Men’s Praise

John 12:42-43 WEB

Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they didn’t confess it, so that they wouldn’t be put out of the synagogue, [43] for they loved men’s praise more than God’s praise.


Self-protection. We often care more about people’s opinions than we care for God’s opinion. It’s a matter of self-protection. It’s easy to tell if we care more about men’s opinions than God’s. We know it because we do not open our mouths when we should be telling others about Jesus. When people at church have a group opinion, we say nothing if we see a problem with the opinion. We are more concerned with being liked and included so we say nothing.

Those who do open their mouths are subject to derision and rejection. It is not easy to open our mouths for Jesus. But it is important. It is with our mouths that we confess Jesus (Rom 10:9), it is with our mouths that we rebuke sin in other believers, and it is with our mouths that we give God praise. We should also open our mouths to testify of God’s goodness to unbelievers. However, we often keep our mouths closed because we are protecting ourselves.

We can trust God to protect us. In Psalms, there are many verses that talk about the justice of God. The Lord justifies his children. When we trust the Lord fully, we can be assured that his justice for us will prevail. If we open our mouths in love to confront sin in the church, we must be bold. If we open our mouths to witness to the lost, we must be bold. We can’t be like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time on earth. They quietly followed leaders full of sin and disbelief for the sake of inclusion and destroyed the faith of many.


Lord, please help me speak up when I have opportunities to share your love with the lost. Teach me to lovingly rebuke sin in other believers. I pray I will not be ashamed to open my mouth for you. I trust you to keep me safe and justify me when I speak for you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus’ Family

John 12:1-2 WEB

Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. [2] So they made him a supper there. Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with him.


Six days before the Passover Jesus came out of hiding (John 11:54). He went to Bethany, to the household of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They were practically family and Jesus trusted them enough to stay with them. Jesus was not hiding anymore. He had a following of disciples and apostles that would have been in Bethany with him. So, it was only a matter of time before the religious leaders found out Jesus was back in Judea.

The Pharisees were plotting to kill Jesus (John 11:53). For this reason, he stayed in Ephraim on the edge of the wilderness. However, the Passover was just six days away and so Jesus went back to Bethany. He would not have gone at all except if the Father revealed it to him (John 5:19). So, in faith, Jesus goes. He goes to his favorite family, putting them in danger as well.

But it was good that Jesus had Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to stay with. Martha is serving, her normal behavior. Lazarus is relaxed at the table with Jesus. This family is not afraid of danger. Lazarus was raised from the dead and the man who raised him was sitting at the table. Jesus chose well in trusting this family. He had done great things for them and had inspired great faith in them.


Lord, help me stand steady in my walk with you. Give me the courage to serve you. I want to be a daughter you can trust. I want to be close to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus Groans

John 11:33-40 WEB

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, [34] and said, “Where have you laid him?” They told him, “Lord, come and see.” [35] Jesus wept. [36] The Jews therefore said, “See how much affection he had for him!” [37] Some of them said, “Couldn’t this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have also kept this man from dying?” [38] Jesus therefore, again groaning in himself, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. [39] 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?”


God hates disbelief. In this story, Jesus groans twice. The first time he groans he is with Mary crying in despair. The second time he groans the Jews were murmuring doubtful comments. In the first instance, Mary is at his feet and has just lamented Jesus could have saved Lazarus (John 11:32). In the second instance, the Jews were questioning why Lazarus died. Thus, Jesus had much to groan about. However, it is the disbelief that makes this situation so troubling. In other places in the scripture, it says that Jesus was limited in the miracles he could perform because of disbelief (Mat 13:58). When Jesus followed the Father’s direction and waited to come to Bethany to heal Lazarus, he took a risk.

It was a risk for Jesus to tell his disciples that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. It was a risk to the lives of the disciples to be in Bethany of Judea. There were many seeking to arrest the Lord and his companions (John 11:8, 16). So, to see the disbelief, and to have so much pressure on him, Jesus groans. We know from the scripture Jesus had times when the miracles would not flow. This created pressure on Jesus. This forced Jesus to walk in faith. He had to take a risk with every miracle. Now, he is going to do something he has never done.

Jesus is about to raise Lazarus from the dead. But he has a problem, there is a real lack of faith from everyone. The sisters are in despair, the Jews are murmuring, and the disciples are unhappy. Jesus needed to raise their faith. So, he gives them a task. Remove the stone. It took faith to move the stone. Lazarus had been in the grave for four days and his body should have been in a state of decay. To move the stone was an unclean act. Being unclean disqualifies one from going into the temple. Therefore, this was truly an act of faith. And that mustard seed of faith was enough. Lazarus was about to be called out of the grave.  


Lord give me a discerning ear to hear from the Holy Spirit. Lead me into obedience that can move mountains. Give me wisdom and cause me to mature in my faith. I trust you, Lord, with this process. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Obedient Jesus and Frustrated Believers

John 11:5-7 WEB

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. [6] When therefore he heard that he was sick, he stayed two days in the place where he was. [7] Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let’s go into Judea again.”


Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus so much that he decided to let Lazarus die. It was tough love. He knew the outcome was good, for the Father had shown him. So, for the sake of the blessing that was coming, he waited two days before going to Bethany. For two sisters saved from prostitution and dependent on their male relative to care for them, this was a scary situation. They were on the verge of losing their beloved brother and the life they knew. They lived in a time when women were treated as less valuable than men. There were approximately 100 rules in Judaism that constrained woman’s behavior. Losing Lazarus was going to destroy their lives.

But Jesus knew what he was going to do. Jesus always listened to his Father and did what he saw the Father doing. Thus, when he either heard or had a vision of Lazarus rising from the dead, he knew he needed to wait. The waiting was probably uncomfortable for Jesus. His love for this family is highlighted in Scripture. However, Jesus was so convinced of the Father’s good intentions that despite his great love for Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, Jesus waited. And in the waiting, the problem became more difficult to remedy.

Mary was upset with the Lord’s choice. When he finally arrives in Bethany, she does not go to meet him. Martha must coax Mary to come to see the Lord. It is then that Mary goes to Jesus. She wails her frustration in her small voice, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died (John 11:32).” That was Jesus’ limit. He asked where Lazarus had been laid to rest because Jesus was about to call Lazarus out of the grave.


Lord, increase my trust in you. I do not want to become afraid when trouble arises. Help me, Lord, to have real faith that inspires Godly patience and complete trust. Lead me into a full conviction of your goodness. 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.

Jesus Understood God’s Timing

John 8:20 WEB

Jesus spoke these words in the treasury, as he taught in the temple. Yet no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.


Jesus understood the Father’s timing. It’s what gave him confidence in his choices. And those choices reflect the knowledge of God’s will. In modern times we might call what Jesus is doing “faithing-it.” Faithing-it is the practice of taking active steps into what you perceive as God’s will. For example, I believed God wanted me to finish college. However, I ran out of money with one semester left. Nothing was working out. According to the world, I was done. But I didn’t quit because I believed it was God’s will for me to finish. I went to classes for several days without being admitted to the semester. After 4 days I received a call that a grant was going to cover my tuition. So, instead of quitting, I finished. I faithed my way through the impossible.

I knew how to faith-it from watching Jesus. When he was in Nazareth and the crowd wanted to kill him, he walked through the crowd and walked away unscathed (Luke 4:28-30). I thought about Jesus’ mindset in the situation. How did he know to keep stepping toward the desired outcome? Because he understood it was not his time, so he walked toward the goal of escaping the crowd. When I saw what Jesus did, I adopted a mentality to keep my eyes on the Lord and keep stepping into the vision.

That is what Jesus is doing in this verse. He knew people wanted to arrest him. Still, he believed God had a plan that did not include him being detained. So, he went to the temple and taught. He knew his hour was coming, but it was not there yet. Jesus understood God’s timing. Once, when his brothers accused him of wanting fame, he told them they always thought it was their time (John 7:1-8). That intrigued me. It challenged me. It challenged me to ask myself why I was always in such a hurry with God. One of the only insults Jesus levels at someone other than a religious leader is this one to his brothers about timing. Clearly, Jesus was disgusted with his brothers.


Lord, please bless me with an understanding of your will. Reveal yourself to me from your word and let your Holy Spirit speak. Give me the courage to take faith-filled steps into your will. In Jesus’ name, I pray, 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.

Righteous Judgments

John 7:21-24 WEB

Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel because of it. [22] Moses has given you circumcision (not that it is of Moses, but of the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a boy. [23] If a boy receives circumcision on the Sabbath, that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me, because I made a man completely healthy on the Sabbath? [24] Don’t judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”


I have always wondered how to define “righteous judgment.” Then, when I read the above verses, I realized, the Bible is full of Christ’s judgments. If there is anyone who gives righteous judgments it’s Jesus. Most people are familiar with the Lord’s judgments against religious leaders. However, the Lord made all sorts of righteous judgments. Three that caught my attention include the demoniac of Gadarenes, the woman who receives scraps under the table, and the believing centurion.

Luke 8:27-39 is the story of the demoniac of Gadarenes. The main judgment in this cautionary tale is against the people of Gadarenes. After silencing the demons in the man and finding out their name, Jesus sends the spirits into a herd of pigs and the pigs die. When the people of Gadarenes learn of the financial loss, they ask Jesus to leave.

There is a bit of misdirection at play here by the author of the book of Luke. While the reader is focused on the demoniac, Jesus judges the townspeople. The people of Gadarenes do not express a word of praise that a man’s life was saved. Nor do they express a word of remorse for raising pigs, something no believing Jewish person would do. Instead, they focus on the financial loss. Moreover, the townspeople do not seem to recognize they are being judged. The righteous judgment is, one single human being has more value than money. Even when that money is the lively hood of an entire town of God’s people.

Next, I have always liked the story of the woman who received scraps under the table. In Mark 7:24-30 we learn the woman is Greek and has a daughter who is demonized. The woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter and he deflects her request calling her a dog. However, instead of getting upset or discouraged, the woman presses into the hope of God’s goodness and humbles herself before the Lord. He says she has great faith and heals her daughter.

This is another interesting use of distraction. While everyone is focused on Jesus calling the woman a dog, he judges his disciples for their prejudice. The Lord reveals the prejudice of the disciples when he grants the woman’s request. At the same time, he judges their arrogance for believing Jewish people are better than all others. The righteous judgment of the Lord in this story is all believing people can receive from God, even those others call unworthy.

Finally, Matthew 8:5-16 is the story of the Centurion’s faith. As Jesus enters Capernaum, he is approached by a Roman Centurion. The man asks Jesus to heal his paralyzed and tormented servant. When Jesus agrees to come, the Centurion says if he will only say a word, it will be enough. He goes on to explain his understanding of authority and expresses great faith at the same time.

Interestingly, this judgment explores the faith of the disciples compared to the faith of a Roman Soldier. The soldier is judged faithful, and his servant is healed. Meanwhile, Peter’s mother is sick. Instead of asking the Lord to say a word of authority for her healing, the disciples wait until Jesus can touch her. Peter’s mother does not get healed until Christ arrives. Finally, Jesus goes on to deliver and heal all who are sick or demonized.

The judgments in this tale compare the faith of the disciples to that of a believing Roman. They also compare the compassion of Christ against the compassion of the disciples. The judgment here is that the disciples are found less faithful than one they consider to be an enemy and God responds with goodness to all who come in faith.  

What ties all these judgments together? God’s love. Jesus loves all people, and he calls judgments righteous that recognize the worth and acceptance of all believers. Rebuking prejudice, faithlessness, and hardness of heart, Jesus uses righteous judgments to adjust the disciples’ thinking. More, Jesus does not call out the shame of his disciples directly. Instead, he protects them while he heals their hearts and corrects their thinking. Lastly, these judgments are all indirect which probably means those with unbelieving hearts would miss the true meaning.


Lord Jesus, please teach me to judge righteously. Forgive me for past unrighteous judgments and reveal to me how you would judge the circumstances and situations of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus Overcame

John 7:1-5 WEB

After these things, Jesus was walking in Galilee, for he wouldn’t walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. [2] Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand. [3] His brothers therefore said to him, “Depart from here, and go into Judea, that your disciples also may see your works which you do. [4] For no one does anything in secret, and himself seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, reveal yourself to the world.” [5] For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.


It is always amazing to see Jesus going through the same struggles many have today. Jesus was rejected by both his family and his countrymen. He had followers, but he also had naysayers. He had a call on his life, but those nearest did not believe. More, you can hear in the passage the brother’s jealousy for the attention Jesus has received. Can you see Mary and Joseph watching their miracle baby? They probably couldn’t take their eyes off him.

If I had a child fathered by the Holy Spirit I would be watching. Whatever the reason, Jesus’ brothers were jealous and spiteful. Worse, they were counseling Jesus. It is worse because they were attacking Jesus’ very ability to hear from the Father. They were mocking him as an attention seeker. They were mocking him as a fool for missing the publicity the feast would provide. Their counsel is the world’s wisdom.

At the same time his family is mocking him, the Jews had begun plotting to kill Jesus. The Lord is in an emotionally crushing moment. His family mocks him. His countrymen want to kill him. And everything he hears from the Father seems to promote all the hatred.

Jesus is crushed between mockery and death, and the Father’s challenging instructions. And in spite of all the pressure, he still shows us what perfect faith looks like. We cannot know if Jesus heard God perfectly all the time. But we do know that anything the Father asked, no matter how much it cost, Jesus said yes.


Lord, thank you for overcoming your challenges. Please help me overcome my challenges. In Jesus’ name, amen.