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Category Archives: John

John 3:16-21

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
John 3:16-21

Dear God, there is so much to emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually process from the last two days. It’s seems like there are different levels of evil, but it’s hard to know when it’s gone too far. The young man in Uvalde—the evil drove him too far. I don’t know what his motivations were. I don’t know what drove him to crave destruction of so many innocents. I have grieved over the last two days. I’m sure the grief has been terrible for you.

Of course, you grieve like this every day, I’m sure. You see the Uvalde equivalent but on a much larger scale in Ukraine. You see the Uvalde equivalent on a smaller scale in individual homes. You see what we do to each other online. In person. Through our words. Through our actions. Through our silence. You see your children give into hatred and let it feed them. I’ve certainly let anger in me turn into some form of hatred. And all of this just grows in darkness.

Father, help me to really be a source of light—your light—in this world. Help me to experience your complete freedom and joy and then share the opportunity to experience that joy with others. I am your Plan A. Your church is your Plan A. There is no Plan B. Help us to be a light that is willing to shine in the shadows so that your presence might go into all the world.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2022 in John

 

The Day Before Passion Week

Dear God, I decided to go through all four gospels this morning and see what they record Jesus as being up to the day before the Triumphant Entry and Passion Week. Tomorrow is Palm Sunday so it seemed fitting to try to spend some time with Jesus today–the day before. He’s been through a lot at this point, and he knows where he’s going. He has been through the Transfiguration and visited with Moses and Elijah, perhaps even receiving clarity and encouragement from them. He has rebuked James and John for wanting to kill a bunch of Samaritans for not letting him stay in his town. And now it’s all come down to this.

Matthew and Mark actually record Jesus’s activities fairly similarly. They talk about him healing some blind men. because “Jesus had compassion on them (Matthew 20:34).” Mark 10 is more specific and identifies him healing Bartimaeus. I suppose they wanted us to know that Jesus was still having compassion on people and healing them as he prepared for his Passion.

Luke actually gives us a the story of Zacchaeus as Jesus enters Jerusalem but leaves out the blind men (Luke 19). Luke wants us to know that Jesus was still in the mode of extending grace and forgiveness as he entered his last week.

Finally, and true to form, John gives us a whole different perspective. He tells us about a specific scene in Bethany when Mary (of Mary and Martha fame) showed extravagant love to Jesus by taking our some expensive perfume and pouring it on his feet. One last act of genuine worship before the week began. I wonder if John didn’t appreciate Mary’s gift more in retrospect as he told the story of the fair-weather fans who lined the streets with their palm branches. What Mary gave cost her a lot. What they gave cost them very little.

Father, do I give anything that costs me? How selfish am I? Am I willing to stop and extend your power in the midst of my own strife like Jesus did in Matthew and Mark? Am I willing love someone else through their immorality and show them your grace? Am I willing to give all that I have for all that you are? In all of these areas, am I willing to give you my utmost for your highest? As always, the answer is that I am not nearly the man I aspire to be in these areas. If you’re grading on a curve, then I compare pretty well with people around me, but that’s a steep curve. The truth is, my righteousness is rubbish. Please speak to me and give me ears to hear your voice, your direction, and your conviction.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2022 in John, Luke, Mark, Matthew

 

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John 19:23-30 — “The Crucifixion” by Eric Gill

The above image called “The Crucifixion” and was created by Eric Gill. It is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard.

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing.” So that is what they did.

25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.

28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:23-30 (NLT)

Dear God, as I sat down to look at this image this morning, even before reading the passage from John, I noticed something interesting. I noticed the circles around some of the characters’ heads–indicating they were saints, sanctified, or holy. One was Jesus. Two were obviously women (bottom of cross to the right). One was a man. At first I thought this might be the thief whom Jesus assured would be in paradise, but the face is clean and looking up–not dying. No, this is apparently John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. There is a fifth circle for the person on their knees to the left of the cross. It kind of looks like a woman, but I cannot be sure. Again, after reading the passage, I assume it is one of the other two Mary’s or Jesus’s mother Mary’s sister.

Other things I noticed that the artist, Eric Gill, chose to share with us (side note–I just looked up the artist for a link to share here and found that he apparently sexually abused his daughters. Completely heinous! But does it inform the art a little in that, while he allowed Jesus some modesty, he showed one of the thieves completely naked?): He portrays Jesus’s feet separately and not nailed together–I wonder why. He shows women and men who aren’t sanctified–no circles. I understand the man could represent the Pharisees, but who are the two women in front on John (in Gill’s mind). Who do they represent? It’s a reminder to me that it was likely both men and women who were glad to see Jesus die.

I confess, Father, that I know I would have been one of them had I been there at the time. I would not have believed. I don’t know that I’d have followed all of the way to the cross, but when I heard that the troublemaker, Jesus, had died I would have been happy. I am a fool, but knowing this about myself and how much I still love you gives me mercy for the non-sanctified people in the picture. I am sure you have mercy for them too. How do I know? Because Jesus asked you to. He did that so that every head in that picture would have a circle around it. So I join him in asking that you forgive me for what I am doing. Please allow for my foolishness and sinfulness in your plan.

In Jesus’s name, his wonderful, merciful, powerful, glorious name I pray,

Amen

 

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John 11:25-27

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”
John 11:25-27

Dear God, what would you like to make sure I believe? For example, the Jewish people at the time were supposed to believe in the future coming of the Messiah. Jesus wanted Martha to believe he was that person. I guess the equivalent of that today would be the second coming. But since that won’t be a vague event, but something that will knock me over the head with Jesus appearing in the east, trumpets, and all of that, I don’t know that that will be left up to my interpretation. So is there any part of theology that you want to make sure I believe?

Actually, now that I read this a little closer, Jesus is also asking if she believes in the peace of knowing she and those she loves will endure into the next life. I actually believe this, I think pretty soundly. Probably since I was taught it from an early age. I wonder what death would be like if I didn’t believe it.

I spoke with a woman yesterday who just lost her mom from a long illness. I’ve seen my wife go through the loss of both of her parents. I know we’ve talked a lot about their current existence together with you. Those losses have been very hard for her, but there’s a foundation of peace as well thanks to this good news. We can be reconciled to you and dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Father, open my eyes so I can see. Help me to not only learn and know what you want me to know but also share that with others. Help me to be in Christian community to the point where I am learning from you through others. I pray that you will raise up voices in the lives of those I love, like my children, who will be your presence and words to them. Do the same for me as well. Help me to be everything you want and need me to be for your glory’s sake. And thank you for the peace of knowing I get to physically be with you and those most precious to me for all eternity.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2021 in John

 

John 1:1-14

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
John 1:1-14

Dear God, sometimes I just need to get back to the basics. We layer a lot of theology onto things, but with Jesus it. One back to some simple things. Jesus is part of you come to earth. Essentially, you sent a piece of yourself to do something remarkable. What did you do? You simultaneously gave us instruction and reconciled all of us to you.

I’ve told people before that when I get to heaven I am going to learn that a lot of my theology is wrong. It’s not anyone’s fault. It’s just that theology is complicated and a lot can get innocently skewed over the years. That said, I think the Jesus part is important. The redemption part. Ah, there’s the word redemption again. You purchased me back through Jesus. Everything else is just me figuring out how you want me to use the rest of my days.

Father, help me to major in the majors. Help me to die to myself, take up my cross and follow you. Help me to know how to parent my children. Help me to know how to be a member of my extended family. Help me to know how to do my job, engage with my community and husband my wife. Break me, melt me, mold me, and fill me. Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2021 in John

 

John 3:20-21

All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
John 3:20-21

Dear God, thank you that you make it possible to be in the light. Thank you that you make it possible to just throw our shame away and let it go. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for your mercy.

I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday about how you take a knife to the knots of our sin and just cut it away. Sometimes there’s just simply no way to untie what we’ve done. We cannot make it better. We just need you to take your knife of mercy to it and release us from the bondage we created.

Of course, Jesus also said that we are to ask that you forgive us as we forgive others. That means, at least in certain cases where someone comes seeking forgiveness, that we need to take our own knife to a situation and, as much as possible, give mercy to the person. That doesn’t mean we have to trust indiscriminately again, but it does mean we can love beyond what might be deserved in our own minds.

Father, again, thank you for offering me a path to the light. I’m very sorry for my son and all of the knots I create. Help me to receive your mercy, extend mercy to myself, extend mercy to others, and then be willing to repent before you and others when I e made a mistake. For your glory alone, oh, Lord.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2021 in John

 

John 3:14-15

14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.

John 3:14-15

Dear God, I love this story and the whole context. Nicodemus is earnestly asking Jesus questions that he has, and Jesus is being pretty blunt with him. Of course, the next verse of this passage is possibly the most quoted New Testament verse–John 3:16, but the linking of Jesus’s analogy to the story in Numbers 21 about the Israelites being saved in the wilderness is really poignant.

I remember preaching on these passages a couple of years ago and thinking about the crosses (Protestant churches) or crucifixes (Catholic churches) that churches display in their congregations. There are some churches that even put the cross/crucifix on the top of a staff and carry them through the church. After going through that, it’s caused me to always think about this whenever I see a cross in a church–especially when carried on a staff for everyone to see. I think about how I need you to save me from myself. I need you to rescue me from my sin. I need Jesus and everything he did to free me.

Father, I need you today. I need Jesus’s rescue of me today. I need you to cover me and save me from myself. I can be so myopic in my attitudes. I can fall into self-pity. I can be selfish with my agenda. I can be lazy. I’m sorry for all of it. Be glorified through my life as I submit to you. Help me to completely submit to you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2021 in John, Numbers

 

John 14:23-27

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
John 14:23-27

Dear God, I am always grateful to be reminded about the Holy Spirit. You know I talk a lot about the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). And these are the foundational things that relationship with you and the Holy Spirit brings, but there is also knowledge and direction. He is my comforter too. He is my advocate to you. On a scale of 1-10, I probably still only understand and truly internalize his role in my life at a 3, but it is great to be reminded of everything you have given me by simply giving me your Spirit.

Father, as I continue on this vacation, restore my soul as I by these streams of cool waters. As I am removed from the valleys and mountains of my life for this period of time, speak to my heart, mind, body, and soul. Help me to do things that will draw me closer to you and closer to my wife. And also help me to sink into all of the fruits of your Spirit so that I might experience them all and be what you need me to be for my wife as she goes to rough her own journey of restoration as well.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2021 in John

 

John 6:28-29

They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6:28-29

Dear God, this actually kind of fits with my recent struggles. I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed by the combination of negative things happening in the world and even my own family. The idols my heart wants to create (peace in the world, government, health, spouse, children, parents, friends, act.) start to fail me and I just don’t know what to do. I think that’s probably been reflected in some of my prayers lately.

Several years ago, I had a job that exposed me to some of the most miserable aspects of human existence. I was around children who lived in terrible situations and I would go home from work very depressed and discouraged some days. Over time, I learned to compartmentalize that pain and leave it at work. I would work to address it during the day, but at night I had to let it go so I could be with my family and have some semblance of a joyful life.

I think the ability to compartmentalize things is important, but it is fraught with danger because I can be tempted to try to deny it out of existence, allowing it to build and grow in my subconscious until it starts poisoning me. Probably a better idea is to compartmentalize it in its place, but still pay attention to it and work on it as your Spirit convicts and leads me to. It can’t be left in its compartment all of the time, but it can be put out of my way so that I don’t have to dwell on it constantly.

An example of why I’m saying all of this is because I’ve been frustrated over the situation in Afghanistan and the suffering going on there. What am I to do? Sometimes there’s simply nothing for me to do but pray. Maybe I can actually do something for people in instances like Haiti, sending money to help feed people. Or I can organize local services to help people in need. But there are sometimes when I want to perform your work, as this passage says, and your words back are for me to believe in you.

Father, I believe in you and trust you. Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to do what I need to do and what you call me to do (including prayer) to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2021 in John

 

John 1:45-51

Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!” Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”
John 1:45-51

Dear God, I have always focused on Nathaniel in this story, but let’s talk about Philip. This is his origin story, but he shows up several times in John’s Gospel and Acts. Not as much in the other three gospels. It makes me wonder what kind of special relationship John and Philip had. John tells one of the “feeding” stories and specifically notes that Jesus asked Philip what they should feed the people. Philip is the one who asked Jesus to show them the father. In Acts, Philip preaches. He is the one who baptizes the Ethiopian Eunuch. He shows up a lot more often than I realized. But it starts here. Jesus calls him and he immediately goes to find Nathaniel. One of the earliest versions of someone being an evangelist for Jesus, calling others to come and follow him.

This always leaves me with the question, asking why I am not more of an evangelist for you. Why do I not encourage others to come and see you more? And I’m not talking about going to church, but about truly meeting you and getting to know you. Introducing them to the God who takes away as much of my pain as I can get in touch with. Takes away my shame. Gives me hope that my life is meaningful. I’m convinced that it is because I do not fully appreciate what it is I have to “sell.” For example, I love the cycling system I am using right now, and I’ve told all kinds of people about it, but I think that is because it is easy to explain. I can frame it into a construct that others can understand. For whatever reason, for me at least, framing a construct for you for others to understand easily is more difficult. It’s probably from a lack of trying, to be honest.

Father, I want to be your ambassador. I want to offer the fruits of the Spirit to others. I want you to be glorified in this world. I want people to be followers of you and not just believers in you. I want them to tap their vine into your branch and experience your life in them. Of course, that starts with me humbling myself, letting go of my own agenda, and tapping my life into you. So I offer you my life. I offer you my desire for you. I offer you my failings and my successes. May you use both for your glory, and please help me to grow closer to you today.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2021 in John