Eye-witness Testimony

Today’s reading is 1 John 1.

Sometimes, I forget what I’m reading when I read the Bible. I don’t want to act like the Bible is just a book like any other book. On the other hand, I do need to realize that in many ways that is exactly what it is. These are not some kind of special writings. These are the eye-witness testimonies just as if we were in the jury of a trial and had to figure out if we were hearing the truth. John didn’t sit back and try to make up a story with a couple of his friends. Rather, he saw and experienced things. Then he, and a few others, recorded what they experienced. This, of course, produces a struggle for us. Just as Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time, the Scriptures are fully written by man and fully written by God at the same time. No doubt, just as with the incarnation, this produces some difficulties for us. But what a powerful gift God has given us. His Word in man’s words. Read the testimony. See what you think of it. Then follow it. It is a true record.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 John 2.

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No King but Caesar

Today’s reading is John 19.

What a long way Israel had traveled. God had wanted them to view Him as king. But in generations past, they had asked for a king like the nations around them had. Now, as Jesus is on trial, they declare that having a king like the nations isn’t enough. They actually want the king of the nations around them. And in so doing, they actually once again reject God as their king. And even worse than simply turning their back on God’s judge, they decide to kill God’s king. Yet, as quickly as we repudiate them, we decide to walk our own path. And in so doing, we say, “I have no king but me.” It’s tough, there is only room on the throne for one. Either we will let Jesus be on the throne while we get on the cross or we will sit on the throne and nail Jesus back to the cross. Which will you choose today?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 20

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Understanding Peter

Today’s reading is John 18.

Before we throw Peter all the way under the bus, did you notice he really was willing to die with Jesus? When the soldiers and guards came to get Jesus, Peter was true to his word. He pulled out a sword and was ready to fight against all odds for and with Jesus. This was a sacrificial, ready to die move. However, when Jesus demonstrated He wasn’t going to die in battle but was going to die in surrender, Peter caved. He was ready to die for Jesus on his own terms. He was ready to go down swinging, with sword in hand, dying on the battlefield. But he wasn’t ready to give up, lay down his sword, and walk to a cross. He wasn’t ready to die on Jesus’s terms. And this is where we end up following in Peter’s footsteps all while thinking we would never act like him. When we are ready to follow Jesus on our terms, but balk at His terms, we are being just like Peter. On whose terms will you serve Jesus today?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 19

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Know God

Today’s reading is John 17.

Pop Quiz: Where and when did Jesus say, “Know thyself”? 

Pop Quiz#2: Where and when did Jesus say, “To thine own self be true”?

How did you do? Do you remember when Jesus said those things? If you are having trouble remembering, don’t beat yourself up. Jesus didn’t say either of those things. Neither did Paul. Neither did any other person in biblical history. The first is actually attributed to Socrates. The second to Polonius in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Imagine that. Neither one of these statements came from Jesus. Do you know what did come from Jesus? “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” In a world focused on the idolatry of self, it might do us good to remember that today, I need to spend more time getting to know God than getting to know myself. By extension, if I start by being true to God, I will be true to myself and others as well. What are your next steps for getting to know God better?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 18

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We’ve Already Won

Today’s reading is John 16.

When I read the last verse of today’s reading, I can’t help but think of the Israelites heading into the Promised Land. Multiple times, God spoke of the land He had already given them (cf. Deuteronomy 9:23). That is, even before they took possession, God had already overcome Canaan land. When they listened to God and maintained their covenant relationship with Him, they overcame. We are not looking for military conquest today. However, we are at war. The world is fighting with all of its might. Often, that is discouraging and disheartening. Of course, I can’t tell you what the casualties will be. As we watch those casualties, it is painful. Especially when those who cave to the world are close to us. However, we are fighting on the winning side. No matter what it may look like, God always wins. In fact, through Jesus Christ He has already won. The world is already conquered. God is already victorious. Whose side will you be on today?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 17.

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Hate is No Surprise

Today’s reading is John 15.

It is surprising to me how many times throughout the Scripture the Holy Spirit prepares us for hate. Considering how good, loving, compassionate, and kind Jesus was, it is amazing that He was hated. But He was. In fact, so hated, He was taken to the cross. This was the very point those around Him didn’t grasp. If He was the Messiah, even if hated, He shouldn’t suffer for it. And this is, perhaps, one of the largest aspects of following Him that we miss today. If we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus, we heedlessly believe, everyone should like us. The world and the worldly will be so impressed with our Christlike love and compassion that they will long to hear what we say (if we are doing it right). The world shouldn’t hate us, we think. If they do, we are doing it wrong, we believe. And yet, Jesus prepares His followers again and again and again. It will not be different for us. Hate is no surprise. The world is going to hate us. The world is going to make us suffer for it. Obviously, we aren’t trying to be hated. But be ready. And be ready to keep loving one another and also loving those who hate us. That is what Jesus did when hated.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 16.

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On Rules and Relationship

Today’s reading is John 14.

We hear people today say, “It’s not about rules its about relationship.” And, in some ways I get that. However, I wonder what Jesus would say to that. “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” Today, make it about your relationship with the Father. Today, live so the world will know you actually love the Father. Today, keep His commandments. Because asserting that you aren’t going to worry about His commandments because you are more about your relationship with God than the rules of God simply doesn’t make biblical sense. Love God today.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 15.

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