Angie Benjamin

A Wasted Life, Unbelief and Hardened Hearts {John 12}

2:07 AM

By Angie Benjamin

 Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany (vs 1-7)




1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5"Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, "Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."

This is story tells us how not to waste your life. It’s also a story about motivation: why do you do what you do for the Lord? Do you serve Him for the satisfaction you get when you see results? It is satisfying to see Him use you, but that’s the wrong motivation. Do you serve Him because it helps others? Again, it’s gratifying to see others helped, but that’s the wrong motivation for serving Him. The true motive for serving Christ is because He is worthy of everything you can do for Him and because you love Him and want to please Him because He gave Himself for you on the cross. We learn this from Mary’s act of devotion.

John contrasts Mary’s act of devotion with Judas’ self-centered focus and with the evil plans of the chief priests, who now not only want to kill Jesus, but also Lazarus, whose resurrection was resulting in many believing in Jesus. So the story’s lesson is:

A life spent in selfless devotion to Jesus is not wasted, but a life spent on self is totally wasted.

The Unbelief of the People (vs. 36-43)




When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
"Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
40 "He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them."
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Jesus had performed many miracles but still many people didn't believe in Him. The same happens today, many won't believe despite all God does.

People would not believe despite the evidence, as a result God hardens their hearts...at the beginning sounds like if it's God intentionally preventing these people from believing in Him but no, it simply means that He confirms their own choices. After a lifetime resisting God people become so set in their ways that they won't even bother to understand Jesus message.

Sometimes we get discouraged when we witness for Christ and it doesn't necessarily turn out as we would like. We must remember that our job is simply to be a faithful witness. We are responsible to reach out to others, but they are responsible for their own decisions, so keep up the good and faith-full work !



Jesus Came to Save the World (vs.44-50)




44 And Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me."

He came into the world as light [vs46 and John 3:19 -21; 8:12 ; 9:5]. To believe in him, to believe the claims he made about his true identity, is to finally see and believe in God. The deep darkness of separation from God and ignorance of God is here dispersed. The age-long, world-wide questions about who or what God is are here answered. No one who believes in Jesus remains in darkness.

His miracles identified him as God. They should have believed on the basis of the miracles alone [ 12:37 ]. His words have identified him as God, and, he says, it will be those very words, which they have rejected, that will condemn them, for in rejecting his words they have rejected the words of God.

In refusing to accept his words [ ‘believing’ his words, ‘obeying’ his words, ‘keeping’ his words] they have rejected God. His words which could have brought them light and life, will, if they are rejected, bring them only judgment and darkness. To reject the offer of light is to choose the darkness. To reject the offer of salvation is to choose judgment [ 12:38 -40, 47-50].


Becky Bramlett Austin

I Am the Resurrection and the Life {John 11}

4:10 AM



By Becky Bramlett Austin

The story of Lazarus reveals such a tender portrayal of Jesus.  It shows us a Jesus who connects with us in our struggles, hardships, and grief.  It also reveals that even our difficult experiences serve a divine purpose meant to glorify God.   “But when Jesus heard it (that Lazarus was ill) he said“This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." (V4) It's not an easy thing to accept when illness afflicts or tragedy strikes but even our difficult times should be embraced with a desire to see God glorified.  This is not a perfect world and we are not immune to suffering just because we are God's children but how we react to our suffering is always an opportunity for others to see God as the source of our strength.

The following 2 verses seem strange and contradictory:
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” (V5-6) If someone came to you and told you that a loved one were very ill, wouldn't your first reaction be to drop everything and immediately go to them? Clearly, Jesus had reasons for delaying. One of his objectives was to strengthen the belief of his disciples. “Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”” (V14-15) We have read before of 2 other occasions when Jesus raised from the dead but these bodies were raised soon after death before decay set in.  Lazarus was in the sealed tomb 4 days. This raising of the dead could not be shrugged off as chance or other explanation.  This would be a true conquest over the destructive forces of death.  

Jesus loved Mary and Martha and he wanted to increase their belief too.  Both of them already believed in him as a healer for they both told him that Lazarus would not have died if he had been there to heal him.  Jesus wanted them to know Him in an even grander capacity.  He didn't want to just be their healer, but to be their  resurrection and life. “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?””(v25-26)
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Even though Jesus knew that he would raise Lazarus back to life, he was still deeply affected by the sorrow and sadness of those who mourned.  In fact, he also wept.  God is not insensitive and unconcerned about our sorrows and concerns.  In fact, in Rev 4 we are told that when Jesus returns that " He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  

Could you imagine being at the entrance of that tomb expecting only death's foul stench to overwhelm you? Martha was certainly concerned.   “Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?"" (V40).  How powerful our belief can be.  When we trust In God- trust His timing, trust his love and concern for us, trust his sovereign control over all circumstances, and trust that he can negate the destructive decay of death and sin, then we get to see....His power, His glory, His compassion, His mercy, and grace. 

Could you imagine Jesus calling " Lazarus come forth".   How amazing and joyous it must have been to see a dead man walk out of that tomb into the daylight.  Spiritually, we are all sealed in a tomb of death and Jesus calls our name too.  He died to free us from the power of death and He calls us out of that dark tomb into the light of eternal life. Have you heard that call from Jesus?  Have you chosen new life?  Do you know Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life?

John

The Door to an Abundant Life {John 10}

10:30 PM



By Sue Desmarais

Have you ever watched a game show where the contestants are asked to trade in what they have already received for what’s hidden behind another door on stage? The contestants agree hoping, or believing that what’s hidden is better than what they have at the moment, but… it doesn’t always turn to be the case. I think about that scenario every time I read this passage and used to wonder why others would reject this “door” altogether:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.

So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. John 10:1-11
John, who wrote this book, never added the chapters and verses to it, and I’m not sure why whoever did add the chapter breaks, ended chapter 9 where they did, because when Jesus in 10:1 says, “Truly, truly…” He’s connecting what He’s about to say with what has just taken place in chapter 9; where Jesus healed the man born blind. Jesus is going to address the fact that the Pharisees, who were the religious leaders in Israel, should’ve been faithful shepherds over God’s flock, but had failed miserably, and the story of this blind man is a great example of this when they grew frustrated with the man’s testimony about Jesus and actually threw him out of the temple; never once rejoicing over the fact that this man could now see!

We actually need to back up to Ezekiel 34:1-31 to truly understand what Jesus is saying in chapter 10. (I’ll try to condense it a bit for you):

“And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,  “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.--  therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against the shepherds…and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep… As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them… And I will bring them out…, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them… I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord GOD. …I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them…”

Chapter 10 is the end of Jesus teaching ministry; the rest of the Book of John will describe the events that took place during Jesus’ final week on earth. I wonder if Jesus sensed a greater urgency to get His message out to His people, for surely if you knew your opportunity to convince others of something so, so important was ending, wouldn’t you try that much harder?  

Jesus is saying here that He is the true Shepherd; the One God spoke of in Ezekiel 34. He is the Messiah, the One who fulfills all the Old Testament prophecies concerning Him.

 He is the “door” and I believe, though some might not agree, that the “doorkeeper” must be John the Baptist, for “as David was designated the king of Israel by the prophet Samuel, so also Jesus, the Son of David, was designated Israel’s King by John the Baptist.

I used to read this passage and wonder why others didn’t choose Jesus as the “door” to abundant life. Why instead, would they pick up stones to stone Him? Why wouldn’t they want to follow the “Good Shepherd”, or why would they turn away after a time?

This time however, I found the answers right here in the chapter! The first is found in verses 14-16,“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” (Emphasis mine)

They choose to follow Him because they are His sheep and they “know His voice”. They recognize Him as the Messiah, and trust in Him as their Shepherd. These sheep, who belong to the true Shepherd, also know better than to follow any false shepherd.

Then again in verse 27-30, Jesus assures us that all His sheep will be kept safe, for no one can “snatch them” away from Him, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)


Today, if you are one of the Shepherd’s sheep, give Him thanks that you heard His call, recognized His voice, followed after Him and are now cared for and kept safe by the Good Shepherd! Hallelujah!

John

Blindness (John 9}

10:30 PM



By Lisa Thayer

“If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing.  My Father, who you claim as your God, is the one who glorified me.  Though you do not know him, I know him.  If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word.  Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”  John 8: 54-56

“As he went along, he saw a blind man from birth.”  John 9:1

I am beginning today’s post this way so we are all on the same page as we begin.

Jesus’ healing is unique.  He put clay on this man’s eyes and told him to go wash.  Once Jesus healed two blind men by merely touching their eyes (Matthew 9:27-31) and He healed another blind man by putting spit on his eyes (Mark 8:22-26).  Though the healing power was the same, Jesus varied His methods so people would not focus on the manner of healing and miss the message in the healing.

This man did not see and believe.  He heard and believed!  Not only did he trust Jesus, but he worshiped Him.  It cost this man everything to confess Jesus as the Son of God, but he was willing to do so. 

John the Baptist affirmed that Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:34) and so did Nathaniel (1:49).  Jesus stated that He is the Son of God (John 5:25, 9:35).  And Peter also affirmed it in John 6:69.  Now this former blind beggar has joined the group of witnesses.

The Pharisees were always present wherever Jesus went so they could catch Him in something He said or did.  Jesus chose to preach a brief but powerful sermon on spiritual blindness.  John 9:39 does not contradict John 3:16-17.  The reason for His coming was salvation.  But the result was condemnation of those who would not believe.  The same sun that brings beauty out of the seeds, also exposes the pests hiding under the rocks.

“No one is so blind as he who will not see, the one who thinks he has ‘all truths’ and there is nothing more for him to learn.”  (John 9:28, 34) (Warren Wiersbe)

“Leave them, they are blind guides.  If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”  Matthew 15:14

These religious leaders were blinded by their pride; their self-righteousness; their tradition and their false interpretation of the Word of God.

Blindness would at least be an excuse for not knowing what was going on.  But they did know what was going on.  Jesus had performed many miracles and the religious leaders ignored the evidence to make the right decision.

Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12; 9:5). The only people who cannot see the light are blind people and those who refuse to look, those who make themselves blind.  The beggar was physically and spiritually blind, yet both his eyes and his heart were opened.  Why?  Because he listened to the Word and believed it.  He obeyed.  And he experienced the grace of God.

“Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”  John 7:17

“yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”  John 5:40

“Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers.”  Proverbs 4:18


“It just seems incredible to the healed man that the Pharisees would not know this Man who had opened his eyes!  How many people were going around Jerusalem opening the eyes of blind people?  Instead of investigating the miracle, these religious leaders should have been investigating the One who did the miracle and learning from Him.  These “experts” were rejecting the Stone that was sent to them.”  (Warren Wiersbe)

Freedom

Neither Do I Condemn You {John 8}

11:30 PM



By Lisa Moore

In John Chapter 8 we find Jesus preaching in the temple, when a group of scribes and Pharisees bring a woman caught in the act of adultery to Him for judgement.  "...they said to Him, 'Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman; what then do You say?", (vs. 4-5).  Seems reasonable right?  After all adultery is a sin, this woman was clearly guilty, and in Deut. 22:22 and Lev. 20:10 the Bible teaches that the penalty for adultery was death.  But Jesus knew the intentions of these men weren't set on seeing the Law obeyed.  Instead they were setting a trap to see if He would contradict the Law.  "They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him.", (v. 6).  And in response, as Jesus so often did, He used this situation to teach about His liberating love.

Instead of jumping on the bandwagon and grabbing the biggest rock He could find, Jesus replied, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.", (v. 7).  The Bible tells us that one by one, the crowd left leaving only Jesus and the condemned woman.  "Straightening up, Jesus said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?'  She said, 'No one Lord.'  And Jesus said, 'I do not condemn you either.  Go.  From now on sin no more.", (vs. 10-11).  The woman saved by grace, walked away forgiven and set free in Christ. 

There was no condemnation for this woman not because Jesus was ignoring or changing the Law, it was because Jesus Himself is a fulfillment of the Law, providing righteousness through faith.  In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill."  God's true purpose of the Law was never for us to use in judgement and condemnation of one another, but instead to show us our need for a Savior. Only Jesus kept the Law perfectly, and all of its sinful penalties were poured out on Him.  Through His work on the Cross, Jesus provides the path to righteousness and a freedom from condemnation that comes from believing and trusting in Him.

In verses 31:32 Jesus says, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  He goes on to explain, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.  So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.", (vs. 34-36).  But exactly how does Jesus free us?  This snippet of a study on the book of John by Dr. Charles Stanley explains, and was too good not to share.  Dr. Stanley explains that we are freed through Jesus in the following ways:

1. "Through Jesus' death on the Cross and resurrection, we are freed from the penalty of sin."  Since Jesus paid our sin debt in full, like the adulterous woman we are no longer under condemnation.
2. "We are freed from the power of sin."  We no longer are slaves to our sinful nature, but through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit are free to seek and to know God.

3.  "We are freed from the purpose of sin."  James 1:15 tells us, "When sin is accomplished it brings forth death."  Our sin nature prevents us from obeying God and experiencing His best.  Jesus sets us free to become everything God created us to be for His honor and glory.

4.  "We are freed from the personality of sin."  Because of Jesus we are know longer known for our sins.  Because of Him we are made into new creations.

The adulterous woman is a beautiful reminder of how Jesus shows us grace instead of judgement, and forgiveness instead of condemnation.  Through Him we can be free of our bondage and live a liberated life covered in His love.

John

Scripture Saturday ~ Hiding God’s Word in Your Heart

2:34 PM



By Sandra Wyatt

Happy Easter Weekend everyone! Welcome to Scripture Saturday!  For today, I couldn't help but choose these verses in John as we continue our memorization… verses 3:16 and 17…

“I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26).
Have a precious and blessed day and Easter everyone!

Jesus reveals to Nicodemus about God’s love, why He came to earth, and how we can have eternal life. Jesus speaks of God’s love for all.  He tells Nicodemus that God’s love reaches out to everyone and He desires to reach all the lost.

Earlier in chapter 3, notice that Jesus didn’t tell Nicodemus to become more religious in order to go to heaven. Neither did He tell him to give more money or do more good deeds. He tells Nicodemus that unless he is “born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (v.5). He told Nicodemus that eternal life is based upon what Jesus will do and did for us. Jesus tells Nicodemus that those who believe in Him will have eternal life. So what did Jesus mean by “believe” ? The Greek word, which is used by John, for believe (pisteuo) means more than just agreeing.  It means commit to, put trust in. So the word “believes” in these verses means to personally commit to and trust in Jesus Christ.

He will not force us to commit to and trust him. We have the choice to accept or reject Jesus. Yet He encourages each of us to accept His free offer of eternal life.  And because it is the life of the Son of God, it lasts forever.

“I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26).

Have a precious and blessed day and Easter everyone!

Holy Spirit

Come and drink {John 7}

10:30 PM



By Mari Sandoval

For many reasons the month of April is very special to me: the celebration of Easter and the celebration of my momma’s birthday! This year she turned eighty and for us it has been a double celebration: 12 years ago she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. In that stage of her life she was not only dying physically but spiritually, too!  The trial she was facing led her to seek our Heavenly Father with all her heart and she not only received His Saving Grace, but was healed from this terrible cancer! Our Lord granted my mother a new life in Him (John 3:3-7) and from then on she and I became closer than ever! This was not always so… 30+ years ago when I professed my Faith in Jesus both my mother and my only brother suggested I was acting “strange” and we could not communicate anymore because of “my religion”. It was as if we were not family anymore… such as complete strangers!  

We see this happening in Jesus’s family, too as we read John 7:1-5 “After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him.”

To his family, Jesus's ministry is apparently falling apart. Many disciples have left Jesus (6:66), his betrayal is in view (6:71), and he has to stay in Galilee because of death threats in Judea (7:1). Jesus' brothers give him some family advice: he should go back to Judea and “do some miracles so that your disciples may see the miracles you do”. They were scoffing at Jesus and at the same time tempting him! Isn’t it awesome the way He answers them? : “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” (Vs. 6-9) Here Jesus is letting them know He has nothing to prove to them or to the world.  They were acting according to the world’s standards and that’s why they couldn’t understand Jesus. This statement to his brothers is an example of His testimony to the world's evil, for He reveals that their apparent faith is, in fact, not faith at all. The world hates Him, for it does not want its evil exposed by the light (3:20; 8:12) Jesus will indeed go to Judea to perform a great work--His death! But it is not yet time for him to die. Jesus has shown his family that He has not come to do his own will, He has come to do the will of his Father (6:38), and that His schedule is determined by God!

“But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.” Why did Jesus go to the feast after all? Well, in the next verses we read: … About  the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.” (vs. 10, 14-19)

The fact that He does actually go to the feast suggests that he received instructions from His Father to go after he spoke to his brothers. He had to be in His Father’s business in the right place at the right time! In Jesus' life as well as our own, the Father's timing is just as important as His will. Many of us stumble because we may sense we know God's will, but then move ahead of His timing and the result is mere frustration!  How important it is for us to follow Jesus’ example of being sensitive to our Father’s leading. He not only paid the price for our Redemption but He has given us His Holy Spirit! 

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (Vs. 37-39) (4:14)

In Revelations we find this invitation, too: "Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life" (22:17). (Is. 49:10, 55:1)

I love how this author explains this verse: ” Our need, our thirst, is what we bring to our relationship with God. This verse is one of many revealing, diagnostic texts in John. What do we thirst for? What do we really desire? Sin is our seeking relief from this thirst in something other than God.
Jesus invites those who know their need, those who are poor in spirit (cf. Mt 5:3), to take the initiative and come to him and drink (v. 37). Drinking refers to believing (cf. v. 38), which means aligning oneself with him, trusting him, receiving his teaching and obeying his commands. Such faith will enable one to receive the Spirit and enter an abiding relationship with Christ after his glorification. All of this is based on who God is and what he has done for us. When we believe we open our hands to receive what his grace offers--we come and drink.” (InterVarsity Press)

Heavenly Father: I humbly come to you bringing those family members who are still walking in the world’s standards and have not recognized yet your amazing Love for them through the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. May I be a witness to them so that they may too receive the miracle of New life in You and the outpouring of Your Holy Spirit in their hearts. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Becky Bramlett Austin

The Bread Of Life {John 6}

11:30 PM



By Becky  Bramlett Austin

They watched Jesus multiply food to feed the masses.  They pondered how he joined the disciples on the sea without a boat.  They marveled at him and they sought him but only for what he could give them in a material sense. And Jesus knew that they were hungry but not for what would satisfy the deepest longings of their heart.  “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” (V26) 

Then Jesus begins to converse with them about spiritual hunger. “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” (V27)  Then they ask him a very important question and they get a very simple, clear answer.  “Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”" (V 28-29)

This seems so simple and it encompasses the Gospel, the Good News of God to man.  Why was it so hard for them to understand? It was hard because of man's sinful nature.  Humankind is so enslaved to its nature it doesn't even recognize its own prison. In order for man to seek salvation, he must become aware that he needs salvation.  He must become teachable and receptive to the Spirit of God that wants to show man the wretched state he is in because he is disconnected from God. Man must see the depravity and darkness of his current condition before he will seek out the light of truth. Many can sit in a classroom and be given instruction but only the student who wants to receive the instruction and apply it to understanding will profit. 

Jesus came to teach us of God and truth. He became the living bread that would feed and nourish our spiritual souls. The people sought material nourishment from heaven but God wanted to give them spiritual nourishment. Instead of manna, he sent Jesus. “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (V33) Jesus gives a clear explanation of the grand plan or purpose of God toward mankind. “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (V40) 

We all sit in the grand classroom of life. We all have opportunity to receive instruction, to be teachable, to come to an understanding of our deep spiritual need for God.  But not all will have teachable hearts that are receptive to God's spirit. Not all will see their need for spiritual bread.  Not all will believe in Jesus. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—”

Is God drawing you to him? Are you realizing there is a spiritual hunger and thirst that no  material gain can satisfy? Are you realizing the dark state of your heart apart from the love and goodness of a holy God? Are you teachable and humble, receptive to the gift of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus that atones you to God? Are you ready to taste the bread of life?

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.” (V47-48)

Believe

Are You Sure Jesus is The Son of God? {John 5}

11:30 PM



By Sue Desmarais

How can you be sure that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? And how can you be sure you are one of His followers?

What would you say if someone asked you these questions today?

I've discovered over the years that there is often a vast difference from following a particular religion and following Christ Jesus, God's Son. Have you noticed just how many religions there are out there today that all claim their way is the best, or even only way to God in heaven? Have you ever wondered about what you believe and whether or not it's correct? These were exactly the questions on the people's minds in chapter 5 - How can we be certain Jesus is who he claims he is? 

According to the Law of Moses which is what the Jews followed, a testimony had to come from, “the mouths of two or three witnesses" before it was accepted. (Deuteronomy 19:15). Because we live in a fallen world, we don't know whether to believe someone's testimony or not, therefore The Lord prescribed in the Law that there must be witnesses; people who will corroborate another's testimony before it is to be believed, and this is exactly what our Lord is doing for the people who are listening to Him.

Jesus has made some amazing claims about Himself in this one chapter alone! He claimed to be:
·         "the Son of God,"
·         "the One sent by the Father,"
·          "the Source of all life" (physical and spiritual),
·          "the Judge of all the world" (everyone is heading toward a confrontation with him), and
·          "the Raiser of the dead," - the very One who one day will empty out all the cemeteries of the earth!

 Imagine for a moment that you were hearing all of this for the very first time! I'll bet it was a "jaw-dropping" moment. I'm also willing to bet that doubts began to form in the listener’s minds almost immediately, and knowing their hearts and minds, Jesus proceeds to reveal three witnesses whose testimony backs up His claims. 

The first witness is Jesus Himself:
"If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid. There is another [My Father] who testifies about Me, and I know [without any doubt] that His testimony on My behalf is true and valid.”-John 5:31-32
(When our Lord says his testimony is not valid, he does not mean it is false; he means it was not valid in their eyes because of their need for more witnesses, referring back to the Law in Deut 19:15.)
The second witness was John the Baptist:
"You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light." -John 5:33-35 

John the Baptist had said four specific things about Jesus:
  • John proclaimed Him to be the long-expected Messiah, the One whom the prophets wrote of. John even quoted the word of Isaiah concerning himself, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord'" -John 1:23
  • Secondly, as "the Lamb of God." To his own disciples he said, "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world," -John 1:29. Which meant Jesus was to be the innocent Substitute who will one day stand in our place and take our sins upon Himself.
  • Third as the "Baptizer with the Holy Spirit," (John 1:33). He is the One who will pour out "river of living water" that will satisfy the thirsty hearts.
  • Finally, as "the Son of God," (John 1:34). He is the Word made flesh, God Himself, Lord of heaven and earth, who became a man. 
And in verse 33, Jesus declares that all John said about Him is true!

The third witness and even greater witness than John, according to Jesus, is the very works that Jesus has performed before them:

But the testimony which I have is far greater than the testimony of John; for the works that the Father has given Me to finish—the very same works [that is, the miracles and proofs of My deity] that I am [now] doing—testify about Me, [by providing evidence] that the Father has sent Me.” -John 5:36

And if you still can't believe Him because of the works He's done, believe Him because of His Father who sent Him to do those very works:
"And the Father who sent Me has Himself testified about Me."- John 5:37


Ah! But there is still a problem! And Jesus goes on to explain it:
"You have never heard His voice nor seen His form [His majesty and greatness]. You do not have His word (Scripture) abiding in you [actually living in your hearts and minds], because you do not believe in Him whom He has sent.
You search and keep on searching and examining the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and yet it is those [very Scriptures] that testify about Me." - John 5:37-39

Do you know people like that? They think they have it all figured out, so much so, nothing you could say would change their minds?
There is this one man I know who comes to mind. He's absolutely brilliant! He's an excellent Bible teacher; has earned a Ph.D. from the very best schools in the country. He can win an argument without ever opening up a Bible! He can quote Scripture and cross-reference like the best of them, but He doesn't know Jesus!!  He is lost, utterly lost, but chooses to remaining right where he is. Like these Jews, he has studied the Scriptures, but stopped short of coming to Jesus in order to be assured of eternal life. 

This tells me that there has got to be more to knowing God’s word inside out and backwards! It's not enough to have only head knowledge; we've got to have faith to believe it! Romans 10:8-10 comes to mind and I'll close with this:

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

Jesus is who He says He is, for not only does Scripture testify to this fact in so many, many ways, but my heart also believes it’s true. How about you?




John

Reaping a Harvest {John 4}

11:30 PM



By Lisa Thayer

I’ve written about this woman at the well before, and every time I learn something new.  This is a picture of our miserable condition without Jesus.  This is another story of our blindness and the amazing grace Jesus offers. 

John begin his chapter by telling us that Jesus ‘had’ to go through Samaria (v. 4).  John tells us that Jesus had a purpose to go through Samaria instead of around it like most Jews would to avoid this area.  Most Jews has such disdain for this group of ‘half-breeds.’

Jesus not only purposely went to Samaria, He sat on the well where a woman would come to collect water.  We’re read before that it was typical for women to collect water, but not at this time of day – at noon in Samaria it was H.O.T.

Jesus didn’t leave Judea because of the Pharisees.  He left because He had a purpose to enter a land and reap a harvest.  He had an appointment to keep and He entered this place with salvation in mind.

During His encounter with this woman, Jesus offers her living water.  A faith in Jesus quenches your thirst.  Faith in Christ fills every single parched area in your life.  You will ‘never thirst’ because a spring of faith with keep rising every time there is a difficulty in your life.  Jesus can dig deep into our most secret parts of our hearts and minds and remove them and fill them with His life giving water.  I have often said that all our empty holes can be filled with Jesus. 

Jesus points out that worship is not limited to location.  He lets us know that whatever mountain or building we go to worship does not matter to Him if you are not a true worshipper of the Father in Spirit. (v. 23)  True faith is knowing the Messiah (vs. 25-26)

“Yet all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  John 1:12

I began today with mentioning that Jesus’ purpose was to reap a harvest.

“I sent you to reap what you have not worked for.  Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.  Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.  “He told me everything I ever did.  So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.  And because of his words many more became believers.”  (John 4:38-42)

These so-called ‘half-breed’ people came from their town to hear Jesus.  I think there are moments in our lives when we hear someone say they’ve come to know Jesus and if they have a scandalous background, we have a difficult time believing them.  Sometimes we are hesitant because we’ve been scammed before and so it’s difficult to believe these people.  But why did Jesus come into this world?

 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believes stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  (John 3:17-18)

Shouldn’t we be more aware of spiritual awakenings in others?

Jesus reveals that His is sustained to finish God’s work by finishing God’s work.  (v. 35-36)  The work God gave Jesus was to give eternal life!  (v. 34)  Jesus gives life because He is life (John 14:6).  Jesus is our food – He is living water and bread from heaven.  He doesn’t just eat food.  He is food!  He doesn’t just get life.  He gives life!

Who are the reaper and the sower here?  I think it is Jesus and the Samaritan woman.  Jesus has been sowing with His word and gathering fruit for eternal life as the great reaper.  And the woman has been sowing with her word to the townspeople.  That’s why the story returns in verse 39-42 to the testimony of the woman and the testimony of Jesus.  Remember, the townspeople believed because of her word, and then more believed because of Jesus’ word.  This is the labor of “others” that the disciples enter into.  “Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”  (v. 38b) 


This unlikely woman becomes the means of an unlikely people turning to the Jewish Messiah, even though they were not full-blooded Jews.  This is not just a familiar story for us to read.  This is an example of who we are and what we are to do with the life we’ve been given.

Born Again

A Visitor in the Night {John 3}

2:22 AM



By Lisa Moore

Nicodemus was a Pharisee who belonged to the exclusive Jewish ruling council known as the Sanhedrin.  The Sanhedrin was the most prominent religious group in Israel who ruled the religious life of the Jewish people.  Now as a Pharisee, Nicodemus' focus was strictly on obeying all of the traditions and laws of the Old Testament.  He was educated, wealthy, and was a highly respected teacher.  He lived a life of privilege and enjoyed the esteem given to him by the people.  And in John chapter 3,  we find him risking everything by searching through the night for Jesus the man from Galilee.   The same man his fellow Pharisees were plotting to kill.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus warned of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees which blinded them from seeing their need for repentance and for a Savior.  In Matthew 23:13-33, eight times Jesus pronounces woes against the Pharisees and calls them hypocrites, fools, and serpents. Jesus compares them to whitewashed tombs which outwardly appear beautiful but inside are filled with dead man's bones and all uncleanness. They cared only about the outward appearance of righteousness.  They saw Jesus not as their Messiah, but as a threat to everything they held dear.  But Nicodemus was different.  He acknowledges Jesus as a teacher sent by God, and comes to Him seeking the truth.  

Jesus begins by telling Nicodemus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."  This of course throughly confuses Nicodemus who asks, "How can a man be born when he is old?  He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born can he?"  Jesus answers, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Sprit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Sprit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again'."  (vs. 4-7)  I can just imagine the wheels spinning in the mind of Nicodemus.  He knew he observed all of the laws of cleanliness and piety, yet Jesus told him that it wasn't enough to be physically clean, (water isn't enough for true purification).  A person's nature also needs to be cleansed, or sanctified, by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  But what did Jesus mean about being "born again"?  I love this explanation...

"The new birth is an instantaneous spiritual experience which occurs when the Holy Spirit leads a person to understand that Jesus Christ died on the Cross to provide forgiveness for their sins.  We are born again the moment we accept that Jesus Christ is the only One who can redeem us and we confess Him as our Savior and Lord." ....(Dr. Charles Stanley)




Jesus goes on to explain, "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.  As Moses lifted up the servant in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.  For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."  (vs. 13-16)  Numbers 21 tells the story of the people of Israel becoming impatient with God and speaking against Him and Moses.  In return, God sent poisonous serpents as a judgement.  Many died before the people finally repented. God told Moses to set a serpent on a staff so that everyone who looked upon it would live.  In the same way, those who face death can look upon the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and receive eternal life.  An eternal life paid for with His precious blood.

This is the beautiful truth Nicodemus not only received, but believed.  We know this because Nicodemus is mentioned two more times in the book of John.  In 7:50-52, we find him arguing in Jesus' defense, and in 19:39-42 we find him boldly beside Joseph of Arimathea  preparing the body of Jesus for burial.  Nicodemus brings a mixture myrrh and aloes.  Spices which weighed about a hundred pounds, the amount usually reserved to bury a great king.  

The transformation of Nicodemus is a beautiful example of God's redeeming love.  Through his story we learn that when we come to Jesus with a heart that seeks the truth, day or night Jesus is there.  We learn that only through receiving Jesus as our Savior can salvation be found, and we learn that no matter how much we give,  it could never compare with the greatest gift Jesus gave by laying down His life for all.

Sandra Wyatt

Scripture Saturday ~ Hiding God’s Word in Your Heart

12:00 AM




By Sandra Wyatt

Welcome to Scripture Saturday!  Today we begin our memorization of verses found in John with verses 1:1-4…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.  In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.

I want to admit to you all that I chose these verses for memorizing because they are significant in my life as a Christian.  Twenty-five years ago I called a friend, who was Christian, desperate for God, for His compassion, for His love, for His strength. This friend invited me to her church. It was there that I met more Christian women and they immediately brought me into their fold. I remember sitting near one of these dear friends that morning...she opened her bible to these very verses and I read them along with her.  It was at that moment that I felt the Holy Spirit's presence within me…I read those words along with her and was amazed, and still am today, at the truths that had waiting for me!  To Him be the Glory!  I thank Him everyday for this gift He gave me, for His revelation, for His Son, for the Holy Spirit and for His mercy and grace!

“‘In him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.’ Only in Jesus is there eternal life. Because only through him can our deadness be replaced with life and our blindness be replaced with light. Come to him. Believe on him. Receive him. And he will be your life—your everlasting joy.” (Piper)

​Have a precious and blessed day everyone!

Angie Benjamin

Jesus Turns Water into Wine {John 2}

3:12 AM




By Angie Benjamin

Today's reading
John 2:1-11

Weddings in Israel during this time period were huge events. Often celebrations would last a week or longer. Whole villages would be invited. Cana is in the region of Galilee, about 12 miles west of the Sea of Galilee and about 15 miles east of the Mediterranean Sea. Also Jesus’ mother was invited. She seems to have a quite important role in the wedding. Perhaps she was a one of the people organizing the wedding or a helper to prepare food or drink or one of the coordinators.

It was probably the wedding of a relative, hence the invitation to Jesus as well, and it was customary for the disciples of a rabbi to go everywhere he went. Notice Jesus isn’t a celebrity figure that is too high up to invite. He is not separate from the people, someone to be looked up to and respected, but not to spend time with or develop a relationship with. He was a people person. He was not distant. He was close. You could talk to Him. You could develop a relationship with Him. He was someone you wanted to come to your party or wedding. John 15:15. He calls us His friends. He was friendly to the people around Him. The key point is that He was and is approachable. He did His ministry among the common people. He came as a servant.

 Jesus was a people person. He spent time with the common people and was simply a friend (see His relationship to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus). His ministry was among real people at a real event in a real location. We should make ourselves friendly. Be the kind of person that others will consider you are pleasant to be around. Can you also imagine what a blessing for that couple to have the Saviour Himself there to honour their marriage!

Mary didn’t command Jesus what she do. But she did imply that she would like Jesus to help with the situation. She obviously knew He had some miraculous power. Probably she had witnessed Jesus doing miracles before so had the confidence to ask Him to help. If anyone should have known Jesus’ ability to do miracles it should have been Mary.

Jesus was not being disrespectful when He said, “woman” (the same word used when he greeted Mary Magdalene after resurrecting and his mother when He talked to her from the cross). It was a common way to respectfully address women at the time. We know Jesus never would have done any sin. That does not mean that it is OK for us to address women like this today! Cultural standards have changed and it would no longer be a respectful way of address. If you try it I am sure you will find that out. We shouldn’t always copy what we see taking place in the Bible because it was happening in a different culture and context. We need to find the principles and apply them in today’s world.

“My hour has not yet come” (Matthew 26:45). The hour sometimes refers to Jesus beginning public ministry. It would be like saying the “hour of his revealing”. Other times it refers to His death or His second coming. Here it probably refers to His beginning public ministry and revealing Himself to the world as the Messiah.

Mary had supreme confidence in Jesus. She knew Jesus was able to solve the problem. Though she was His mother, you can see her submissiveness. She didn’t tell Him what to do or take control. She brought the matter to His attention, told the servants (probably the ones helping with the wedding) to obey Him, and then left it to His discretion.

Jesus was goal oriented. He was intent on His purpose. He viewed everything in light of it. When Mary came to Him about the lack of wine Jesus commented that His hour had “not yet come”. He came to “seek and to save” that which was lost (Luke 19:10). That was His goal. That was His calling. If anything would distract from that or not be useful towards that goal He would not do it. We also need to be goal oriented. When we are asked to do something, we should consider if it fits in with our goals or not. So set a goal or goals for your life (biblically) and then set your mind to pursue those in all of your activities.

JOHN 2:6-7  6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim.

They are not described simply as "some" waterpots. They are made o "stone". There are "six" of them. And they are big enough to hold "twenty or thirty gallons a piece." (John 2:6) Such visual precision on numbers, size and composition are evidences of the Gospels being eyewitness accounts.

Jesus didn’t do things halfway. The pots were filled up to the brim. When He did miracles He didn’t leave any room for doubt. He did them wholeheartedly. God is and pours out His blessings abundantly. See Ephesians 1:6-8. God is never stingy. Don’t be afraid to ask big things of God, even miracles. Don’t have low expectations. God wants to lavish His blessings on us.

We see here also that Jesus is above time and time restraints. Even if He used grape juice it would need a long period of time for the juice to ferment and become wine. However, He turned this water to wine immediately. There was no lapse in time. None was required. (Can’t God do the same with Creation?) Jesus simply wills it to happen. He doesn’t stand over it and recite some “magic” words. He doesn’t ask to taste it first to check and make sure that it “worked”. He confidently tells them to draw it and take it to the headwaiter.

Jesus supplies the absolute best. In an instant He could create wine far tastier than the best (for a wedding) that man could make. Notice that the headwaiter is surprised because it is recognizably better than the other wine. And he didn’t know it came from Christ. Therefore if someone is truly objective they will recognize that the things from God are better. Because he didn’t know it came from Christ it shows even more clearly that the wine Jesus made was better than the other Jesus did His work completely. The miracle wasn’t half-hearted. It shows how God treats people, richly. His blessings are abundant. They are full. They are better than anything man can produce. We need to do our absolute best for God (Colossians 3:23). Also we need to recognize that God gives the absolute best. Don’t settle for something merely “good”. You can only receive the best for your life from God.
Jesus was humble and a servant. His goal wasn’t to exalt Himself. Likewise our goal should be to help others. Do not seek honour in this world. A true servant is one who serves in the background. Do not do works of service so that others will see and praise you. If you do that will be your reward. Do them for God (Matthew 6:4) and He will reward you. 1 Peter 5:6 says to humble yourselves “under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time”

This story shows the humble heart of a servant Jesus had, His love and care towards people, His amazing and unlimited power and as well as an important lesson to all of us:

Sometimes what God asks us does not make sense. The servants wondered why Jesus asked them to fill pots with water when it was the wine that ran out...but they obeyed- and they witnessed Jesus' first miracle. Even though we might not understand why God asks us to do something, let us heed to Mar's advice and do whatever God tells us to do. 

There is blessing in obedience.