Devotional Reading for June 7, 2022

John 20

John 20:8-9 can seem confusing, but it’s actually fairly straightforward. John saw the evidence at the tomb and believed that Jesus rose from the dead, but neither disciple really understood the Scriptural evidence that pointed to the resurrection:

Psalm 16:10 “You will not abandon me to Sheol; you will not allow your faithful follower to see the Pit.”

Isaiah 53:8-11 “He was led away after an unjust trial— but who even cared? Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded. They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully. Though the LORD desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life, and the LORD’s purpose will be accomplished through him. Having suffered, he will reflect on his work, he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done. ‘My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins.'”

Jesus’ resurrection body foreshadows our resurrection bodies:

1 Corinthians 15:35-44 “But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ Fool! What you sow will not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare seed—perhaps of wheat or something else. But God gives it a body just as he planned, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same: People have one flesh, animals have another, birds and fish another. And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. The glory of the heavenly body is one sort and the earthly another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon and another glory of the stars, for star differs from star in glory. It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living person’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

Rather than try and find something mystical in 20:16, perhaps Jesus is simply saying: “Stop holding on to me.  I haven’t ascended yet.  I’m not going to disappear on you!” Isn’t it special that, even though He is not physically here now, He is present with us through His Spirit?!?!

John 14:16-17 “Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.”

Jesus repeatedly requests His disciples to be at peace. Life here is hard, but we can take Jesus as His word and trust that He is in us and with us!

Not to get too technical, but Jesus’ words in 20:23 are in the perfect passive tense: “If you forgive anyone’s sins, they have already been forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they have already been retained.” It states what has already happened. When we present the gospel and people accept or reject it, they are completing a transaction that was settled when Jesus died on the cross. If they believe, their sins have already been forgiven; if they reject then their sins are retained. All we do is present the way, and people respond!

Acts 13:38 “Therefore let it be known to you, brothers, that through this one forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,”

All who do believe have a special joy that comes from knowing Jesus (20:29):

1 Peter 1:8 “You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,”

And that’s the whole purpose of the gospel of John: to bring people to belief!

John 20:31 “But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Devotional Reading for June 6, 2022

John 19:16-42

Pilate seems passive-aggressive with the Jewish leadership (16-22)! Is he just trying to stir them up and get back at them for putting him in an uncomfortable position? Or is there more to it than that?

The soldiers fulfill scripture by throwing dice for Jesus’ garment (23-24). There is a lot of fulfilled Scripture in these verses!

Psalm 22:15-18 “The roof of my mouth is as dry as a piece of pottery; my tongue sticks to my gums. You set me in the dust of death. Yes, wild dogs surround me— a gang of evil men crowd around me; like a lion they pin my hands and feet. I can count all my bones; my enemies are gloating over me in triumph. They are dividing up my clothes among themselves; they are rolling dice for my garments.”

Psalm 69:21 “They put bitter poison into my food, and to quench my thirst they give me vinegar to drink.”

Psalm 34:20 “He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken.”

Zechariah 12:10 “I will pour out on the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn.

Isaiah 53:9 “They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully.”

And, when considering John 19:30, perhaps even:

Psalm 22:31 “They will come and tell about his saving deeds; they will tell a future generation what he has accomplished.

It sometimes seems that Jesus was somewhat harsh to His mother, but here we see His care (25-27). He was making sure that she was taken care of since He wasn’t going to be around to do it. Jesus’ prior words should be understood from the context of His ongoing honor of her.

Jesus’ mission is finally completed (28-30). It is finished! It is accomplished! He has secured our salvation, and can return to glory!

Jesus willingly gave up His spirit (30). He was already dead when the soldiers came around (31-37). The spear thrust into His side was probably included by John to show that He was indeed fully human, as well as fully divine. He deals with this in another writing as well:

2 John 7 “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, people who do not confess Jesus as Christ coming in the flesh. This person is the deceiver and the antichrist!”

Joseph and Nicodemus both come to take care of Jesus’ body (38-42). Something significant enough had happened that they decide not to be “secret” disciples anymore. Are you hiding your faith? What will it take so that you show your allegiance to Him?

Sermon outline for 6/5/22 (Radio broadcast 6/12/22) — Esther 1:1-12

Only One Kingdom Will Prevail!
Esther 1:1-12

I) What does the text _________?

     A) The _________

          1) ____________

          2) Not a good ______________

     B) The ________________

          1) ____________

          2) ____________

     C) The _______________

          1) Not ______________

          2) Probably a ________ council

     D) The ___________

          1) ______________

          2) Her motives are ________________

          3) The king is ________________

II) What does the text __________ us?

     A)  Be ____________ with alcohol

          1) ____________ are warned in Scripture

          2) _____________ is warned in Scripture

     B) Be ____________ about pride

          1) _______________ in Scripture

          2) _______________ in Scripture

     A) Ultimately, only one ______________ will prevail!

          1) _________ kingdom will prevail

          2) How can I be a _________ of that kingdom?

          3) ______________ that kingdom!

Devotional Reading for June 5, 2022

John 19:1-15

The rejection and rebellion of the religious leadership is complete: “We have no king except Caesar.”

Pilate has a religious and superstitious reaction to Jesus being called the “Son of God.” He’s searching for any reason at all to let Jesus go. The Jewish leaders manipulate him to get what they want: “If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar!” Pilate doesn’t want any negative reports of him to go higher up the food chain.

Sobering words: “the one who handed me over to you is guilty of greater sin.” Judas? Herod?

Devotional Reading for June 4, 2022

John 18:19-40

Some notes:

  • Annas was the power behind the throne!
  • He was high priest from 6-15 A.D.
  • He was deposed (by the Romans) and his son-in-law became high priest in 18 A.D.
  • But in Jewish custom the high priest was a lifetime position.
  • Many may have considered Annas the “real” high priest (Acts 4:6; Luke 3:2).
  • 18:28 probably means that they wanted to be able to continue to participate in the ongoing feast, which lasted 7 days, so they wouldn’t go into the governor’s residence.
  • The claim that Jesus was the “king of the Jews” was because they needed a political charge so that Rome would be willing to put Jesus to death.
  • Jesus admits to being king of a spiritual kingdom. A kingdom that doesn’t fight. A kingdom of truth! That doesn’t concern Pilate at all.
  • Pilate wants to let Jesus go, but the leadership shouts out that they want Barabbas (a robber, insurrectionist, and murderer) released instead.
  • Peter fulfills Jesus’ prediction concerning his denial, and the call for Jesus’ death is also seen as a fulfillment of Jesus’ words.

What is truth? The truth is that we need to believe in Jesus (listen to His voice), and serve in His kingdom (which is spiritual). Are the words in 18:36 prescriptive or descriptive? Do we ever fight back or take up arms? That may need to be answered personally by each one of us, but I would suggest that it was more descriptive and revolved around Jesus and His fulfillment of prophecy. I think there may be times we have to forcibly defend others now.

Devotional Reading for June 3, 2022

John 18:1-18

We have a betrayal (Judas) contrasted with a denial (Peter). Peter, out of fear and perhaps
disillusionment, refuses to acknowledge that he is one of Jesus’ disciples. We may have done that ourselves. Judas, for profit, turns Jesus over to those who want to kill him. There is a distinct difference in degree and kind. If we want to understand how this relates to us today, think of it this way: Peter falls away for a time, but he understands what he has done, he continues to follow, and ultimately is completely restored! Judas denies and betrays, and goes to his grave without any suggestion that he is restored. Judas shows that he never really understood and believed. Peter is a disciple, but Judas is a pretender.

The reason I say that Peter may be disillusioned is because he was still looking for a political and military Messiah and was itching for a fight (10)! Jesus stops him, and reiterates that this is the way it has to be. Peter is most likely confused, probably disillusioned, and possibly depressed at this point. The same thing happens to us when we think God is going to act in a certain way and He doesn’t. Disciples need to make sure that they manage their expectations. God is God, and we are not!

In the midst of this we also see another indication of deity. It’s true that the Greek in verse 6 can be understood as “I am he.” But Jesus literally says, “I am.” John certainly wants us to connect that with Jesus’ other “I am” sayings, as well as John 8:58 where Jesus said, “Before Abraham came into existence, I am.” John wants us to understand that Jesus is more than a prophet, more than a teacher, and more than a man. It’s why he records the soldiers response: “they retreated and fell to the ground.

Finally, notice Jesus’ love and care for His disciples: “I have not lost a single one of those whom you gave me.” We have a similar promise that relates to our salvation. When we know Jesus we are His, and we are His for eternity!

1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last
time
.”

Devotional Reading for June 2, 2022

John 17

1-5: What is your definition of glory? How does it happen? In Jesus’ prayer He shows that it happens through suffering. Jesus will glorify the Father by going to the cross. He is obeying God and completing His mission to give eternal life to everyone the Father has given to Him. The Father will glorify the Son through the resurrection and the ascension, bringing Jesus back home to be with Him.

6-19: Next, Jesus prays for the disciples. He has revealed the Father to them, and has given them the Father’s words. He has given Himself for them, He has kept them, and He has sent them out into a world that will hate them. Since He is leaving He prays for their safety, He prays for their joy, He prays for them to be unified, and He prays for them to continue in the truth. They have a special role to play and a mission to complete, and we see them fulfilling that mission in the book of Acts.

20-26: Finally, Jesus prays for us. He wants us to be one, just as He and the Father are one. Unfortunately, that has proven to be rather elusive over the centuries! Our oneness is supposed to let the world know the truth about Jesus, and the reality of God’s love.

So, here’s a question to ponder: what does it mean that Jesus’ prayer wasn’t answered? There is conflict in the book of Acts, there is conflict in the various churches in the New Testament, and there is ongoing conflict and division in the Church today. Perhaps we have a wrong understanding of oneness, or perhaps we have an insufficient understanding of prayer. Some look at what Jesus has said in the last few weeks and think that if we just have enough faith it means all of our prayers will be answered. Didn’t Jesus have enough faith here?!?!?! Of perhaps there is a lesson here about how far God will or won’t go in answering prayers. He doesn’t force us to be one, but encourages us to be one through His Spirit. I think that the greater lesson here may be that John, through the Spirit, recorded this prayer for us. At some point the onus is on us to try to answer it!

Devotional Reading for June 1, 2022

John 16:16-33

Jesus starts out by reminding the disciples of His upcoming death, burial, and resurrection (16-22). They will experience sorrow, but that sorrow will turn into joy because they will see Him again! Although we haven’t seen Him physically, we experience that same joy:

1 Peter 1:8-9 “You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”

Once again we’re struck with a conundrum: why don’t we get everything we pray for (23-24)? The problem is that asking in Jesus’ name isn’t a magic formula, it’s a way of understanding. John, who records Jesus word’s here for us, give us some additional insight in one of his letters:

1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.”

Jesus reminds us that knowing and loving Him means having a relationship with the Father as well, which is important (25-33)! We need that assurance because Jesus is going away, and because we, like the disciples, are prone to fail! The blessing is that our relationship with the Father, because of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, will help us to have peace and to overcome the difficulties of the world!

1 John 5:4-5 “because everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world. This is the conquering power that has conquered the world: our faith. Now who is the person who has conquered the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Romans 8:31-39 “What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Devotional Reading for May 31, 2022

John 16:1-15

Jesus knows how hard life can be, and the types of persecution believers can face. He warns us that it’s coming so that we’ll be ready and we won’t fall away when it happens (1-4). We especially need to understand what is coming because Jesus won’t be here physically to help us anymore (4-5). Unfortunately, the disciples are more concerned about Jesus being gone than where He is going and what it means (5). Do you get the feeling that He wants them to be happy for Him? Anyway, it’s to our advantage that He’s going away, because He’s sending the Spirit to help us and to guide us (7, 13). The Spirit will help us to understand God’s truth (12-15), and the Spirit will make the ministry of evangelism possible (8-11) by convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. Of sin, because we are all sinners in need of a Savior:

Romans 6:23 “For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Of righteousness, because Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension show that what Jesus said was true and that righteousness can only come through Him:

Acts 2:22-36 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know—this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles…This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it. So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you both see and hear…Therefore let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.”

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And judgment, because judgment is assured, on both Satan and those who don’t believe:

Revelations 20:10-15 “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are too, and they will be tormented there day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a large white throne and the one who was seated on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. Then books were opened, and another book was opened—the book of life. So the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each one was judged according to his deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Evangelism would be impossible if it weren’t for the work of the Holy Spirit in the world!

Devotional Reading for May 30, 2022

John 15

1-8: “I am the true vine” is the seventh “I am” saying. It is only through Jesus that we can live and bear fruit. And the hard stuff that happens? That’s God pruning us so that we can bear even more fruit! When we maintain our relationship with Jesus we can be assured that God hears and answers our prayers, but He won’t answer prayers that are bad for us or bad for His kingdom.

9-17: Jesus is our example. He loves the Father, so He obeys the Father. We show our love for Jesus by obeying His commands. It also ensures a close and intimate relationship with Him, and because of that we experience joy as well! Jesus also shows His love for us by laying down His life. If Jesus loved us that much, how can we not love others? It’s also amazing that Jesus chose us and calls us friends. It’s another testimony to His love. We show that we are His friends if we love and obey, and if we love and obey we will be rewarded.

18-27: Jesus experienced hardship and hate – so will we. The hate is because He reveals peoples sin and their need for forgiveness. By proclaiming Jesus as the only way to God we also reveal to people that they need to know Him to be forgiven and have a right relationship with the Father. To reject Jesus is to hate Jesus. To hate Jesus is to hate the Father. And it’s hate without reason, as was foretold in the Psalms (35:19, 69:4). In fact that refusal to admit wrong, to acknowledge guilt, to seek forgiveness, and to believe is so strong that no-one could believe if it weren’t for the Spirit working in their lives. We join the Spirit in His testimony by letting others know their need for Jesus!