Thursday, 31 October 2013

Week 12 ~ Readings in John's Gospel


Intro: The tomb is empty! Jesus, the One Who consistently showed us the Father through His life on earth, has risen from the dead. Now, in the days before He ascends to His Father, He continues to show the Father's character and love to His disciples. The men and women who knew and loved Jesus are now fearful, desolate and grief-stricken, not understanding what has happened to their hopes that Jesus is the promised Messiah. But the risen Jesus appears to them on several occasions, transforming their sadness into joy, demonstrating His Father's love, care, compassion and power. Let's ask the Lord to make Himself this real to us as we read on.
                        He is still saying "Come and see"!

Day 1: John 20:11-18
            "Jesus said to her, 'Mary!'" Mary is sobbing so profusely that she doesn't recognise she is seeing angels in the empty tomb, and then she thinks that Jesus is the gardener! But He speaks her name. Here is the risen living Jesus, walking and talking – His voice recognisable to Mary when He calls her name! Jesus is alive! He calls us by name and we are precious to Him as Mary was! Look at Mark 16:9-11.
                  Isaiah 43:1 says: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
                                                 I have called you by name; you are Mine!"
                  Jesus has spoken of His Father 110 times so far in John, but has always called Him, "My Father" or THE Father"- NOW He says to Mary,   
                 "YOUR Father!" Jesus has finished the work of redemption – He has gone through the Cross to bear our sins, and through Him, we come to OUR Father! Relationship with the Father, broken by sin, has been restored! Mary, overwhelmed, and full of incredible joy, runs to find the disciples to tell them "I have seen the LORD"! Jesus is gloriously ALIVE and He wants the world to know, and He chooses forgiven sinners, called and precious, to tell them!

Day 2: John 20:19-23
            "Peace to you!" Jesus walks through locked doors! He shows His friends the wounds in His hands and His side – this is truly ME! There is no other story in the world of famous person, religious deity or whatever to match this incredible, amazing, astounding resurrection of Jesus! AND there are still no locked doors, forbidden countries or boundaries that can keep Him out! The disciples were filled with ecstasy! But Jesus knows they need more than their present feelings of overwhelming joy. He breathes His Spirit into them, and gives them His peace – 'shalom' peace for body, mind and spirit – the peace of God which passes understanding. He sends them out as the Father sent Him – in close relationship with the Spirit in them, in the peace and covenant love of the Father!

Day 3: John 20: 24-31
            Thomas has gone down in history as the doubter! Actually, we are told he became a missionary as far as Spain! Here is Thomas, not believing unless he sees with his own eyes, the living Lord. The disciples are again behind locked doors, so fearful still of the religious leaders, and Jesus comes with His greeting "Shalom peace"! He picks out Thomas to come and feel the holes in His hands and side – Thomas, awestruck, cries out, "My LORD and my GOD". Jesus has words especially for us here – and calls us who believe but have not physically seen Him, "Blessed". There is so much meaning in the word, "Blessed" and also "Shalom". We are safe, secure, protected, provided for, strengthened, healed, forgiven, showered with love and kindness – take time today to think of how God is blessing and touching your life, and come before Him with a heart of thanks, saying "My Lord and my God!" We have not seen Him, but we believe in Him, and He loves us!

Day 4: John 21: 1-8
            The disciples have gone back home to Galilee and some of them go out fishing with Peter. How often, when we are not sure what to do next, and may feel afraid and powerless, we just go back to doing what is familiar. Jesus will meet us right there! Jesus calls His disciples, "Children". He cares, as our Father cares, for exactly the problem in your life right where you are right now! Day is breaking and it would no longer be a good time to catch fish, BUT Jesus comes – He is standing there on the beach calling to them. Is there a situation today where you feel you have failed or circumstances are preventing you from moving on? Jesus calls you, "My child!" And He has the answer! As the disciples obey Jesus, they have an overwhelming catch – always there is over-abundance with our Father! I wonder if Peter heard the local cockerels crowing – it was daybreak – his heart is torn as he remembers, and he leaps into the water to meet his Lord. Do you think Jesus splashed into the waves to meet him, love and mercy in His eyes?

Day 5: John 21:9-14
              “Come and eat breakfast.” Today I am copying a piece I saved from a Joseph Prince devotional email : "Jesus represented the Father’s heart and will when He was on earth. ( John 5:19) He cared when His disciples were out at sea the whole night, cold and shivering. He cared when they caught nothing that night. ( John 21:3) He cared that they would not have fish to sell. So He gave them a huge catch early the next morning. ( John 21:5–6) He knew that they were cold and hungry, so He prepared breakfast for them, served over a fire of coals to keep them warm. Jesus showed us that God is our loving heavenly Father who cares about the big and small things that happen every day in our lives. Nothing escapes God’s eyes because He loves you!"

Day 6: John 21:15-19
            Jesus fully restores Peter. Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus gives him the opportunity here to confess his love three times! And three times gives Peter an important commission, trusting him and believing in him as a beloved friend! This is how Jesus forgives – restoring and bringing us into God's full plan for our lives. You don't have to read much further in the Bible to find out what happened at Pentecost and who preached the day that 3,000 people believed in Jesus as Saviour! He has chosen you. He believes in you, values you and has a purpose and plan for your life serving Him and blessing His family and the world!

Day 7: John 21:20-25
            "You follow ME!" Jesus' answer to Peter's question is full of meaning for us. We can easily use someone else as an excuse not to obey what Jesus is telling us. It is not about whether our family or friends want to follow Jesus or not, or whether they have a different calling from us, Jesus says, "YOU follow Me!" This is the end of a wonderful amazing time in John's beautiful Gospel, and this is the message, he leaves us with – "Follow ME!" John wrote this book that we might believe (20:30-31). He tells us that all the books in the world could not contain all that Jesus said and did – and nor will we ever come to an end of discovering more about our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, as we walk and talk and live with Him for the rest of our lives.

             Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has brought us to OUR Father!
                     Let us renew our trust in Him today – put our hand in His and 
                               re-commit our lives to love and serve HIM forever!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Week 11 ~ Readings in John's Gospel

Jesus cried out: "It is Finished!"
Intro: As we read about Jesus, sentenced to die by the cruel Roman torture of crucifixion, and all that then happens to Him, let us take time to consider that He did not have to do it! He willingly gave His life for us, because of His great love for us. Read the following scriptures as we begin the week's readings, all taken from the New Living Translation:

Romans 5:8  "God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were      still sinners"
Isa 53:5,6  "But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all."

1 Pet 2:21-25  "He (Christ) never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.  He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.  He personally carried our sin in his body on the cross, so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls."

Day 1: John 19:1-11
            "Behold the Man!" Pilate, the Roman governor, may consider Jesus to be innocent, and yet he still allows Him to be whipped and tormented by the cruel Roman soldiers. Jesus, with lashes down his back, and blood from the thorns streaming down His head and face is brought out to the Jewish authorities. Think of what this signifies: the blood from His whipping ("His stripes") to bring us physical healing, and the thorny crown a picture of His suffering for the healing, cleansing and renewing of our minds. Jesus is fully man – and, as a perfect man, endures all this to take our guilt and shame. Pilate finds no fault in Him, but the Jewish leaders, filled with hate, shout for Jesus to be crucified. Their loathing and their proud religious ideas will not let them look beyond the fact that they consider He has committed blasphemy by saying He is the Son of God. What is Jesus' answer when Pilate challenges Him that he, Pilate, has the power to set Him free or crucify him? Jesus IS indeed the Son of God and He is obeying His Father and loving His children to the very end.

Day 2: John 19:12-16
            "Behold your King!" The sixth hour is 12 noon – Jesus has been up all night and a prisoner since the early hours of the morning. Now Pilate, failing to have Jesus released, and wanting to stay in favour with the Jewish authorities, gives in to them and sends him to be crucified. The Jews meanwhile are suddenly being terribly loyal to the Roman emperor! Enemies of the Son of God, the Messiah, will still breathe falseness and lies today. For no legal reason whatever, Pilate delivers an innocent man to death on a cross! Jesus is going willingly, laying down His might and authority, to die so that sinners who believe in Him might go free.

Day 3: John 19:17-22
            "Bearing His own cross…" Jesus, already wounded and weak, staggers under the weight of the Cross.  Because of Him, we no longer have to carry the weight of our guilt and pain! They then nail Jesus to that cross. Our minds cannot comprehend the torture of such a death. The inscription stating that this IS the King of the Jews, is in all the major languages of the day. Pilate, without knowing it, is telling the whole world that this Man is dying for them to be their King! Remember John 3:16? It is happening. Jesus is going through with it – for every single person in the whole world – for you and for me!

Day 4: John 19:23-29
            John, writing this account for us, was personally there at the foot of the Cross! Jesus' mother was there, supporting Him in His worst trial. Can you imagine the tenderness in His heart, as in the midst of all His pain, He cares for her future well-being and puts her safely in John's care, to love her with a son's love. Jesus shows us right to the end, how He cares about each one of us individually, looking after our personal emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Jesus, again fulfilling what the Scripture has said, calls out "I thirst". Of course, He would have had agonising physical thirst, but He was going through this that we might never thirst again! (Remember John 4:14?) All the thirst of sinful mankind for acceptance, significance, security, approval and peace is answered through Jesus Who thirsted on the cross for us. Father is taking us into His close family because Jesus went through this on the Cross for us.

Day 5: John 19:30
            "It is finished" Jesus, of His own volition and obeying His Father to the end, gave up His life to His Father, trusting HIM completely. This verse stands on its own. Jesus had FINISHED all the Father had given Him to do. The Greek word here for "finished" means 'accomplished and completed', but also means "a debt is discharged", "the payment is made". Jesus has paid the debt for all our sins. He has redeemed us to become sons and daughters of our Father. All we have ever thought and done wrong, and all the evil within our being, has been cleansed and dealt with forever and ever, because "It is FINISHED"!

Day 6: John 19:31-42
            Religious pride was happy to crucify Jesus, but not happy that His body should be on a cross on their 'holy' day. Scripture is being fulfilled once again as Jesus' heart and lungs are pierced. Blood and water flow for cleansing and new life. His heart is broken that our broken hearts may be healed. Let's bring Him our sorrows and griefs. He will heal us. After all this, 2 men decide to come out publically in their devotion to Jesus. A bit late, some might say! But they did Him a great service in providing a tomb and laying out and wrapping His body with preserving spices. From now on, do you think that Joseph and Nicodemus would be strong followers of Jesus? Perhaps now Nicodemus began to understand what Jesus was telling him in John 3. Read John 3:14-21 again. Nicodemus had come into the light! Think of any situation in your life where you need to "come into the light" and stand up for Jesus.

Day 7: John 20:1-10
            Resurrection morning! The stone is rolled away! The tomb is empty! Mary Magdalene, is the first at the tomb before daylight. John himself is one of the disciples who runs to find the grave empty! The linen shroud is just lying there! And the head bandages where Jesus' head would have rested. How amazing! No one could just get out of tight wrappings like that - and a dead person certainly couldn't!! John writes "he saw and believed!" Later he writes in his first letter, "That which we have seen and heard, we declare to you…" What we are reading here is firsthand witness. It is not hearsay or rumour – it is the true witness of John himself.  But they do not know what to do next, so they just go back to their lodging place! They do not know what to do next – but just wait and see what follows!
Heb 12:2-3   …looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Don't be weary and discouraged – look to JESUS! He died so that He could have the joy of everlasting companionship with you! So that he and His Father would be ONE together with US!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Week 10 ~ Readings in John's Gospel

Jesus prays!

Intro: The time has come for Jesus' arrest and trial. What is the last thing Jesus does before he is arrested? All the Gospels tell us that He prays. In the other gospels, He is in anguish before His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, laying down His own will and struggling with His impending terrible death. But here in John, before Jesus retires to the Garden, John records how Jesus prays for His disciples. And in Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25 we read Jesus Christ is still praying for us! Rom 8:34 (Message version):
"The One who died for us – Who was raised to live for us! - is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us!"            
Even as Jesus faced His arrest, trial and the Cross, He wanted His friends to hear what He prayed – He wants us to know how He cares for and protects us, how He loves and how He and Father desire deep relationship with us. He wants us to know today what is on His heart for us who believe in Him.

Day 1: John 17:1-8
           "This is eternal life …" Jesus is talking to His Father, and, at the same time, giving truth to His disciples. So what is eternal life? – Jesus Himself gives the answer here. Read it again. It is not just about our future in Heaven with God – it is about KNOWING the "only true God" and KNOWING Jesus Christ, His Son, the anointed One, the Messiah.  Now and forever! Eternal life is always about relationship with God. Jesus speaks of His authority and His glory. What is Jesus asking the Father in verses 1 and 5? Jesus left the Father's glory to come to our world as a man – He is now about to return to that glory!  Again John affirms that Jesus was with God and was God before the world began! And now He tells His Father, "I have accomplished the work You gave me to do!" He has manifested the name, character and nature of the Father! v6. He has taught God's words to His disciples, so that they have come to believe in Him.

Day 2: John 17:9-19
            "I pray for them …" Jesus is very clear that He is not praying in general for the world, but for those who love and follow Him – those given to Him as His friends by Father! And He says that His glory is in them! Look what amazing oneness Jesus describes again between Him, His Father, and His disciples! He recognises they will remain in the world, as He goes to the Father. He is concerned for their welfare after He is gone. Perhaps you could make a list of all Jesus is praying here. What mission does He give us – see verse 18. And how does He equip us? Kept in the Father's love, guarded from evil, armed with the truth of the Word of God, one with Jesus, full of His joy – wow, what a picture is painted here, as Jesus, our Intercessor in Heaven, still prays for His disciples. He loves. He passionately cares for us!

Day 3: John 17:20-26
            Continue to list what Jesus is praying for YOU! John records here that it is not just for those disciples present with Jesus at the time, but ALL who believe in Jesus through their words! And so for all who believe in Jesus through our words too! It is so clear that Jesus' mission to represent Father to a sin-stricken, pain-filled world is now our mission. And Jesus prays for us to be one together, that the world might believe. As He made known the Love and nature of the Father, so we make Him known; loving Him, loving one another. Only possible because he prays for us! And Jesus' heart-longing, as He prays is that we might be with Him and He may be in us.
Day 4: John 18:1-9
            We learn here that the Garden was a place where Jesus often went to rest and relax with His disciples. Does it remind you of the Garden of Eden where God would walk and fellowship with Adam and Eve(Gen 3:8)? Where man first sinned and lost close fellowship with God, now Jesus begins God's redemption plan – in a garden with His close friends! The troops arrive with Judas. They ask for Jesus of Nazareth – the carpenter, the man. "I AM He!" As we begin to read this story of betrayal and trial, Jesus stands before us, a man. Only a man can die for the sin of the world. But He is declaring once again "I AM" - God the LORD! The effect of God Himself standing before the tough armed soldiers is that they all fall over backwards! They cannot stay upright in the presence of the LORD! Throughout the story, we will see how Jesus lays down His authority and power, to give Himself willingly, to die for us. At this point He could have just walked away as he has done in other incidents previously. But this is the time! Jesus, in His care for His friends, ensures they go free, whilst offering Himself up. And He chooses from now on to go the way of the Cross.

Day 5: John 18:10-14
            Peter rushes in to defend Jesus! I think he was not very practised at using a sword! He was a fisherman! In Luke 22:51, we read that Jesus touched the slave's ear and healed him! Luke was probably a doctor, and is the only one that records this detail in what would have been a horror scene of bad memories. What is Jesus' answer to Peter as He told Him to put away his sword? Jesus is freely giving Himself up. However willingly Jesus is going with the Roman soldiers and Jewish officers, they still feel it necessary to tie Him up as they lead Him off to the High Priest. Jesus bound, that we might go free!

Day 6: John 18:15-27
            Peter, recently so 'brave' that he pulled out a sword, now denies knowing Jesus – not once, but three times. The cock crows, as Jesus had told him. In the other gospels we read that Peter saw Jesus look at him, and went out and wept bitterly. Can you imagine how he felt, how he must have thought this was the end of everything? Watch the rest of the story regarding Peter – because there is great encouragement for us in the times we let our Lord down and fail to acknowledge Him. (It is totally different from Judas' betraying Jesus, purposefully going into the darkness to ally with Jesus' enemies.) Jesus Himself is facing the start of His trial in front of the Jewish authorities. How brave He is for our sakes. We face no condemnation, because He stood there publically for us. Let's thank Him again today. 

Day 7: John 18:28-40
            The hypocrisy of the religious Jews is incredible – they refuse to go into the Roman Governor's offices as they would defile themselves! BUT they can unashamedly bring an innocent Man to be tried by the Roman government! Pilate, the governor, had to walk from the inside where Jesus was a prisoner to the outer court to argue with His accusers. Jesus answers Pilate, "I AM a King"!  What does He tell Him about His Kingdom? What is Pilate's response in verse 38. Although Pilate finds no fault in Jesus, he still gives the Jewish leaders an opportunity to choose whether to release a thief or Jesus, the King. What do the Jews shout in reply? Jesus was born to be KING. Think today what it meant for Jesus to make it possible for you to be in His Kingdom, hearing His voice, and knowing God's truth!is H

 Summary: Jesus willingly offers Himself in our place! He has God-given authority over the whole world (17:2). He is a man without fault, wholly righteous – a man Who is God and came from the glory of the Father – a man willing to bear humiliation, trial and death – to save us and bring us into His Father's Kingdom, to know His love and protection forever! Oh, let's be those who worship Him as our King and bring glory to His name!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Week 9 ~ Readings in John's Gospel

"The Father HIMSELF loves YOU!"

Intro: John wrote his gospel account of Jesus' life around 50-60 years after Christ died and rose from the dead. He had had many years to experience the truth of what he was writing, and the depth of fellowship with the Father which he describes in these chapters is from his own intimate knowledge. In John's first letter, he writes, "That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full!" 1 John 1:3,4.
Joy in close relationship with the Father and with Jesus because of the Holy Spirit, is John's theme. Don't be concerned that you may not fully grasp what it all means. Relationship takes time to grow and mature, and that is what we will read about now.

Day 1: John 15:1-8
            "I AM the true Vine!"  If you are a gardener, you will understand Jesus' use of the vine, as he describes our union with Him, and how the Father cares for us as the Master Gardener.  To abide in the vine is about receiving a steady flow of life and every blessing of God from Jesus Himself. Without the life-giving sap a tree cannot flourish or bear fruit. Notice that Jesus is the true vine. There are other vines, the main one being the vine of this world and its culture. A branch cannot change around from tree to tree! Consider Who you belong to today. AGAIN there is the promise in verse 7 that we can ask whatever we desire and it will be done for us. This asking is from that position of knowing we are secure in Jesus, rooted, grounded in His love, and will result in glory to Father and more fruit in our lives!

Day 2: John 15:9-17
            Why does Jesus choose a vine rather than say an olive tree? A vine produces grapes from which wine is made – wine is the symbol of JOY in the Bible. Jesus is telling us these things so that HIS joy may be in us, and that OUR "joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing". (verse11 Amplified version) This joy flows because we know our Father's love and will flow out into loving others. And being friends of Jesus; friends, to whom He tells His Father's secrets;
                  asking whatever we want in His name and receiving from our Father! Chosen and appointed by Jesus! Bearing lasting fruit of love and joy. Fruit is not what we do, but is what grows in our lives as we live every day with Jesus. Read Galatians 5:22,23. What does it mean to you to be Jesus' friend?

Day 3: John 15:18-27
            Jesus reminds us that we will experience rejection and hate in this world. BUT He is sending the promised Holy Spirit. He will witness to Jesus through us and for us. When Jesus finally leaves the disciples after His resurrection, He tells them they will be His witnesses – but only AFTER the Holy Spirit comes – see Acts1:8.  Whenever it is hard to tell others about Jesus and your love for Him, remember the Holy Spirit is with you – and because He is with you, your life and love and joy will show Him to others!

Day 4: John 16:1-7
            "These things have I spoken" – again Jesus is comforting His disciples at this traumatic juncture in their lives. He wants them to know that even though hardship and persecution will come, His Father is faithful to His Word. In many parts of the world today, Christian believers risk being killed for their faith. And in our country, more and more we will have to stand for God's truth in a way that is unacceptable to the world culture, and contrary to media and government thinking! God cares that we should not stumble or fall. He has provided the Holy Spirit, our STRONG Helper.
                     Rom 5:5 "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Day 5: John 16:8-15
            The Holy Spirit's role – to convict! Notice there are 3 separate categories here. First He convicts the unbeliever of sin. Remember when you knew His working in your hearts to bring you to receive forgiveness of sins through what Jesus did on the Cross. Pray for your friends and family today – that the Holy Spirit will convict of sin, and bring them to know Jesus. Second He convicts of righteousness! This means He keeps on demonstrating the forgiving, loving, healing nature of the Father to us and through us, as Jesus Himself is no longer on earth to do it, always affirming to us our right standing with the Father. The Holy Spirit wants us to walk in that certainty and assurance of our complete wholeness in Christ. It is finished! Jesus has done it all on the Cross! Thirdly He convicts the devil and all his minions and will commit them one day to judgement.  What a comfort as we witness the terrible evil in the world today. Consider the mission of the Holy Spirit in verses 13 -15. The Holy Spirit is God, and glorifies Jesus and speaks the Father's words to us.

Day 6: John 16:16-24
            Sorrow turned to Joy. Jesus is trying to prepare his friends for His approaching death. "I will see you again", He says. How hard it is when we are disappointed to  believe for the impossible – Jesus is putting His words in their hearts, and believing they will come through into joy. How many times has He said it – "ASK ….."? When we ask in His name, then our joy will be full. The very best thing we can ask, considering all this chapter has been teaching us, is for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives more and more, because He will be our Teacher, showing us more of Jesus, teaching us how to live and how to pray.  Ask, and you WILL receive! Read also Luke 11:13.

Day 7: John 16:25-33
            "For the Father HIMSELF loves you!" What a statement. Why does the Father love us? Is it because we are coming to church, or reading our Bibles, or helping at Alpha – NO! All these things happen because we are following Jesus – BUT Father loves us because we love Jesus and believe that He is One with the Father. It is all about LOVE and FAITH! Father's love poured into our hearts is His response to our love and faith in Jesus His Son! It is a circle – we love Him because He first loved us, and He loves us because we love Him! The chapter ends the same as it began with Jesus encouraging our hearts, and promising His peace. Jesus has overcome the world – its temptations, trials and pain. What does this mean for you in your situation today?
 Summary: It is impossible to absorb everything these two chapters are telling us. As we grow in the knowledge of God and His Son Jesus – as we stay close to Him and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us more and more – we will bear His fruit in our lives. It is a process. Do not get disheartened. It is not about who is a better Christian than someone else. It is about being rooted in God's love, growing up in Him, making mistakes, but having the Holy Spirit as our constant Helper and Encourager, Teacher and Friend. 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Week 8 ~ Readings in John's Gospel

Jesus: "I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life."

Intro: The theme of this week's readings is the 'vital union' and total harmony between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In chapter 14 Jesus mentions "Father" 23 times in 31 verses. He models His Father in everything. Jesus IS the way – as we love, trust and obey Him, we will discover the Father and experience His presence with us! Also Jesus begins His teaching about our Helper, the Holy Spirit. The readings are short as there is so much to take in and absorb. Over the next couple of weeks, you could make different lists as you read – 1) the promises Jesus makes to us as we believe and obey Him, 2) all the different ways the Holy Spirit helps us, 3) how many times Jesus talks about Him and the Father abiding, dwelling, living in and with us.

Day 1: John 13:31-35
            Jesus must be full of emotion as Judas goes off into the night. He realises that NOW is the time for Him to be glorified, and He knows that means His death. He speaks lovingly to his other 11 disciples, calling them "little children". He knows His time with them on earth is almost finished, and so tells them ONE important "new" command – that they should love one another.  With what sort of love? The sort that He has for us – sacrificial 'laying down of self' love! No less! The world will know that we are Jesus' followers, when we practice His faithful, unchanging, forgiving, blessing, healing type of love.  As we read on, we will find out how we can do this – NOT on our own! Let Jesus speak to you right now, calling you, "My little child ….!"

Day 2: John 13:36 - 14:6
            Peter has vowed his loyalty to Jesus, but Jesus, knowing his human weakness, tells Peter he will deny him. (We will see more about this in days to come). Jesus follows this by speaking peace to Peter and the other disciples: "Let not your heart be troubled …" He knows that we will fail Him, so here He brings that amazing wonderful assurance that He is going to prepare a place for us in His Father's house. AND He is coming back to take us there one day! Thomas, the doubtful one, (don't the disciples show us our own characteristics!), asks Jesus how they will ever find the way if Jesus is leaving them. "I AM the WAY," says Jesus. And He is the Truth and the Life. Jesus says that believing in Him is the one and only way to come to the Father, and to know freedom and life.

Day 3: John 14:7-11
            "Lord, show us the Father!" In His reply to Philip, Jesus states that He looks like His Father, He speaks like His Father and He acts like His Father! As we spend time getting to know Jesus, we will be discovering our Father's love and kindness – and His thoughts towards us. Jesus and the Father are ONE, and they love us as ONE.  Jesus tells His disciples again, that if they find it hard to believe in Him, then look at the miracles His Father does through Him. Often it is testimony of God's healing or salvation or answered prayer that strengthens and deepens our trust and believing, and helps to convince others of Who Jesus is.  Let's be ready to share the great things He does for us with one another, to encourage and affirm joyful trust in Jesus and our loving heavenly Father!is Father! He and the Father are ONE> And as we get to know Jesus, so we will becHi

 Day 4: John 14:12-14
                  What amazing verses! Re-read and ponder what Jesus is promising. Speak these verses out loud, putting in your own name. Look at the "whatevers" and "anythings"! Believe and ask – that is all that is required of us. The secret of our doing greater works than Jesus is in the teaching He gives later about the Holy Spirit. Can you step out and believe God for ANYTHING you ask! There is a big key here – the words "in MY name". This means within the whole character and personality of God Himself. Jesus shows us the Father, and we can ask anything within His righteous character of love and healing and provision and joy-giving! You can also use the "I AM" names Jesus gives Himself.  Ask Him something very specific today, write it in your notebook, and then wait and see His answer and breakthrough for you! It will bring honour and glory to Jesus and the Father.

Day 5: John 14:15-18
            “If you love Me…” It is LOVE for Jesus that produces a life in tune with His word. Obedience to God’s word is not about following a set of rules and laws – it is about a heart so full of love and thanks for Who Jesus is to us, that our whole desire is to please HIM! And it is possible because "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." Jesus promises His disciples will never be alone. The Father will send the Holy Spirit to live in them constantly and forever! The Amplified Bible translates “another Helper” as "Comforter, Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby". Because the Holy Spirit is in us, we can love others like Jesus does, and do the things He asks us to! Think of a situation in your own life or someone you care about, and ask the Holy Spirit to come alongside and help, counsel, comfort, strengthen and stand close.

Day 6: John 14:19-24
            Again Jesus says that if we LOVE Him, we will keep His Word. It is all about intimacy and relationship. Because of the Holy Spirit, God the Father and Jesus the Son will make their home in our lives as we love and obey HIM! Think about that – your heart the home of the Lord – open up every room to Him today. See Revelation 3:20.

Day 7: John 14:25-31
            What does verse 26 tell us about the Holy Spirit? What confidence we can have as we seek to understand God’s word, and as we learn more of God’s truth, that we can call on the Spirit to help us. This chapter began with Jesus assuring us we need not be afraid or troubled, and here it is again. The world is full of fear, panic, distress, confusion and war. Jesus says. “MY peace I give to you!” Read Isaiah 26:3, and quietly receive the peace that the world cannot give. In the midst of any struggles or opposing forces, Jesus is here. He says, “Peace I leave with you.”
                 Untroubled hearts …… peace ……. A Lord close to us all the time because He lives in us …… a Father who wants communion and relationship with each one of us … so that we can pray His word and in His Name, asking ANYTHING and watching God answer … doing the same things Jesus did …this is all attainable with the Holy Spirit living in us,
                                    through our Lord Jesus Christ,
                                                          the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE!

Week 7 ~ Readings in John's Gospel

“The time has come for the Son of Man to be exalted”
 Intro: On several occasions Jesus has answered His disciples by saying that His time has not yet come. Now we read in ch12v23 that His time has come. Jesus is preparing for His death – and He is preparing His friends and followers for all that will follow – explaining not only the reason why He has to die, but also what it means to follow Him through His death into His resurrection and life. We are more than half way through John. Congratulations for getting this far! As we press on with the final chapters and some amazing, life-changing teaching from Jesus, let’s open our hearts afresh to hear Him – the One Who speaks only what the Father speaks!

Day 1: John 11:47-57
            Jealousy, fear and hate take hold. The religious leaders decide to kill Jesus! They see Him as a threat to their control and authority over the people. In the face of antagonism and murderous threats, Jesus quietly withdraws. And His disciples go with Him. Let us be those who quietly wait with Jesus, seeking His way, when we face antagonism or difficult situations.(Read Isaiah 40:29-31 to see the results of waiting on the Lord!) Caiaphas prophesies one man will die for all people; he has God’s anointing upon him in his office as high priest, but it is not in him! He later is a major part of the trial condemning Jesus. However, the truth is here: one MAN did die for the nation and for all God’s scattered people everywhere (us!). Thank Him again and also please pray for the Jewish nation today to come to know their Messiah!

Day 2: John 12:1-11
            The whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume”. Mary’s love and worship begins the preparation for Jesus death and burial. Here is Jesus with His friends at the home of Mary and Martha. Martha is lovingly preparing and serving dinner, whilst Mary is finding the most precious thing she owns and pouring it out on Jesus, wiping His weary feet with her hair. Lazarus, who was dead and buried a few days before, is reclining at the table, talking and laughing with Jesus. This is a home full of love – all except for Judas, who is angry and critical of Mary’s outpouring of worship, and we learn also that he is a thief. Here is a glimpse of the open door that Judas is giving to deception and bitterness. Judas has followed Jesus with his feet and his mind, even having an important responsibility within Jesus’ close team, but he does not have heart faith and love. Let’s ask Jesus to purify our thoughts and actions, and bring Him our hearts and lives in love and worship, filling the house with fragrance – bringing the presence of Jesus everywhere we go!

Day 3: John 12:12-23
            “Look, the whole world is running after Him!” The people crowd into the streets to shout “Hosanna” as Jesus rides into Jerusalem on an untrained colt. They are greeting Him with praise as their longed-for King! John also quotes from the Scriptures to show how prophecy is being fulfilled – he wants to give even stronger evidence that Jesus is the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. “Do not fear …rejoice greatly…” (Zech 9:9). When our King comes, then fear has to go and rejoicing comes! He has come to save, to heal, to deliver from death. Greeks come also and want to see Jesus. The disciples tell Jesus and His answer is surprising. “The time has come …” He says! These Greeks represent the civilised but lost nations, and Jesus is announcing His coming death and the glory of His resurrection for all people. Let us rejoice and praise and sing to our King Jesus today!

Day 4: John 12:24-36
            “Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground…” Some will remember Pastor Phil passing round grains of wheat one Sunday morning. In fact, mine were still falling out of my Bible case weeks later!! But they didn’t grow! No, they had to be planted to grow. Jesus is talking here about laying down our own way, our own thoughts and opinions, letting our hopes, aspirations and dreams die, surrendering our whole lives over to Him, to be planted in the ground of His love. HE will raise up all He has created us to be, with His gifts and anointing, and produce a great harvest of joy, peace and righteousness! (Romans 14:17) Many others will come to know Him through our lives representing Christ lifted up on the Cross. God’s voice thunders from Heaven to affirm His Son, and affirm His glory through Him. Jesus is calling us to walk in His light, to follow and serve Him, thus gaining honour from our Father!

Day 5: John 12:37-50
            Many still did not believe. John quotes here from Isaiah 53:1 and Isaiah 6:9,10. It is interesting that the apostle, Paul, in his last recorded words, also speaks out this scripture in Acts 28:26,27. Paul faced the same responses as Jesus did. ”Some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.” Acts 28:24. Watch what Jesus does – he continues to call out for the people to believe, trust in and cleave to HIM. Look at His promises reiterated in verse 45 and 46. Let us be those who love God’s approval rather than men’s – let us press on speaking the words of the Lord even when there is opposition. Even though hearts are hardened in sin and pride and stubborn tradition, the Father still calls each one. Jesus never judges – He keeps on loving and calling with Father’s words of love and promise of eternal life. Let us learn from Jesus, to be those who “just as the Father has told me, so I speak.”

Day 6: John 13:1-17
            “I have given you an example …” Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. Feet were hot, dusty and very weary after tramping the unmade surface of those roads and country paths. Servants would wash the feet of guests as they entered the house. Here is Jesus doing the most lowly and menial of tasks – washing smelly dirty feet! First He demonstrates to us that, once we have been cleansed by the forgiveness of His blood, we do not need repeated washing all over – but we do need refreshing as we get the dust and dirt of the world on us. He is always there to cleanse and refresh and encourage our hearts. Then He asks us to do this for others; to be those who, without criticism or judging, are going to be those who refresh and strengthen our brothers and sisters. Read Philippians 2:1-8. This is the way of blessing, the way of joy, fulfilment and peace in God.

Day 7: John 13:18-30
            It was night.” Jesus has taught much about the light and that He is the Light. But here is Judas walking in darkness – he goes out to betray the Lord Jesus. Sin has taken hold of his heart. We see the opposite in the one leaning up against Jesus as they recline at the table. This is John himself, the writer of this Gospel. (See ch21:20,24). John is close enough to Jesus to hear His whispers, and to learn His secrets. Peter is close enough for John to relay his question to Jesus. Let us be those leaning on the Lord, trusting Him intimately, listening and learning, walking in His light, in close fellowship with others who love Jesus, receiving revelation together from HIM.

Summary: Serving, loving, obeying, listening to His voice, speaking His Word – this is the example Jesus has given us to follow – refreshing and encouraging others without criticism and judgement. And all this only as we learn to surrender all that we consider precious to Jesus, and to love and worship Him with our whole life! Jesus has died for us – He calls us to lay down our lives for Him.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Week 6 ~ Readings in John's Gospel

Jesus says: "I AM the Resurrection and the LIFE!"

Intro: "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." John 1:11-12. We read this verse our first week. It is good to remind ourselves of what it says and how it clarifies who belongs to the Father and who does not! And it is the difference between receiving and not receiving, believing or not believing.  This week we will be finding out more about that word, "believe".  We can use the word lightly, even saying something like "I believe there is a barbecue on Sunday", meaning we don't know whether there is or not! That is NOT the sort of believing Jesus talks about! I will use the Amplified version of the Bible in these notes to give a clearer picture of what it means to believe in Jesus.

Day 1:  John 10:19-30
            "My Father is greater than all!" Jesus is talking about His Father in relation to His sheep. The Father will never let us go. No evil person or circumstance or happening can ever remove those who believe from Father's care! The Pharisees cannot deny Jesus' miracles, but they do not believe, "trust" and "rely on" HIM. They have head-knowledge of who they think God is. To believe in Jesus is heart-knowledge! Verse 27 shows us what believing means for His sheep. This is a developing faith. It does not happen overnight. It is not a mental acquiescence, but daily hearing and listening to our Shepherd's voice, to find His way in every circumstance of life. He knows us, and loves and cares for us just as we are. Make a note of all that Jesus and the Father do for their sheep. Our great and mighty God is FOR us!

Day 2:  John 10:31-42
            Jesus has demonstrated His Father's glory and mercy through His healing miracles, and yet the hard-hearted unbelieving Jews still want to stone Him. They can't help but acknowledge His deeds, but do not want HIM. There is always a choice. Even to believe in His works will produce faith in Jesus as being one with GOD the Father. He offers these people a doorway to faith. Perhaps there is a situation in your life where it is difficult to believe that God will help you. Think of what He has done for you before or read the testimony of someone else and let that be your doorway to saying "Yes, Lord, I remember the miracles you have already done. Please help me adhere to and trust in and rely on You and on Your word in this circumstance."
                  (nb: In verse 34, Jesus is quoting from Psalm 82:6. Men do have authority and are like 'gods' on this earth, but unless our lives are governed by the LORD Jesus, we will still walk and rule in darkness.)

Day 3:  John 11:1-16
            The next few days takes us through one of the most wonderful stories in the Bible. First we meet the family, 2 sisters and their brother – Mary, Martha and Lazarus! This family were close friends of Jesus – He could always be sure of a good meal in Martha's house! When Jesus is told Lazarus is sick, they say, "He whom you love." Jesus has special friends and those He can be Himself with, and He wants to be at home in our hearts in the same way. Why did Jesus delay 2 whole days before going to see his sick friend? The reason the disciples didn't want to go was their fear of being arrested with Jesus, and killed! But Jesus had a different reason – v 4 and 15. Are there some issues in your life, where it seems the Lord is not in a hurry to answer your prayers, nor come to help you? Keep believing Him, trusting and relying on His word and promises – He will come. The outcome will be for God's glory and that we might trust and love Him more! And that others will believe also!

Day 4: John 11:17-27
         "I AM the Resurrection and the Life!"  Martha hears Jesus is coming – and runs out to find Him. Her greeting is a mixture of faith and disappointment. Her brother has died by this time, and Jesus didn't come – He wasn't there when they needed Him! Look at each of Martha's declarations in verse 21, 22, 24 and then 27. Now put yourself in Martha's place, running to meet Jesus. If you have disappointments and failure and sadness you are still coping with, put your own words into these verses, telling Jesus that He is the anointed Son of God, the One Who can bring LIFE where there is death and restoration where there is loss. Like Martha, say "I KNOW…" and "I believe…" (have faith in, cleave to and rely on) You, Lord Jesus!"

Day 5: John 11:28-37
          "The Lord is here and is calling for you!"  What amazing words to one who is shut up in her grief! Look back at verse 20.Maybe that is a word right now for someone reading this. "The Lord is here and calling for YOU!" Mary jumps up and runs to meet Jesus. Her first words are identical to Martha's! The sceptics have the same question in verse 37. But what a difference! Martha and Mary, despite their grief, speak out of faith and love – these others are scorning the fact that He didn't seem able to heal Lazarus before he died. It is perfectly alright to have questions for Jesus, when they come from a heart of love for Him and a need to hear Him, and to understand. Jesus knows the outcome, which He has already told Martha in v 23, and yet He weeps with those who weep, and He tenderly loves His friends.

Day 6:  John 11:38-40
            Martha, the ever practical one, objects strongly to Jesus' order to roll away the boulder. In hot countries, the stench of a dead body would be overpowering! Jesus rebukes her – "Did I not tell you …?" He has promised – He will see it through! But the boulder must be removed first. There are boulders often in our lives hiding issues and experiences of the past. Jesus asks us to roll the boulder away and give Him access into our lives, so that He might cancel out despair and death, and bring His resurrection life! One of the keys to getting rid of a boulder in our lives is forgiveness. Pastor Phil has been teaching us on the healing power of forgiving and releasing those who have harmed and hurt us. Let's ask the Holy Spirit to help us get rid of boulders and obey Jesus. He has promised that "if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God"!
Day 7:  John 11:41-46
            Jesus thanks His Father. Notice that, as with the miracle of the loaves and fishes, He thanks His Father before the miracle takes place, and He knows His Father hears Him. He has absolute confidence in Him. Can we praise God when the miracle hasn't happened yet? This is believing. Praise literally opens the gates of Heaven! Jesus SHOUTS to Lazarus to come out. He has been stone dead for 4 days! And he walks out, still wrapped in all the burial bandages! What a sight! How absolutely dumbstruck everyone must have been! Jesus has to tell them to release him! There must have been a huge amount of emotion and joy. Many joyfully put their trust in Jesus, the Son of God. Turn to God in praise, thanks and worship today, speak out your thanks for the promises you know He will fulfil for you!
   Jesus is our RESURRECTION and LIFE!
    When we believe in JESUS,
         walking and talking with Him, listening to Him, loving Him, receiving from Him,
putting our whole weight of trust on HIM, thanking and praising Him, 
                      speaking out His Word,

THEN He will show us God's glory – His marvelous joyful amazing salvation, healing, release and power in our lives!