Lifted Up

John 12:31-34 WEB

[31] Now is the judgment of this world. Now the prince of this world will be cast out. [32] And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” [33] But he said this, signifying by what kind of death he should die. [34] The multitude answered him, “We have heard out of the law that the Christ remains forever. How do you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up?’ Who is this Son of Man?”


Jesus’ impending death was heavy on his mind. Jesus was addressing the crowd that was drawn through the mighty miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection. Ironically, the Father revealed that Jesus would die through the resurrection of Lazarus. God even went so far as to reveal how Jesus would die. He would be lifted up on a cross so that all people could receive eternal life.

With all they had seen, the crowd still could not understand a Messiah that died on a cross. That was because in Isaiah 9:7 the Bible says that there is no ending to the Lord’s rule. Also, the crowd believed Daniel 2:44 which says God’s kingdom shall never end. They had Jesus before them and yet could not see him. So, although Jesus was dealing with his own heartache, he continues to explain the kingdom and the Son of Man. With all the heightened experiences Jesus and the disciples had experienced they were almost surely ready for rest. Instead, Jesus keeps trying to make use of the current opportunity. His feet were prepared with the gospel of peace.

Jesus was the gospel of peace. His life story teaches us what peace looks like, strangely enough, Jesus’ story is full of chaotic moments. The water to wine in Cana, the scourging of the vendors in the temple complex, the feeding of the multitude, and the resurrection of Lazarus. Those situations were chaotic, and that chaos affected the disciples. However, Jesus remained unchanged. The chaos of the circumstances did not take Jesus’ peace. Jesus was fully confident in God’s goodness. So much that he obediently went to the cross to be lifted up.


Lord, please release a quality of peace that will allow me to stand steady amid chaos. Help me make use of opportunities to share the gospel. Please, Lord, take away the fear of rejection so I boldly and respectfully share the message of Jesus Christ. 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.

Good Shepherds

John 10:11-15 WEB

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. [12] He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesn’t own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees. The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them. [13] The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, and doesn’t care for the sheep. [14] I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I’m known by my own; [15] even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep.


What makes Jesus a good shepherd? Is it because he is fast and strong and can defeat all our foes? Is it what he does for us that makes him a good shepherd? Or is it because of what he is doing inside of us that makes him the Good Shepherd? Do our victories prove to us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd? No, neither of these things make Jesus the Good Shepherd. We do not love him because he protects us and blesses us. Those are benefits of being in Christ, but they are not the fullness of Christ (John 1:16).

We love the blessings, but we must look further to see why Jesus is the Good Shepherd. In the text, it says Jesus lays his life down for the sheep. More, the hired hand does not care for the sheep. In other words, the hired hand does not love the sheep. Jesus loves the sheep. Jesus knows the Father and understands what being a shepherd entails. It is not always easy to be a good shepherd.

Being a good steward of God’s sheep means loving the sheep more than we love our own lives. Those preachers that only dwell on the promises but never teach the warnings and general exhortations do not love the sheep. They love attention and popularity. They love having a big ministry. But unless they will give up all that makes them beautiful in the world, they will never be good shepherds (Mat 6:24). They are the ones that preach to the lustful (2 Tim 4:2-5). Jesus calls those believers goats (Mat 25:46). The goats will not follow the Good Shepherd.


Lord, help me listen to those who teach me the entire Bible including the promises, the warnings, and the exhortations. I know you laid down your life for me because you love me. Help me love those around me by emulating you, Lord. Teach me to carry my cross and lay my life down for others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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.

From Shame to Glory

John 9:1-5 WEB

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. [2] His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” [3] Jesus answered, “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him. [4] I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day. The night is coming, when no one can work. [5] While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”


The man blind from birth was given a rare gift. He was wrapped in God’s glory. We can see that clearly because his story is in the Bible. To be included in the Bible is a glorious thing. Yet, he suffered greatly on his way to God’s glory.

The word says of Jesus that he is wrapped in Glory (Col 1:27). He accomplished this by giving his life away and dying on the cross (Heb 12:2). The path to true glory is not an easy path. God would rather help us mature into godliness than zapping us into glory (Heb 12:11). If Jesus’ just zapped us and wrapped us in glory, we would probably take that glory for ourselves.

A life wrapped in God’s glory will bring God acclaim (John 8:49). The question each of us needs to answer is how much of God’s glory are we willing to be responsible for? Of course, the blind beggar did not volunteer to be blind. God did that for his own purposes.


Lord, please help me glorify you in truth and bring fame to your name. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus Pleased the Father

John 8:27-29 WEB

They didn’t understand that he spoke to them about the Father. [28] Jesus therefore said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing of myself, but as my Father taught me, I say these things. [29] He who sent me is with me. The Father hasn’t left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”


There is a stunning implication in this verse. Jesus says the Father is with him because Jesus pleases him. So, if a person does not please God, then God is not with them. That sounds too harsh to be a post-cross idea. However, we must remember that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). He is the same, he does not change. Yet, the things we are judged by have changed.

For example, in the Old Testament people were judged for keeping the Law of the Pentateuch (Ps 119:5-6). In the New Testament, Jesus says his life judges people (Rom 3:26). We see Jesus pleased the Father intentionally (John 8:29). As we endeavor to bring together the whole counsel of God, we recognize it is by grace we are made right with the Father. Even so, Jesus says if we love him, we will obey him (John 10:9, Mat 7:13-14).

Obedience to Christ is the standard that proves we are covered by grace (1 Pet 1:2). Without grace, we could not keep the commands of Christ. If we are not keeping the commands of Christ, the Father is not pleased with us. There comes a point in all believers’ journey they must pick up their cross and follow Jesus (Mat 10:38). Just as Jesus was obedient to the Father, we must be obedient to Christ. By this, we can be sure we are in the Lord’s good favor.


Lord, lead me into obedience through your mercy and grace. Teach me to become more obedient and help me mature in my faith. I want to do those things which please you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus Believed

John 5:41-44 WEB

I don’t receive glory from men. [42] But I know you, that you don’t have God’s love in yourselves. [43] I have come in my Father’s name, and you don’t receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. [44] How can you believe, who receive glory from one another, and you don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God?


Seeking glory is a real problem. It’s one of those sticky issues of Christianity. Unfortunately, we live in a society that teaches us to give and receive glory from one another. Yet this passage is clear, Jesus did not receive glory. He goes on to say those who receive glory from one another do not believe in God.

That is scary. It reminds me of the passage of scripture that says, “Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ [23] Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’” (Matthew 7:22-23 WEB) It is easy to tell if you are seeking glory or if you are seeking God. All you need to do is find something God needs done and do it. Then, keep it to yourself.

I used to wonder about my need to tell my every accomplishment. I knew it was wrong, but I could not quite get to why it was wrong. This passage helped me understand. It makes it plain. When I need people to see my accomplishments, I am seeking glory. There are appropriate times to share our accomplishments. What I am talking about here is a daily need for praise and adoration that leads you into a habit of self-promotion.

Self-promotion is a way to receive glory. On the other hand, Jesus was great at keeping things to himself. He even tried to restrain people from telling the miracles that were happening, “Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” [30] Their eyes were opened. Jesus strictly commanded them, saying, “See that no one knows about this.” [31] But they went out and spread abroad his fame in all that land.” (Matthew 9:29-31 WEB) Strangely, the more Jesus tried to keep things to himself, the more his fame grew. With no self-promotion, God was able to position Jesus where he was meant to go.  

Jesus believed the things he told others. He believed in God so much that he was obedient to death on a cross. Jesus understood before he died that God was going to ask him for his life. “As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Don’t tell anyone what you saw, until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9 WEB) Jesus was willing to be humiliated by the shame of the cross because he genuinely believed in God.


Lord Jesus, please help me recognize when I am seeking glory for myself. Please give me the grace to learn to give myself away for your glory. Help me come higher in my relationship with you Jesus. Help me trust you to get me where I am meant to be so I can give up endless striving. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Compromise or Belief

John 3:34-36 WEB

For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for God gives the Spirit without measure. [35] The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. [36] One who believes in the Son has eternal life, but one who disobeys the Son won’t see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

Cultural compromise is destroying the modern church. A desire to be accepted in the world has caused entire congregations to become irrelevant to the mission of God. Namely, to bring the world into the victory of Jesus shed blood on the cross. John 3:16 WEB says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” To fulfill the mission of this verse the church has compromised in the hope of becoming relevant to the world. However, what has happened is the church no longer carries the true message of the gospel. You cannot compromise and be on fire for the Lord at the same time. You must believe Jesus to serve him and demonstrate that belief through obedience to the word of God.  In Matthew 7: 21-23 WEB we are instructed on the reality of compromise, it says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. [22] Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ [23] Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’ It seems like the church has forgotten this passage of scripture. Instead, a strong delusion is upon much of the church. People in this situation are convinced that they are in the right relationship with God. Yet, they compromise with the world. The desire to be liked and accepted has masqueraded as a desire to reach the lost. But reaching the lost is dependent on holiness and righteousness. We can understand that righteousness comes when we are obedient to the word of God. When that righteousness is coupled with a humble heart we can become holy. Holiness is the ability to give people access to the Father through the Son. Jesus was the holiest and when he died, he released his most Holy Spirit to guide the world into truth. The church must first accept the truth to become righteous and thereby holy. The truth is, no one believes who does not obey. The compromise of the church with the world is leading many who think they are safe into a collision course with hell. In Romans 2:8 it says, “but to those who are self-seeking, and don’t obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, will be wrath and indignation,” The word is clear, and it is urgent that every Christian accept that no one can compromise a little. This is because a little leaven works through the entire loaf. And each person will get more of what they already have. If one is compromised a little, then that person is compromised. And if compromised they will continue to become more compromised. However, if one truly believes they will obey. In John 14:23 it says, “Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him.” Thus, because of obedience, their obedience will grow. God will make His home in that person’s heart. The result is their ability to bring the lost into a saving relationship with Jesus, or their holiness, will also grow. This is how we become relevant to God and the world. We must renounce compromise and return to obedience.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for compromising with the world. I recognize I must return to obedience, and I ask you to help my unbelief. I want to be accepted on the final day Lord, please come in and save me from disbelief which results in disobedience. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

What we have Seen

John 3:32-33 WEB

What he [Jesus] has seen and heard, of that he testifies; and no one receives his witness. [33] He who has received his witness has set his seal to this, that God is true.

When Jesus testified to the things of heaven which he had seen and heard, he was rejected. According to the above verse, no one believed him. Not his apostles, not his disciples, not the people he taught. However, many believed that Jesus was sent by God. The miracles assured at least that much belief. This verse is written by the apostle John, who at the time before the resurrection, did not believe. If the apostles, disciples, and the people did not believe Jesus, they will also not believe modern believers. However, there is hope. We still have the miracles. We have victories in our lives that looked impossible. We have the health breakthroughs, the family relationship breakthroughs, and the financial breakthroughs. We can testify to the power of Jesus in our lives. We can lift the banner of his name and his victory over death. We can lift the testimony of what we have seen and heard. Because we are like the apostle John when he wrote this scripture, we are on the winning side of Jesus’ victory over death. We live and testify after the resurrection. They did not believe Jesus before he defeated death, but they did believe in him after he rose from the dead. If you look at the above verses, you may see something unusual. First John says no one believed Jesus. Next, he says, “he who has received his witness,” that is, they who did believe. So, what happened between verses 32 and 33? Why does John say no one believed, and in the next verse talk about those who did believe? One verse tells the story before the cross and resurrection. The next verse tells the story after Jesus’ victory over death and the grave. On one hand, we are in the same situation that Jesus was in. Namely, that the works of the Father, that is the miracles, testify of the truth of our witness. On the other hand, we are in a different situation than Jesus. The Lord did his work before the cross, we do our work after the cross. Our miracles and victories are backed up with Jesus’ victory at the cross. Therefore, when we testify of unusual victories, that testimony should be brief. This is because all the details are not significant. In fact, too many details ruin the witness because no one will ever have our exact circumstances. When we witness the things we have seen and heard in our own lives, we should sketch out the major points and leave the nuance to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will do the work in the hearer’s heart. In Romans 8:16 WEB it says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God;” This is why after we testify to the miracles, we must shift the focus from ourselves and onto Jesus. Then, anyone who receives our witness will believe that God is true. (John 3:33 WEB)

Lord Jesus, thank you for the wonderful things you have done in my life. Please help me testify of you and help me keep the focus on you rather than myself. I ask Lord that I may be a holy vessel who opens their mouth to bear witness of the things I have seen and heard. I pray Lord that those who hear my testimony will believe that you are true. 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.