John 14

Vs. 6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  This was a troubling night (vs. 1), but Jesus would offer them hope!  He was paving a way for all of us to one day find our home (vs. 2-4) with our Father in Heaven.  Many scoff to this day on Jesus’ claim that He is the only way.  I’ve even seen believers adhere to Universalism (belief that all religions are similar and can lead to divine good).  That is false teaching.  Philip seems to be excited at the prospect to see the Father one day, but little did he realize the Father is in Jesus (vs. 8-14).  Question: Jesus is leaving, what will they do?  They might feel like orphans (vs. 18), but we know now that we are not left on our own.  There is a peace (shalom) that will come (vs. 15-31).  And to top it off, Jesus promises us He will be coming back (vs. 28).

Regarding application…Promised Holy Spirit.  Vs. 16, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.”  We are not alone.  This peace that will come is the Holy Spirit.  Think of the picture we are given in Scripture when it comes to the Holy Spirit; the dove which is a picture of purity and peace.  Question: Do you trust promises made by others?  Too often we have a hard time grasping the promises of God when we have been let down by those we love hear on earth.  Our parents, teachers, pastor’s, friends have not always been able to keep promises. It’s a bit understandable why the hesitation on being able to trust in the promises of God.  In the storms of our lives, we know that we are not abandoned.  When we put our faith in Jesus, the promised Holy Spirit now dwells in us and keeps us sealed until eternity!  Let that be your encouragement as you go about this week!  Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is with us each step of the way!

John 13

Vs. 1, “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”  The timing is impeccable, as Jesus would become the Passover lamb whose blood was shed for the salvation of God’s people.  Jesus goes on to display a part of this love by washing His disciple’s feet (vs. 1-17).  Question: What was the significance of this?  Only servants washed feet, what was Jesus doing?  The washing also served as a sign of their spiritual lives being washed by the Living Water in Jesus.   Jesus then quotes Psalm 41:9, as reference that prophecies concerning Judas Iscariot (vs. 18-30).  The disciples didn’t completely realize the significance of the revealing of the traitor, but Judas has now made his decision.  After Judas’s departure, Jesus begins to encourage the apostles for their road would also become very difficult (vs. 31-38)

Regarding application…Love One Another.  Vs. 34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  Question: What made this a new commandment?  God gave this commandment previously to Moses.  What gives?  The old commandment was based on the law, but this new commandment to love is based on grace.  This love would now be demonstrated on the cross.  This is why we are now given a new definition of loving one another.   Yesterday, I preached a message from John 4 with the topic of considering “our purpose.”  The woman at the well couldn’t help but share this message of hope to the people in her town.  She was once rejected, but now she understood her purpose.  But this purpose must have a very important ingredient in it.  Love must be mixed in with all that we do.  Question: Are you loving as Jesus loved you?

John 12

Vs. 23, “Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”  It’s always difficult to come upon these passages of the last week before Jesus was crucified.  Yet, in these accounts, we are reminded of beautiful faith.  Mary’s anointing of Jesus is an incredible picture of understanding what it means to sacrifice (vs. 1-8).  But the enemy was on the move and with Passover week just around the corner, the Jews were looking for Jesus coming to their trap in Jerusalem (vs. 10).  After the Triumphant Entry (vs. 12-19), we see Jesus continue to minister to the lost.  Yet, the lost sheep of Israel were hardening their hearts as prophesied by Isaiah (vs. 37-50).  What’s striking to me is that some of the leaders believed, but would not put their faith into action due to fear of men (vs. 42-43).  I wonder how often this transpires in our own lives.

Regarding application…Following Jesus.  Vs. 26, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”  Question: What does this look like?  Does it mean sell everything and live a transient lifestyle proclaiming Jesus with nothing but the clothes on your back?  God has called each of us to a unique life and way that is specially made for us.  The prophet Daniel at a young age was deported to Babylon, but following God meant he must acclimate to a new culture.  In the last prophet before Jesus, John the Baptist, following Jesus was shown by living out in the desert.  Following Jesus is going to look different for each person.  I believe that prayer, bible and the church are wonderful tools and road signs to guide us down the path less traveled.  Let the peace of God work in your heart to determine the path in which you follow Jesus.  Have a blessed start of your week as you take the step of faith and dine at the table of our King each day!

John 11

Vs. 25, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”  Jesus is responding to Martha’s faith that one day Lazarus who had recently died will rise from the dead at the resurrection.  We have an interesting situation where a very close family to Jesus loses their brother, Lazarus.  We wonder why Jesus is not hurrying back to Bethany upon hearing of Lazarus’ death (vs. 6).  But, we see that Jesus has a purpose for in this miracle of bringing Lazarus back from the dead.  The longer they lingered finishing up what they were doing, the more people will be amazed (vs. 4).  For Jesus to return so near to Jerusalem (vs. 18), it was a very dangerous move for the enemy had started plotting to find a way to arrest and kill Jesus (vs. 45-57).  I can’t help but notice that God is in control of this situation.  For example, Lazarus’ death would bring Jesus near to the enemy.  The enemy would find ways to distort Jesus.  And all of this would lead to Jesus being obedient to death on a cross.  Jesus was not a victim, rather He conquered death and is literally the resurrection!

Regarding application…Emotions Are Good.  Vs. 35, “Jesus wept.”  Let’s face it…showing too much emotion is a sign of weakness.  Crying is for babies.  Being too happy is a bit unusual.  Do you remember Tom Cruise’s interview with Oprah back in 2006, where he stood up on a couch with joy professing his love to Katie Holmes?  That one incident of emotion almost derailed his career.  People frown upon any type of extreme emotion.  With an election year, if any of the Presidential candidates started weeping on live television, they probably wouldn’t stand a chance at the Presidency.  In the Gospels, we see Jesus display emotions of anger, joy, weeping, etc.  Emotions are good.  God created us with emotions, that’s what makes us so unique amongst God’s other creations.  Tomorrow is Sunday, many of you may be headed to church.  I challenge you to have a bit more emotion in your soul!  Sing unto the Lord with joy!

John 10

Vs. 7, “Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.”  I’ve never met a real Shepard or seen a flock of sheep out in the open.  During Jesus’ day, the comparison of a Shepard and sheep would have been something the audience could definitely understand.  If Jesus lived during the Wild West in the 19th century, perhaps he would have used Cowboys and cows instead.  However, the meaning behind the Shepard and sheep is quite clear.  Jesus is the Shepard and we are the sheep (vs. 1-21).  The sheep are so valuable to the Shepard, the Shepard is willing to die for the sheep.  What was stumping the unbelieving wasn’t the analogy, but Jesus’ claim that He was the Son of God and therefore the Shepard of His people.  It’s just a stark reminder that not all will believe not matter what you say or do (vs. 22-42).  A couple of months later, the unbelieving Jews still could not get over Jesus’ claim of who He was (vs. 33).

Regarding application…Do You Believe?  Vs. 42, “And in that place many believed in Jesus.”  When I think of believing in Jesus, my mind tends to envision the moment of salvation.  But I believe this belief in Jesus goes far beyond time when we first put our faith in the hands of the Lord.  Question: Why is the Christian life so hard?  We can throw out things like persecution, hatred for Christians, the enemies flaming arrows, our human sin nature, etc.  None of those are incorrect, but I personally feel that the core of the issue is making a deliberate decision to believe each day.  Jesus did not say take up the cross once, he said daily (Luke 9:23).  Taking up the cross is equivalent to believing each day.  Question: Do you believe?  If so, what are you doing about it?  This call to believing is not expecting you to be perfect by any means.  But God is honored by the heart’s intention.  When we believe we are surrendering our will.  Brothers & Sisters in Christ, let’s believe today and not be a person who does not know the Shepard’s voice.

John 9

Vs. 39, “Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”  Question: Why God?  Why was this blind man basically blind since birth (vs. 2)?  It was common belief during that time that if you had any sort of handicap, you or your parents must have done something terrible to have such an infirmity.  While it is true that we are born in sin, sometimes bad things happen simply for the glory of God.  Think of our Old Testament example in Job.  It’s interesting to note how Jesus varied in the ways He administered miracles (vs. 6).  Some biblical scholars hypothesize the methods were used so that people wouldn’t point at the method, but rather the person who did it.  Of course, where the work of God is, the enemy is close behind (vs. 13-34).  The Pharisee’s were looking for any excuse to further their campaign to silence and even kill Jesus.  Their interrogation of the healed blind man and his parents are nothing more than bullying.  I love how Jesus comes back to help to answer the big question about who He is and the man came to salvation (vs. 35-41).

Regarding application…Power of a Testimony.  Vs. 3, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”  Think about it, this blind man had never seen in his entire life!  I’m sure we can deduce that he probably asked the question “Why God?” numerous times.  From a human perspective, it doesn’t always make sense.  But God had a very specific purpose for this man to not only bring salvation to him, but that others would bring glory to God of his healing.  The power of a testimony should never be understated.  Testimonies can determine if a man is innocent or guilty in a court of law.  Testimonies can help determine whether God is real or just a figment of our imagination.  Your life is a testimony to others so that God might be displayed.  It’s an incredible privilege, but one we take for granted too often.  Question: Have you ever given a testimony of your faith to others?  It’s always a good thing to have your salvation testimony ready.  But besides the salvation testimony, you have an opportunity everyday to testify about the love God has for you and this world!  Let’s testify His love!

John 8

Vs. 32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  For those who walk in darkness, hearing the truth hurts.  The other day, we were reminded how Jesus brings tests in our lives.  When the Pharisee’s brought the woman caught in adultery, we are reminded the enemy also brings his own tests to us (vs. 1-11).  Jesus masterfully handles it by posing a question regarding their own self-righteousness (vs. 7).  Though Jesus is sharing how He is the light (vs. 12), those who heard were still following the light of the law.  In Jesus’ response to His accusers, we see a beautiful picture of the relationship the Son has with the Father (vs. 12-30).  Despite the evil intentions of some, notice how others were putting their faith in Jesus (vs. 30).  This just reminds me how we must not grow discouraged by those who have no mind for the Lord.  People cannot put their security in their families or the traditions of their lives (vs. 31-41).  I find myself always surprised, yet encouraged by how Jesus does not pull any punches when it comes to saying what needs to be said (vs. 42-47).  Even at the risk of death, Jesus stands His ground (vs. 48-59).

Regarding application…How’s Your Hearing?  Vs. 47, “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”  Yikes!  In fact, Jesus calls them children of the devil (vs. 44).  Yet, despite the fact that they heard what Jesus said, they really didn’t hear.  Their spiritual ears were deaf.  Question: How are your ears?  I think we all could use some spiritual hearing aids to let the words of Christ cut deep into our souls.  One of the dangers we can do to ourselves when reading Scripture is thinking that these particular events do not apply to us.  If they didn’t apply to us, then we wouldn’t be reading about it.  These have been hand selected by the Father in Heaven to ensure we are without excuse when it comes to knowing how to live this life.  Part of communicating is listening/hearing.  Let’s be people who are “doers” of God’s word!  What road are you headed down?  Jesus reminded us today, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  It doesn’t mean you won’t ever sin, but it does mean that you are going to make the effort to hear the voice of the Shepherd and turn from the road you are currently on.  Follow His voice!  Hear His voice!

John 7

Vs. 1, “After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life.”  Question: Why were the Jews trying to kill Jesus?  Because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath (John 5:18) and by now had been in public ministry for nearly three years.  It was that time of the year for the Feast of Tabernacles celebrating the 40 year trek out of Egypt in tents and remembering how God provided for them.  In this chapter, we learn that there is a time for everything.  Jesus’ time was on God’s timing, not from a logical human perspective (vs. 6).  Jesus ends up going to the Temple during the middle of the Feast and starts to teach (vs. 14-44).  Jesus uses this opportune moment to inform them that He is the living water (vs. 38) and one day the Holy Spirit will flow within us.  While many rejected Jesus, it’s wonderful to see that there were those professed with faith who Jesus was (vs. 41).  Just like today, there was/is controversy when it comes to who Jesus really is.

Regarding application…Judging Appearances.  Vs. 24, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”  “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  We are told in the Bible there was nothing about Jesus that would have made him stand out physically (Isaiah 53:2).  People were unimpressed to say the least about who Jesus was.  From a worldly perspective, we want our leaders to be tall, charismatic, good-looking, outgoing, etc.  I don’t need to share studies and statistics for us to realize we judge the appearance of people wrongly. Question: How are you doing with judging on the outside appearance?  When I used to work at the bank, people would demand to speak to the manger and I would always surprise them when I would say, “I am the manager.”  When I first started Youth Pastoring in my early twenties, one of the parents came up to pick up their son and started talking to one of the other students thinking they were the Youth Pastor.  He always dressed up very GQ like.  I on the other-hand was wearing athletic clothes having just played bastketball with some of the students.  Let’s not fall into the trap of being too quick to judge the appearance of a person.  First impressions should not be the standard of how we look at people.

John 6

Vs. 35, “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”  By this time in Jesus’ ministry, many were flocking to Jesus for all sorts of reasons (miracles, curiosity, perhaps to accuse, etc.)  In our chapter today, 5000 men not including women and children came and so Jesus felt compelled to try to at least feed them (vs. 1-15).  Yet, Jesus would instruct them to go to the other side of the lake (vs. 16-17).  Question: Why?  There was a huge opportunity to share God’s love, why would Jesus leave so many?  Because Jesus knew the intention of many in the crowd.  They did not want a Savior for the right reason.  They intended to make Jesus their leader to rebel against the Romans.  Jesus leaves and catches up with the disciples as he walks on water (vs. 19).  But the crowds are persistent and they catch up with Jesus (vs. 25).  Jesus uses this opportunity to speak truthfully about who He is and what their intention was (vs. 25-59).  Something I share often, but needs to be said again…Jesus is not impressed with numbers.  Speaking the truth about who He was actually made those who were supposed disciples leave Jesus (vs. 66).

Regarding application…Jesus Tests Us.  Vs. 6, “He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.”  Very few people like to takes tests, but this test that Jesus gave to Philip probably happens far more often than we realize.  Philip was looking at this feeding of thousands from a human perspective.  It’s impossible.  This reminds me of when Luke Skywalker tried to get his x-wing fighter out of the swamps of Yoda’s home.  Jesus is in the business of doing miracles and while they may not be as grandiose as multiplying fish and loaves, they happen everyday.  Question: What kind of tests is Jesus giving you today?  What doubts are stirring in your mind?  Let’s strive to pass the test of faith that is before our lives.  Don’t worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6), just think of something in your life today that needs to be handed over to Jesus.   Pray about it and let’s get an “A” today!

John 5

Vs. 16, “So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him.”  Question: What was Jesus doing in Jerusalem?  He was celebrating one of the Jewish feasts called Pentecost (Remembering when the Law was first given).  It’s actually pretty cool to think how Jesus recognized such important events just as we put importance to events in our own lives like retreats or revivals.  While in Jerusalem, visiting the temple, Jesus comes across a paralytic at the pool of Bethesda who He heals by commanding him to take his mat (vs. 1-15).  Many would flock to this pool because it was believed to have healing power (like hot springs of our day).  Jesus saved this man by grace just as He offers healing to us.  Notice how Jesus tells the man to stop sinning and living the way he used to (vs. 14).  However, because Jesus healed this man on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders started to accuse Him.  How sad that they were so blind to the very person that came to save them.  Jesus goes on to share how there is never a day where God isn’t at work for us (vs. 17).  Jesus is working here on earth on behalf of the Father and has been given the power from the Father (vs. 19).  We take this truth for granted, but it’s very important because these truths bring us to the point where we can believe with faith (vs. 24).  Jesus is testifying about himself, but does not need to.  For our sake, God sent people like John the Baptist to help us see who Jesus was.  He does the same for us today too.  When we don’t believe in faith and respond in faith, we have no excuse.

Regarding application…Refusing Jesus.  Vs. 40, “…yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”  Question: Jesus isn’t talking to me, right?  Don’t be too quick to pat yourself on the back because you go to church.  Just because you acknowledge Jesus as God’s son, great…even Satan admits to this.  When we choose to fall into the trap of wanting and loving our own lives, we refuse Jesus.  Just a couple of chapters ago, John the Baptist told us we must become less.  I reminded the youth today of the importance of less is better.  There are so many things that we want in this life.  But we can’t have our cake and eat it too.  We can’t love both God and money (Luke 16), yet when we choose go down any path other than Jesus, we are refusing him.  I know it’s hard to admit to such a thing.  We want to rationalize our decision making and desires, yet still feel like we can have Jesus.  It’s flu season and many get sick this time of the year.  It’s time for us to put the thermometer to our heart and check our temperature.  Are we too hot for the world?  Let’s take the time turn to Jesus each day this week!  Only He can change your heart!