Birthplaces

John 4:43-50 WEB

After the two days he went out from there and went into Galilee. [44] For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. [45] So when he came into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things that he did in Jerusalem at the feast, for they also went to the feast. Jesus came therefore again to Cana of Galilee, where he made the water into wine. There was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. [47] When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to him, and begged him that he would come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. [48] Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will in no way believe.” [49] The nobleman said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” [50] 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.


Jesus was born in Bethlehem and that made him a Judean. He was raised in Nazareth and seemed to base his ministry out of Capernaum of Galilee, yet still, he identified himself as coming from Judea. Jesus knew where he came from. He knew the stories of his miraculous birth. Jesus recognized he was from a better place and that is where he identified as his home country.

Every person who is in Christ has been born into the heavenly realms. This world is no longer our home. We are not from a certain country or continent, rather, we are from heaven. Having a correct orientation to our birthplace will define everything we do. Where we are born gives us a part of our identity. Where we are born gives us our purpose. Jesus knew he was born in a better place than Galilee, He knew he was from the royal line of David.

It is interesting to note that when Jesus returned to Galilee, it was that which was done in Jerusalem of Judea that caused the people of Capernaum to have an interest. It was that which originated in Jesus’ province of birth that caused interest in the Galileans.

Speaking of the first birth we all relate to a physical location on earth. Yet, when we experience the second birth that is by the Spirit, we have heaven as our hometown. Those things we get from our hometown of heaven will attract the attention of the lost here on earth. In the above text, Jesus chides the man for wanting to see a sign and then heals the child with no sign. Signs attract the attention of the world. But it is our faith that will help the lost make appropriate sense of signs when they come.


Lord Jesus, please help me identify as a person from heaven so that I can have a correct perspective on earth. Please let my life shine light into others’ darkness that I may lead some to salvation.

In Spirit and Truth

John 4:19-23 WEB

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. [20] Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” [21] Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father. [22] You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. [23] But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshipers.


Jesus had just told the woman secrets that He could only know through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (John 4:17-18). She had the spiritual acumen to understand that something supernatural was taking place. Jesus goes on to confirm this when he says, “true worshipers will worship…in spirit and truth.”

Confirmation is great when it happens. However, everything that comes from the Father is not confirmed immediately. When we walk in the Spirit and in the knowledge of Biblical Truth, we are going to encounter the supernatural. God is real. Thus, when we are in a relationship with Him, he will reach across the boundaries of reality and change things for our benefit and the benefit of others.  

When these supernatural circumstances happen, they may slip by if we do not have the spiritual acumen to notice. Often the supernatural can seem like a coincidence or a possible, but natural, outcome. Thus, doubt arises. However, we must believe that God is real and that he is truly participating in our relationship with Him. This foundation of belief will make it possible to receive directly from the Father.

The word says in James 1:6-8 that a doubter will receive nothing from God. This is not a judgment; it is a statement of fact. To receive you must believe God is working. If you do not fully believe, you will not accept what God is doing. Therefore, you will miss what God is doing. You will receive nothing. To receive from God, you cannot doubt. Moreover, you must worship him in Spirit and Truth.

When you accept the spiritual nature of your relationship with God your acumen to perceive the supernatural will rise. You will be able to participate in what God is doing in your life and in the world around you. The relationship you have with God will become real and vibrant. And in that place, just like Jesus, you will both receive and have an abundance to share with the lost.


Lord Jesus, help me to perceive your works in my life and in the world around me. I do not want to miss a single word you whisper. I do not want to miss a single thing you do. Please help me worship in Spirit and Truth so that you and I will have a vibrant relationship. Help me perceive the supernatural so that I will be filled and have an abundance to share with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Only You God

John 3:31 WEB

He who comes from above is above all. He who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.

We know that Jesus is God’s son. Jesus is from above, he proceeds from God and when he speaks, he tells of heavenly realities.  The rest of us are not God. We are not a part of the triune, divine, Godhead. We are from beneath and we speak of earthly realities. When we spend time in the presence of God the Father, or, God the Son, or, God the Holy Spirit, we are receiving heavenly things. As we try to share a testimony of the healing we have received or the revelation we have received, we can only share from our earthly position. We can see, we can receive, but we cannot come from heaven. We must share everything that God tells us from our limited earthly perspective. On the other hand, when we lead people to God, they can receive heavenly things from the one who is in heaven and speaks from a heavenly perspective. Matthew 4:4 WEB says, “But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” We must get past wanting to constantly share and testify. Those things do have their place. In Revelation 22:17 WEB it says, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” He who hears, let him say, “Come!” He who is thirsty, let him come. He who desires, let him take the water of life freely.” So, testimony paves the path of faith to the hearer which helps them receive from God. However, the critical thing is to bring people to God so they can receive from him themselves. In Hebrews 4:16 NIV it says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” However, we are not the Father. It is not our job to correct and discipline. In Hebrews 12:6 WEB it says, “Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need.” There may be times when the Father leads us to pray for the sin of another, but it is a rare thing when God asks us to confront another believer with their sin. In Matthew 7:4 WEB it says, “Or how will you tell your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye;’ and behold, the beam is in your own eye?” We also are not the Son. We can testify of our healing, but we cannot heal another. We did not receive the strips on our backs or wear the thorns on our heads. In Isaiah 53:5 WEB it says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed.” Even if God uses us to pray for healing with another person, anything that happens is of the Lord. In James 5:14 WEB it says, “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord,” Finally, we are not the Holy Spirit. If we trust the Holy Spirit to lead others into a right relationship with God and righteousness, we will not constantly think we have a special word for others. Titus 3:5 WEB says, “not by works of righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,” So often believers fail to recognize their lack of faith. You see these people giving other people “words” or trying to bring correction to other believers. Those things are not our job. Our job is to bring people to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit so that God can save them, heal them, and lead them into righteousness. The Bible says, “in whom you also, having heard the word of the truth, the Good News of your salvation—in whom, having also believed, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, [14] who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14 WEB)

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for wanting others to listen to me more than listen to you. I ask you to forgive my pride and I repent of this demonic attitude. Please help me direct others to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Evil Vs Truth

John 3:20-21 WEB

For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn’t come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. [21] But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God.”

It’s interesting that the verse does not read “he who does righteousness” but rather “he who does the truth” comes into the light. Evil, at its core, is functionally deceptive in nature. Dark and light have been separated by God in the creation. It was the very first creative act of the first day of creation. It is also the theme of the fourth day of creation. Two of six days of creation were devoted to separating the darkness from the light. And in our time, evil still separates itself from the light. This is done through deceptive means. Those who do evil in the church cover their deeds through sins of both commission and omission. They present a lie. They present as righteous and, in the light, but in truth, they are hiding their evil in the darkness. The Bible says that you will know them by their fruit. Matthew 7:18 and 19 (WEB) says, “Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. [18] A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit.” One of the easiest ways in the church to detect evil is to see what a life is producing over time. Anyone can polish up a rotten apple and make it look good for a little while. But in the long term, that piece of fruit is going to go bad. When ministries produce lasting fruit of lives changed and lasting righteousness you are witnessing good fruit. However, if everyone who gets “saved” ends up falling away, or, major sin issues are rampant in the church, you are seeing a tree that is producing evil fruit. That is an evil tree. That is a life with hidden and secret sins. Likewise, a congregant that whispers secrets and fails to reproduce salvation in others is also an evil tree. Gossip is a sin that has come to be accepted as “no big deal.” It is something that evil loves. Evil loves to destroy people with the fruit of their lips. Evil fruit. The life that is producing evil will allow itself to be deceived so that it can be comfortable. Another evil fruit is holding grudges. One of the evilest things a person can say or think is “I can never forgive them.” When you hear that coming out of a congregant’s mouth, and they refuse to repent, you are dealing with an evil tree. The Bible clearly says that if you do not forgive others the Father will not forgive you. In Matthew 6:14-15 (WEB) it says, ““For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. [15] But if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” An unforgiving life is lost. However, a good tree making a mistake will repent when confronted in love. In Galations 6:1 (WEB) it says, “Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted.” And in Acts 8:22 (WEB) it says, “Repent therefore of this, your wickedness, and ask God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.”

So where do you stand? As you have read this blog has the Holy Spirit brought conviction about a matter or issue in your life? It’s not hard, just repent. Ask to be forgiven and stop sinning. If that does not work talk to a pastor that is producing good fruit and be healed and restored in the love of the brotherhood of believers. Galatians 6:10 (WEB), “So then, as we have opportunity, let’s do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith.”

Lord Jesus, I come to you with a contrite heart, please reveal to me sin that I have become hardened towards. Breath life in me and help me repent Lord. I want you forever rather than the praise of men for a season. I’m sorry Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Faith vs. Belief

John 3:4-7 WEB

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” [5] Jesus answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into God’s Kingdom! [6] That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. [7] Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’

It takes a leap of faith to believe before being born again of the Spirit. All advances in the Kingdom of God are like this. You will always need to act before you see. That action is called faith and it is based on what you believe.

“Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 WEB)

When, by faith, you acknowledge and respond to the God question you are facing, then you will see. Nicodemus was struggling with a need to understand or “see” before a thing was made clear by the Spirit. Jesus’ remedy for Nicodemus was to help him understand the nature of the kingdom. Namely,

“Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew” (John 3:7 WEB)

Lord Jesus, please help me give evidence of my faith by acting based on what I believe. Lord, please help me believe your truth before I can see. Protect me from deception and lend me the grace to trust and believe. Please give me spiritual life. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Come, Follow Me

John 1:43 WEB

On the next day, he was determined to go out into Galilee, and he found Philip. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”


What does it mean to follow Jesus? When Jesus was in his role as a rabbi, it meant walking around Israel with Jesus and ministering to people. But, it also meant imitating Jesus and thinking as he does. We follow Jesus in our daily lives by adopting His philosophies and thinking. Then, we listen to the Holy Spirit and read the Bible.

The word says in Isaiah that we should go to the mountain of God. This is where we will learn His ways and walk His paths. (Is 2:3) The mountain is the place where God speaks to His people. If we are going to follow Jesus we must go to the mountain through prayer and worship. In this way, we can learn to hear and distinguish His voice. (Is 30:21)

We are also called to imitate Jesus and adopt His thinking. This is why we read the Bible. In the Old Testament are stories that reveal how God the Father responds to a variety of circumstances. In the Gospels are the thoughts, philosophies, and behaviors of Jesus. And finally, the remainder of the New Testament teaches us the benefits and responsibilities of being a Christian.

We are still called to follow Jesus. The tools we use are Spirit and Truth. The Holy Spirit speaks to us personally to direct our plans. And the Bible gives us the Truth we need to stand for God. With these tools, the Voice of God and the Word of God we can successfully follow Jesus.


Lord Jesus, please teach me to hear your voice and inspire me to read your word. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

What do you Want?

John 1:37-38 WEB

The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. [38] Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, being interpreted, Teacher), “where are you staying?”


When Jesus looks around is he going to find you following him? I hope so! Those who follow Jesus get asked an amazing question, “what do you want?” If we are ever going to receive from Jesus, it starts by asking him to come into our hearts. And then it’s time to follow! We follow Jesus in Spirit and Truth. That means we seek a relationship with the Holy Spirit and know the Bible.

The Word of God tells us that anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit is denied by Jesus when he comes in front of his Father. I have come to believe that denying the Voice of God in our present reality is what the Bible refers to as blaspheming the Holy Spirit. This is why we have to be cautious not to worship the Bible. We don’t have a relationship with the Bible, we have a relationship with the Holy Spirit.

In the Old Testament, during The Exodus, the people of God were brought to the Mountain of God so that they could hear from God themselves. However, they did not want to hear from God and they asked Moses to talk to God for them. (Ex 20:19) They asked to be separated from God’s Voice. So, they got what they wanted. But, they were also denied entrance into the promised land. That entire generation died in the wilderness.

Following Jesus also means we read the Bible and know it because that’s our Truth. The Bible is our relational book; it defines our relationship with God. We can safely listen to the Spirit of God if we are secure in the knowledge of the Word of God. This is because the Word of God will bring correction to what we believe we are hearing. We know that the Lord God cannot lie, so the Spirit of God is not going to speak to us in ways that contradict the Word of God.

You don’t have to be afraid to listen to God’s Voice. Remember, God always gives us a way to escape the snare of the enemy. (1 Cor 10:13) When we listen for God’s voice, we are safeguarded from deception by knowing the Word of God. The Bible informs what we are hearing and lets us know if it really is from God. God cannot lie, but he also cannot deny himself. So, These two things go together for the follower, Spirit, and Truth.


Lord Jesus, I pray for a hunger for your word, and the courage to listen for your voice. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Sign of the Times

John 1:29-34 WEB

The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! [30] This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for he was before me.’ [31] I didn’t know him, but for this reason I came baptizing in water: that he would be revealed to Israel.” [32] John testified, saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending like a dove out of heaven, and it remained on him. [33] I didn’t recognize him, but he who sent me to baptize in water, he said to me, ‘On whomever you will see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ [34] I have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”


How odd is it that the herald of the Lord did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah? John the Baptist grew up knowing Jesus. They probably played “Rabbi” together when they were children. Can you just see 7-year-old Jesus having everyone sit down to listen to Him teach them about God? It’s only speculation, but Jesus was a real person who lived and had to grow through developmental stages.

John the Baptist was a witness to this. Yet he did not recognize Jesus. He finally realized who He was because the Father told him to look for the one that the Spirit descended upon. John recognized Jesus as the Messiah after receiving a sign. It is important that you and I do not wait for a sign to believe. John the Baptist was referred to as the least in the Kingdom by Jesus. I suspect that had to do with John’s inability to see Jesus through faith eyes. Instead, he had to have a sign.

Do you look for signs as you endeavor to follow and serve the Lord? This is dangerous. In our society, we are inundated with as many as 25000 signs and symbols a day through various media. 25000. Do you think you can find 4 or 5 things that function as a sign to you in that many messages? Absolutely. You can find all the signs you want. Follow them at your own peril!

The best way to recognize Jesus in our modern age is to know His Word, the Holy Bible. It is the sign of the times.


Lord Jesus, forgive me for looking for signs. I accept that you give the Holy Spirit on deposit occasionally, I thank you for those occasional, genuine, signs. For all the rest of the time please help me to know your Word. I want to recognize what is you Jesus and what is not. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Singularity

John 1:18 WEB

No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.


The Book of John was written after Jesus was resurrected and ascended to heaven. Scholars suggest John was written around 100 CE. Conversely, others give an earlier date. What is consistent is the assumption John was written after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Another consistency scholars point out is John’s purpose in writing the Book of John (John 20:19-31). John was written so all people may believe in the divinity of Jesus and be saved.

I trust the author of John. So when the author of John says no one has seen God at any time, I believe him (John 1:18). I assume that includes Jesus because Jesus is a person (Rom 1:3). Yet, John is written to demonstrate Christ’s divinity (John 20:31). The author often does that by revealing Christ’s humanity (John 4:6). And, if Jesus had seen God, John would have told us.

In John 6:46 we are told Jesus has seen the Father. However, the root word of the first “seen” (μανθάνω) in the verse should probably be interpreted learn rather than seen. Also, the second “seen” in the verse (ὁράω) should probably be translated as perception or understanding. John would not have said, no one has seen God if Jesus had seen God. The “seen” (ὁράω) in verse John 1:18 is mental understanding. We can know this because Jesus “seeing” God is explained in the second half of the verse as “explaining” God.

These minor nuances matter. If Jesus can see God with his eyes then God is at least two separate people. Saying Christ has seen God literally affects our understanding of the Trinity. Also, it causes the people of God to misunderstand Jesus. Jesus was both fully divine and fully human (John 4:6). He prayed (John 17:1, 18:1) and listened for the small voice within (John 8:6), just like you and I. He knew and understood scripture (John 19:28), he declared the Word of God (John 6:35), he taught sermons (John 6:59). In other words, he had the same toolset that you and I have. We can know the singular God just like Jesus because Jesus has revealed Him (John 3:21).


Lord Jesus, you testified God is one, please give me a new revelation of that truth. In Jesus’ name, I pray, 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.