Days 79, 80 # 81: Jesus Came to Be a Light for the World

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.

I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

John 12:44-46, ESV

 

It sometimes seems as if we live in a time of confusion. One group of people would have us believe one thing, while another group would have us believe the complete opposite. Both sides have their spokesmen and both sides present facts that they consider pertinent. I sometimes wonder if the ones helping to create the confusion between right and wrong even believe their own logic. I sometimes wonder if the majority of people can even tell the difference between right and wrong anymore.

 

It's like we live in an era of blindness.

 

That's where Jesus comes in. He revealed the fact that He is the only way to eternal life. He told those who held to His words that they would know the truth (a rare commodity these days) and that the truth would set them free. In the passage above, He points out that He came into this world to bring light, so that people wouldn't have to wander around in the darkness anymore.

 

I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty appealing to me. I like certainty, and I like stability, and Jesus brings both. That's why we read the Word of God: It shines the light so that we can clearly see in a dark world that so many just seem to stumble through in confusion. Jesus is the Light of the world!

 

The reading for these three days is John chapters 11-13. They will help us to clear up the confusion that threatens to take over this dark world in which we live.

 

 

Day 78: Losing a Friend

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. “All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

John 10:7-11, NKJV

 

I got a call today that I have been dreading. It was from a good friend whose daughter had been struggling with cancer for over a year. Just a few short months ago we thought that she had beat it, but it came back, and this time her frail body just couldn't fight any more and she passed from this life to the next.

 

Her name was Kaitlyn. and she was only 28 years old. I have known Kaitlyn since she was a little girl, in fact, I had the privilege of coaching her in basketball since she was barely big enough to pick one up. She never got taller than 5' 2", but she always played like she was convinced she was 7' tall. I never saw Kaitlyn play anything short of full speed. 

 

She had the heart of a champion and a spirit that wouldn't allow her to give anything less than her best.

 

I have coached hundreds of kids during the past quarter century, but few have impacted my life as did Kaitlyn. She was not only one of the best players I ever coached, but she was one of the sweetest (Not all of her opponents would agree with this assessment, as she kept that sweetness well hidden during game time). She earned her PhD as a Physical Therapist, and though she was Dr. McCarley to her patients, I always just called her "Sweet Heart". 

 

Kaitlyn and my youngest daughter were teammates since Kaitlyn was in fourth grade and my daughter was in third. Off and on, they played for the Happy Cowgirls until Kaitlyn graduated. I suppose if you count the time that Kaitlyn was going through her cancer treatments, I have been cheering and praying for Kaitlyn for about twenty years.

 

I tell you all of this to let you know that Kaitlyn was more like a daughter to me than just someone I coached, so when I got the news today that she was gone, it deeply affected me. I know that the pain of her passing will eventually fade, but it will take some time.

 

So, what has all this got to do with the Bible passage above? Just this: Satan is like cancer - he only steals and kills and destroys. There are times in life where this enemy seems to get the upper hand. If we are not careful, he will indeed destroy our lives, if we were to let him...

 

That's where Jesus comes in: He is the Good Shepherd, and He has come to give us an abundant life. It may not always be apparent during difficult times like these, but it is true. Life is hard, at times, and sometimes it just doesn't seem bearable. But it can be, if we will just take our eyes off of the one who takes life, and place them on the One who gives it.

 

This life comes with deep pain and will overwhelm us, if we let it. But, if we can remember during our darkest days that Jesus has called us to something more than these few years we have on earth, it will help us get through.

 

In all the years I watched Kaitlyn play, I don't remember once seeing her give up. Neither should we. You see, we truly do have an abundant life - here on earth, for a bit, and then through all eternity. But in order to receive this abundant life we have to remember to never take our eyes off of the Good Shepherd who came to this world that we might have life, in fact, a life more abundant than anything we could imagine...

 

if we will just take hold of Jesus! The Word of God will tell you how. In fact, this is why we read the Word - so that we might not be overwhelmed by the evil one, but instead that we might take hold of the abundant life that God so desperately wants us to enjoy. 

Days 76 & 77: The Truth Shall Set Your Free

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:31-32, KJV

 

One of the greatest revelations made by Jesus is found in the passage above. It simply reveals that those who continue in His word will know the truth and, by doing so, will be set free by that very truth.

 

In a world of lies and deceit, this is most comforting. While many of those who we look to for the truth have a hard time with that virtue, it is an unchanging fact in the word of God. Everything that we read there is the truth. That means that we can actually know what God wants, and we can be assured of the guarantees that He makes to those who obey. It allows us to be comforted by His grace, thankful for the sacrifice of His Son, and confident in His promises concerning eternal life.

 

During times when we often wonder if we can even know the truth concerning the things of this world, it is an anchor of stability for our souls to know that every word that Jesus spoke was the truth, that we can trust in His promises, and be assured of His words when He tells us that we will be set free if we will only continue in His word.

 

It is for this freedom that we are reading the truths that are contained only in His word!

 

The reading for these two days is from John chapters 8 & 9. They contain truths that will truly set us free.

Days 74 & 75: Grace and Works

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10, ESV

 

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

John 6:28-29, ESV

 

One of the things that many have misunderstood down through the years is the relationship between grace and works. Some have concluded that works are unnecessary because Ephesians 2 tells us that our salvation is not the result of works. However, Jesus is recorded in John 6 as stating that the work that God requires us to believe in the One He sent... so which is it? We all know that belief is required for salvation, but Jesus Himself calls belief a work, and the Apostle Paul said that salvation was not a result of works, but grace. Does the Bible contradict itself on this?

 

The answer of course is no, because the Word of God does not teach error. The point of the two passages above, I believe, is that works are needed, but can never be enough by themselves to save. That's where grace comes in - it fills in the gaps between the work that God requires us to do, and the state of perfection that God also requires, but that our works can never be enough on their own to maintain.

 

The reading for these two days is from John 6 & 7. It contains many teachings that Jesus made to help us to better understand the relationship between God's role in salvation, and ours.

Day 73: Human Nature

So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place

Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.

John 5:10-15, ESV

 

This is a strange event, when you think about it. A man who could not walk was healed by Jesus. I'm sure that he was grateful, but then the man did something that was very ungrateful: He gave the Jewish leaders more of the fuel they wanted to condemn Jesus so that might put Him to death. You see, Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, and the leaders had wrongly decided that this was a sin that had to be stopped at all costs. So the man went and found out Jesus' identity so he could turn Jesus in for the good He had done to the man that was healed.

 

Weird, isn't it?

 

Yet we see two things that are very typical of human nature in this brief event: First, those who seek power are threatened by the power of God, and will therefore try to minimize His power. Second, those who benefit the most from God's blessings, are often the very ones who will turn against Him in order to ingratiate themselves with the powers that be. The ironic thing is that by fighting against God they end up harming themselves, for those who oppose God lose out on the blessings that could have been theirs had they simply stopped fighting God.

 

It's something to think about whenever we are tempted to take the side of men over the side of God.

 

Today's reading is from John chapter 5. It contains some powerful insights into the nature of man that are worthy of reflection.