Testifying or Bragging?

John 12:17-19 WEB

The multitude therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, was testifying about it. [18] For this cause also the multitude went and met him, because they heard that he had done this sign. [19] The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “See how you accomplish nothing. Behold, the world has gone after him.”


Jesus did a wonderful miracle, he raised Lazarus from the dead. Not only did he raise him, but Jesus did it after Lazarus was buried and dead for four days. The people that were there to grieve for Lazarus saw what Jesus did. And now, they were repeating the story and causing many to look for Jesus. The Lord, through his ministry commonly told people to keep their miracles a secret (Mat 9:29-30). But this sign was too big to keep silent. So, they testified, and many came to Christ.

How do we know when we are testifying and when we are bragging? That is a huge issue in modern society. We live in a time when self-promotion is rampant and often leads to success. Yet the word teaches us not to boast about our accomplishments (1 Sam 2:3). It can even be a boast to tell what God is doing in our lives. When we are right with God, we do not have to prove we are right with God. That comes from ego and self-promotion. We do not have to brag about our blessings. We should brag on God alone. He is our boast.

We can often tell when God has intervened in someone’s life. God will begin to fix what is broken and line up a believer with their destiny. But having healing or destiny is not something to brag about. Having a destiny in Christ should lead to our silence. We may at appropriate times share our calling with others. After all, we still need people even when we are solidly in Christ. But in general, it is not something we should be bragging about. Rather, we should treasure the miracles and share them when led by the Holy Spirit, so they lead others to Christ.


Lord, give me the wisdom to see when I am testifying and leading others to you, and when I am bragging and harming others. Take pride and ego away, Lord, and leave a tender heart prepared to receive from you.  Help me receive the wisdom to keep silent. Lead me by your Holy Spirit and let my only boast be you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.   

Jesus Knew Who He Was

John 8:24 WEB

I said therefore to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”


Jesus knew who he was (John 8:58). He knew scripture and recognized his life fulfilled Bible prophecies about the Messiah (John 17:5). He knew what that meant. He understood unless people know God, they would not believe the message, Jesus was the Messiah. And believing in the Messiah as an action step towards salvation was a new concept. Only those who were intimate with the Father would know such things (John 17:2).

Only those the Father gave to Jesus would be saved. Jesus understood this was true. He understood people had to be born again (John 3:3). For the Jewish leaders to be saved the Father would have to inspire them to trust Jesus. However, the Pharisees and leaders were so confident in their righteousness they did not ask God for revelation (John 7:47-49). They did not ask God to protect them from deception. They believed in the law and thought Jesus was either deranged or deceived.

Jesus was neither (John 8:48). He was not mentally unstable. He did believe the Bible and for that, he was looked down upon. Nor was he deceived. He did not have false delusions about who he was and what his eternal role was. He was humble enough to be honest with himself and others. He understood the truth. He was the Messiah, he had to die, he would rise again, and God would reward him for his trust and faith.


Lord Jesus, bless me with the humility to tell other people the truth about you. Lead me into holiness and bless me to bring the lost into a saving belief in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Miracles and Belief

John 7:31-32 WEB

But of the multitude, many believed in him. They said, “When the Christ comes, he won’t do more signs than those which this man has done, will he?” [32] The Pharisees heard the multitude murmuring these things concerning him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to arrest him.


Have you experienced a miracle? If you have, you know the moment fades quickly. The mind expects reality to work a certain way. So, the mind works to rationalize the miraculous. The strange thing about the miraculous is it can make believing even harder. Once we experience the miraculous, we become anxious for unusual interventions by God. They reassure us of what we have already experienced.

However, we are meant to remember the signs without needing more and more to confirm our beliefs. In verse 31 above, the multitude remembers Jesus’ past miracles and believe. On the other hand, the Pharisees demand another sign. It seems the “multitude” is demonstrating child-like faith. The Pharisees remain rigid no matter what amazing work was done by the Lord. They have unbelieving hearts.


Lord, please help me remember your many wonderful works and help me remain in faith. I want to believe without needing a sign. But Lord if I witness a miracle help me believe. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Courage to Obey

John 7:28-29 WEB

Jesus therefore cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know me, and know where I am from. I have not come of myself, but he who sent me is true, whom you don’t know. [29] I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”


Jesus is at the temple on a feast day. He has just confronted the Jews for wanting to kill him (John 7:19). Now, he is standing up declaring he alone knows God. I can only imagine how much courage that took. In just a few verses, Jesus is going to tell people to believe in him (John 7:37-38). Every one of these choices could get Jesus killed. It is surprising he was not thrown out of the temple.

It is surprising to recognize the favor on Jesus’ life. If God had not intervened, Jesus would have been killed, beaten, or made an outcast from the temple. Instead, the leaders miss their opportunity to silence Jesus. Jesus was not foolish. He understood the risks of saying the things he was saying. I appreciate that Jesus took risks like all of us. He was dependent on God’s favor just like all of us.

He was dependent on God in the same way that we are dependent on God. I like that. I like knowing that Jesus had to do the hard things as we all do. More, Jesus shows by example how to be holy. That is, he shows how to create a space in which people can interface with God. Jesus shows by example he was willing to die so a few might be saved.


Lord Jesus, please give me the courage to obey you, even when it is hard. Please help me lay my life down at your feet so that others may be saved. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Fragrance of Christ

John 6:46 WEB

Not that anyone has seen the Father, except he who is from God. He has seen the Father.


Wait a minute. Didn’t the author of the Book of John just tell us that no one has seen the Father? In John 1:18 WEB it reads, “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.” Jesus knew the Father well. He understood the Father and understood the Father’s priorities. (John 3:16) Jesus knew how to connect with the Father and hear from him. (John 5:19) Therefore, he could share the precepts of God so clearly that people could learn from him. In fact, Jesus represented God so well looking at him was like seeing the Father. According to the text scripture, the person who is from God is the one who can see the Father (by looking at Jesus.)

People could see the Father in Jesus. This helped him teach people how to be reconciled to God. People being able to see the Father in Jesus helped him in his ministry. It is not a far-fetched idea. The Word of God teaches Christians that they are to “put on Christ.” (Rom 13:11) So, it makes sense that Jesus would put on the Father.

It also makes sense for believers to look like God. Our devotion to God should allow us to interact with his Word and Spirit until we begin to look like God. The people in our lives should be strangely drawn toward us, especially those who are empty inside. Jesus should be a fragrance that comes from our lives. He is the bread of life. It seems reasonable that people who are empty inside would be attracted to the fragrance of Jesus, the Bread of Life.  


Lord Jesus, please give me the grace to overcome every distraction that would prevent me from spending time with you. Please give me a hunger for the Word of God and a hunger to hear from your Holy Spirit. I want to look and smell like you, Jesus. Please help me. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Gathering Scraps

John 6:10-12 WEB

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in that place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. [11] Jesus took the loaves; and having given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to those who were sitting down; likewise also of the fish as much as they desired. [12] When they were filled, he said to his disciples, “Gather up the broken pieces which are left over, that nothing be lost.”


It seems strange for Jesus to demonstrate such generosity coupled with frugality.  On one hand, he miraculously produces a feast so even the least person could eat all they wanted. On the other hand, Jesus tells them not to lose the scraps.

Jesus did not want to lose the scraps. Somehow, Jesus manages to feed the people, demonstrate God’s love to everyone, and teach the disciples an important lesson. It seems clear he does not approve of loss. Jesus does not approve of waste.

Waste is an epidemic in our modern society. We buy things and keep them until we are bored with them or until they break. Then, we throw away what we no longer care about and run out to buy more. The trash dumps around the world testify to the magnitude of waste.

Of course, garbage is not Jesus’ main concern. His main concern is people being reconciled to God the Father and coming into a saving knowledge of himself. So, when I hear Jesus talk about waste, I immediately think of people. Do we ever throw people away?

Those people in our lives that take more than they give are an opportunity. Difficult relationships are not meant to be wasted, to be thrown away. Difficult people remind me of the scraps. They are the people no one wants. Yet, the people that are leftover are the very ones I think Jesus would tell us to gather.


Lord Jesus, please teach me to be both generous and frugal. Help me Lord as I turn towards those people that are easy to ignore. Protect me from harm as I open my heart to those that are less desirable. Help me make use of every opportunity to bring healing and salvation to those you bring into my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Humble Obedience

John 6:1-2 WEB

After these things, Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee, which is also called the Sea of Tiberias. [2] A great multitude followed him, because they saw his signs which he did on those who were sick.


We are sheep. We love to follow. We love to follow those everyone is following. We love to follow the rich, the beautiful, the talented. Jesus was talented. He could lay hands on people and heal their diseases. Everyone wanted to see a miracle. Both the sick and the well wanted to see a miracle, so they followed him.  

They did not follow him because they desired to do God’s will. They did not follow him because they realized he was the messiah. They did not follow him to humble themselves to his authority. They came to receive.

They came for selfish reasons, not because they wanted to come into obedience to Christ. Not because they desired to do God’s will. Many of the sick came to Jesus in the hope of being made well so they could rejoin society. And Jesus does not seem to mind.

However, I suspect Jesus dislikes when we try to coax people into the Kingdom by promising blessings without teaching the responsibilities of being a Christian. Promising goodies appeals to people’s selfishness, which is the opposite of Christianity.


Lord Jesus, please forgive my selfish behaviors and attitudes. Teach me to walk in humble obedience, submitting myself joyfully to your will. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.   

Righteous and Unrighteous Judgments

John 5:28-30 WEB

Don’t marvel at this, for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice, [29] and will come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. [30] I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous; because I don’t seek my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me.


The most famous verse about judgment in the Bible is probably “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged.” (Matthew 7:1 WEB) Jesus had the authority to judge but judgment was not his priority. In John 3:17 Jesus reveals his purpose is to save the world. And in John 3:16 Jesus reveals that the Father’s purpose is to save the world. Also, Jesus’ priority was to do the Father’s will. That is what made his judgment righteous.

The main piece of advice Jesus has for us regarding judgment is not to judge. He helps us understand the consequences are serious for the one who makes unrighteous judgments. More, we can recognize unrighteous judgments because they are not infused with the Lord’s purposes and priorities.  We can recognize unrighteous judgments by asking a couple of questions. First, is this judgment being made to help the person get saved? Second, what does this judgment do for the one making it?

It is easy to recognize unrighteous judgments such as gossip, but other situations may be more difficult. For example, some judgments are made for personal convenience. Telling someone to hurry up or slow down are judgments. They seem innocent until we recognize they do not help the one being judged.  

Judging other people can become a habit. When a person has a habit of judging they tend to lose their patience frequently. A couple of examples could be a person who often becomes angry at other drivers or at the person in front of them at checkout. Most people trace these two examples to a lack of patience. However, before the person’s patience was affected their attitude was affected and that is where the judgments are made.


Lord Jesus, please help me recognize when I am hearing or making an unrighteous judgment. Fill me with a desire to prioritize your will as my highest priority.  In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Granted for Life

John 5:24-26 WEB

“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. [25] Most certainly, I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God’s voice; and those who hear will live. [26] For as the Father has life in himself, even so he gave to the Son also to have life in himself.


When I read these verses, I think of Jesus’ time full of resurrected people. Yet, when we examine the historical record, there is no mention of a period when the dead spontaneously came back to life in significant numbers.  Verse 25 above says the dead will hear the Son’s voice and live. Yet, we can recognize that Jesus may not be talking about literal death. Instead, he is talking about spiritual life and death.  

He is talking about eternal life. The New Testament teaches that Jesus has been given the power to grant eternal life.  For this reason, we go to Jesus to ask for forgiveness and remission of sin in our life. It is Jesus we trust to grant us eternal life. It is Jesus’ words that people need to hear so they will believe and be saved. Once this happens it is said that person has passed from death to life.

Jesus is not boasting that he can grant eternal life. He is speaking the truth with love so that those who hear may be saved. As his followers, we also grant life. We do not grant life directly. Instead, we share the words and teachings of Jesus so that others may receive life from Jesus. Jesus’ words can be found in the New Testament of the Bible.

Occasionally, when reading the gospels of the New Testament, I notice that the Lord’s speech is plain. Not all of Jesus’ words are life-altering in appearance. Yet all of Jesus’ words are the most powerful words anywhere. They grant life because the Father deems it so. They do not grant life because they are amazing words. The words of Jesus are the closest thing we have to a direct conversation with the Father.


Lord Jesus, thank you for giving me life. Please bless me Lord that I may share your words with others so that you may grant them life also. 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.