John 18

My thoughts today gravitated towards Peter. When Jesus is arrested, or about to be arrested, John tells us, “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (18:10-11)

Violence wasn’t an answer for Jesus. To this point in Jesus’ ministry he hasn’t condoned violence, and it wouldn’t fly here either.

We see that Jesus is of a nonviolent sort of Kingdom. His throne wouldn’t be established through violence, rather through love and peace. He explains to Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (18:36)

He tells Pilate also that his purpose is to “bear witness to the truth.”

The way that Jesus responds to the interrogation of Pilate and the violence of Peter reveals the unusual nature of God’s kingdom. We need this reminder that the kingdom of God is unlike the kingdoms of the world. God’s kingdom is not a kingdom of force, but a kingdom founded on the Truth in peace and love.

Pilate appropriately asks, “What is Truth?”

I find his response almost humorous. Modernity is defined by absolutes and objectivity. We live in what is being described as a Post Modern world, where absolutes are absent and objectivity is replaced with subjectivity. There are many more generalizations of Post Modernity to be had. We have Pilate asking a Post Modern question here, “What is Truth?” He wants it to be defined, held onto.

I think our world still desires for truth to be defined. And we have the shining example of truth in the life of Jesus Christ. Pilate, has the audacity to ask the Truth, what truth is. Pilate doesn’t know what truth is, even though it was staring him right in the face.

Jesus’ job was to witness to the truth. He was the truth, he spoke the truth and he led people to the truth. When we want to know what Truth is, we turn to Jesus.

One of the important aspects of Chapter 18 then is what Jesus reveals about the Kingdom of God. The Truth tells Peter to put down the sword and as far as I can tell, the church is never asked to pick it up again. Are their Christians who believe that the Kingdom of truth will come by way of the Sword? Certainly. But the Kingdom prevails because of God’s love, not the sword.  Anyone can come to power through the sword, but the kingdom Jesus brought is not of the world. His kingdom is of God and his kingdom is incredible and its founded on love.

My Prayer: Father, I am so prone to picking up the sword. It is my human default to think that your kingdom comes through my efforts, strength and power. But your kingdom isn’t like the kingdoms of this world. While they come and go, your kingdom lasts forever. And you kingdom has come by the love of Christ on the cross. Your kingdom is not of this world. Let me see the truth that is Jesus Christ and bear witness to that truth with my life. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.


 
 

John 16
The message of John 16 is all about the eventual departure of Christ from the earth to return to the Father. We get the strong sense now that Jesus’ days on earth are numbered. The final words of the chapter offer us considerable hope: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

As for Godliness, and living a God-honoring life, we see that his disciples believe. They were happy that Jesus finally was speaking clearly, they were like, “we get it, you spoke plainly, yippee!” Jesus’ follow-up question is  borderline troubling in verse 31 “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.”

Everything the disciples came to know, love and appreciate about Christ was about to be taken from them. They were soon to be scattered. Jesus comforts the disciples with these words “I have overcome the world.” What is interesting, the “overcoming” hasn’t happened yet and Jesus expresses a confidence that he will overcome. For the godly, those who choose to follow Christ, there will be scattering. But Jesus gives his disciples hope, he will send an advocate (the Spirit), and he has overcome the world. We have both our help and hope in Jesus Christ.

That then is our application for the world and individually. We may find strength and hope in Jesus. Whatever struggles we may face, whatever persecution we hear on the news for Christians, whatever heartache we may face in our life, we know we have help and hope in Jesus. He is our strength and he has overcome the world.

Prayer – Father, in this life there is heartache. I can look on the news and hear horrific story, one after the other of the effects of sin. The pain, heartache and suffering that happens is often overwhelming. I read of Christians who are in far off areas of the world who face persecution daily. Give them peace and strength in Jesus Christ. I thank you that I have help in Christ through his Spirit. Jesus is my Peace and Strength, may that peace and strength be of sustenance and help to those facing persecution daily. In Jesus Name, Amen.

John 17

How comforting it is that Jesus prayed for me while he was on the earth “I do not ask for these only (his disciples), but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” 17:20-21

What a mission we have from this prayer, to be united together that people may know the Truth about Jesus and where he came from. Our unity as Christians reveals the unity of the Son and the Father and proves Jesus is sent from God. A question that might come from this is “Why would God want us (the church) to be his representatives of the unity and relationship of the Father and the Son?” It seems like a poor strategy. Not that I want to tell God what to do, but it just seems like a poor plan to rely on me and my relationship with others to be unified together to show the unity of the Father and the Son. Our unity as fellow believers in Christ is to show that Jesus is from God. I hesitate because Christians sometimes aren't so good at being unified. But I think God chose our unity together as Christians to be a sign of the Father and Son's unity for the glory of God. When we do experience earthly unity, the perfect unity Jesus prays for, it’s beautiful. Yeah, the process, may at times, be ugly, but when we work through our relationships and find love for one another and raise our hands together for Christ, there is nothing more beautiful than unified believers together called the bride of Christ.

That’s our hope, unity. It gives us purpose to pursue unity and to work through difficult relationships. I’ve had to work on a lot of relationships, trying to find unity and mutual love for one another. I tell you, it doesn’t come easy, but it is my vision that I wouldn’t have an enemy who is also a Christian. Certainly, as Jesus mentioned earlier that the world will hate his followers because it hated him too; I won’t avoid having no enemies at all. Christians though, ought be driven towards unity. Denominationalism seems like a compromise to me. A compromise from doing the hard work of seeking unity and love. We may never find total agreement on everything, but the heart of the Restoration movement (Church of Christ, Christian Church) and the prayer of John 17 are the same thing: unity and love in Jesus Christ.

Let us strive together to bring about unity and do what all we can to seek unity and love. Let us not resolve to “agree to disagree,” rather “agree to unify” and pursue common ground in Christ. Thank goodness this is not only our prayer, but also the prayer of Christ. One day we will find unity in Jesus Christ. His prayer will be answered. I eagerly wait for the day we may all find ourselves in perfect unity with one another. We have reason for hope that this is possible. Paul’s vision for the church was for unity as well, he often described it as a community of believers where what formerly was cause for division was overcome because of life in Christ: “Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave or free.”

Let’s continue our Lord’s Prayer: “O Righteous Father, we eagerly await the unity of all believers. May we taste together in our church the unity that is shared between You and your Son, Jesus. As you and the Son are one, may we have unity and love with one another who are Christians. In an age of denominationalism, we long for unity. We ask for  more than just community cooperation, but mutual love and affection for fellow believers. Let our love grow together towards unity in Christ. Undeniably, there will be times of great struggle and disagreement, may we be compelled by the prayer of Christ to seek unity and love in him. In Jesus name, Amen.

 
 

I have found it difficult to get to writing on Sunday. After church, food, a rest and youth group, it's difficult to sit down and write. But here are my thoughts from yesterday's text, and I'll bring it around to today's text as well. We are on the home stretch together, keep it up! By the way, there won't be a chance for me to write tomorrow, I can almost guarantee it, so look for John 16 and 17 Wednesday.
 John 14

For John 14, I’m going to just recap where I landed with Sunday’s message. In Genesis 1, in the account of creation God creates the heavens and the earth. God created the heavens and the earth when the whole universe was both “formless and void.” God proceeded to Form and Fill the earth. He formed the sky, the waters and the land. God formed it, and filled it with vegetation, animals, birds, fish and humans. He did so, in the seven days of creation. God takes what was formless and void, and forms and fills.

It was my thinking yesterday that God is still forming and filling. He forms and fills the Israelites, to take the form of his holy nation and fill the Promised Land. Other examples in the Old Testament of forming and filling are of the Ark of the Covenant, Noah’s Ark, and the Tabernacle. God forms and fills in the Old Testament, and he continues that work in the New Testament. In Jesus’ ministry, he takes on human form and fills the earth with glory (Philippians 2). He forms his disciples with his teaching and fills them with his Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul describes that faith in Jesus Christ unifies us together as the body of Christ. Whatever may have divides us is overcome and we find unity through Christ, and we take shape into his likeness.

I ultimately landed in John 14 in my sermon, where the promise of forming and filling continues.  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. My Father’s house has plenty of room; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3

When we decide that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we pay more than lip service to our Creator. We invite the same power God used to form and fill the broken, empty and formless world to go to work on our broken, formless and empty life. He forms it into the image of Christ and joins it with a body of believers who take form together to be the Church. The hope for those who are united together in Christ Jesus is redemption. Jesus is coming back, that is the assurance of those who believe in him and invite God to go to work in creating us anew in Jesus Christ.( 2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 3:4, Phil 3:17-20)

This leads me to John 15

John 15 is home to a verse that troubles me greatly. If I understand correctly, John 15:1-4 is Jesus telling us that he is the vine and we are the branches. What he means by that is that He alone is our life source. Our life is in him; we cannot exist outside of him. Jesus is our life. If we don’t bear fruit, then we are pruned. That makes sense, why carry the dead weight right? But then he has to follow it with this “while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (emphasis mine) (15:2) Wait a minute? If I’m bearing fruit, I may still be pruned? That doesn’t sound good, and it sounds like it might hurt.

God’s interest is in fruit and obedience. Remaining in Christ is a test of perseverance. The Gardener’s job is for the health of the vine and for his garden to bear much fruit. I think a lesson for me to learn is not whether or not I feel that the pruning done is fair or not, but whether I prove faithful by remaining in Jesus. The correction of the Father is for my good that I would be stronger and bear more fruit for Christ and the kingdom.

This doesn’t rest easy with me; I would much rather avoid trouble and problems. I would just assume let other people learn valuable lessons and I learn from them and their mistakes and hardships.

But I suppose, all I am asking is that I can have the cake and eat it too. Or more likely, that I may follow Christ without carrying my cross.

Jesus is the Vine and I am one among many branches. Our relationship is simple in this: I find life by being in him. He is my life source, and whatever circumstances I might find myself in, whatever struggles or “pruning” experience, it is only an opportunity to draw closer to the true vine and have true life. Pruning is for my own good, and that’s difficult to comprehend and accept, but those who remain faithful go on to live a fruitful life for Christ and his Father’s Kingdom. That’s what I want.

Prayer: You are the Vine, I am the branch. I know I cannot avoid the pruning shears. Your end is that I remain in your Son and bear fruit in ministry for your kingdom. Help me to persevere and trust in you as the true gardener who knows what is best for your garden. You ultimately know when to water, when to weed, when to prune and when to sow. May I trust in your timing and be pleased with how you FORM me and FILL me for your purposes. You have the power to create out of nothing; form within me a loving heart, a considerate mind and new life in Jesus Christ. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.

 
 
 John 12

John 12 has several talking points. The bit about the poor always being among us could be a worthy topic. The kerenel of wheat that falls to the ground and must die to have life is worthy as well.

But I’m thinking about one verse: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death whe was going to die.” 12:32-33

He said this, I believe also, to reveal the true role of preachers of the Gospel. A wonderful reminder is that my sole job on Sunday mornings is to lift Jesus up. He was speaking of his death, but I’m speaking of his glory. When HE is lifted up, HE draws all the world to  him.

Jesus is at work in the sermon, Jesus draws people to him, it isn’t a fancy sermon, a catchy music tune, a well developed worship set, a great drama – it is all of those tools, used by God, that when they DO lift Jesus Up – HE DRAWS THE WORLD. It is my role within all of this to be the faithful to the task of lifting up Christ.

I’m excited for my message this weekend and the worship, because I believe we will be doing just that, lifting Christ up.

Godliness is a matter of lifting Jesus up, in all we do as Christians.

Here is my prayer: God may we be useful tools in the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ. May my sermons lift Jesus up, may my words, always lift Jesus up, may my actions and deeds lift Jesus up that through your power, people would be drawn to Christ, to conviction and repentance. In Jesus name, Amen.

John 13

I love this chapter, we are given the command to love others and shown practical application when Jesus washes his disciples feet. He teaches – “Go and do likewise.”

Godliness is a matter of serving others. Whenever I read John 13 I am reminded of a missionary trip to Cuba I went on a few years ago. As we were traveling in the mountains of Cuba, it began to rain. The dirt turned to a cake-like mud. As we traveled to get to a house of a believer a mile or two through a winding muddy road, our shoes turned into cinder blocks of mud, collecting more mud with every step. When we finally got to our destination, our missionary leader cleaned off our shoes, dirtying himself throughout the process.

He served us as we were there to serve him. I’ll never forget that. We will be known, Jesus says, as his disciples if we “love one another.” (35)

Jesus commissions his disciples to service and love for others. Yeah he’s about to be betrayed, and as he tells the well-intentioned Peter, he’s about to be denied too. But that doesn’t stop Jesus from serving and loving. The love and patience of Christ encourages me greatly. To be identified as one of Jesus’ many disciples, I am called to love and serve.

I can grow weary in this, so I must pray:

“Father in Heaven, Almighty Son of God, despite the depravity of man, you went to the cross. Despite our denial and betrayal, you give us your grace and go to the cross. You love and serve others despite our disobedience. May my heart be molded and formed to be like the Son and filled with your Holy Spirit. Allow me to be so fortunate and blessed to be considered a disciple of Jesus Christ in recognition of my love others. I pray for your help and strength, in Jesus name, Amen.”


 
 
John 11

“Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the Glory of God?” 11:40

That is certainly our hope, if we believe we will see the glory of God unfold. If we believe we will see the Glory of God in the resurrection, in sight restoration, and in sinful lives reborn. If we believe, we will see the Glory of God.

I find it interesting that both tragedies, the man born blind and the death of Lazarus was an opportunity for Jesus to show the glory of the God. In 9:3, referring to the man’s blindness “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” In 11:4 “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Christ overcomes the effects of sin, the deterioration, the separation, the hurt and all the pain that goes with it, for the glory of God. Jesus uses the effects of sin; blindness and death, to reveal God’s agenda to reconcile the world back to him and redeem creation. When people “see the Glory of God” it’s a matter of sin and the effects of sin being overcome by the love and power of God. Ultimately, we will see this take form in the death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus tells Martha in 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Those who believe will be saved.

For Godliness, we see a shining example in an unlikely source, Thomas. He gets a bad rapport for what he does later, for doubting in the resurrected Lord. But in this instance, his remark is quite interesting. The disciples were hesitant to go to Judea, after all, a short while ago people there were trying to kill Jesus. After clearly explaining that Lazarus was in fact dead, Thomas says “let us also go, that we may die with him.”

This is truly a remarkable sign of faith on Thomas’ part. Jesus plainly tells his disciples often that they will be despised and hated for following him. But by now, they each have discovered that “he has the words of life.” Thomas is willing to go back to Judea and face death. It’s just one statement, and we don’t hear of Thomas a whole lot in the scriptures from here on out. But we see in this one instance a willingness to take up the cross and follow Jesus. Godliness is a matter of bearing the weight of the cross and willing to follow Christ even to the most dangerous of situations. Thomas was willing, at least in this moment, to follow Christ and minister to friends.

We would be wise to follow and believe. Unfortunately, for our world many cannot believe. Hardened hearts have kept many from believing in Christ. Yet I think we need to have the same attitude as Christ when it comes to the effects of sin. The blindness of one man and the death of another were used by Jesus to reveal the glory of God. Sin is still prevalent in our world and Jesus can use it to reveal his Father’s Glory. He can take our brokenness and reveal the mighty power of God to heal, redeem and reconcile. That’s what the world needs to see in us, in the church and lived out in our lives, a redeemed and saved life from sin, that shows the glory of God.

Father, I believe in the resurrection, Jesus Christ. He is your Son and he is busy redeeming the world back to you. May the witness of my forgiven life give you all the glory and honor due you. And let my forgiveness and new life in your Son be  a shining light to the world of your magnificence and grace. In the name of Jesus, Amen.


 
 

John 10
I AM THE GATE FOR THE SHEEP

            Anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate , but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber

            Whoever enters through me will be saved

I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD

            When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

            BUT THEY WIL NEVER FOLLOW A STRANGER; IN FACT, THEY WILL RUN AWAY FROM HIM BECAUSE THEY DO NOT RECOGNIZE A STRANGER’S VOICE.

            The shepherd lays down his life for the sheep

            I know my sheep and my sheep know me

I lay down my life for the sheep

            I have other sheep that are not of this pen – I must bring them also

            They too will listen to my voice

            There shall be one flock and one shepherd

            My sheep listen to my voice

            I know them and they follow me

            I give them eternal life, they shall never perish

            No one will snatch them out of my hand.

            No one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

This powerful figure of speech brought great confusion and angst from the Pharisees, but to believers in Christ we are given great encouragement. We are encouraged that Jesus is our Great Shepherd and the Gate into the pasture. We are given great promise in this passage; I’ve highlighted a few above. The Sheep know him, they cannot be plucked from his hand, they have eternal life, and they will never perish. These promises are of great comfort to Christians.

As for what we learn concerning godliness we see that there is truly only one way, that is Jesus Christ. The sheep listen to the shepherds voice; they know and follow him.

The sheep (followers of Christ) know and recognize his voice and run away from others. This is godliness, to listen and follow the Good Shepherd and run away from any other voice. It seems that we hear the voice of the thief and the robber and we haven’ run away. The sheep, you and me, ought to be cautious of other voices. The voices can be any number of things, from the music we listen to, to the movies we watch, to the books we read, to the friends we surround ourselves with, to the preacher we listen to on a weekly basis. All have a voice and we need to discern whether or not the voice is of God or not. We discover the ability to discern what the voice of the Good Shepherd sounds like by prayer and the study of God’s word.

I will admit that I’ve never had a burning bush experience, but over time I think I know what the voice of God sounds like. It is often subtle promptings to do good and help people, to say a certain word of encouragement, or pray for a friend. That voice is the Spirit working within me and transforming me.

So the application here is simple: If I am a sheep in the fold of Christ, then I must continually follow the voice of the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd offers eternal life, “no one will snatch them out of my hand.” I must grow in my faith and learn what the Shepherd’s voice sounds like. I do that by the Study of God’s Word, Prayer and the practice of the other disciplines.

Our Prayer then is simply this:

Father, help us hear and recognize your voice. We are distracted by many other voices in our world, may we flee the voices that lead us away from you. May we recognize and follow your voice so we may be led to life. In the Good Shepherds name, Amen.

 
 
John 9 I read yesterday but didn’t have the time to post. With a funeral and a trip to Indianapolis and back for class, I’m a day late to posting. Day 10 will be later today.

Verse 25 – “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

Verses 31-33 “WE know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

37 “You have now seen him (the Son of Man); in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

38 “The man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.”

39 “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.’”

41 “Jesus said to the Pharisee “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” – Jesus doesn’t appear to be speaking of the physical realm but the spiritual. What I think Jesus is saying is “You claim you understand and stand as an expert in religion and all things God, but right now, you are staring the Son of Man in the face and you don’t believe. Your response wasn’t like this blind man, who bows down and worships saying ‘Lord, I believe.’ Rather, your ignorance condemns you and leaves you still with a great deal of guilt.”

This is one of my favorite stories in John. Jesus heals a blind man, from birth, and the topic of conversation becomes all about sin. Is it the cause of blindness the blind man’s sin or the parent’s sin? Is Jesus sinful? How can he do these things if he is sinful? There is a lot to be learned in regard to these questions:

The disciples ask about the man’s blindness and whose sin it was that caused it, the man’s or his parents. Jesus doesn’t make it about their sin as the cause; rather, he made it about the ministry of restoring sight to the blind. This will be a sign to John the Baptist that Jesus is the Messiah, the coming Savior. For the blind man will come to know the Son of Man because of the healing as well. Jesus reveals himself and his nature as the Son of God by restoring sight, it’s one of the things he does to open the eyes of the spiritually blind.

What we have revealed to us about Godliness in this chapter is specifically God not listening to sinners. We see that Jesus is without sin, because the only way that sort of miracle happens is if it is by the power of God. Jesus asks and God listens. Jesus, throughout his life and ministry encourages his followers to ask, seek, and knock. Jesus washed away our sins, we should look at this passage as an encouragement for the godly to seek and ask of God for help and to reveal his glory in our world. Godliness seems to me like living without sin and seeking God and his kingdom in this world. We should take full advantage of our privileged relationship with God because of our faith in Jesus Christ. That means prayer, prayer, and more prayer.

I think that is my application for me, more prayer. I come away from this text with a lot of thoughts about how Jesus uses the man’s blindness as an illustration of the Pharisees spiritual blindness. Where I find myself in this story is the man born blind who now sees and knows Jesus as the Son of Man. The text tells us he believed and he worshiped. My response to knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior ought be the same, belief and worship.

Pray, believe and worship.

As for the application in our world; how many times do we see people have miracles happen in their family and nothing comes of it in regards to their faith? It may not have been sight restoration, but it could be miraculous recovery from cancer or a near fatal car crash that wasn’t. They come face to face with the Savior of the world and they remain spiritually blind. I find that this can be quite discouraging at times. But if there is any peace to be had in this, at all, it is that Jesus was face to face with many people who still chose to disbelieve. One thing is for sure, and this should capture our hearts, without belief in Christ, the guilt of sin remains. For those who were blind and now see, we ought be challenged to go out into the world and share our testimony and encourage all to come to believe in Jesus Christ. We collectively have one testimony, the same as the man born blind, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Let’s share that with others.

That will be my prayer:

Father, I am one of a privileged many who has come to believe and know the Son of Man as Jesus Christ. You have, through the power of your Son healed my spiritual blindness. With new eyes, may I see the needs of the world and proclaim Christ Jesus as the Savior, as the Messiah, as the Son of God. Let my testimony be used for your glory. Break into our world and bring healing and restore sight to those blinded by sin. Let the Church be the visible witness of Jesus Christ in our world. May he be lifted up in your Church that people would come and see him and believe. I ask of this in Jesus name, Amen.


 
 
What John reveals about Jesus –
  • To follow, you must ‘Leave your life of sin” 8:11
  • “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 8:12
  • “I know where I came from and I know where I am going.” 8:14
  • “I pass judgment on no one.”
  • “If I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone.” 16
  • “I stand with the Father, who sent me.” 16
  • “I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” 17
  • “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 19
  • “I am going away.” 21
  • “You are of this world; I am not of this world.” 23
  • “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I HAVE HEARD FROM HIM I TELL THE WORLD.” 26
  • “for I always do what pleases him.” 29
  • “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” 31
  • Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” 51
  • Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” 58
  • I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word.
  • You’re his descendant’s, but you aren’t acting like his children. “You are doing the works of your own father.” (8:41)
  • Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

What do we learn about Godliness?

There is a lot to focus on but my heart this morning leads me to the final section in verses 54 onward. “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing.” I can remember a while back playing basketball with a guy that liked to encourage himself out loud. He would make a three pointer and shout boastfully: “What a great shot!” After making a decent pass, to a guy who made a far more difficult shot he would shout out “What a PASS!” It cracked me up. Jesus says, “If I glorify myself,my glory means nothing. My Father, who you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me….I know him and obey his word.”

John is preparing his readers for the Father to glorify his Son. Because Jesus obeys his Father’s word, he will end up on the cross. One of the reasons why Jesus has ditched out of the crowds who were trying to make him king was because of this. Jesus doesn’t say “What a great miracle, look at me, make me king.” He does, almost the opposite and goes to great lengths to get out of an earthly position of glory like kingship. Jesus does what the word of the Father tells him to. He’s obedient, and as Paul puts it in Philippians, “obedient to death, even death on a cross.” And as that wonderful old hymn encourages us “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

We learn that true Godliness, that God-honoring life we are called to in Jesus Christ is a matter of obedience. Jesus was obedient, even to death. That decision brought him ultimate glory through the resurrection. It reminds me that I am not in this Christianity thing for my own glory. I have chosen to follow Jesus, not to what earthly heights he may take me, but to the humble task of cross bearing. Godliness is humility and obedience to the word of God and the reward is wonderful “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” 8:51.

How does this apply to our world?

Jesus has the words of life, how will they hear it if it is not modeled by the church? The application for our world is for the church to be obedient to the Word of God. We must always be students and applicators of God’s word.

How does this apply to me?

There can be dark days in ministry. Sometimes I feel like I have to be the one to tell myself “What a great Shot” or in this case “What a great sermon!” I don’t have to often because I am a part of a very encouraging church and I am thankful for them. But there are times when I long for earthly glory. What see in the life of Jesus is not a deep infatuation with the praise of men. What we see is a man who desired nothing more than to live a life that brought God glory. Ultimately, this must be true in my own life. Certainly, the praise of men is welcomed, it’s far better then criticism, but my hearts desire ought always be to bring honor and glory to God the Father. We do that by obedience to the Word of God.

My Prayer – Father, your Son models true obedience. He followed your word to the last iota; he was perfect as you are perfect. Help me to model this same obedience to your Word. Your words offer true life and real hope. Make my heart new. Transform me Lord, and recognize me as your child who does your will. Do your work in me and through me, so I may bring you all the glory. Thank you for Christ, Amen.

 
 
John 7
What we learn about Jesus from John:
  • His time has not yet come (6:6)
  • The world hates him because he testifies that its works are evil (6:7)
  • “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me” (6:17)
  • “You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” (6:29)
Lessons on Godliness

“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” (6:17)

Jesus’ critics are questioning the validity of his words and his life. They question whether or not Jesus is truly the Messiah and if he has any authority to teach. Jesus tells them it’s rather easy to figure out if he has the right to teach or not: “Do the will of God.”

In an age of skepticism of our own, we might be wise to consider also “doing the will of God.” There are plenty of people who are skeptical of Christ these days. For those who have chosen to follow Jesus, we have experienced often the validity of Jesus as Messiah. When we do what he teaches, we find ourselves within the will of God. We find that Jesus is truly from the Father and the Father sent the Son.

To explain this further is difficult. And beyond what I can do after a long day. But my heart this evening has me reflecting on the Truth that is Jesus. Godliness is doing what Christ teaches, it matches accordingly, with the Will of God.

“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” (7:24) I’m thinking what Jesus was saying here was simply this: Look at the heart. When we judge we tend to look at what we see. To judge correctly seems to be a matter of the heart. I’m not so good at that yet, so I think I will leave that up to God for awhile, who sees and knows each of our hearts.

How it applies to our world:

Well certainly the skeptics of our world could stand to test out the teaching of Christ and see if they find themselves in the will of God. All this atheist business we are dealing with might subside if the world gave an honest shot at the Truth of Christ.

How it applies to my life:

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I think that’s right? If I’m recommending that skeptics follow the teachings of Christ, that might be good advice for myself too.

Prayer from the text:

God, I live in a day and age where skepticism is rampant. Help me to trust fully in Christ, in his teachings and stand firm in the faith. Help me to listen and obey the teachings of Christ that I may find myself within your will. In the name of Jesus, amen.

 
 
 John 6

Well, I’m going to have to shorten this up a bit tonight. I’m exhausted from a long day. But I would like to get this one thought out there and call it a night.

John 6:66 ironically says, “From this time, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

It’s not easy following Jesus. What he has to say will cause you to have to drastically change your life.

I don’t know about you, but when I read of the disciples who turn away, I quickly dismiss myself from the rift-raft. I like to think of myself as one among the true followers, like Peter and join in with his confession “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.” (6:68).

The would-be disciples left Jesus because of this difficult teaching, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.” (6:56) When they hear that, they give each other strange looks, saying to each other, “Did he say what I think he said?”

If you are looking to gain followers, you don’t tell people to drink your blood (unless your at a Twilight convention). You just don’t do it. But Jesus says this to separate the wheat from the chaff. He wanted to point out who was there because they were looking for more grub and who was there to truly feast on the life of Christ. He desires those who hunger for the truth and live it out in their life.

My instinct is to separate and distance myself from the chaff in this story, the chaff being the disciples who left. But I want to take a closer look at the text and figure out where I stand. Am I all in for Christ? Would I drop everything, follow him, and pick up my cross in the process?

A good way to look at this text and reflect on it is in this way:

When I consider my relationship with Christ, am I wearing a bib or an apron? Am I coming before Christ expecting him to serve me, or am I willing to serve him?

Peter’s confession is truly God-honoring. As people are jumping ship, he grabs a hold of it and doesn’t let go, “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.”

“We’re sticking with you Jesus.” That’s what the true disciples tell him. When the Christian life gets difficult, when people start jumping ship, when following Jesus means abandoning the comforts of this world, my prayer is that I too will tell Christ “I’m sticking with you, you’re the Holy One of God.”

Here is my prayer “Dear Lord, may I be among those who hold tightly to Jesus. Even in the midst of struggle, may I hold firm to my faith in Jesus Christ. I have truly come to know  as the Holy One of God. Let my life reflect that conviction and be a light to others. Just as Peter and the true disciples desired to know Christ,  allow me to walk in that same conviction each day. In the name of the Holy One, Jesus Christ, Amen.