Daily Bread

Read:

Exodus 16:1-30; John 4:31-35; John 6:35-40; John 17:14-22;

Reflect:

Tonight begins Shabbat, the sabbath day God called holy and commanded as a day of rest. It is one of His appointed times (see leviticus 23:1-3) specifically set aside for His people to meet with Him and remember. Remember His goodness, remember His privision, remember His holiness and His sovereignty.

My family has, for the last couple of years, begun to honor and celebrate the sabbath in our home. We by no means do it perfectly, but we do it because we want to honor God and be in His presence.

One of the Shabbat traditions is to make challah bread. Tonight as we finished our meal, I asked if anyone knew why I made two loaves of challah bread on Shabbat. They gave me lots of answers, some thoughtful and some silly, but no one knew why. I explained that it is in remembrance of the double portion of manna that God gave Israel in the wilderness.

While Israel wandered through the desert after leaving Egypt, they didn’t have farms, vineyards, or herds. They literally had no way to provide food for themselves. So God sent them manna.

Each morning God would send manna, and each family would gather what they needed for the day. No more, no less. In fact, if they tried to keep any for the next day it would rot. I’m talking putrid, maggot infested rottenness.

Except on Friday’s. On Friday, God would send a double portion so no one would have to gather food on the Sabbath, because that was the day He commanded them to rest. This was the only day that the food would not spoil if it were kept till the next day.

After taking about this with my family, as they cleared their plates and dispersed through out the house into their usual Friday night activities of game playing and movie watching, I stayed at the table thinking. I was thinking what it must have been like for the Israelites. I knew they had to depend on God for their provision in the wilderness, but tonight it hit me just how much faith that must have taken.

Yes, they had to trust God to give them food everyday. But, it was more than that. They didn’t get to stock up their pantry for the week. They didn’t even get to keep their leftovers from dinner. They literally had to go to bed at night believing God would keep His promise tomorrow. Because if He didn’t, they’d starve.

We live in a culture and a time where that kind of faith isn’t usually necessary. Our pantries are full along with our bellies. And when we go to the grocery store it isn’t because our cupboards are bare. In a land of plenty, it’s faith our that can sometimes go stale.

I think the danger here lays in getting too comfortable with what the world provides. We forget to seek out what God wants to give us. At least I know that to be true for me.

It makes me think about Israel when they were carted off to Babylon. Babylon was comfy. It was plentiful. It was lush. Not a bad place to be a captive. The goal of Babylonian captivity was to conquer by assimilation.

The US is not unlike Babylon in its lavishness. Even the poor here have more than many people living in third world countries around the world. Our culture has done a good job assimilating us to the comforts of this world. So much so that many of us have forgotten we are not of this world.

We belong to a heavenly kingdom. This world is not our home.

I don’t want my faith to go stale. I don’t want to be so comfortable that I forget I still need to depend on God everyday. I don’t want to get so accustomed to the full cupboard in my kitchen that I miss out on the feast at my Father’s table. But I know that, in some ways, I have.

Respond:

In what ways have I forgotten that God is my portion?

In what ways can I better set my heart on the bread Jesus provides rather than the comforts of this world?

Pray:

Lord, help me get to a place of complete dependence upon you. Help me get to that place where I ask you for my daily bread, and really mean it. Just as Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work,” let me remember that You have work for me to do, too. My food, my daily bread, is You, Lord. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

Questions I’d Rather Not Ask

flight landscape nature sky
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“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

 

Read:

Isaiah 55:6-11; Job 38:1-20; Ezekiel 18:29-32; Romans 9:14-24; Ephesians 2:1-10; Hebrews 12:1-2

Reflect:

There are some questions in life that I have decided I don’t want to ask. Questions like, “Why are there people dying every day who have never heard the name of Jesus, who never had the chance to choose Him?” “Why are there people who live in an earthly hell only to die and go to an eternal one?” “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”

It’s not that I haven’t asked these questions. I have. On more than one occasion. And I’ve wrestled with them more than you know. It’s not wrong that we ask them, but I have come to the realization that I may never know the answers, at least not in a way that satisfies my limited, fallible human nature. Instead, I choose to trust God even when I don’t understand. I choose to believe He is good even when it seems like evil has chased any good away.

This isn’t something that comes easy for me because I like answers. I like having reasons. I want to know why and how and what happens next. That’s probably why I like to study and teach. I want to find the answers and then tell everyone else when I find them.

But so much of God is a mystery. Let’s face it, our finite human minds can never fully comprehend the fathomless magnitude that is the Lord Almighty. We believe that He is good by faith. We accept that He is in control by faith. We trust that His word is true by faith.

Let me clarify something here: faith is a gift. It is not something we can muster up or bring about on our own. Faith is the moral conviction of the truthfulness of God and His word brought about only by the working of the Holy Spirit on our hearts. Because it is a gift it is not forced upon us. We can choose to accept the gift of faith and trust God or we can refuse the gift and continue on in our rebellious human nature.

How can we trust what we can’t understand? How can we believe in a good, sovereign God when there is so much evil in the world? Paul answers this question in his letter to the church in Rome: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17) God speaks to us through His word. Our faith grows as we allow Jesus to nourish it by reading our Bibles and listening to Bible-teaching pastors and teachers. His word feeds our souls.

Where is your faith weak? In what ways do you have a hard time trusting that God is who He says He is? Start listening to His voice. He may not answer all your questions but He will increase your faith so that you can trust Him even when you don’t understand.

Respond:

Lord, You truly are so much greater than I can understand. You are boundless. In Your loving mercy You often do allow me to understand what You are doing. Thank You for considering me worthy of that! Help me in the times that I don’t understand. From my limited perspective it might seem like You are being unfair or unkind or even uninvolved with the creation You say You love. Help me to trust You in those times. Help me to remember that You know what is best because You know time from beginning to end. Even things that seem so wrong can be used by You for my good and Your glory. I pray these things in Jesus’ name, amen.

  • What questions have you been asking that God doesn’t seem to be answering?
  • What step can you take today that will help you trust God even if you never get the answers you are seeking?

21 Days of Christmas – Day 21

John 21

calm blue sea during golden hour
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Read:

Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples

1After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yardsa off.

9When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus and Peter

15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Jesus and the Beloved Apostle

20Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23So the saying spread abroad among the brothersb that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

24This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

25Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Reflect:

  • When the disciples realized that it was Jesus who was talking to them from the shore, Peter jumped out of the boat into the water just to get to Him as fast as he could. Do you run to Jesus with the same enthusiasm? Or do you wait till it is convenient for you?
  • When Jesus told Peter what he would face if he followed Him, Peter was troubled. He asked Jesus if John would have to suffer in the same way. Our walk with Jesus may not look like that of others. We may have to go through trials or persecution or suffering while others seem to have an easier, less painful path. How would you answer Jesus’s question to Peter when He asked, “Do you love me?” Are you willing to follow Him no matter what the road ahead looks like?

Respond:

Lord, I do love you. Help me remember in the hard times that You are worth it. Anything I experience is this life is but a light and momentary suffering compared to the riches of eternity with You. Help me glorify You no matter what life brings. I’m ready to jump out of the boat and follow You wherever You might lead. In Jesus’s name I pray, amen. 

 

 

Scripture and footnotes from Bible Hub
Footnotes:
a 8 Greek two hundred cubits; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
b 23 Or brothers and sisters
ESV Text Edition® (2016).

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

21 Days of Christmas – Day 20

John 20

Empty-Tomb-Picture-06

Read:

The Resurrection

1Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’a head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,b “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,c Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Jesus and Thomas

24Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin,d was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of This Book

30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Reflect: 

  • Jesus’s followers were deeply grieved after He died on the cross. They still did not understand what God was doing. But once He had risen and appeared to them they suddenly understood everything! Has there been a time or situation in your life that looked so grim but, almost suddenly, God showed you how He was working it out for good?
  • John ends this chapter of his account of Jesus’s life by saying these things are written so we who read it might believe. How has reading John’s story helped your belief?

Respond:

Heavenly Father, You have revealed Yourself to me through Your Son, Jesus. Through Him I have salvation, reconciliation, and hope. Thank You for sending Your Son so that, through faith in Him, I might live. Place in me a desire to seek You out through Your word so that by it You would continue to reveal Yourself to me. In Jesus’s name I pray, amen. 

 

 

Scripture and footnotes from Bible Hub
Footnotes:
a 7 Greek his
b 16 Or Hebrew
c 19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time
d 24 Greek Didymus
ESV Text Edition® (2016).

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

21 Days of Christmas – Day 19

John 19

King-Of-The-Jews

Read:

Jesus Delivered to Be Crucified

1Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” 6When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” 7The Jewsa answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” 8When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

12From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaicb Gabbatha. 14Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour.c He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion

So they took Jesus, 17and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

23When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic.d But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, 25but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

The Death of Jesus

28After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

31Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

Jesus Is Buried

38After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesuse by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five poundsf in weight. 40So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Reflect:

  • The Jews of this time were awaiting their Messiah, the One who would rescue them from their oppressors (at this time, the Roman empire). And yet they didn’t realize Jesus was this King. In fact they said, “We have no king but Caesar.” (v. 15) What a profound statement for them to make. Not only were they denying the Lordship of Christ, but of God. This spoke to an even deeper darkness within their hearts. They wanted no king but rather to become like kings themselves with power and authority to feed their sinful, prideful desires. In what ways have you denied the Lordship of God in your life? Have you tried to be the captain of your own fate or sought to exalt yourself and your desires rather than seeking God’s will and direction?

Respond:

Lord, You truly are the only worthy King. I am sorry for the ways I have tried to be my own king and tried to build my own kingdom here on earth rather than seeking to glorify You. Help me lay down my pride and pick up my cross and follow You. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. 

 

 

 

Scripture and footnotes from Bible Hub
Footnotes:
a 7 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time; also verses 12, 14, 31, 38
b 13 Or Hebrew; also verses 17, 20
c 14 That is, about noon
d 23 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin
e 39 Greek him
f 39 Greek one hundred litras; a litra (or Roman pound) was equal to about 11 1/2 ounces or 327 grams
ESV Text Edition® (2016).

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

21 Days of Christmas – Day 18

John 18

pontius-pilate (2)

Read:

Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

1When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.”a Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6When Jesusb said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servantc and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Jesus Faces Annas and Caiaphas

12So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jewsd arrested Jesus and bound him. 13First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

Peter Denies Jesus

15Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18Now the servantse and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

The High Priest Questions Jesus

19The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Peter Denies Jesus Again

25Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

Jesus Before Pilate

28Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters.f It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

My Kingdom Is Not of This World

33So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.g

Reflect:

  • Three times Peter denied that he knew Jesus. He did this because he was afraid of what the Jews would do to him. You and I may not be in danger of being crucified because of our faith but we do live in a world that can be hostile to followers of Christ. Are there times you have been tempted to deny that you are a Christian because you were afraid of what someone might think?
  • Sometimes it’s not just in our words that we deny our faith. When we do not obey God’s rules and will for our lives we are denying that we are His. How have your actions reflected this? How can you better express your faith by your actions?
  • The Jews did not enter the governor’s house before Passover because it would make them unclean. They were focused on outward works of the law and missed the One who had come to cleanse them from all unrighteousness. How do you try to earn points by your works rather than relying on the work of Christ on the cross?

Respond:

Lord, everything Jesus did, He did out of love for me. He left heaven and lived as a man. He endured persecution to show me the way. And He willingly bore the cross so that I could be forgiven. Not one time did He waver. And yet, everyday, I waver in my obedience and commitment to You. Forgive me, Father. Help me live a life that honors You. One that speaks not only in word but also in deed that I belong to You. I can’t earn points, I can’t makeup for my own mistakes. I can only trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross to cleanse me from my unrighteousness. Thank You, Lord. for giving me a way to be clean. Thank You for loving me that much. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. 

 

 

 

Scripture and footnotes from Bible Hub
Footnotes:
a 5 Greek I am; also verses 6, 8
b 6 Greek he
c 10 Or bondservant; twice in this verse
d 12 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time; also verses 14, 31, 36, 38
e 18 Or bondservants; also verse 26
f 28 Greek the praetorium
g 40 Or an insurrectionist
ESV Text Edition® (2016).

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

21 Days of Christmas – Day 17

John 17

holy-spirit-prays-300x292

Read:

The High Priestly Prayer

1When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.a 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify themb in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sake I consecrate myself,c that they also may be sanctifiedd in truth.

20“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Reflect:

  • John 17 records the prayer Jesus prayed for His followers. The first half was specifically for His disciples. He prayed for their protection, their sanctification, and for their unity. The second half of His prayer was directed toward those who would come to believe in Him because of the testimony of His disciples (that includes you and me!). How does it make you feel to know Jesus was praying for you way back then?
  • Now that you are a follower of Jesus, the prayer for His disciples applies to you, as does His expectation that there will be those who will believe in Him because of your testimony. Who can you share your faith with today so that they might believe and be saved?

Respond:

Lord, thank You that I have a High Priest in heaven, standing at the right hand of God, interceding for me. The fact that Jesus prays for me is both humbling and encouraging. You know my needs, Lord. I pray that Jesus’ prayer for me would be fulfilled; that I would be protected, sanctified, and united as a member of the Body of Christ, in full submission to You, Lord, that Your name might be glorified through me. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. 

 

 

 

Scripture and footnotes from Bible Hub
Footnotes:
a 15 Or from evil
b 17 Greek Set them apart (for holy service to God)
c 19 Or I sanctify myself; or I set myself apart (for holy service to God)
d 19 Greek may be set apart (for holy service to God)
ESV Text Edition® (2016).

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

21 Days of Christmas – Day 16

John 16

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Read:

1“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy

16“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

I Have Overcome the World

25“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.a 28I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

29His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Reflect:

  • Jesus warned His disciples that they would be persecuted for their faith. Even those who believed in God would think they were doing a good thing when they rejected the teachings of the disciples. Have you seen things like this happening today? Have you been persecuted or mistreated for speaking the truth of God’s word?
  • What was Jesus referring to when He said, “A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me,” (v. 16)? How would this make the disciples joy become something no one could take away from them? How can this give us a joy that can’t be taken away?

Respond:

Lord, from the very first day Jesus entered the world, He has brought joy to all who behold Him. Thank You for sending Him to save me. Let me always remember that Jesus, not money or friends or status, is the source of my joy. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. 

 

 

 

Scripture and footnotes from Bible Hub
Footnotes:
a 27 Some manuscripts from the Father
ESV Text Edition® (2016).

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

21 Days of Christmas – Day 14

John 14

shallow focus photo of believe in the magic of christmas signage
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

 

Read: 

I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;a believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?b 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.”c 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.d From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask mee anything in my name, I will do it.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,f to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will beg in you.

18“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Reflect:

  • Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life. How is He the way? How is He the truth? How is He the life?
  • Jesus said that if we love Him we will obey His commands. What are His commands? How does following His commands show Him that we love Him? How well do you follow them in your own life? How can you do better at following them everyday?

Respond:

Lord Father, You have given us the good way, the way to honor and please you. The way to live right and love well. You have given us truth. The truth about what is good and right. And You have given us life through Jesus. A life in eternity with You forever. Help me to love You well. To follow Jesus’ example of a life that glorifies You. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

 

 

Scripture and footnotes from Bible Hub
Footnotes:
a 1 Or You believe in God
b 2 Or In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you
c 4 Some manuscripts Where I am going you know, and the way you know
d 7 Or If you know me, you will know my Father also, or If you have known me, you will know my Father also
e 14 Some manuscripts omit me
f 16 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also 14:26; 15:26; 16:7
g 17 Some manuscripts and is
ESV Text Edition® (2016).

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

21 Days of Christmas – Day 15

John 15

grapes vineyard vine purple grapes
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Read:

I Am the True Vine

1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15No longer do I call you servants,a for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

The Hatred of the World

18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,b but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Reflect:

  • Read Galatians 5:19-25 and compare the fruit of the flesh with the fruit of the spirit. Which fruit are we supposed to bear as followers of Jesus?
  • How can we bear good fruit in our lives?
  • Jesus says that if we love Him we will obey His commands. When we follow Jesus and obey His commands we run the chance of being hated by the world. How can knowing that Jesus loves us and is our friend help us keep in step with Him when the world turns against us?

Respond:

Lord, thank You for loving me. Thank You that I don’t have to try to bear good fruit on my own but that by staying connected to You, You will bear good fruit through me. Help me stay connected to You by prayer, reading Your word, and friendships with others who are seeking You too. Thank You for promising to be my friend and stay with me even when the world turns against me. Help me remember that no matter what, You are enough. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

 

 

 

Scripture and footnotes from Bible Hub
Footnotes:
a 15 Or bondservants, or slaves (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface); likewise for servant later in this verse and in verse 20
b 22 Greek they would not have sin; also verse 24

ESV Text Edition® (2016).

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.