January 31, 2011

Jesus' First Disciples

John 1:35-42 (NIV)

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).


Up to this point John the Baptist's ministry had been one consisting primarily of preparation. Both he and Jesus were close to the same age, having been born about six months apart according to Luke 1:35-37, which means he and our Savior were about 30 years old at the onset of their public ministry. As Jesus acquired the skill of carpentry at the hands of his earthly father Joseph, John the Baptist lived a solitary life alone in the desert where he received the "word of God" in relative isolation. (Luke 3:2)

Since John's parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were advanced in years at the time of his conception (Luke 1:7) many believe he was orphaned at a very young age. With this likely the case, John's upbringing casts hope to those in less than ideal family situations and new meaning to John 14:18, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." While John did not have earthly parents at his side much of his adult life, God came to him in the desert in order to prepare him for a mighty work. What a vivid image of God's all-seeing eye and everlasting love. No one, even those in a vast wasteland, are out of His reach. In fact, it is often in the most barren times of life that we experience personal teaching at the hand of God. A truly unexplainable paradox that only God can orchestrate.

This first chapter of the gospel of John offers great insight into how John the Baptist's life suddenly changed from a barren desert existence to a teeming ministry. No longer an eccentric orphan, his voice was now well heard, he had a following, and his call was in full motion. As one born to pave the way to Christ, these verses chronicle John's leading of the first two chosen to trod this new road, Andrew and his brother Peter. Obedient to their own call, these fishermen's hearts were primed and ready to meet Jesus. Little did they know they were the first of twelve chosen to tip the world on its ear.

There is a lot to be said for the obscure and quiet seasons of life. Often feeling like a waste of time, they are in fact opportune wedges of time designed to prepare us for greater things. As Jesus shaped wood, John endured life in the desert, and Peter and Andrew fished on the sea, God choreographed everyday life in just such a way to prepare this chosen crew for a great and mighty work. With quiet godly existences as their firm foundation, these ordinary lives were now prepared to follow Christ and endure all that would come with this commitment. May we follow Christ diligently each day as well.


Think of a segment of your life that qualifies as a desert. What did you learn during that time you could not have learned any other way?

Perhaps you feel like an orphan in some fashion. If so, God promises to meet you where you are. Can you identify His presence as your Father?

Being rooted in sound doctrine is vital no matter our season of life. How are you staying rooted in God's word today?

January 24, 2011

Jesus the Lamb of God

John 1:29-34 (NIV)

"29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”


My husband recently went to court to give his account as witness to an accident. Many cars were on the highway at the time of the crash but only Jimmy and another man stopped to help the victim. When it came time to go to court the other witness didn't show, making Jimmy's testimony vital to the case. Without at least one testimony the case would have been tossed out of court, which would have been a tragedy for the pregnant woman who had been run off the road.

It doesn't take a legion of witnesses to bring truth to the surface, one simple account makes all the difference in the world. Just one solid testimony can stand against a multitude of lies and withstand the test of time because no matter how you look at it, truth always makes the most sense, it speaks well for itself, and is easiest to remember. Any embellisher, no matter how good, will eventually say just enough to paint themselves into a corner and launch red flags horizon to horizon. Speaking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is always best policy.

The life of Christ continues to transform lives today thanks to the testimonies of a only a handful of humble believers. Often out numbered and physically overpowered, their witness of how Jesus changed their lives continues to stand firm today. I don't know about you but it gives me great comfort to know I don't have to be wealthy, well known, or possess great power in the world to make an impact for Christ. A simple life dedicated to God can be a powerful and pleasing testimony that will outlive any years we may live on earth.

It's interesting to note these verses mention that the very day after John the Baptist denied being the Christ, he was given opportunity to testify that Jesus was the true Messiah. Not 24 hours after pointing the people's eyes away from himself, he had opportunity to direct them to Christ. This teaches us the important principle that when we keep our hearts and minds focused on our God-given call, God-given opportunities to testify will naturally come our way. Just as Jimmy was in the right place at the right time to witness that accident, he was subsequently given opportunity to present truth on behalf of an innocent victim. To have witnessed without also testifying would have been a cruel waste. But just one testimony brings truth to light, justice to the innocent, and glory to God!


Name one area of your life that gives testimony to Christ.

How do your words, actions, and thoughts line up with the truths of God?

When was the last time you pointed someone to Messiah?

January 16, 2011

John the Baptist Denies Being the Christ

John 1: 19-28 (NIV)

“19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." 21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." 22 So they said to him, "Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" 23 He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."

24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" 26 John answered them, "I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie." 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.”


He must have seemed so Christ-like that to mistake him as the Messiah required little effort. Dressed in unusual apparel for the day, John the Baptist wore clothes made of camel's hair and ate locusts and wild honey. Many who went out of their way to travel into the hot desert to see him ended up repenting of their sins and being baptized. The whole scenario bore an unmistakable resemblance to the prophetic words of Isaiah 40:3, "A voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him." It's no wonder so many thought he was the Messiah.

For many this mistake in identity would be a sure prescription for puffed pride, but John the Baptist took no credit of his own. Instead, he unequivocally denied being the Messiah, never once intentionally misleading anyone. After all, to take any of the glory would have been a sin and with the Spirit's wisdom firmly planted in him before birth (Luke 1:41), John understood his role in God's kingdom plan was to guide men to Christ and never himself.

Humble and true to his summons, John's Spirit-filled passion projected so much of Christ that he was mistaken for the holy One. What an honor it would have been to have seen this great man of God in action. Confronting corruption while paving the way for the Messiah, sometimes all in the same breath. What a show stopper. I can only hope that perhaps in heaven, once the popcorn is served, God will press the rewind button back to the days of Christ and give us a bird's eye view of the acts of this man Jesus Himself described as the greatest born among all women. (Matt 11:11/Luke 7:28)

John the Baptist's humility convicts me something awful. I'm quite sure I was not chosen to pave the way for God's Son because my pride would be a huge stumbling block. Of course John wasn't perfect, only Jesus lived a sinless life, but the Bible speaks of nothing but good about Jesus' relative and forerunner. His story is one of impeccable performance that inspires me to become a better person, one more focused on Christ. We'll learn more about John the Baptist in the days to come and one thread we'll see throughout his life is one of a humble man supremely focused on God, even unto death. May we instill this mission in our heart's and lives as well.


As you read about John the Baptist in these verses, which of his characteristics do you admire most? Humility? Passion? Focus? Something else?

Are there any areas in your life where you might be stealing a bit of glory that belongs to God?

How can you better focus your life on the calling God has for you?

January 10, 2011

The Word Became Flesh

John 1:1-18 (NIV)

"1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”


I recently purchases two fleece tops, one soft pink and the other vibrant turquoise. I was tempted to buy more but since I can only wear one at a time, I limited myself to two. They fit perfectly in every way. The sleeves aren't too short, they don't tussle my hair when I pull them over my head, and they're soft as a cloud. In a word they are nothing but comfortable.

We all naturally seek comfort. When my lips are dry I apply lip balm, if I'm hot I seek shade, and when I'm cold I reach for one of my fleece tops. No one has to be taught to avoid pain or discomfort, we automatically recoil from discomfort. Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to John's gospel introduction. It oozes assurance. At a glance six things envelop me like a warm quilt. Let's take a peek.

  1. Jesus is God eternal (vs 1-2)
  2. Jesus made all things (vs 3-5)
  3. Jesus came to us (vs 10)
  4. Jesus gave us free will (vs 11)
  5. Because Christ dwelled among us and died on the cross, those who believe in Him have the Holy Spirit living inside them (vs 14)
  6. Through Jesus we can see God the Father (15-18)

Simply put, Jesus our eternal God and creator came to us so that we might see and know God the Father. Being God in flesh He is our example of how to live a life worthy and honorable to God. As we walk in the Spirit we not only receive abundant blessings, but grant comfort to others who see God in us, allowing them to make their own choice whether or not to follow.

I shutter to think of our destiny had Christ not come to our aid. What a comfort to know salvation has come to show us the way. May we give Jesus all the praise and honor and glory for what He has done and may we rest in the assurance that God loves us, He is faithful, just and true, and will never leave us alone in this world.


What one word would you use to describe these first verses of John?

How do these verses reveal more of Jesus to you?

Which verse do you desire to plant deeply in your heart this day?

January 3, 2011

The Book of John

One of the most comforting books of the Bible is the book of John. Known as the book of love penned by James younger brother and youngest disciple John, it resides in a class all its own. With a transformation that must have given John whiplash, this once prejudice young "son of thunder" grew into an elderly man best known for his abundant love and compassion. Second to Jesus I'm most eager to meet John, the one whom Jesus so dearly loved.

With 2011 underway, we are closer than ever to our Lord's coming. As we wait His return we're called to be vigilant and alert. One way to "stay awake" is to study His word, even if it's only a little each day. I plan to remain rooted in God's Word by blogging my way through this beloved book. What better way to remain positive in a dark world than to focus on the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It's a must for daily survival.

Each week or so I'll make an entry that will cover one segment of each of the 21 chapters. I've long since learned that speed is not the key to learning the truths of God. It's much better to take a small bite, mull it over, and digest it gradually to gain the most benefit. Reading the Bible in a year is a great overview but once that's done, studying one chapter or segment of a chapter per day or week is highly beneficial as well. Just as the rabbit focuses on speed to cross the finish line, the tortoise uses stamina and determination to accomplish the same result. Both cross the line but through different means. The rabbit may finish first but is sure to miss much of the scenery along the way. The tortoise, on the other hand, finishes later but gains different insight of the landscape on his journey. Neither is right or wrong. They are simply different ways to arrive at the same destination, each offering what the other cannot.

Feel free to tag along as I travel through the gospel of John. We won't travel at warp speed but we won't grind to a halt either. A nice steady pace is the goal, just fast enough to see the sights and take pictures along the way. Each entry will have scripture included which will generally be New International Version (NIV). I'll point out meaningful things I see and offer points to ponder and encourage you to do the same. In my mind the Word of God is like a mirror ball on a dance floor. One slight move in any direction reflects new insight impossible to see a fraction of an inch away. While I may glean one thing from a verse, you may see something totally new and different. That's the beauty of God's Word. It's alive and active, touching us right where we are at any given moment. With this in mind I encourage your input. It'll enrich the journey all the more.

I look forward to traveling with you!