John 18: The Side of Truth

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

John 18:36-38(a), NIV

 

It seems everywhere we turn someone is either distorting the truth, giving only a part of the truth, or outright lying instead of telling the truth. This should not surprise us, for it has been going on every since the time of the Garden of Eden when Satan lied to Eve about the effects of eating the forbidden fruit.

 

The problem with lies, of course, is that they give us no basis for a correct decision. Without the true facts, we cannot even function properly. But some people like it this way, in fact, that is the very reason they lie. Instead of going to the trouble to make a superior product, advertisers just lie about it and say that it is superior. Instead of taking the incredible effort to really and truly help people, politicians find it much easier to lie about their desire to help, and get the power they sought in the first place.

 

I could go on and on, but you get the point. Without the truth we cannot make the right decisions. Isn't it nice that in a world filled with lies, we have a source of truth! Jesus said that the reason He was born into this world was to testify to the truth! The beauty of the truth is that it never changes. It is always correct, it is always unwavering, it is always...the truth!

 

And those on the side of the truth will listen to Christ. Those on the side of Satan will listen to lies. 

 

Whose side are you on?

 

For those following along, today is the 86th day of reading the New Testament, and the chapter for the day is John 18. It tells us all about the truth!

John 17: That We May Be One

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;

“that they all may be one,

as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

John 17:20-21, NKJV

 

Of all the purposes that the church has violated through the years, the one found in this prayer of Jesus may be the most grievous. As He prays on the eve of His crucifixion, He asks His Father that all who believe in Him will be one. And yet, we are anything but.

 

It's odd that one of the very things that would have brought us the greatest strength - the unity of all believers - is the one thing that the church has been unwilling to do. We have fought and disagreed to the point where the church has been divided in a thousand different ways.

 

Please don't misunderstand. I know that we cannot just "get along to get along". I know that we have to choose to obey God rather than have unity with those who would disobey. Our problem, however, goes far deeper than just not being able to agree with one another. Our problem is that we often do not agree with God!

 

You see, the unity that God calls us to begins with a unity of the spirit. the apostle Paul put it this way:

 

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:1-6, ESV

 

The idea behind this is that if you have unity with the Spirit, and I have unity with the Spirit, then we will have unity with each other. Then we would be one and the church would truly be unified. Not because we agree with each other, but because we agree with God!

 

This was Jesus' stated purpose for His followers: That we be one. By reading His Word, we someday might be able to accomplish this unity that Jesus so desperately wanted the church to have... that we may be one!

 

Today is the 85th day of the year, and the chapter for today is John 17. It will help us to see the importance of being one in Christ Jesus our Lord!

 

 

John 16: Pressure!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33, NIV

 

"In this world you will have trouble". Some of the versions use the word "tribulation". The Greek word is "thlipsis". It literally means a pressing,  a pressing down, or pressure.

 

In this world you will have pressure! Truer words were never spoken, as it seems like there are times when we have nothing but pressure in this world in which we live. So much pressure, in fact, that it seems hard to breath! Currently, we are dealing with a disease that no one seems to agree on as to whether it is simply a harsh flu or the death of the world. We are dealing with political upheavals, with nations being overtaken by people who seem to want power at any cost. We are dealing with the economic fallouts from both of these things. Add that to the normal pressures of the normal life and it seems like this "pressing down" is an elephant sitting on our chest.

 

So what can we do?

 

Jesus said to take heart! He further said that He had overcome the world. But what does that mean? I suppose it means a lot of things, but for us it means that those who are in Christ do not have to succumb to the pressure because Jesus will take care of it for us. This does not mean that the pressure will just go away - pressure is a part of the test of life - but what it does mean is that Jesus will take care of us and help us through. And that's enough, isn't it?

 

It's enough to not only "get through" this life, but to actually enjoy it. This is why we read!

 

Today is the 84th day of the year, and the reading for today is John chapter 16. It will help us to deal with the pressures of life. 

John 15: We Can't Do Anything Without Jesus

"Apart from Me, you can do nothing."

John 15:5 (b), NIV

 

John 15 is an interesting chapter. The setting is the last supper. Judas has already left to arrange the betrayal of Christ. So now, Jesus is giving the eleven faithful disciples who have remained with Him some last words of encouragement. Four times in this short chapter, Jesus commands His disciples to remain in Him. Twice, He encourages them to remain in His love. He even tells them the reason why, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing." 

 

It's frightening to consider how many people in this world do think they can do something without God and Jesus. Though the world was created by Them, though everything we have from our food and shelter to the very air we breath was given by Them, people still think they can get along just fine without Them.

 

But the truth is that we would cease to exist were God to withdraw His breath from us. Furthermore, should we fail to remain in Christ, we would be lost. On the other hand, those who do remain in Christ and in His love can accomplish just about anything they set their minds to. For with Christ we are everything, but without Him we are nothing.

 

Is it any wonder that the apostle Paul would later say, "For me to live is Christ" and, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

 

It is for truths such as these that we are reading. Today is the 83rd day of the year, and the 83rd chapter of the New Testament is John 15. It is packed with truths that will help you live the life that God has called you to. 

 

Day 82: What It Takes to Love Jesus

“If you love Me, keep My commandments “

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”

Jesus answered and said to 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.

“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.

John 14:15, 21-24, NKJV

 

We've all heard it. Maybe most of us have even said it at one time or another: "I may not always do what Jesus says, but He knows that I love Him." It sounds good, and I think most of us are sincere when we make statements like these, but are they true? The answer to that question is clearly given no less than four times in the short passage above.

 

And the answer? If we don't keep His commandments, we don't love Him. How could we say something like that? It's because Jesus said it. Look very closely at the verses above. You can look at them in any version of the Bible that you may possess, and they all say the same thing:

  1. "If you love Me, keep my commandments."
  2. "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me."
  3. "If anyone loves Me, He will keep My word."
  4. "He who does not love Me does not keep my words."

To emphasize this message, Jesus points out the word which we hear is not His; rather, it is the Father's. The reason it is so important for us to understand this basic principle is because it is so easy to deceive ourselves in this matter. So many of us associate love with an emotion, and it is true that deep emotions are found in love. But, according to Jesus, when it comes to loving Him we have to have something in addition to mere emotion - we have to have obedience to His words!

 

One of the most important reasons that we read the Bible is that it helps to dispel common misconceptions that we sometimes have when it comes to Christianity. And one of the greatest of these misconceptions is the idea the love and obedience are unrelated. Jesus makes clear that those who love Him will live with Him forever. But, this love goes beyond a simple emotion, it also includes a desire to obey the One that we love. 

 

This is why we read!

 

Today's reading is from the 14th chapter of John. It has vital instruction for those who love the Lord!