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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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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Thomas, the Leader

Today’s reading is John 11.

We’ve all heard of Thomas, the doubter. But have you heard about Thomas, the Leader? I really hate for Thomas that he gets remembered for his lowest recorded moment. Sure, after Jesus’s death, he, like all of the apostles, struggles to believe in the resurrection. Jesus rebuked him and he grew. However, check out Thomas in today’s reading. Here we have Thomas at his high point. The apostles are all afraid that if Jesus travels to Judea, even for His good friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, He’ll be caught and killed. His entire movement will come to nothing. Their last three years will all be wasted. But this time, it is not Peter who steps up first, it is Thomas. “Let us also go, that we may die with him,” Thomas says. And they went. Wow! I get, of course, that Thomas still didn’t understand the nature of Jesus’s mission. I know he was thinking more in lines of a civil rebellion than a spiritual kingdom. I further grasp that this statement is recorded not for us to be amazed at Thomas, but to see the contrast between this expectation and the fact that instead of people dying with Jesus, someone comes back to life because of Jesus. But what Thomas reminds me of here is that I do not have to be identified with my weakest moments. We are all a mix of strengths and weaknesses, moments of doubt and moments of faith. Certainly, Thomas shouldn’t rest on the laurels of this moment, but neither does he have to beat himself up all his life for the weak ones. Instead, he can rest in His Savior Jesus, with whom Thomas did ultimately die and will be ultimately resurrected. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is John 12.

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My Sin is not my Identity

Today’s reading is John 8.

I’ m not sure why we insist on calling her “The Woman Caught in Adultery.” After all, the entire point of this account is that her sin is not her identity. Perhaps it would be better to call her “The Woman Forgiven by Jesus.” What a great point for me to grasp. In Jesus Christ, I’m forgiven and there is no condemnation for me. He doesn’t see me as a liar, luster, thief, gossip, immoral, etc. He sees me as forgiven. Of course, that is not free rein to pursue those sins. He does say to the woman, “Go and sin no more.” But I no longer have to see myself as defined by my sins. Instead, I’m defined by my Savior. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is John 9 .

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God’s Glory Matters; God’s Authority Matters

Today’s reading is John 7.

Why does the issue of authority matter? Is it because we have to prove we are better at keeping rules? Is it because if we don’t cross all the Ts and dot all the Is we’ll go to hell? Is it because we have to earn our way into heaven by following the pattern? No. None of these things is the reason. The reason authority matters is because God’s glory matters. When I act on my own authority, I’m seeking my own glory. When I’m seeking God’s glory, I act on His authority. It’s just that simple. Whose glory are you seeking? How can you tell?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 8

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