Abiding In The Word Made Flesh

John 12:46-48 WEB

I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness. [47] If anyone listens to my sayings, and doesn’t believe, I don’t judge him. For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. [48] He who rejects me, and doesn’t receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day.


The Word of God will judge us on the last day. That is an excellent reason to become familiar with the Bible. Jesus came to save us. Even now, he is not judging us but rather, loving us into the kingdom. That love includes the grace you need to lay ahold of the truth found in the Bible. If you have access to a Bible, you are responsible for all it says. According to the world that is impossible. But we are not of the world and Jesus clearly thought we could know the Word. We have the truth, and that truth will judge us in the end.

The truth is a great light to all who believe (Ps 119:130). For those who reject the Word of God as a mandate, there is darkness. Not darkness as the world perceives, but darkness of the mind and spirit. When we are witnessing to the lost we are talking to people lost in the dark. Thus, we must shine brightly with righteousness and holiness so the lost can find their way (Mt 4:16).

These virtues come to us when we hide the Word in our hearts. Jesus is called the Word. When we are hiding the Word in our hearts we are abiding with Christ. We know he abides with us, but we must be deliberate if we are going to abide with him. Jesus is the living Word, and the Word was inspired by the Holy Spirit. So, when we hide the Word in our hearts, not only are we abiding in Christ, but we are also filling ourselves with the Spirit. The Word is the mind of Christ. The Word is our lamp, and we must keep our light brightly shining (Isa 28:18).  


Lord, please bless me to hunger and thirst for Your Word. Fill me with an interest in the Bible and help me practice hiding it in my heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Spectacle of Miracles

John 12:9-11 WEB

A large crowd therefore of the Jews learned that he was there, and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. [10] But the chief priests conspired to put Lazarus to death also, [11] because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.


People love a spectacle. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he created a spectacle. People were astonished. In modern language, we would say Jesus “blew their minds.” And once Jesus astonished people with the wonder of the miracles he performed, people started following to watch the spectacle. Many did not want to become more intimately acquainted with God. They wanted to be entertained.

Of course, not all people were there for entertainment. Lazarus being raised from the dead excited many of the followers. A large number began to believe Jesus was the Messiah. Because of this, the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus. They were jealous of the attention Jesus and Lazarus were getting. It was a threat to their positions (John 11:48). Therefore, out of jealousy, they wanted to kill both Jesus and Lazarus.

For Jesus and Lazarus, being anointed carried a heavy price. Not everyone was there to serve the Lord. Some were there to see what Jesus would do next. They loved what Jesus could do for them, but they did not love Jesus. We know when Jesus died, he died alone. Only a few apostles came to the crucifixion. The crowd that loved the miracles was nowhere to be found when Jesus needed them the most. Jesus understood these things. The Word says that Jesus trusted no one (John 2:23-24). So, for the many who would believe, Jesus endured the many that wanted to be entertained.


Lord, please prepare my heart to be faithful to you. I don’t want to be a person who is in Christ for entertainment. Please give me the grace to do what you ask me to do in a godly manner. Help me love you and love the people you died to save. Help me recognize the self-seekers so I can focus on those who may be saved. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Take Away the Stone

John 11:39-43 WEB

Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” [40] Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see God’s glory?” [41] So they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, “Father, I thank you that you listened to me. [42] I know that you always listen to me, but because of the multitude that stands around I said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” [43] When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”


Jesus had high expectations. Martha’s brother had been in the tomb for four days. There was nothing left to hope for in this life, Lazarus was gone. Still, Jesus reproves Martha for her lack of belief. He expected her to believe in a hopeless situation. Not only that, but she was also in pain. With Lazarus dead, Martha had many things to worry about. Regardless, the Lord does not shield Martha from the truth but instead reproves her.

It’s stunning. Martha was arguing with the Lord. She had just confessed that Jesus was the Messiah (John 11:27). Martha exulted in the revelation that Jesus was divine. But at the first small test, she fell. Instead of focusing on Jesus, she had her eyes on the situation. This resulted in Martha openly contradicting the Lord. If her mind had been set on belief and trust, Martha would have kept her first awareness of Jesus. But she clearly doubted. And because she doubted, she questioned. Because of doubt she openly demonstrated disbelief.

But Jesus believed. And all those that rolled the stone away believed. In the face of Martha’s instability in her walk with Jesus, he remained stable. He was faithful to Martha, Mary, and all those who trusted him for leadership. Martha slipped in and out of faith but Jesus remained faithful (Rom 3:3-4). Jesus believed to the point of confidence, so he called out boldly, “Lazarus, come out!”


Lord, please help me trust you and believe your Word. When difficulties arise lend me your grace that I may stand stable in my faith. Help me keep my eyes on you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Metaphor?

John 11:11-15 WEB

He said these things, and after that, he said to them, “Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.” [12] The disciples therefore said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” [13] Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he spoke of taking rest in sleep. [14] So Jesus said to them plainly then, “Lazarus is dead. [15] I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe. Nevertheless, let’s go to him.”


Some Christians believe the Word of God is black and white with rigid borders and boundaries. Other Christians turn everything into a metaphor with a plethora of meanings. So, which is it? Is the Bible to be obeyed to the letter? Or, should the Bible be analyzed as a metaphor so that people can take a range of meanings from the Word? In the above passage, Jesus mixes metaphor with concrete action.

Jesus tells the disciples Lazarus has fallen asleep. Actually, Lazarus is not sleeping, he is dead. What do we do with a passage like this? Do we call Jesus a fool or a liar? No, of course not. Jesus is hinting at the coming resurrection. When he says “Lazarus, has fallen asleep,” it is a metaphor that expands the meaning to something greater than the words therein. Lazarus had died but was going to awake from death.

But the metaphor is only part of the passage. There is also a concrete, black and white, command. Jesus tells the disciples, “Neveretheless, let’s go to him.” It was time for Jesus’ entourage to make their way to Bethany. They were in danger of being arrested and killed. So, it was not an easy command to obey. Without the hope found in the metaphor, the command seemed pointless.


Lord, help me listen to your Holy Spirit so that I can understand your Word. Fill me with obedience and understanding. Let your Word be a lamp to my feet. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Judging Fruitfulness

John 10:37-42 WEB

If I don’t do the works of my Father, don’t believe me. [38] But if I do them, though you don’t believe me, believe the works; that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” [39] They sought again to seize him, and he went out of their hand. [40] He went away again beyond the Jordan into the place where John was baptizing at first, and there he stayed. [41] Many came to him. They said, “John indeed did no sign, but everything that John said about this man is true.” [42] Many believed in him there.


Jealousy is surely the ugliest emotion. Not the loving jealousy which produces a willingness to care for and protect another. No, I am referring to the ugly, vicious jealousy towards someone who is more successful than another. In the church, we talk about people’s anointing as an object of jealousy. This is exactly what is being described in the above passage. The Pharisees refused to believe in Jesus even though he performed signs or miracles.

John did no miracles. John did not go to the temple to preach as Jesus did. John was less anointed than Jesus and therefore less of a threat to the leaders of the Jewish people. John prophesied and his prophetic voice was acknowledged by the people, so much the Pharisees did not speak against him. Yet they did not believe his message. More important, they did not feel threatened by John.

How many anointed preachers get passed over for someone less threatening in the modern church? Many Christians love worldly success. Even ministers of the Gospel get caught in this trap. Once their ministry starts to grow, they begin protecting the ministry. Which is good until it causes a minister to thwart God’s plan. Jesus wants willing vessels. It’s easy to believe God is all-powerful and can put anyone anywhere he wants them. And, while this is true, most often God works through willing people. As Jesus said in the above passage, look at their works. Check the fruit of a ministry before you whole-heartedly start trusting what they are preaching. That was Jesus’ advice.


Lord, give me insight and wisdom to understand the motivation and intent of those who lead me in the church. Help me both honor and righteously judge those who ascend to leadership positions. Save me from a cult-like following that can lead to deception. In Jesus’ name, amen.

True Victory

John 10:36-38 WEB

do you say of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’ [37] If I don’t do the works of my Father, don’t believe me. [38] But if I do them, though you don’t believe me, believe the works; that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”


The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Jesus told the Pharisees he and the Father were one, but the Pharisees did not believe him. So, he offered the miracles for proof. God validated Jesus through the works he did. Jesus opened blind eyes, healed leapers (Mat 8:3), and healed the sick. He miraculously increased food and fed multitudes (Mark 6:44). He offered these works up as proof of what he was saying about himself. He offered up scripture as proof (John 10:34-35). But no matter how much evidence he produced, the Pharisees could not get past him being a Nazarene from Galilee. They were looking for a Judite from Bethlehem (John 7:42).

Why didn’t Jesus just explain his situation to the leaders? He could have told them his mother and father were both from the tribe of Judah and due to the census, he was born in Bethlehem. So why didn’t he do that? Since Jesus only said what he saw and heard from the father (John 8:38), it must be the Father did not want Jesus to explain himself. The Father was not taking Jesus to the palace. His goal was not for the Pharisees to understand. The Pharisees claimed to understand and the Father held them accountable for that.

But he also held Jesus accountable for his destiny. If Jesus had disobeyed the Father by justifying himself to the Jews, he would have missed the cross. He would have missed the true victory. Jesus’ cross led to the greatest victory of all time, victory over death. We also have a cross we are called to. If the Father leads either to the left or the right, at junctures we are going to have to lay our will down for the Father’s will. Those small deaths of the self, lead to true victories in our everyday lives.


Lord Jesus, please give me the grace to lay my life down when you ask me to. Help me not engage in dead works but save me with your grace. Increase my spiritual hearing so I do not miss instruction from you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus’ Message

John 10:25-28 WEB

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you don’t believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, these testify about me. [26] But you don’t believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I told you. [27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. [28] I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.


Do you ever have trouble believing Jesus? Do you ever have questions about God’s word? The Bible says Jesus is the word. No, he is not the ink or the pages of the Bible, but he is found in the message of the Bible. To trust the Bible is to trust Jesus. Likewise, to not believe the Bible is to not believe Jesus. Those who believe Jesus are his sheep.

You can tell if you are a sheep. Do you love the Bible? Again, not the pages or the ink, but the message it contains. In the Bible is Jesus’ message and thereby Jesus. When we follow the Bible, we are behaving like the Lord’s sheep. However, if we do not read the Bible, we are rejecting Jesus. How can you ever obey someone you won’t listen to? When you read the Bible, you are listening to Jesus.

It’s not enough to read the Bible. Even demons do that. It is obedience to the Bible’s entire message that reveals a true sheep. We are not saved by reading the Bible, we are saved by grace through Jesus. However, a symptom of salvation is a hunger for God’s whole message. If you are a sheep and you are not hungry for God’s word, then your conscience may be seared. To remedy a seared conscience, you must repent and ask God, persistently, to give you a hunger and thirst for His Word.


Lord, please forgive my disbelief and help me trust you more. Give me a thirst and hunger for your Word and give me an understanding of what I read. Help me activate the Word of God in my life and become obedient to its full message. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Miraculous Signs

John 10:22-25 WEB

It was the Feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem. [23] It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. [24] The Jews therefore came around him and said to him, “How long will you hold us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” [25] Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you don’t believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, these testify about me.


No matter how many people Jesus healed, many Jewish people refused to believe. They demanded signs and refused to believe the testimony of others (1 Cor 1:22). They wanted to see a spectacle, a miracle, and they were not going to believe until they did (John 6:30). Jesus was the chosen of God (John 5:36). However, Jesus did not do miracles at his discretion. Jesus did and said what he saw and heard (John 3:32).

When the Jews demanded an answer from the Lord, he spoke what he heard. He told them to look at the previous signs and make a judgment. How many signs did the Jewish people need? Always one more. It is the same in the lives of many modern-day believers. No matter how many times the Lord intervenes in some believers’ lives, they refuse to trust him. They are constantly seeking signs. This behavior opens believers up to demonic influence (1 Thes 2:9).

Following signs is dangerous. We must remember the signs God has already performed. We store these in our hearts. Then, when our faith is challenged, we can think about the past moves of God and believe. However, God does not perform miracles so people will believe. He performs miracles to both help his children, and to place his seal of approval on godly ministers and believers (John 5:37, 10:25). The one by whom a miracle comes, if they are performed in Jesus’ name, is the chosen of the Lord.


Lord, please help me call to mind your past moves in my life. I repent of needing to see signs before I will believe. Help me trust you on good days and difficult days. Give me eyes to see your miracles. 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.