Monthly Archives: February 2011

Day Nine – John Chapter Nine

One of the questions I’m supposed to answer as part of the 21 Day Challenge is what does the chapter tell about Jesus. Through out this gospel you read about Jesus having compassion for this person or that situation and He takes action. His actions are met with ridicule and disdain from the religious leaders and the Jewish establishment. The miracle performed in chapter nine of John’s gospel follows the pattern set so far. Jesus continues to be compassionate towards the hurting and heals without being asked and this time it’s to prove a point.

When you read the story of the blind man in chapter nine you come away feeling both amazement and sorrow. Jesus is walking along and comes across a blind man. The man has been blind all his life and was not looking (pardon the pun) for a miracle. Yet to prove a point, Jesus spits on the ground, makes some clay and puts it on the man’s eyes. He instructs the man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. I’m not sure on the significance of the pool but the man does what he’s told to do and he comes back “seeing.” The amazing thing isn’t just the miracle, but the faith the man showed, as well as the reaction the Pharisees demonstrated. The amazement turns to sorrow when you see the circus the religious leaders put this guy and his family through after he’s healed. I tried to find a word that described the comical disbelief but my vocabulary is not that extensive. When you read the encounter you’ll see what I mean.

So what am I to believe and what am I to take away, or do with this story? I think it’s a question of faith. Am I counting on God’s provision in my life or am I just sitting like the blind man not looking for a miracle (or God.) I can look at times in my life when it’s been all Pilot Vernon and no God and it’s usually during those times life is real hectic and not a whole lot of fun. I’m not in one of those seasons now but this story is a nice reminder that Jesus in there for me even if I’m not looking for him.

“Wow” probably isn’t the word I would use to describe the reaction the Pharisees showed toward the miracle. I would use the word “Really”. I mean you’re “really” going to question the man’s blindness. You’re “really” going to call the man’s parents into account? You’re “really” going to call out Jesus for performing another miracle on the Sabbath? Then you’re “really” going to throw the man out of the synagogue for believing Jesus healed him and gave him sight? I guess “wow” and “really” kind of go hand in hand on this one. I hope you enjoyed my take on John Chapter Nine. Until next time God bless.

Day Eight – John Chapter Eight

One thing I wanted to accomplish when I started the 21 Day Challenge is to actually do it in 21 days. I haven’t been the least bit successful. It’s one thing to read and digest what you read, but it’s something entirely different to find the time to put your thoughts into words. That’s my struggle and it’s kind of funny how the eighth chapter of John’s gospel points this out to me. Verse one reads, “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.” It’s a simple statement linking chapters seven and eight but it’s a little more than that. At the end of chapter seven Jesus is debating the religious establishment and crowds are dividing and taking sides. There’s a lot of people and in verse 53, “everyone went to his home.” Not Jesus; He goes to the Mount of Olives all by himself so he can be by Himself. Jesus does this a lot in the Gospels. It’s during these alone times He could pray, meditate, communicate with His Father. I think these times are what gave him the power to challenge the leaders of the day.

Looking at Jesus’ example, I need to find time to be alone with God. It can be challenging at times working on an oil barge with schedules and such. But, I have not done all I can to carve out my “Mount of Olives” time God wants to have with me. Verses 31 and 32 points this out, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The word “abide” means to live in, dwell, hold on to. How can I “abide” if I can’t find the time? I Can’t.

Getting back to the challenge. Chapter eight is more debate and teaching on Jesus being the Son of God and the Messiah. The leaders try to trip him up with a woman caught in adultery but can’t. They try to trip Him up and ancestries and history lessons but can’t. So they resort to name calling and say he’s demon possessed. Sticks and stones right?

The wow factor in this chapter to me is the simple “coolness” of Jesus. For example, they bring out a woman caught in the act of adultery. Something that’s still frownded upon in the middle east to the point of stoning to death. Jesus simply kneels down and starts to write in the sand and then he blows them up with, “He who is without sin among you, let him the throw the first stone at her.” They couldn’t do it and walked off. Its this same confidence He exudes all through His confrontations with the religious leaders. It just cool to me. Read the chapter and it’ll be cool to you. God bless.

Day Seven – John Chapter Seven

The thing that sticks out in the seventh chapter of the Gospel of John is how polarizing  and controversial Jesus was. Funny how He is still that to this day.

The chapter starts off with his brothers telling him they didn’t want him around. Then He has to secretly sneak into Judea so He can attend one of the Jewish feasts. While there Jesus teaches in one of the synagogues and stirs up the pot. The Jewish leadership had a totally different idea of who the Messiah would be and what he would look like and do. This chapter tells me Jesus was that guy but He definitely didn’t fit into their mold. Again, that’s sort of how most people like their god (little g); able to fit him into what ever box they can.

I think that is how I used to be. When I first came to know the Lord I certainly was not sold out. Shoot, I didn’t know that much about Him. All I knew is I was dead in my sin, and the only way to bridge the gap between me and God was to confess and believe Jesus died for my sin. Over time I have come to know who Jesus is and how much He loves me. now there have been seasons in my life when I have neglected that love and it’s usually during those times I manage to mess things up. You know what? He is always there waiting for me.

I’m a little taken back at how Jesus’ brothers blow Him off. He’s the oldest and yet in another part of the Bible you read how they thought He was nuts. You got to believe His mother had told them about the miracle He did at the wedding in Cana. News had to be moving around as to how Jesus was healing people and feeding thousands with a “bag lunch.” Nope, they didn’t want any part of Him. Funny, same today. Hopefully, if you follow me the rest of the way on this 21 Day Challenge, you won’t see Jesus how His brothers did. Until next time, God bless.

Day Six – John Chapter Six

Did you catch the Superbowl this past Sunday? I took the day off from the 21 Day Challenge to enjoy a little sports action. Reflecting back on the game, I think God has something to share with me. I’ll get to that in a few minutes.

The sixth chapter of the Gospel of John has so much in it it would be difficult for me to compose something worth reading. In the chapter are two of the coolest miracles performed by Jesus, but that’s just my opinion. Still, these miracle point to what Jesus is as well as who He is. The first miracle tells how Jesus fed the multitudes with just “five barley loaves and two fish.” It’s a cool event but I’ll let you read about it. The other miracle is how Jesus came to the disciples “walking on the sea.” The rest of the chapter is a lengthy teaching from Jesus on the “bread of life,” “true food,” and “true drink.”

The first question to answer in the challenge is what does the chapter tell about Jesus. Reading about the miracles and the discourse Jesus is the true provider, the calmer of the storms in life, and again the Savoir; “…everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”John 6:40. I believe exactly that, and although I can’t explain the why about it, I do.

Now comes the part of figuring out what Jesus wants me to do. The answer is found in the first miracle in the chapter: Feeding the multitudes. If you read the story you see the Bible doesn’t mention anyone else except a young boy having any food to eat and if they did they weren’t going to share it. The boy has a bag lunch and he wants to share it. I don’t know if he knew Jesus could do something with it or if he thought he could pool it with everyone else’s lunch and have a little ‘pot luck’. The point is the boy gave all he had. God wants all I have to offer. Reflecting about yesterdays sporting event, I didn’t give God anything. I didn’t give Him any time, any thought, anything at all. He just wants a real relationship with me. I need to tighten up!

The wow in this chapter has got to be the lunch Jesus provided for the thousands of people on that hill side. The multitude in itself is amazing. The way a little boy shows up prepared. The people physically satisfied with food left over. The whole thing shouts AWESOME! God bless.

Day Five – John Chapter Five

Chapter five of John’s gospel opens with another miracle pointing to Jesus as the Savior. Again this miracle is followed by a pointed Jewish response and Jesus setting the record straight for the established religious leaders.

Jesus entered Jerusalem for a feast and was passing by the Pool of Bethesda when he saw a man with some type of handicap. The pool had several handicapped and sick people around it because they believed an angel would come down and stir the water. The first one in would be healed. The man Jesus saw had been “38 years in his sickness” and when asked if he wanted to get well the man explained how he was unable to get into the water. Jesus said, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” The man did just that and he was healed. Jesus again demonstrates His divine power by healing the man.

The rub in this chapter is how the the establishment reacts to the healed man and Jesus. They weren’t the least bit interested in the healing. They were only interested in why the man was carrying his “pallet” on the Sabbath. Then they wanted to know who healed him and why he did that on the Sabbath. All of this points to a show down between Jesus and the religious leaders. I’ll let you read those for yourself starting at verse 19 and finishing the chapter. These verses contrast Jesus as Savior against what the establishment believed.

Verse 24 shows me what the Bible wants me to believe about Jesus. He say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word, and believes He who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgement, but has passed out of death into life.” I believe this but the leaders in Jerusalem did not want to hear that and it only added fuel to the fire as to why they wanted Him dead. There’s another verse Jesus blasts them with and hit me as well. In verse 38 He says, “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him who sent Me.” I don’t have a belief problem, I have an “abiding” problem. “Abiding” means to live in, to pitch a tent and stay a while. I’ve read the Bible, some parts several times, and I believe every word in it but there are times in my life when my actions would say I “abide’ somewhere else. I need to change nieghborhoods and quit visiting.

The wow factor in this chapter has got to be the faith of the handicapped man. He was in his condition for several years and the Bible doesn’t say how long he was poolside. But his belief or faith, although it be misguided, was incredible. Day in and day out he tried to get in the pool but couldn’t. How easy it would have been to give up but he didn’t. His faith is inspiring and I hope you are moved by it too. Until chapter six, God bless.

Day Four – John Chapter Four

The fourth chapter of John’s gospel introduces us to two contrasting characters: the Samaritan Woman and the Official of Capernaum. Although each is different, the way Jesus interacts with both of them shows He’s the Savior, full of grace and mercy.

Jesus was on his way to Galilee and for some reason decided to pass through Samaria. Without getting too much into a history lesson, Jews didn’t journey into Samaria and Jews and Samaritans really didn’t like each other. Jesus comes upon a well and a woman gathering water. He asks her for a drink and there begins a long discourse on the woman’s character, the Samaritans religious belief and “water.” Jesus calls Himself “living water” in verse 10 and that if “whoever drinks of it will never thirst again” in verse 14. Long story short, the woman realizes He’s the Messiah and goes into town and gives account to what went on and brings a bunch of people back. Jesus stays there a couple of days and I’m sure a revival set in.

A few days later, Jesus arrives back in Cana and encountered a different person. In contrast to the Samaritan woman, Jesus meets a royal official of Capernaum. Without doing any research, I don’t much about the official other than he was significantly higher up the food chain. Turns out the official’s son is sick and near death and the only hope he has is a miracle from Jesus. Having made a 20 mile journey from Capernaum to Cana the official pleads his case. Jesus simply spoke the words, “Go; your son lives” in verse 50 and the man believed and started home. On the way home he received word his son was well and that he became well the minute Jesus spoke the words.

So what do these verses say about Jesus and what does he want me to believe? To me they show He is God in the flesh. When you read the verses about the Samaritan woman He knows the “junk” about her that only she would know. Dealing with the official Jesus conquers distance and time to perform a miracle simply by speaking the words. The one thing that screams to me in this chapter is the impartiality. Two totally different people at extreme ends of society both socially, ethnically, and physically. The same faith mixed with the same grace and mercy equaled the same outcome – life. I believe God will meet us exactly where we are and it doesn’t matter who we are. All it takes is faith to believe.

So, how am I supposed to apply this chapter to my life? I need to free myself from whatever is hindering me from a more intimate relationship with Jesus. In verse 28 the woman “left her water pot and went…” She left the thing that burdened her. The official left his town and responsibilities to meet Jesus. Maybe, those where holding him down. I don’t have any “real burdens” keeping me from a more intimate relationship with Jesus but i do have priority issues. I think it’s clear God wants to be first in my life and he wants me to make the changes so He can be.

The wow factor in this chapter has to be the interaction Jesus has with the Samaritan woman. A woman of questionable character. A woman with ethnic baggage. A woman in general and yet Jesus knows everything about her. He exhibits such grace and mercy and to me shows her the true love she’s been searching for. It’s kind of a picture of us isn’t it? Each of us has things in our past we’re not fond of or want to brag about. Isn’t it cool Jesus knows exactly who you are and wants to do for you and me what he did thousands of years ago for the woman at the well. God bless and chat with you tomorrow.

Day Three – John Chapter Three

The third chapter in John’s gospel starts off with a “biology” lesson Jesus teaches a guy named Nicodemus. He was a religious leader of the day and countless sermons and papers have been written on the subject of spiritual birth. I’m in no way qualified to go there so I won’t. The chapter ends up talking about John the Baptist and I’ll mention him at the end the of this note. It’s the middle portion of this chapter I think God wants me to focus on because these verses explain who Jesus is exactly: The Savior of the World.

I think every one who’s watched any sporting event has seen the poster “John 3:16.” If you haven’t it goes like this, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I find comfort in this in verse because who doesn’t want to be loved. But it’s the following two verses that nail things down for me. Verses 17 and 18 read, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world may be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believed has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” So it boils down to belief and judgement and this chapter tells me belief in Jesus as the Savior grants me eternal life and eliminates me from judgement. Basically that’s what faith is and that’s where I’m at.

So, what do I think God wants me to do in this chapter. Obviously its to have faith and believe Jesus is who He said He is. But there’s a verse that kind of stuck out to me and its a little off the beat and path. Apparently there arose a discussion among the Jews comparing the ministries of John the baptist and Jesus. The humility of John the the Baptist is evident in verse 30 where we says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Taken in context, John is aware the ministry of Jesus is the only way to eternal life. If you would grant me a little liberty, I would tend God wants me to “decrease” and yield to His desires. How many times do we look at ourselves as the center of our universe? I know I used to be that way all the time. Now I just find myself holding on to my life so tightly that God won’t use me the way He intends. That’s just how He is; not forcing anything on us. So, if I can decrease maybe God can increase in my life and have more control. Just a thought.

The thing that wowed me in this chapter has got to be the incredible, amazing love God showed man. To send His Son to earth to be the Savior of the world simply blows me away. I guess you really can’t grasp it until you become a parent and feel the love that goes beyond words you have for your children. To be totally undeserving or unrelated just adds to it. I’ll never grasp the magnitude of His love but I am indeed thankful and I hope you are to. God bless and talk again soon.

Day Two – John Chapter Two

John records two cool events in chapter two of his gospel; the wedding at Cana and Jesus clearing the temple. To me the two go hand in hand and show how Jesus , God, only wants the very best for us.

Lets look at the miracle Jesus performed at the wedding in Cana. If you’re not familiar with the story, in short it goes like this: Jesus’ mother, Mary, is helping out with a wedding. She finds out they have run out of wine and she petitions Jesus to do something and she commands the servants to do what ever Jesus says. As weddings go back then they were going to need quite a bit of wine so Jesus has the servants take six jugs, about 25 gallons each, to the well and fill them with water. By the time the jugs made it to the head waiter the water had turned to wine. According to head waiter it was the very best wine.

Now let’s look at the situation where Jesus clears the temple Jerusalem. Apparently there were some people selling sacrificial animals and turning a profit from it. Jesus being a real man’s man put together a whip and cleaned house. “Take these things away and stop making My Father’s house a place of business,” is what Jesus said. Seems to me they took a good thing and took it just a little too far.

I think Jesus is showing me through these two instances that he wants the best for me. He wants to give me the best and he wants me to be able to receive the best by “cleaning my temple.” I’ll admit there are some things in my life that I need to clean up in order to receive “all” the blessings God has in store for me.

The thing that wowed me in this chapter is the extreme faith the servants showed at Cana. Think about it; some guy says take these jugs and fill them with water. The logistics in itself is cool because each jug held around 25 gallons and all in all would weigh around 200 pounds when said and done. So, they take the jugs to the well, fill them,and tote them back. They didn’t know the water would turn to wine. Then to be bold enough to give some to the head waiter to sample is something. They didn’t taste it first. They just gave him an untested sample. They risked personal punishment by giving him something untested. What if it was just water or nasty wine? It wouldn’t have been good for them.

So, what about you? Do you want the best God has to give you? Are there some things in your temple prohibiting you from receiving just that. I know I have some work to do. Until then, God bless.