend of mine shared that a family left the church he serves because of the church’s stance on baptism. They probably used the words like “essential”, “salvation” and “baptism” in the same sentence!
Is baptism essential for salvation?
Was the Ark essential for Noah and his family during the flood?
Was crossing the Red Sea essential for Israel fleeing Egypt?
Was crossing the Jordan essential for Israel to enter the Promised land?
The way God moved his people, into new life, was through water. Peter draws on the Ark and Noah as a way of talking about baptism. It washes us, not on the outside, but it is the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.
We parse the scriptures to say what is essential and what isn’t for salvation. People leave churches or never join them because of strong stances on baptism. Part of the reason why churches take such a strong stance is this verse: It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” (1 Peter 3:22)
Jesus is essential for salvation. The way I declare that commitment, the way I declare and make a pledge of my devotion to God is through baptism.
Can someone be saved outside of baptism? That’s God’s call, not mine. Above my paygrade. But if you were to ask me, “how do I have a clear conscience?” or “How do I declare my love for God?” One significant part of that is baptism as a response of faith in Jesus.
I enter the story of God’s people in baptism (the reason I think Jesus is baptized in Matthew 3). I receive the Spirit of God at baptism (Acts 2:37-42). I enter God’s mission (Matthew 28:19-20). I enter new life. I join Jesus in the life-saving resurrection (Colossians 2:12). I join with Jesus in his death, so that I may have new life (Romans 6). I join the body of believers and form a new people. (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Could I have this without baptism? To a degree. But it would be without the prescribed form of declaration of commitment to Christ.
Throughout the story of Israel, it is God and his powerful activity that are essential for salvation. Without God’s miraculous power and presence, we would not be saved. Jesus is why we are saved. Baptism is a response to the saving act of God. The Israelites drown in the Red Sea, or turn and are enslaved by Egypt once again if they don’t go into the sea. Without the parting of the waters of the Jordan, the Israelites stay wandering in the wilderness. Without the powerful work of God to save, we are all destined for death. Without repentance and turning towards God, responding to his gracious love, we are not saved.
Jesus is essential for salvation. The work is done, how will I respond to his grace?
My response to the faithfulness of Jesus is to declare to Jesus my Lord and Savior. I say to him, “I love you and want my life to be lived in you.”
Part of how I declare Jesus as my Lord, Savior, and King, is to enter into water baptism as he instructs us to in the Great Commission. I enter the water to have new life in Christ.
Baptism has unfortunately become a source of contention for people. A reason people leave one church for another. I won’t resolve that with one devotional thought, that’s not the aim here. It is to ask a question, will you be baptized? Will you join the mission of God? Will you walk with God in new life? How will you respond to the wonderful grace of Jesus?
Week 41, Day 2
October 11, 2022
Scripture: 1 Peter 2
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9–10)
Peter connects the Christian to the Old Testament promise of Abraham. We are a called-out people, set apart from the world to be a kingdom of priests. That is, we are blessed by God to be his children and are now a blessing to the world. It is important for us to consider ourselves priests in the world. We represent God to others and we also go to God on their behalf in prayer.
There is an ongoing $100 million dollar ad campaign called, “He gets us.” The aim of the campaign is to change the narrative about Jesus. We have a marketing problem, the church has not represented Christ well, and the campaign is looking to brand Jesus better than the church has represented him over the years.
I understand the concerns of those who have contributed to the campaign to circumvent the problem of a poor view of Jesus because of the churches less than stellar example.
I appreciate the effort to change the narrative. But what we need, I think, is right here in the text. It’s the reminder and challenge that we are God’s representatives in the world. Priests played a vital role in the community of Israel. They offered the sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins, they mediated conflict, they cared for the hurting, cleansed those who were sick, they ministered to the community. They prayed on the people’s behalf. Provided sanctuary in cities of refuge. Their roles were to represent God in the world. They were called to live lightly, so they might be free to minister well to their communities. We are set apart now, to declare praises. We are called to be a light in the darkness.
We have a branding problem of the church, for sure. But an ad campaign, no matter how much is spent on it, will move the l needle slightly. We need to adjust our attitudes towards ministry and calling. We are all called to be priests in the kingdom of God. Each of us are witnesses and share the good news of Jesus.
You are blessed to be a blessing.
Go be a priest today, love someone and give God praise.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.