Seeing Miracles

John 9:8-11 WEB

The neighbors therefore, and those who saw that he was blind before, said, “Isn’t this he who sat and begged?” [9] Others were saying, “It is he.” Still others were saying, “He looks like him.” He said, “I am he.” [10] They therefore were asking him, “How were your eyes opened?” [11] He answered, “A man called Jesus made mud, anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash.’ So I went away and washed, and I received sight.”

Have you ever seen or experienced a miracle? If you have, one of the things you may have noticed is miracles tend to be obscured. In the above passage, people were already casting doubt on the miracle of healed vision. There were people telling others the man was not blind. Even as we read the Bible today, we can see skepticism in these Bible characters. Miracles are easy to doubt, even when we see them.

Yet, God does perform miracles in our lives. Some are profound, and others are simply sweet. It is a miracle to be healed of blindness but it’s also a miracle to have access to eye care, including the skills and talents to earn money to go to an optometrist. We are so busy waiting for an undeniable God event that we miss the sweetness in the abundance of what God does for us.

The blind man needed sight. He needed to see, so Jesus healed him. But there is a small tension in the story because Jesus sends the man to wash in the pool of Siloam. Why did he do that? Why did he give a command that truly has nothing to do with being healed? Because the enormous miracle of sight was the smaller miracle of God’s care. God was healing more than the man’s physical vision; he was also healing his heart.

Lord, help me to be faithful in recognizing miracles in the world and in my life. Heal me inside and out. Help me see. In Jesus’ name, amen.

True Freedom

John 8:33-36 WEB

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s offspring, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How do you say, ‘You will be made free’?” [34] Jesus answered them, “Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin. [35] A bondservant doesn’t live in the house forever. A son remains forever. [36] If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

People have an amazing capacity to remember things the way they want them to be, rather than the way they are. In the above text, the Jewish people tell Jesus they have never been in bondage. That is blatantly false. They lived as slaves for many years before the Exodus to the promised land. So, yes, they have been in bondage. Even at the time, they are saying these words the Romans have subjugated Israel to Rome. They are in a type of bondage even as they say they have never been in bondage.

Jesus goes on to prove they are in bondage. He says anyone who is captive to sin is a bondservant of sin. However, in Christ, they can be made free. But first, they need to recognize they are slaves of sin. So, Jesus lets them know, a bondservant is not a son, not an inheritor. More, a person who is captured by sin is not a son, because sons are free. Sons are not free to do whatever they want. They are free to not sin. A son or daughter is a mature Christian when they have a relationship with Christ that changes their behaviors.

And when those changes come, the bondservant becomes a son. The heart of sonship is the freedom not to sin. As sons, we no longer are bound to legal rules of righteousness. We are free because true righteousness lives inside of us. Our love and trust in Christ will motivate our obedience. We no longer need to be told what to do. It becomes our nature to do the will of God. Once that change to our nature takes place, we become sons. You can recognize a true son; they are not bound to sin.  

Lord Jesus, please help me evaluate my relationship with you honestly. Give me the grace to recognize sin and a willingness to turn away from sin. I want to be free in you Jesus. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Truth about Freedom

John 8:30-32 WEB

As he spoke these things, many believed in him. [31] Jesus therefore said to those Jews who had believed him, “If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. [32] You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

What does it mean to remain in Jesus’ words? It means to continue with Jesus and his teachings. It means staying in the present state of belief and confidence in the Lord. Part of remaining in Jesus’ words is having access to the truth. Having access to truth does not mean you are remaining in truth. Those who genuinely remain in Jesus’ words will be set free by the truth.

It is not those who know the truth that are Jesus’ disciples. It is those who know the truth and apply it to their lives. Jesus’ disciples live his words. Those words are truth and living them releases freedom in Jesus. Only we must not use our freedom to become lazy in the Lord. We are free because we chose to remain in Jesus’ word. We are free because we voluntarily submit to Jesus’ teachings.

Conversely, we can know our spiritual condition in Jesus when we look at our lives. Do we have sin or sickness keeping us in bondage? According to Jesus, we can be free if we remain in truth. So, these things give us a starting point in our prayers. We can look at sin and death’s reign in our lives and let it correct us. We can walk in the truth of Jesus’ teachings and be free.

Lord Jesus, please help me honestly evaluate my life. Show me where I can walk in more truth and help me be free from the effects of sin and death. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Eating Jesus

John 6:52-56 WEB

The Jews therefore contended with one another, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” [53] Jesus therefore said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in yourselves. [54] He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. [55] For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. [56] He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him.

This is a gross passage. It is easy to empathize with the disciples’ consternation. Many of Jesus’ disciples left after he preached the above sermon (John 6:66). They didn’t know Jesus very well. They were career disciples and when things became hard, they left. Still, a few remained. There were a few disciples who knew Jesus well enough to trust him, even though they could not understand his words (John 6:67-69).

It was hard to understand (John 6:60). The Jewish people were looking for a hero to come and rescue them from Rome (Isa 9:3-5). Instead, they got Jesus. Instead of a hero, they got a baby (Luke 2:7). Instead of freedom, they got told to wait better (Luke 21:19). Instead of victory, they were told to lay down their lives (Luke 14:27). Most of the people, especially the religious leaders, could not understand.

They could not understand because they had a fixed idea about God, and Jesus was not meeting their expectations. They could not understand because they wanted their freedom from Rome without having to obey God fully. They wanted salvation without suffering. They just couldn’t understand what Jesus meant when he said to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

It’s a shame they did not realize that eating the flesh of Christ means receiving his gift of salvation. More, in this passage, it also means suffering as Christ suffered.  Likewise, drinking his blood is simply the acknowledgment of his innocence when he died. More, it means giving our lives away as Jesus gave his life away. If we are genuinely ready to suffer and die for Christ, our faith will come to perfection.

Lord Jesus, please help me care enough about other people that I will suffer to see them reconciled to God. Teach me how to live a full life and also how to give my life away. Make me holy as you are holy Jesus. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Coming Out

John 4:50-54 WEB

Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. [51] As he was now going down, his servants met him and reported, saying “Your child lives!” [52] So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. They said therefore to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour, the fever left him.” [53] So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” He believed, as did his whole house. [54] This is again the second sign that Jesus did, having come out of Judea into Galilee.

Anyone who is interested in ministry in signs and wonders needs to take note of the last sentence in the above verse, “having come out of Judea into Galilee.” Jesus’ first miracle happened in Galilee when Jesus had come out of Judea (John 2:11). Likewise, his second miracle happens after Jesus comes out of Judea.

If the modern church wants to move in signs and wonders they are going to have to come out of the church and go to the hurting. More importantly, they need to come out of their attitudes of self-sufficiency and return to dependence on God. For some, coming back to dependence will require them to ask God to remove some things.

Take away a bit of security, take away a bit of comfort, and then the believer in the western world can be reintroduced to dependence on the Lord. This is something only a true seeker of the Lord will do. Give up the life and luxury of the world in exchange for life in the spirit.

Lord Jesus, please help me loosen my grip on worldly security and comfort. Help me in truth cry out, “less of me and more of you Lord.” In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Nathaniel’s Repentance

John 1:46-49 WEB

Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” [47] Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said about him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” [48] Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” [49] Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are King of Israel!”

Why was Nathanael so amazed that Jesus saw him under the fig tree? He was amazed because Jesus called him out for the sins of scoffing and laziness. Nathanael scoffed at Jesus because he was from Nazareth. Psalm 1 clearly defines scoffing as the worst level of sin. Psalm 1:1 NLT says, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.”

Notice how Jesus cuts right to the issue when he says, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”  I don’t think He said it as praise but was probably employing a tone of sarcasm. Scoffing is one of the sins that partners with laziness. So, Jesus cuts to the heart of Nathanael’s life issues. Proverbs 6:9 NLT says, “But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up?” Essentially Jesus was calling Nathanael out for his sins of scoffing and laziness. His answer to Nathaniel brought conviction and revelation and led to Nathanael getting up and following the Lord.

Don’t be afraid of all the scoffers. Also, do not come into agreement with them. Your right behavior will also be a holy behavior because it paves the way for their repentance. We are not Jesus; we do not have the Spirit without measure. I would leave off the sarcasm. We do not want to scoff at or with scoffers but rather speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15 NLT says, “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”

Lord Jesus, please reveal to me those areas of sin that I am ignoring or ignorant. I want to get up from all sin and follow you. In Jesus’ name, amen.