Saturday, September 29, 2018

Proverbs 6

Today's reading...
Proverbs 6 (NLT)
1My child, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger—
2if you have trapped yourself by your agreement and are caught by what you said—
3follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy. Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased.
4Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do.
5Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net.
6Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!
7Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work,
8they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.
9But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up?
10A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—
11then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.
12What are worthless and wicked people like? They are constant liars,
13signaling their deceit with a wink of the eye, a nudge of the foot, or the wiggle of fingers.
14Their perverted hearts plot evil, and they constantly stir up trouble.
15But they will be destroyed suddenly, broken in an instant beyond all hope of healing.
16There are six things the Lord hates— no, seven things he detests:
17haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent,
18a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong,
19a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.
20My son, obey your father’s commands, and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
21Keep their words always in your heart. Tie them around your neck.
22When you walk, their counsel will lead you. When you sleep, they will protect you. When you wake up, they will advise you.
23For their command is a lamp and their instruction a light; their corrective discipline is the way to life.
24It will keep you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of a promiscuous woman.
25Don’t lust for her beauty. Don’t let her coy glances seduce you.
26For a prostitute will bring you to poverty, but sleeping with another man’s wife will cost you your life.
27Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire?
28Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet?
29So it is with the man who sleeps with another man’s wife. He who embraces her will not go unpunished.
30Excuses might be found for a thief who steals because he is starving.
31But if he is caught, he must pay back seven times what he stole, even if he has to sell everything in his house.
32But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself.
33He will be wounded and disgraced. His shame will never be erased.
34For the woman’s jealous husband will be furious, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.

35He will accept no compensation, nor be satisfied with a payoff of any size.

Deliver yourself (1–5). Wicked works will ensnare you (Prov. 5:22), but so will reckless words. You must be careful when you make promises. If you do not learn to say no, you will end up in bondage, and the price will be very high. Better to humble yourself and get free than to let your pride ruin you.

Teach yourself (6–11). Learn from the world of nature (Prov. 30:15–31). The ant makes good use of opportunities to prepare for the future, but the sluggard is aimless and lazy and ends up in poverty. The preacher who used this text was correct when he titled his sermon “Rock-A-Bye, Lullaby, Bye-Bye.”

Guard yourself (12–35). Watch out for the wicked man (vv. 12–19) and the evil woman (vv. 20–35). Hate what God hates and

--With the Word

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Friday, September 28, 2018

Proverbs 5

Today's reading...
Proverbs 5 (NLT)
1My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel.
2Then you will show discernment, and your lips will express what you’ve learned.
3For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil.
4But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword.
5Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.
6For she cares nothing about the path to life. She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it.
7So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say:
8Stay away from her! Don’t go near the door of her house!
9If you do, you will lose your honor and will lose to merciless people all you have achieved.
10Strangers will consume your wealth, and someone else will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
11In the end you will groan in anguish when disease consumes your body.
12You will say, “How I hated discipline! If only I had not ignored all the warnings!
13Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers? Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors?
14I have come to the brink of utter ruin, and now I must face public disgrace.”
15Drink water from your own well— share your love only with your wife.
16Why spill the water of your springs in the streets, having sex with just anyone?
17You should reserve it for yourselves. Never share it with strangers.
18Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love.
20Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman, or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman?
21For the Lord sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes.
22An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him.

23He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

In a world that has commercialized sex and turned adultery into entertainment, this warning is desperately needed. Few people believe that there are tragic consequences to sexual sin, but Solomon names some of them.

What begins as something “sweet” gradually turns into something bitter; what is “life” becomes death; and the end is hell (vv. 4–5). You lose honor, years of life, wealth, and joy (vv. 7–14), and what you think is freedom is really the worst kind of bondage (vv. 21–23). The physical consequences alone ought to make a person want to obey God (v. 11).

Sex in marriage should be like drinking refreshing water from a clean fountain, while illicit sex is like drinking at a sewer (vv. 15–20). The Hebrew word translated “enraptured” in verse 19 means “intoxicated.” When husband and wife love each other as God wants them to, the water turns into wine! (See John 2:1–11.)
--With the Word

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Proverbs 4

Today's reading...
Proverbs 4 (NLT)
1My children, listen when your father corrects you. Pay attention and learn good judgment,
2for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my instructions.
3For I, too, was once my father’s son, tenderly loved as my mother’s only child.
4My father taught me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live.
5Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them.
6Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.
7Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.
8If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you.
9She will place a lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown.”
10My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life.
11I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths.
12When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble.
13Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.
14Don’t do as the wicked do, and don’t follow the path of evildoers.
15Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way. Turn away and keep moving.
16For evil people can’t sleep until they’ve done their evil deed for the day. They can’t rest until they’ve caused someone to stumble.
17They eat the food of wickedness and drink the wine of violence!
18The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.
19But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over.
20My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words.
21Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
22for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.
23Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
24Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.
25Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
26Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.

27Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

The wise person encourages others to hear the Word and find wisdom. The father received wisdom when he was a boy, and he admonished his children to do the same. Live today so that your counsel and example will influence others and help them live wisely.

When you have wisdom, you have protection (v. 6) and promotion (vv. 8–9) and you will have the freedom to make progress (v. 12). As you obey His Word, the light will get brighter on the path of life (v. 18). But this is not true if you are on the path of the wicked.

Again, Solomon emphasized having your whole person controlled by God’s Word (vv. 20–27; Col. 3:16). This will guide you on the right path and keep you from detours.
--With the Word

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

John 21

Today's reading...
John 21 (NLT)
1Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened.
2Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
3Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
4At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was.
5He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied.
6Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
7Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore.
8The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore.
9When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
10“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said.
11So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.
12“Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.
13Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish.
14This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.
15After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
16Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
17A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
18“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.”
19Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
20Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?”
21Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
22Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”
23So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
24This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate.

25Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.

Jesus the Stranger (1–4). When Peter returned to the old life, he took six other men with him. Their work was in vain (15:5) because the Lord was not with them. How kind He is to come to us when we have disobeyed Him and have failed in our work!

Jesus the Master (5–8). When Jesus takes charge, failure is turned into success; and the difference was only the width of the ship! You never know how close you are to victory, so admit your failure and obey what He tells you to do. He never fails.

Jesus the Host (9–14). It took six men to drag the net (v. 8), but Peter did it alone when Jesus gave the orders (v. 11). We should always remember that “God’s commandment is God’s enablement.” Did the fire of coals remind Peter of his denials (18:18ff.)? Did the miraculous catch of fish remind him of his call to service (Luke 5:1–11)? How kind of Jesus to feed Peter before dealing with him about his sins!

Jesus the Shepherd (15–17). The most important thing in ministry is loving Christ, for all ministry flows from that. Peter the fisherman was also to be a shepherd and care for the lambs and sheep.

Jesus the Lord (18–25). By saying, “Follow Me,” Jesus reinstated Peter as an apostle. But Peter turned around and took his eyes off the Lord (Matt. 14:30), and Jesus had to rebuke him. The next time you are tempted to meddle in somebody else’s ministry, ponder Christ’s words: “What is that to you? You follow Me!” (v. 22).

Peter followed the Lord right into the excitement of the book of Acts!     

--With the Word

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

John 20

Today's reading...
John 20 (NLT)
1Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.
2She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb.
4They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
5He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in.
6Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there,
7while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.
8Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—
9for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.
10Then they went home.
11Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in.
12She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.
13“Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
14She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him.
15“Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
16“Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
17“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”
18Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.
19That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.
20As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!
21Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
22Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
24One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came.
25They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”
26Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said.
27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
28“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
29Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
30The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book.

31But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

Confusion (1–10). Mary jumped to conclusions and soon had Peter and John on the run. They were busy, but they had nothing to say and were accomplishing little. They saw the evidence for the Resurrection, but it did not change their lives. They needed a meeting with the living Christ.

Love (11–18). Unbelief blinds our eyes to the Lord’s presence. When He speaks His word to us, faith and love are rekindled. Mary was changed from a mourner to a missionary when she met the living Lord.

Peace (19–23). Locked doors will not give you peace, nor will they keep out your loving Savior. He comes with the message of peace based on His sacrifice on the cross (v. 20; Rom. 5:1).

Faith (24–31). The Lord tenderly deals with our doubts and unbelief. We today cannot see Him or feel His wounds, but we have the Word of God to assure us (vv. 9, 30–31). When your faith falters, do not ask for signs. Open His Word and let Him reassure you.
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Monday, September 24, 2018

John 19

Today's reading...
John 19 (NLT)
1Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip.
2The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him.
3“Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.
4Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.”
5Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”
6When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” “Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”
7The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”
8When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever.
9He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer.
10“Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”
11Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
12Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar.’ Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”
13When they said this, Pilate brought Jesus out to them again. Then Pilate sat down on the judgment seat on the platform that is called the Stone Pavement (in Hebrew, Gabbatha).
14It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!”
15“Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!” “What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back.
16Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away.
17Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha).
18There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them.
19And Pilate posted a sign on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
20The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.
21Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’ ”
22Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.”
23When 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.
24So 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.
25Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.
26When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.”
27And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
28Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.”
29A 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.
30When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was Passover week). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down.
32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus.
33But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs.
34One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out.
35(This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also may continue to believe.)
36These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,”
37and “They will look on the one they pierced.”
38Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away.
39With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes.
40Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.
41The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before.

42And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

The crown (1–16). Jesus and Pilate had been talking about a kingdom, so it was only right that the King have a crown. It was meant for mockery, but it preached a message, for Jesus was wearing the consequences of Adam’s sins (Gen. 3:17–19). But a crown is a sign of victory. He has overcome!

The cross (17–27). Jesus started out bearing His own cross, but then Simon was drafted to carry it for Him (Mark 15:21). We are not told why, although tradition says that Jesus fell and could not carry it. Considering all He had been through, that is not difficult to believe. Criminals carried the cross as a sign of guilt, and Jesus was not guilty!

The conquest (28–42). “It is finished!” was the cry of a conqueror. Jesus accomplished what all of the old covenant sacrifices could not do (Heb. 10:1–18). The prophecies and types were fulfilled and the sacrifice for sins made once and for all forever. It was not a martyr that Joseph and Nicodemus put into the tomb; it was a victor.
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

John 18

Today's reading...
John 18 (NLT)
1After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees.
2Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples.
3The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
4Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
5“Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied. “I Am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.)
6As Jesus said “I Am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground!
7Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?” And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
8“I told you that I Am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.”
9He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”
10Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave.
11But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”
12So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up.
13First they took him to Annas, since he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time.
14Caiaphas was the one who had told the other Jewish leaders, “It’s better that one man should die for the people.”
15Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus.
16Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in.
17The woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?” “No,” he said, “I am not.”
18Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself.
19Inside, the high priest began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them.
20Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret.
21Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.”
22Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23Jesus replied, “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?”
24Then Annas bound Jesus and sent him to Caiaphas, the high priest.
25Meanwhile, as Simon Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.”
26But one of the household slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?”
27Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed.
28Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he was taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor. His accusers didn’t go inside because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover.
29So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man?”
30“We wouldn’t have handed him over to you if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted.
31“Then take him away and judge him by your own law,” Pilate told them. “Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,” the Jewish leaders replied.
32(This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction about the way he would die.)
33Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.
34Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?”
35“Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”
36Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
37Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
38“What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime.
39But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this ‘King of the Jews’?”

40But they shouted back, “No! Not this man. We want Barabbas!” (Barabbas was a revolutionary.)

Judas depended on the strength of numbers, Peter on the strength of his arm, Annas and Caiaphas on the strength of their position, but Jesus on the strength of love and devotion to the Father. Jesus had a cup in His hand, not a sword, but that cup was His scepter. He was in complete control.

On the other hand, Peter fought when he should have yielded and followed when he should have fled. Yielding and fleeing looked like defeat, but they were the Father’s will; and Peter should have obeyed. While Jesus was giving His witness to the high priest, Peter was denying the Lord. Which was the successful witness, Peter or Jesus?

As a Roman governor, Pilate was worried about the threat of another kingdom. Verse 36 is certainly a rebuke to believers who follow the example of Peter. At Pentecost, Peter wielded the sword of the Spirit and won a victory.
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Friday, September 21, 2018

John 17

Today's reading...
John 17 (NLT)
1After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you.
2For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him.
3And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.
4I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.
5Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.
6“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
7Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you,
8for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.
9“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you.
10All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory.
11Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.
12During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.
13“Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy.
14I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
15I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.
16They do not belong to this world any more than I do.
17Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.
18Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.
19And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
20“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.
21I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
22“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.
23I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.
24Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
25“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me.

26I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

In this, his high priestly prayer, Jesus prayed for Himself (vv. 1–5), His disciples (vv. 6–19), and all of His church (vv. 20–26).

The prayer reveals our Lord’s spiritual priorities: glorifying the Father (v. 1), the unity of the church (vv. 21–23), the sanctity of the church (v. 17), and the winning of a lost world (vv. 18–19). Are these priorities in your life?

It also reveals the gifts He has given His people: eternal life (vv. 2–3), the Word (vv. 8, 14), and His glory (v. 22). But note that believers are the Father’s gift to Him (vv. 2, 6, 9, 11–12), just as Jesus is the Father’s love gift to us (3:16). It is all of grace!

The word world appears nineteen times in this prayer, for this prayer tells us how to “overcome the world” (16:33). We must seek God’s glory first (vv. 1–5), experience His joy (v. 13), be sanctified by the Word (v. 17), seek to win the lost (vv. 18–19), and encourage the unity of God’s people (vv. 20–23).

Glory is another key word. Christ laid aside His glory to come to earth (v. 5b), glorified God on earth (v. 4), and was glorified when He returned to heaven (v. 5a). Christ is glorified in His church (v. 10) and has shared His glory with the church (vv. 22, 24). We already have the glory; we are just waiting for it to be fully revealed (Rom. 8:18–21, 30).

The Scottish Reformer John Knox had this prayer read to him daily during his last illness. But you would benefit by starting now to read it and meditate on it. What a treasury of truth it is!

--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

John 16

Today's reading...
John 16 (NLT)
1“I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.
2For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God.
3This is because they have never known the Father or me.
4Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.
5“But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going.
6Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you.
7But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.
8And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.
9The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.
10Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more.
11Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.
12“There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.
13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
14He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.
15All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’
16“In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.”
17Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’?
18And what does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand.”
19Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again.
20I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.
21It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world.
22So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
23At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name.
24You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.
25“I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father.
26Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf,
27for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God.
28Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.”
29Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively.
30Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.”
31Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe?
32But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.

33I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

The world’s opposition (1–15). The Lord warned them about the opposition that would come. Do not be surprised when you are persecuted by religious people (v. 2), for this has been going on ever since Cain killed Abel (Gen. 4; Luke 11:47–51). The Spirit helps us witness to the world and glorify Christ before the world (Acts 4:8ff.), so depend on Him.

The world’s joy (16–24). When Jesus was arrested, crucified, and buried, the world system rejoiced because their Enemy was out of the way. But today He is alive, and we have every reason to rejoice! The Lord does not replace our sorrow with joy; He transforms our sorrow into joy. The same baby that gives the mother pain also gives her joy. The world’s joy does not last, but the believer’s joy is forever (Ps. 16:11).

The world’s defeat (25–33). In the next few hours, the disciples would watch their world fall apart; and yet Jesus assured them that He was the winner. “I have overcome the world” is a fact, not a promise, and it applies to us today. We are overcomers through Him (1 John 5:1–5).

--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

John 15

Today's reading...
John 15 (NLT)
1“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.
2He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
3You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.
4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
6Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.
7But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
8When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
9“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.
10When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
11I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!
12This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
13There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
14You are my friends if you do what I command.
15I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
16You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.
17This is my command: Love each other.
18“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.
19The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.
20Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.
21They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.
22They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.
23Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.
24If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father.
25This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’
26“But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.

27And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.

His life (1–8). A branch is good for only one thing—bearing fruit. It may be weak in itself, but it has a living relationship with the vine and can be productive. To abide in Christ means to be in communion with Him so that our lives please Him. We know that we are abiding when the Father prunes us, cutting away the good so that we can produce the best. We glorify God with fruit, more fruit, much fruit.

His love (9–17). Abiding depends on obeying, and obeying depends on loving. Love and joy go together and make it easy for us to obey His will. We should love Him, love His will, and love one another. Note the “fruit of the Spirit”: love (v. 10), joy (v. 11), and peace (14:27; Gal. 5:22).

His name (18–27). We enjoy the love of Christ and of the brethren, but we also must endure the hatred of the world for His name’s sake. The more we are like Christ, the more the world system will oppose us. Depend on the Spirit’s power and you will be a fruitful, faithful Christian (vv. 26–27).

--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

John 14

Today's reading...
John 14 (NLT)
1“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.
2There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
3When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
4And you know the way to where I am going.”
5“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
7If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
8Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
9Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?
10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.
11Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.
12“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.
13You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.
14Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
15“If you love me, obey my commandments.
16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.
17He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
18No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.
19Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.
20When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
21Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
22Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”
23Jesus 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.
24Anyone 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.
25I am telling you these things now while I am still with you.
26But 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.
27“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.
28Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am.
29I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.
30“I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me,

31but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.

No wonder the disciples were troubled (vv. 1, 27): Jesus was going to leave them, one of them would betray Him, and Peter would deny Him. Jesus encouraged them by telling them about Himself and the Father.

Jesus takes us to the Father (1–6). We have a home in heaven when life is over, and we shall meet Jesus and the Father. James M. Gray wrote, “Who could mind the journey when the road leads home?” Blessed assurance!

Jesus reveals the Father (7–11). In what He said (7:16) and did (5:19) during His earthly ministry, Jesus revealed the Father: “I and My Father are one” (10:30). How can we not love the Father when He is like Jesus?

Jesus glorifies the Father (12–18). He does it through His people as they do God’s works and keep His commandments. Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer, we could never glorify the Lord.

Jesus and the Father dwell with us (19–31). It is one thing for us to go to heaven and quite something else for heaven to come to us! There is a deeper fellowship with the Son and the Father for those who love Him, seek Him, and obey Him. We experience His peace as we commune with the Father and the Son in love.

Jesus is the way to the Father; He reveals the truth about the Father; and He shares the life of the Father with us. Why should our hearts be troubled?

--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)

Monday, September 17, 2018

John 13

Today's reading...
John 13 (NLT)
1Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.
2It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.
3Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.
4So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist,
5and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
6When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
8“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
9Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
10Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.”
11For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing?
13You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am.
14And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.
15I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.
16I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message.
17Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.
18“I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’
19I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I Am the Messiah.
20I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.”
21Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”
22The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean.
23The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table.
24Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?”
25So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”
26Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.
27When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.”
28None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant.
29Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor.
30So Judas left at once, going out into the night.
31As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him.
32And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once.
33Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going.
34So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
35Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
36Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.”
37“But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.”

38Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.

What Jesus knew (1–11). Because of what Jesus knew, He did what He did: He washed the disciples’ feet. Jesus knew where He came from and where He was going. He knew that the Father had given Him all things (3:35). If you have all things in your hand, you will have no problem picking up a towel (1 Cor. 3:21–23). Jesus taught them a lesson in fellowship and in keeping themselves clean before the Lord (1 John 1:5–2:1).

What the disciples knew (12–20). Jesus taught them a second lesson: true happiness comes from humble service. Jesus gave them an example that we must follow today (Phil. 2:1–11). Alas, soon after this lesson, the disciples began to argue over who was the greatest (Luke 22:24–30).

What Judas knew (21–30). Jesus did not reveal Judas’s secret; in fact, He treated him just like the others and they detected nothing amiss. What love that Jesus should not only protect the man who betrayed Him but even wash his feet! Jesus with the towel is the perfect example of humility; Judas with the bread is a perfect example of hypocrisy and treachery.

What the world must know (31–38). The distinguishing mark of true disciples is their love for one another (1 John 2:7–11), and it is the kind of love that the world can see. He commands us to love, and He gives us the power to obey (Rom. 5:5).
--With the Word

If you have a question about the passage, or would like to leave your thoughts please leave a comment or send me a note. :)