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Category Archives: John

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

 

Solomon: What Went Wrong?

Dear God, I’m preaching tomorrow at the local Presbyterian church and I will be using the verses that I’ve been journaling on over the last week from 1 Kings 3, Ephesians 5, and John 6. Certainly a pattern emerged (I’m sure those who chose these passages for the Presbyterian Church intended for there to be some synergy between them). I suppose I could say the executive summary is that a scared young man who was overwhelmed by his situation (which was orchestrated by his mother, Bathsheba, on his behalf against David’s oldest remaining son) had a vision from you and he showed some real insight by asking you for wisdom. But in reading what happened next, one almost has to wonder if you did the right thing by giving it to him because the wisdom made him very successful, but it also led him away from you.

I think there were two main things that were Solomon’s downfall: power and women.

Power: Quite simply, he got to where he didn’t need you and his priority eventually became amassing more and more wealth and power. He forced those from previously conquered peoples to be slaves (1 Kings 9:15-21) and he made the Israelite men his military and government officials (1 Kings 9:22-23). He forgot about the 1,000 years since your promise to Abraham and everything that had been done by you and through the faithfulness of others to you over the generations. He forgot about your command to stay loyal to you and not worship other gods (1 Kings 9:6-9). Simply put, he got fat and happy.

Women: This one is complicated, and I have a feeling it involves what he learned from his dad, to some extent. After all, I’m sure he knew the whole story about how his mother came to be David’s wife. He knew how his father abused his power as king to rape his mother, kill her husband, and eventually add her to his haram. He knew how his half brother raped his half sister and David did nothing about it. Eventually, he ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines (the only difference I can see between them is that the wives were of royal birth and the concubines weren’t). And going back to the power angle, because the wives were from the surrounding nations that God warned them about, it appears as if he married many of the 700 wives (the wives of royal birth, or princesses) to form alliances and consolidate his power so he would not have to devote resources to military, but instead focus them on his personal gain and ease of life.

So eventually, Solomon turned his heart from you, Father. He let the ease of life lull him wandering away. He let the excitement of these relationships with the myriad of women dilute his faith in you. He was joining with them in body and instead of insisting that they leave their idols and worship you, he joined many of them in their worship of other things.

So that’s Solomon. Now, what about Ephesians 5 and John 6? How do they fit into this? Well, obviously Paul is talking about wisdom in Ephesians Paul gives us a pretty basic instruction in Ephesians 5:15-20: Make the most of every opportunity. Act thoughtfully/intentionally, seeking what you want me to do. Avoid things that promote escaping reality like wine/drugs, but be filled with the Holy Spirit. Sing to you by myself and with others. Thank you for everything.

Then there’s Jesus in John 6. True bread from you is Jesus and what he gave us through his life (teaching), death, and resurrection. Jesus is the bread, and he also instructed us to ask you for our daily bread–our daily dose of Jesus. Our provision for our physical needs, but also our continual dependence upon you for our emotional stability and purposeful growth and actions.

So what do we do to make sure we are pursuing our daily bread being filled by the Holy Spirit and avoiding the things that encourage us to escape reality and numb ourselves to the needs around us and what you are calling us to do? Well, I think that can be different for everyone to some extent. The general things are there. Daily time in prayer and scripture of some sort. Daily time worshiping you. Surrounding ourselves with a community of people who are like-minded in their worship of you. That’s not to say all of my friends have to be Christians, but certainly the ones I lean on the most should be. It’s looking for the opportunities you call us to to serve others.

Father, help me to not only take all of this and put it into a format that communicates effectively in the morning. Help me to live it out as well. Help me to live it out before you. Help me to live it out in my marriage and my family. Help me to live it out in my work and in my service to others. Help me to not focus on protecting what I have, but instead using what I have to help others. Do all of this so that my life would be part of your kingdom coming and your will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2021 in 1 Kings, Ephesians, John

 

John 6:48-58

Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked. So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”
John 6:48-58

Dear God, there are things in life that, if we are submitted to you, bring us to our knees. Challenges draw me closer to you while good times tempt me to drift into my own sense of security in myself. Using Jesus’s analogy here, you are true nourishment while feeding myself on good times and my own sense of false security is like eating only desserts. There is not nutritional value in putting faith in my own wisdom.

Of course, this is all tying together with the verses I’ve prayed over the last few days. They are the verses for Sunday, August 15, in the Presbyterian church, and I’ll be preaching that day so I thought I would see what’s there. You as my daily bread nourishing me with wisdom seems to be there. Solomon losing you as his daily bread and filling his life with power, wealth and women was all empty calories that ultimately led to his decent into corruption and evil.

I’ve had some solid challenges at work this week that I’ve certainly felt the need to bring to you in prayer. and I feel like you’re answering them. Thank you. I have challenges in my personal life that need your intervention, power and guidance. I need your nourishment and fruit from your Holy Spirit to get me through. I need you.

Father, give me this day my daily bread. Help me to keep from being tempted to leave you. Keep me from the evil in my own heart or that is out there waiting to devour me. Let your kingdom come and your will be done in and through my life and in the world. You are my God. I worship you alone.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2021 in John

 

John 3:17

God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:17

Dear God, my high school pastor loved this verse. He used to have a passage for us to recite at the end of each church service. One year, he had us do John 3:16-17. He made sure we didn’t forget this part. If his goal was to get us to memorize scripture it worked because I’m sitting here 35 years later and I can still hear the words ringing in my ears.

One thing about this pastor is that he really focused on Your love and grace. In fact, as I grew older and went back to listen to some of his sermons on cassette while I was in college, I realized his sermons were almost always on grace and there wasn’t much on discipleship. Going further down the road, as it turned out, he was a bit tormented by some guilt/shame in his own life. Putting it all together, I’ve wondered how much of his sermons and methods were an effort to emotionally reconcile himself to you, not quite grasping just how deep your love for him was.

Father, your desire is to love us all. As a father myself, my desire for my children is good things. Knowing how I feel about them informs, at least a little, of how I view your love for me. So help me on my journey of working out my faith and reconciling what my head believes and my heart feels. Help me to love my children the way you love me. And help me to carry your love and presence into the world.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2021 in John, Uncategorized