Devotional Reading for May 18, 2022

John 8:12-59

This passage reminds us that personal belief is what saves. Your lineage, history, and heritage can give you some advantages, but it can’t save.

Jesus starts out by saying that He is the light of the world and brings life and illumination (12). The Pharisees call Him a liar, and Jesus points out that they don’t even know Him so they aren’t really in a position to judge Him (13-15)! Jesus’ says that His testimony is supported by the Father, and that the Father testifies of Him. Unfortunately they don’t have any idea who the Father is (16-20), and they will die in their sins because they don’t believe in Jesus (21-24). Jesus, however, knows the Father, because the Father is with Him. He does exactly what the Father wants and says what the Father says. His crucifixion will prove it, probably because of the resurrection that follows (25-30)!

Jesus continues by saying that His teaching will set them free if only they will believe. It’s not enough to be descendants of Abraham – they need to be set free from sin. They are really doing the deeds of their true father, the devil! If they truly were spiritual descendants of Abraham they would follow His teaching and believe in Him. In that way they would show that they belong to God and would never see death (31-51). The Pharisees think that He must be possessed. Everyone dies, even Abraham! Jesus says that Abraham saw His day coming and was glad. How could that be possible? Because Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham, the embodiment of the hope that God gave to Israel, and is God Himself (52-59). He is “I am!”

Romans 4:13-21 “For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not fulfilled through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if they become heirs by the law, faith is empty and the promise is nullified.For the law brings wrath, because where there is no law there is no transgression either. For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants—not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’). He is our father in the presence of God whom he believed—the God who makes the dead alive and summons the things that do not yet exist as though they already do. Against hope Abraham believed in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations according to the pronouncement, ‘so will your descendants be.’ Without being weak in faith, he considered his own body as dead (because he was about one hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do.”

Devotional Reading for May 17, 2022

John 7:53-8:11

Should this passage be here? Consider these facts:

  • It’s in about 1500 manuscripts.
  • It’s also in 500 lectionary texts (daily reading manuscripts in the early church).
  • It’s missing in 269 manuscripts, sometimes because they were copied off an earlier manuscript that omitted it.
  • Augustine though that it was “omitted because of the prudish fear that it would encourage adultery.”
  • Jerome (347-420) said, “in the Gospel according to John in many manuscripts, both Greek and Latin, is found the story.”
  • Eusebius (an early historian) mentions that Papias (ca 100) seems to reference the story.

Some believe that the gospel reads better if this passage is omitted, but this is how it fits:

  • 7:37 – It’s the last day of the feast
  • 7:53 – “Everyone went to his own house”
  • 8:1 – Jesus stays in Jerusalem
  • 8:2 – Jesus goes back to the temple to teach
  • 8:2 – It’s very early in the morning
  • 8:3 – The woman is brought into outer court
  • 8:11 – The woman leaves temple going east (into the sunrise)
  • 8:12 – Jesus says “I am the light of the world…”
  • 8:12 – The text says Jesus spoke to them “again”!

The main point of the passage is that grace and forgiveness are a priority! How does Jesus get the crowd to realize this? He says, “whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her,” and writes something on the ground. What does He write!?!?!? Some manuscripts (12) read, “the sins of each one of them.” Others think that He may have written a Scripture passage on the ground:

Exodus 23:1 “You must not give a false report. Do not make common cause with the wicked to be a malicious witness.”

Exodus 23:7 “Keep your distance from a false charge—do not kill the innocent and the righteous, for I will not justify the wicked.”

But, perhaps most likely, He is just scribbling in the sand to take up some time and to give His words time to sink in. Hopefully by engaging in this daily Bible reading you are thinking about it throughout the day and giving it some time to sink in!

Devotional Reading for May 16, 2022

John 7:25-52

Jesus continues to teach about His relationship with God, about His upcoming ascension into heaven, and about the future ministry of the Spirit. Some are amazed and are ready to accept Him as the Messiah, but many more are confused. They misunderstand Jesus’ own lineage and birth, and they have a different idea about the origins of the Messiah. In the midst of all the confusion Jesus manages to stay free, perhaps with some supernatural help, but certainly because the soldiers themselves are amazed at His teaching. Nicodemus attempts to defend Jesus to his contemporaries, but is ridiculed by them.

This all happens during the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths. This is a seven day feast that celebrated the fact that God led the Israelites for 40 years during their wilderness wanderings, where He sustained them with mana, quail, and water while they lived in tents. There was a tradition that, during the time of Jesus’ ministry, a golden container of water was carried from the pool of Siloam in the south side of the city up to the temple mount in the north. As the procession came into the inner court, three trumpet blasts rang out to mark the joy of the occasion and people recited Isaiah 12:2-3.

“Look, God is my deliverer! I will trust in him and not fear. For the LORD gives me strength and protects me; he has become my deliverer. Joyfully you will draw water from the springs of deliverance.” (or, “wells of salvation”)

This is the context for Jesus’ saying, “On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, “From within him will flow rivers of living water.”’”

Awesome, isn’t it?!?!? Not just the circumstances, but the fact that we have the Spirit of God living in us!

Sermon outline for 5/15/22 (Radio broadcast 5/22/22) — “Looking for the Good in Life”

NOT all the Questions in the Bible!

“What then?” – Looking for the Good in Life!

Philippians 1:12-17

I) Paul could have _________________

     A) He dealt with _____________ limitations

     B) He dealt with ministry _______________

     C) He dealt with unknown _____________ issues

     D) He dealt with 20 years of physical ________________

     E) He was currently in _____________

     F) He was dealing with ministry _____________

II) Instead, Paul chose to _____________!

     A) He was able to witness to the _____________

     B) He was able to witness to the Jewish _______________

     C) He had Gentile _______________

     D) He encouraged ____________ to witness by his attitude and obedience

     E) He encouraged others to preach out of ______________!

III) How can we respond to adversity with __________?

     A) We understand that God uses adversity to teach us to __________ on Him

     B) We understand that God uses adversity to help us to ____________

     C) We understand that God uses adversity to teach us _______________

     D) We understand that God uses adversity to accomplish His _____________

Devotional Reading for May 15, 2022

John 7:1-24

Some find a moral conundrum in this passage. How could Jesus say definitively that He wasn’t going, then turn around and go? Well, there is a variant reading that may shed some light on the passage. The vast majority of manuscripts say, “I am not yet going” (7:8). I believe that properly summarizes the intent here. Jesus is saying, “You can go up the feast now because no-one is trying to kill you. I’m not going up yet. I’ll come later.”

The fact that His brothers didn’t believe in Him (7:5) explains the tone of their comments. They are trying to goad Him into going to the feast!

When Jesus does go, He teaches in the temple courts. The Jewish leaders are astonished at Him because He hasn’t had any formal teaching. Jesus points out that He’s merely teaching about God and seeking God’s glory, which they would understand if they really knew God! And if they truly knew God, they wouldn’t want to kill Him! Either they deny it or the crowd doesn’t fully understand, so Jesus explains Himself. It goes back to His healing of a man on the Sabbath. The religious authorities are willing to break the Sabbath command in order for a child to be circumcised, so how can anyone be upset when Jesus makes a man well? They don’t understand because they are judging superficially, without taking into account why Jesus did what He did when He did it.

How about us? Are we quick to judge others, rather than trying to understand their motivations? Do we lack compassion like the religious leadership in Jesus’ day? Or perhaps we do the same thing with the Bible, taking a command out of context without trying to understand how to apply it properly.

Devotional Reading for May 14, 2022

John 6:25-71

Jesus accuses the crowd of coming to find Him simply because they were fed! It brings up an interesting point. We understand that He did a miracle with the loaves and the fish, but how many outside of the circle of disciples would know? Jesus encourages them to not just look for literal food, but spiritual food: the food that only He can provide. They want Him to be the prophet like Moses, and to perform a miraculous sign like the manna. Were they looking for daily feeding, or for something more spectacular than loaves and fish? Either way, Jesus cautions them that it was God who actually did the miracle, and He was currently doing another one in their midst. They just need to believe that Jesus is the bread of life!

This is the first of seven “I am” metaphors in the book of John. Jesus is using the title that God used for Himself in Exodus 3:14. Not only is Jesus claiming deity here, but He is sharing with them that He is the giver of eternal life. They have to believe in Him (eat of His flesh), because He is going to give His body on the cross for the sake of mankind. They can believe if the Father brings them through the Spirit, and Jesus will accept them because that is the Fathers will. Once they are accepted they will be His for eternity, and will participate in the bodily resurrection at the end of the age!

Some of the crowd find this hard to understand. They take his metaphor literally, and don’t understand that He is foreshadowing His death on the cross. They quit following Him at this point, but the disciples understand that Jesus has “the words of eternal life.” However there is one among the 12 who does not believe. John makes sure to record Jesus comments about Judas here to again emphasize that Jesus knows and understands all things, and that what was foretold in the OT must take place.

For worship:

Devotional Reading for May 13, 2022

John 6:1-24

Because of John’s repeated mention of the Passover, we understand that Jesus’ ministry lasted a few years rather than a few months (6:4)!

John also emphasizes Jesus’ foreknowledge and understanding (6:6). When Jesus asks a question there is a specific reason, and much of the time it is actually a test.

We have a verification here of what was mentioned yesterday. People really are looking for a prophet like Moses, as was foretold in the Old Testament (6:14)!

Tomorrow we’ll look at the first clear “I am” statement in the gospel of John and what it means. What is neat here is that Jesus literally says, “I am. Do not be afraid.” This is a reference to His deity, because the expression is used by God to describe Himself:

Exodus 3:14 “God said to Moses, ‘I AM that I AM.’”

When we are at our worst, when we are the most fearful, when we are facing difficult circumstances, we need to remember that God is watching over us and we don’t need to be afraid anymore (6:20). He brings us safely to shore (6:21)!

Finally, we see the people continuing to “stalk” Jesus (22-24)! This reminds us of why He doesn’t always want His ministry broadcast. Sometimes He needs rest. Sometimes He has to be somewhere else. Sometimes He is avoiding the Jewish leadership. He always has a reason and a plan for what He does, even when we don’t always understand.

Devotional Reading for May 12, 2022

John 5:16-47

Jesus is always a stumbling block! Here is starts out because of what He does, but soon becomes worse because of the testimony of who He is. Unfortunately that reality continues today:

1 Corinthians 1:23 “but we preach about a crucified Christ, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”

Some Jewish authorities thought that God’s rest on the Sabbath was absolute and continual. Jesus points out that God continues to work, and that He is joining God in that work! He obeys the Father and does His will, but He also claims authority and equality with the Father. The Son has the ability to judge, to grant life, and to raise the dead, both literally and figuratively. Figuratively, those who are willing to listen and believe obtain eternal life. But there is also a literal and real physical resurrection that will happen for those who believe and follow, and doing what is good comes naturally for those who believe.

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his creative work, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.”

The religious leadership won’t believe because they refuse to accept both the testimony of John the Baptist and the Scriptures themselves! The law reveals that we are sinners. The sacrificial system points to our need for a Savior. The prophets predict the coming Messiah. All of Scripture points to Jesus, but they refuse to believe, so they stand condemned.

By the way, there is one specific verse from Moses that the religious leadership believed pointed to the Messiah. Deuteronomy 18:15 says, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you—from your fellow Israelites; you must listen to him.” We must listen!

For worship:

Devotional Reading for May 11, 2022

John 5:1-15

Isn’t it interesting that this man doesn’t come to Jesus for healing? He doesn’t even know who Jesus is! What a perfect example of grace. The man wants to be healed, and apparently believes that when the water is stirred it’s an indication that the first one in will be cured (this is made even more explicit in 5:4, which some newer translations don’t include). The fact that Jesus chooses him out of all those waiting is another indication of grace, and the fact that he has been disabled for 38 years speaks to the magnitude of the healing. No water or angel is necessary. Jesus just commands that he take us his bed and walk, so he does!

Now, since work was prohibited on the Sabbath day, the religious authorities had come up with specific definitions of what work was, and had 39 different categories of work! Carrying something from one place to another was one of them. The Jewish leadership doesn’t care about the circumstances, just the appearance and the action. In truth, by carrying his bed the healed man was engaging in an act of worship and obedience! Rather than rejoice that the man was healed, the authorities want to learn who had the termerity to tell him to carry his mat! The man can’t even tell them that.

Jesus comes to him in the temple and gives him a warning. It’s not necessary to believe that the man had sinned before and caused his suffering. It’s quite possible that Jesus is just making sure that the man understands that even worse things could happen to him if he isn’t willing to obey! We often look at God’s commands as His way of keeping us from having any fun. In reality they are there to keep us out of trouble!

Once the man can point Jesus out to the religious leadership he does. We might think that’s not a great way to show His gratitude, but I don’t think the man has any concept of why it’s a problem. He simply knows that Jesus healed him, and that he can now point out his Savior to others!

Devotional Reading for May 10, 2022

John 4:39-54

Although Jesus does perform His second miracle in this passage, there is also a continued emphasis on the importance of the Word over the miraculous. In John 4:23-24 we saw that many followed Jesus because of the signs, but that He did not “commit Himself to them.” Here we read that He says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders you will by no means believe.” That wasn’t intended as a compliment! And it comes on the heals of the Samaritans believing the word of the woman at the well, and then believing “because of His own word.” John seems to be preparing us for a new age, where the Spirit works more though the Word than the miraculous. Miracles can encourage true faith, but they are not the be all and end all of belief:

Luke 16:27-31 “So the rich man said, ‘Then I beg you, father—send Lazarus to my father’s house (for I have five brothers) to warn them so that they don’t come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they must respond to them.’ Then the rich man said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He replied to him, ‘If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

And Jesus’ ministry foreshadows the coming gospel mission. He starts with the Jews (which is emphasized by His meeting with Nicodemus), but also ministers to the Gentiles (by going to Samaria). Once again we are reminded that the gospel is not just for the Jews, but for everyone:

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”