Religion or Love?

John 9:12-16 WEB

Then they asked him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.” [13] They brought him who had been blind to the Pharisees. [14] It was a Sabbath when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. [15] Again therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and I see.” [16] Some therefore of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was division among them.


It was a Sabbath on which Jesus did this miracle. That means it was a Sabbath when the blind man asked to be healed. The beggar who was blind did not care about decorum or rules. He cared about his need to see. So, regardless of the day, the blind man cried out to Jesus and was healed. Not only did the blind man ask for his miracle on the Sabbath, but Jesus also honored his heart’s desire and healed him on the Sabbath.

Before the cross, the old system was still intact. Healing on the sabbath was against the religion of Judaism. As a Bible and Torah believing Jew, Jesus should have been shocked at the bold request. Instead, the blind sinner was healed. Jesus cared more about the blind man than he cared about the rules. He knew the rules and honored them. But when a human need arose, the rules no longer mattered.

The human in the story is what matters most. The blind beggar was a poor and broken man, but God raised him up to eternal glory and honor by including his story in the Bible. He sinned his way to wholeness. Have you ever met a poor beggar? How about a homeless person? Their focus is on their need, not the rules. And God honors them as human beings. God does not withhold his comfort because of this man’s sin. The beggar asked God for help. So, regardless of his lifestyle, God reached out to him and healed him.


Lord, deliver me from a religious spirit so I can love others as you love me. Help me see people as you see them. Help me, love, as you love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Love First

John 6:17-21 WEB

and they entered into the boat, and were going over the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them. [18] The sea was tossed by a great wind blowing. [19] When therefore they had rowed about twenty-five or thirty stadia, they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing near to the boat; and they were afraid. [20] But he said to them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” [21] They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat. Immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.


Jesus is generous-hearted giving grace to the lost and the disobedient. In our passage, the disciples are in a boat and crossing the sea instead of waiting for the Lord. Jesus went to the mountains to pray and was a long time. The disciples, tired of waiting for Jesus, headed across the sea. In their disobedience, they find themselves near destruction as the chaotic sea begins to rise and crash.

As the storm raged something unbelievable happened. The disciples saw an apparition on the water and became terrified. However, in his kindness, Jesus gave comfort to the disciples by telling them who he was. Next, he got into the boat and supernaturally took them to their destination. Jesus did not wag his finger or rebuke the disciples. Instead, he goes to the disciples, gives them comfort, joins them, and then takes them instantly to the shore.

Notice he didn’t comfort them while they toiled to the shore. Nor did he correct them and then leave them to strain against the rising sea. The disciples made some bad choices. But Jesus’ first concern is their wellbeing. In his care for the disciples, Jesus walks on the water. Jesus does the impossible to save and deliver his disciples.


Lord Jesus, thank you for the love you show me every day. Help me to trust you fully and obey your instruction. Help me live by the example you have shown and cause me to love people as you love people. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

No Fear in Love

John 6:16-18 WEB

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, [17] and they entered into the boat, and were going over the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them. [18] The sea was tossed by a great wind blowing.


The disciples have been waiting for Jesus to return and it is now evening so they go to the sea. There they wait, but still, Jesus does not come. They decide to head for their home base in Capernaum and strikeout to cross the sea. On their way, a storm blows in making the sea dangerous. It’s then Jesus comes. He tells them not to be afraid and they let him on the boat.

This passage strikes me as symbolic as much as it is rational. I can imagine the evening and the dark reflecting spiritual conditions. Also, the sea always makes me think of the deep places with God. So, I look at this passage and I see symbolically that when things look dark, we must stand and wait for the Lord. Otherwise, the invitation into the deep places will not happen peacefully.

The disciples did not have peace. They made a critical error. They decided to move from the place where they were told to wait for the Lord. Perhaps there was a storm coming or perhaps they were tired of waiting. Either way, they end up where they are not supposed to be and nearly die for their disobedience.

During the storm, the disciples see Jesus walking on the water. He walks towards the boat and tells them not to be afraid. With this small comfort, the disciples let him on the boat. Even though the disciples put themselves in a dangerous position, the Lord does not abandon the disciples. He does not want them to be afraid of the storm or of him.


Lord Jesus, please help me clearly see the ways in which I am disobedient. Let me receive your gift of grace and turn from places of error. I trust you to protect me even when I make mistakes. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Bringing Life

John 5:20-24 WEB

For the Father has affection for the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does. He will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel. [21] For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires. [22] For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, [23] that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him. [24] “Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn’t come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.


It’s interesting to read the Father has given all judgment to Jesus. In another place, Jesus declares he did not come to judge. (John 12:47) Rather, he came to bring life. (John 10:10) In the text scriptures above it says the Father put life in Jesus so people will honor Jesus in the way they honor the Father. (John 5:22-23)  

The Father is leading the world to honor Jesus. In fact, while the Father is seeking the Son’s glory, the Son is seeking the Father’s glory. Part of how Jesus brings glory to the Father is by remaining in the truth. He testified what he saw and heard, even when it would bring derision. Jesus was faithful to the mission God gave him.

It is impossible to know exactly when Jesus realized it was the Father’s will for him to sacrifice his life. Yet, in his perfection, Jesus was willing to die. That may be why he could say delusional-sounding things. He could say he was granted life to pass out by the Father. He could say the Father honored him. Jesus could say all these challenging things because he was willing to exchange his life for the life of others.  


Lord Jesus, thank you for qualifying me for eternal life through your own death. I trust you and believe you. I honor you and I honor the Father. Lord, please help me imitate you and give of myself for the good of others. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Willing to be Healed

John 5:4-6 WEB

for an angel went down at certain times into the pool, and stirred up the water. Whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. [5] A certain man was there, who had been sick for thirty-eight years. [6] When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been sick for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be made well?”


What a great question, “Do you want to be made well?” Sin is described in the word as something of which to be healed. There are also healings from diseases and mental disorders. There is healing from demonization and trauma effects. Yet, a major issue to entering healing in all these areas is a desire to be made well.

Not everyone who seeks healing wants to be healed. Many want the hardships of their need removed while keeping the advantages of sin or disease. Of course, healing is a lifelong journey. We are not going to magically arrive at a state of God-like perfection. We are going to suffer the trials and tribulations of life, in some measure, as long as we live.

As long as we are on this earth, we will need help from God. We need so much more help than the few things listed here. One thing that comes to mind is relationships. Most would agree that if we are alive, we will need God’s grace to help us with relationships. So, there is a sort of healing that is needed there.

Relational healing because we are always going to need to be less self-focused and more altruistic in our relationships. Our patience will probably be challenged all our lives.  We all need to grow in our stature, another lifelong pursuit. Stature comprises character, relational acumen, and integrity. It is one’s ability to stand under pressure while maintaining favor with others. And it will continue becoming more pronounced throughout our lives.

But the question still remains, do you want to be made whole? Or do you want to remain in sin? Do you prefer the wages of sin over the wages of righteousness? Do you like all the attention and care a physical need may bring? Or what about taking shortcuts in relationships?

Our sin issues are not the thing that matters. Our willingness to be healed and delivered from everything does matter. We are all going to encounter sin and disease, but if we want to be healed, we can be. What matters is that we can be healed if we are willing.


Lord Jesus, please heal me of sin and disease, in all their many forms. I trust you and believe your grace is sufficient for me. I trust you and say yes to you Jesus, I do want to be healed. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Eating what Jesus Eats

John 4:34-35 WEB

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. [35] Don’t you say, ‘There are yet four months until the harvest?’ Behold, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and look at the fields, that they are white for harvest already.


Jesus’ food is to obey His master, the Father. Likewise, our food should be to obey our Master, Jesus Christ. In Mark 16:15-16 WEB the Bible says, “He said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation. [16] He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who disbelieves will be condemned.” Telling everyone the good news, that Jesus paid all the price there will ever be and that all people can be saved by simply trusting Christ, is our command from the Lord.

There are other commands from Jesus as well. In fact, The Beatitudes are full of his direct teachings. In Chapter 5 of Matthew, we are taught to be meek, gentle, patient, and willing to suffer persecution for the sake of righteousness. Chapter 5 also calls believers to account for their thought life. In chapter 6 we are taught that purposely doing good deeds so that others see is evil. Moreover, we are taught in chapter 6 to forgive others, or we will not receive forgiveness, and not to worry about money or anything else. This is because we cannot have anxiety and trust in Jesus at the same time. Moving on to chapter 7 Christ declares the point that if you do not obey him, he does not know you and if you do not confess Him before people, He will not confess you before the Father.

What feeds your spirit? If your spiritual food is to have your own way and achieve your own goals, then you are not feeding on the same food as Jesus. Our food, according to Mark and Matthew should be to obey Jesus. Furthermore, our food should be too focus on the righteousness of the heart and to fulfill the great command. We are to bring the lost into the Kingdom. Some will try to say that the great commission in Mark was added after the original writing. That should not deter us. God allowed it to come into the final collection of works in the HOLY BIBLE and we will honor it if we honor God. People who rail against these verses claiming either they are culturally irrelevant or wrongfully included in the Bible, should not hinder us from eating wholesome spiritual food. Namely, obedience to Christ as the Bible teaches.

Obedience to Christ is a critical matter for believers to accomplish. Learning how to trust Christ for victories is part of the journey. However, the willingness of heart to obey Christ and to be spiritually fed on his every command is the principal matter for each believer.


Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not being attentive to your commands. I repent Lord and I ask you to help me learn your commands so that I can obey you more fully. It is my heart’s desire to be obedient Lord. Please lead me into victory. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Natural or Supernatural

John 4:30-33 WEB

They went out of the city, and were coming to him. [31] In the meanwhile, the disciples urged him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” [32] But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” [33] The disciples therefore said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?”


The people of the Samaritan village were coming to Jesus. They believed the Samaritan woman when she asked, “Could this be the Messiah?” (John 7-29) Meanwhile, the disciples are worried about earthly matters. As such they are coaxing Jesus to eat. They may even feel that if he eats, he will come back to his senses and leave Samaria.

But Jesus isn’t going anywhere. He chides the disciples telling them he has food they know nothing about. Jesus is talking about doing the will of his Father, but the disciples are stuck thinking about the carnal issue of food. Even with Jesus sitting at the well, waiting to share the good news with the people that are coming to him, the disciples are too dull to understand something spiritual is happening.

The disciples discuss with each other, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Likewise, while the Samaritan woman is calling Jesus the Messiah, the disciples are calling him Rabbi, or teacher. This woman whom Jesus as much as called a harlot in the preceding verses, understands that something important is happening. But the disciples just see another embarrassing situation with Jesus.


Lord Jesus, please forgive me for being too embarrassed to share the gospel with the lost. Please forgive my judgments against people who are different from me.  Please bless me with the grace to understand when something supernatural is happening so that I do not uproot what you are doing in others’ lives. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Wise yet Harmless

John 4:1-3 WEB

Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John [2] (although Jesus himself didn’t baptize, but his disciples), [3] he left Judea, and departed into Galilee.

Jesus epitomized the scripture that says, “Behold, I send you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16 WEB) When he learned he had attracted the attention of the Pharisees he departed Judea and went to Galilee. In chapter 3 of John, John the Baptist pronounced Jesus as the way to heaven. John as much as declared Jesus the messiah. Jesus’ response to this was to pack up and leave the area.

Jesus understood the Pharisees hated him. While professing zeal for God, they demonstrated with their behaviors that they actually despised God. What they liked was the glory of standing before the people. Jesus was threatening their glory.

Have you ever heard a minister preaching compromise? Why would they do this? The exact demonstration of hatred for God may have changed, but the root cause of the sin is the same. Namely, a desire for people to glorify themselves rather than God. Preaching the untainted gospel has with it the risk of people rejecting the messenger.

Jesus was often scorned and rejected by those to whom he ministered, On the other hand, many were saved as well. This is important to notice. Jesus experienced both rejection and acceptance. He told his disciples to shake the dust from their feet when they were rejected. Literally, to pronounce condemnation on those who rejected their message.

Can you imagine a modern-day preacher declaring condemnation for rejection of the gospel? They would be heckled and counted as a hypocrite for such preaching. People still have little tolerance for the untainted message of the gospel. That message is that Christ alone saves those whom he will and rejects the disobedient. Telling people that Jesus will save them is not too hard. On the other hand, telling people they must be obedient to the whole Bible or face eternal torment is not accepted by most people.

People want salvation to be a democratic affair. As if we can choose which passages are relevant while declaring others irrelevant. Some of this has been caused by modern-day zealots. Ministers who teach a heartless gospel of condemnation drive the lost away from God. They preach to a mouth-foaming crowd that wants confirmation that they are better than everyone else. But the word of God does not counsel this. Rather, it says to be wise as a serpent but harmless as a dove.

As Christians, we have to learn to declare the truth from a place of love for the world. The Father desires the world to be saved (John 3:16). We can declare condemnation for the lost in love. We can plead with the lost to turn their hearts fully to the Father through the grace of Jesus Christ. We can demonstrate obedience thereby duplicating it in those who are new in the Lord.

Lord, please help me walk wisely while remaining harmless to those with whom I share the gospel. Please forgive me for being immature and heartless. I’m sorry for withholding love from the lost. Please forgive me. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Condemnation or Salvation

John 3:17 WEB

For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.

Do you look at the world through the lens of condemnation or salvation? We know that God loves the world and wants all people to be saved (John 3:16). Yet, many Christians judge the world and condemn the lost. This is worldly. It seems godly to stand against unrighteousness. However, it is not right to condemn the lost before they have a chance to get saved and adopt a righteous lifestyle. On the other hand, we should condemn unrighteousness in ourselves. This is part of us becoming holy. We must be holy to bring people to Jesus so that He can save them. Furthermore, when we live righteously it proves that we believe in Jesus and the finished work of the cross. If we believe Jesus we will live righteously. Thus, when we demonstrate our beliefs through our actions we know we are in right standing with God. Once we are in right standing with God we become holy which means we are able to give the lost access to Jesus. Matthew 7:21-25 tells us that if we do not obey Christ’s teachings he does not know us. That is scary. It is comfortable to imagine that all we have to do is confess with our mouths that Jesus is the Lord and we are saved. This leaves us room to “be in process” or to keep some of Christ’s teachings but not all of Christ’s teachings. Many people want to throw all their unrighteousness under the cross and call it good. Essentially they are trusting in their confession alone to save them. But if this was true, then even the demons would be saved. However, this is not the case. We must believe and confess to be saved (Romans 10:9-10). The only way we know that we believe is if we keep the teachings of Jesus (Matthew 7:24). It is significant to note that Jesus loved the lost. The truth is He condemned those who professed to love God but demonstrated only love for themselves. So, where do you stand? Does your life condemn you or are you genuinly saved both believing and confessing?

Lord Jesus, please have mercy on me and show me my unrighteousness. I accept that I have to see my sin to correct my sin. I am not afraid for you to tell me the truth. I am only afraid of not genuinely believing. Please help my unbelief. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Adultery

John 1:17 WEB

For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.


The law was given through Moses because the people rejected God’s Voice (Exo 20:19). After God delivered Israel from Egypt, he prepared them to meet with him (Exo 19:10-12). But when the time came, the Israelites were scared and told Moses they did not want to meet God. More, the people told Moses they would rather he talked to God and tell them what God said. So God gave Moses the law, but only after the people rejected him (Ex 20:18-19).

There is a similar phenomenon happening today. Because Christ overcame death he opened the door for the Holy Spirit to manifest in the hearts of every person who calls on the Lord (Rom 5:5). Once again, people can hear from God (Acts 4:21). However, instead of teaching believers to go directly to God, leaders are teaching people to go directly to the Bible (Mt 12:31).

In their zeal to educate people in the ways of God, ministers are teaching people to worship the Bible instead of God himself (John 5:39). Do you know why people do that? It’s the exact same reason the Israelites did it when they decided they preferred the law to God’s voice, fear (Exo 20:18-20). I think the people of God, in their desperation not to fail God, have decided they prefer the letter of the law to obedience to his voice (Rom 2:29).

Please do not misunderstand me, the Bible is an absolutely brilliant book in every way. Divinely inspired, it’s the story of God’s Journey with mankind. It’s God’s Story Still, it’s better to talk to God directly through prayer and then read the Bible (Jam 2:23). And if in a given moment you can only do one or the other, choose God (Jam 4:5).


Lord Jesus, please teach me to respect your word and to love You. Teach me to recognize the sound of your voice. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.