The works of God should be manifest in him.

John 9:3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Again, there is much on which to write from this chapter alone. However, we’ll choose just one simple thought from the story of this blind man, who was made whole. We see here that there are times that the Lord allows trials and hardships and even infirmities so that He can get glory through the Son’s working in our lives. This is not unfair. This is not wrong. For His pleasure we are and were created. It’s not always a fun process, but the results are sure worth it. And through it all, let us remember that all things work together for good, to them that love God, and are the called according to His purpose.

a-woman-caught-in-adulteryJohn 8:7-10 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. 

Jesus knew the perfect resolution to this scenario. And, as a searcher of the hearts, He knew what the results would be. “Let you that is without sin…” Jesus knew that the singular way to change the spirit of condemnation among these men was to get them to look inwardly, at their own hearts and lives first. And when they did, they realized that there were some glaring “beams” in their eyes. Jesus first addressed the law of casting a stone, as the witness, first. It was he who witnessed this act that should step forward before the others. But there was a problem for him, for if he identified himself, he would no doubt have to identify the man who committed adultery. Oh, but this leads to another problem. The men excused themselves much in this day and age, which leads us to the next point. This was an adulterous generation.  Romans 2 shows us this. Jesus identified them as such in the Gospels. And He knew the adultery that went on in their ranks. It may have been physical adultery, and it may have been emotional or mental adultery. But nonetheless, Jesus got to the heart of the matter – “He that is without sin”cast the stone first. In this context, “he who doesn’t have this type of sin in his life is free to come forward and cast a stone.” It was after these two points that these men, convicted in their OWN conscience, began to walk away, no longer with the spirit of condemnation with which they came.

I am reminded one sure way to keep the spirit of condemnation out of me is to take an honest assessment of my own heart and my own life. And when I realize and remember who I am, and the grace that sustains me each day, that spirit must begin to lose its grip in mine. That is not to say that we don’t deal with sin. Jesus said “go, and sin no more.” Sin cannot be allowed to spread. But my spirit will be more like Christ’s when I realize who I am, cast the beam out, and then am able to act as He’d want me to.

Judge not… but judge…

avel-406614John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

These men had grown so blind in judging that they literally cast judgment at the Son of God. They were convinced that He had a devil, and made that judgment call. They were convinced that He was blaspheming, and cast that judgment. They were convinced that He had broken that Law, and let everyone know. And to give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe it looked like He had done these things, on the surface. But that is why Jesus makes the second statement that He made: “but judge righteous judgment”. If they had judged righteously, they wouldn’t have condemned Jesus Christ as they did.

If we’re going to judge righteously, there are three things we must have in order. First, we must know the Scriptures. These men who judged Jesus did not “know” (intimately, spiritually) the Scriptures, or the spirit of the Scriptures. If we don’t know the Word and Christ’s spirit in the word, we will not be able to judge righteous judgment. Secondly, if we’re to judge, we must first judge ourselves. We must make sure that we are right, and that there is no sin in our lives, or harbored in our hearts, because as Jesus said, we will not “see clearly” to make a judgment call if we don’t do this first. And finally, we must not judge according to appearance, but according to the inward man, the heart, and again, according to the spirit of the God’s Word. It’s once we have these things in order, that we will be able to “judge righteous judgment”.

Except the Father draw him.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

This morning I am encouraged as I remember the fact that, when I wasn’t looking for God, when I wasn’t capable of reaching Him, He came, and in His mercy and grace, and drew me to Himself. And therefore, I can claim no merit of my own, or claim credit for victories won, for all are because of Him and His grace!

I have no man

pool-of-bethesda-949739-printJohn 5:5-8 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

This passage reminds me of the somber reality that there are people in need, people hurting, people who are open, and seeking, and ready to be helped, if they just had a man to help them. Here we see a man who had been in this situation for 38 years. That’s a LONG time! And he sat there, year after year – 38 times – so close to being healed, but he had no man to help him. The reminder for me this morning is that there are people like this all around me, and around the world. They’re tired of the sin, the hurt, and the sickness, and are ready to be helped and healed. And since Ezekiel, the Lord is looking for a man to make a difference. My prayer is that I’d be a man who is willing to make that difference.

Worship Him.

maxresdefaultJohn 4:23-24 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary: To adore; to pay divine honors to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration.

Strong’s Hebrew Concordance: to depress, prostrate (especially reflexive, in homage to royalty or God):—bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.

Strong’s Greek Concordance: to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, to revere, to adore):—worship. 

Adore: To worship with profound reverence; to address with exalted thoughts, by prayer and thanksgiving; to pay divine honors to; to honor as a god or as divine. To love in the highest degree; to regard with the utmost esteem, affection and respect; as, the people adore their prince.

There’s so much to love about this passage. This starts as Jesus makes the unconventional statement that He MUST go through Samaria. That was something the Jews didn’t do. Then, as His disciples go to get bread, Jesus sits at a well, and starts a conversation with a Samaritan woman. This in and of itself is notable, as the lady herself knew that the Jews just didn’t talk to “those people”. And yet Jesus crossed cultural and social boundaries for the sake of those in need of Him. He then used a physical illustration to share a spiritual truth (He was great at that). And He began to share with her about the living water that was available only of Himself. As I read this – I praise the Lord for the Living Water of which I was able to drink just over two decades ago! But then the disciples show up, and marvel why Jesus would talk to such a woman (prejudiced, but unwilling to say so). And to make a long story short, there’s a Samaritan revival where a known loose, immoral woman, a bunch of her acquaintances, and many others in the city, are saved. Thank the Lord for His willingness to reach the unreachable and save the undesirable, like me!

But this isn’t the thought that stuck out most. In that great story, Jesus makes a note to the lady about what the Father really wants. He expresses to her what and whom the Father is seeking. And what He is seeking is “such to worship Him.” The word worship is found 108 times in our King James Bible, in 102 verses. And we’re reminded in this passage, as well as these verses, that if we’re to worship Him, it must be in spirit (within – a love, reverence, adoration, respect), and in truth (His truth). He wants our reverence. He wants our adoration. He wants us to express to Him His worth. But He wants it to be a part of who we are, and how we live. I think many times, we live the Christian life doing all that we should, without the true spirit of worship that we ought to have. He doesn’t want affectionless followers.Today, might we love, respect, revere, and adore the Lord as He desires us to.

The bridegroom’s voice

10-john-on-jesus-he-must-increase-i-must-decrease-keynote-wide-004-004John 3:26-30 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.

John’s ministry had just hit it’s climax. It was exciting. Big crowds were coming to hear him preach and to be baptized of him. People were trusting the message, and he had a big following. But something happened. Jesus came on the scene. And we see here, someone – either his own disciples or the Jews that were round about, sharing some news with John: “John, you know the One you preached and proclaimed? Well, He’s baptizing, and all men are going to Him. Our crowds are dwindling. They’re now following Him now.” And I love John’s response. “I’m the friend of the bridegroom, and the friend of the bridegroom rejoices at His voice. I must decrease, and He must increase.”

When we preach Christ, and point people to Him, inevitably, at times, people will leave us to follow Christ in a greater capacity. I remember when I first took part of the youth work here at PBC. We recruited some solid teachers and workers. And things were happening. However, as our teachers and workers grew in faith and ministry, and follow Christ in a greater capacity, slowly, one by one, they began to leave and take their own ministries and shepherd their own flock. At one point I was thinking, “it sure would be nice not to always be giving up our workers like this”. But as I look at what they’re doing now – one is a pastor, and another a Spanish pastor, and another a ft staff member at our church – I should be thrilled when the Lord chooses to take one of “ours” or “mine” for His sake. Even now, as an administrator, we’ve had a couple key staff leave already, or in preparation to leave to the mission field. Might I, with John, rejoice as this happens. For, we’re not in this for us. We’re in this for the bridegroom. And if they follow Him, I’m happy.

Unworthy

8026cea085d337167bb3d1bf8f5c67caJohn 1:27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

Aside from Jesus, John was the greatest man that walked this earth. Jesus said so Himself. And yet for a man who was so great, there is one thing that’s remarkable about John that was vital to him fulfilling the purpose God had for him. It is this. John was humble. If there was anyone that could boast, it was John. His birth was divinely announced. He was foretold in the Old Testament. He was the forerunner of the Messiah. He had great crowds. The people counted him to be a great prophet. And yet, whenever he was given an opportunity to take credit, he deflected it to the One Whose name he proclaimed.

“I am unworthy”, he says, “to unloose His shoe latchet”. He further said: “He must increase, but I must decrease”. “He is preferred before me”. “He is greater.” Though he was “the greatest” man in Christ’s eyes, John was humble. And what sticks out this morning is that without this humility, John could not fulfill the purpose for which he was placed on this earth. He couldn’t have lived his life so that, when it hit its pinnacle, he could step aside into the shadows for the sake of Christ. He wouldn’t have allowed two of his men to leave him, to follow Christ. His life’s message was built around the fact that he would live and serve and proclaim Christ, and deflect any recognition or praise to Him, ultimately fading away and allowing Christ to receive fruit and glory from his labors.

The same is true for us. Without humility, and without an “unworthy” attitude, we cannot fulfill the purpose for which He’s called us. We’ve been called, ultimately, to proclaim that there is One greater than us that is coming. We’re to lift Him up. We’re to decrease, so that He can increase. We’re to preach that He is greater. That before Him, we’re counted as nothing. And in the end, He may ask us to step aside, or send us into obscurity, so that He can step up and receive the fruit and glory from our service. This morning my prayer is that I’d live with the spirit John had.

Father, forgive them.

father-forgive-themLuke 23:28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Luke 23:42-43 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

William booth wrote, “Others, Lord, yes others, Let this my motto be, Help me to live for others, that I might live for thee.” In Jesus’ darkest, most lonely moments, I am reminded that His thoughts, His care, and His purpose continued to be for others. As Jesus left the city, He saw ladies crying bitterly for Him. But, His thoughts weren’t for Himself, but for them, and their children, and the things that would befall Jerusalem. He said “weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.” Then, as the soldiers and crowd mocked and cast lots for His garment, Jesus once again thought of others as He cried, “Father, forgive them”. And finally, we see a chief sinner who was crucified with Him, asking for forgiveness and remembrance while they hung there dying. We see that Jesus forgave, and made Him as much a saint as anyone who has trusted Christ through the ages. In all the pain, all the agony, and all the loneliness, to the end, Jesus was concerned about others.

This is a convicting reminder that no matter what life throws our way, or no matter what our circumstances happen to be, our life ought to reflect the life of Christ. And His life was dedicated to the good of others. Afterall, when we love God and love others, we fulfill the law and the prophets.

I have desired… Satan hath desired…

032310pod08Luke 22:15 And he (Jesus) said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:

Luke 22:31 And the Lord said… Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

As I read through the Gospels, I am reminded again of the intense spiritual battle that rages as we walk our Christian lives. I am reminded of the Lord’s “desire” for us to walk in fellowship and communion with Him, and well as His “desire” for us to live according to His will and His good pleasure. And yet, in the same chapter here, we see that Satan has a “desire” for us too. His desire is to sift (separate, shake, toss, scatter) us as wheat.  And yet daily, these forces are in a battle for our souls. I am reminded this morning of the importance of remaining close to Christ, and feeding the soul and spirit through His word and in fellowship with Him. I am also reminded of the importance of praying for myself, as well as others, as Christ did when He acknowledged this reality to Peter.