Archive by Author

Not Home Yet: Two Clocks

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Paul had a rough life because he just would not shut up about Jesus. In the chapter leading up to today’s verse, he described some of the ways that he had suffered.

nothome_350You and I suffer, too. It might not be because we’re out there spreading the gospel, but every human being suffers. It’s part of being human on a sin-ravaged planet. From the moment we’re born, the clock starts ticking down to the moment we will die. Pain and decay come with the package.

Paul, who wrote these words, understood that better than anyone—but he refused to be discouraged by that clock. Why? Because he was focusing on a different clock. His great news about Jesus was that human beings could be made new—starting right now—through faith in Jesus.

From the moment that we are born again, that clock starts ticking forward to the moment the new Christlike us will be completed. We might be dying physically, but our real life is just beginning.

Think: Do you ever think about all the ways that life can be hard? Should we pretend that this life is not difficult? Where do you draw the line between being honest about the hard stuff in life and being encouraged about the reality of Jesus in you?

Pray: Thank God that he is renewing you “day by day” to be more and more like Jesus.

Do: Read 2 Corinthians 4 all the way through.

Believe Me: You Are Not Alone

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

From the disciple’s perspective, it must have seemed like Jesus was always saying hard things, impossible-to-comprehend things, things that would not make real sense until several chapters later.

believeme_350But this time, Jesus was telling them an impossible thing that would eventually make everything clear: The Spirit of truth in them. The Holy Spirit. He’s a person. He’s God. He is given to every person who trusts in Jesus. He’s a counselor who helps make clear to us what the world cannot possibly understand.

In this long goodbye speech, Jesus was promising the disciples would not be alone after he left. God would be with them—and not just in a general, fuzzy, “God is everywhere” kind of way. God the Spirit would be in them. He is in us. What does that mean for you?

Think: Be honest with yourself: Is it creepy at all to think of the Holy Spirit living in you as a Christian? Do you take the reality of the Spirit seriously? How often do you think about it?

Pray: As a believer in Jesus Christ, thank God for the gift of his Holy Spirit in your life. Ask him to help you to live as if his Spirit is real and active in your daily existence.

Do: Read about one way the Spirit in us changes us in Romans 8:9-11.

Believe Me: Love Ya!

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)

“Love ya!” “Oh, I love these things.” “I just love that show.” “That guy is great; I love him.” “I love you in those shoes.”

believeme_350We love to throw the word “love” around like it’s “like,” don’t we? And that’s fine as long as we all know what we mean. But the casual use of “love” has put a dent in our understanding of the word.

For his disciples, Jesus set the highest meaning of the word: “Love” = “obey me.” Ouch. I do not love that definition. I want to be able to shout “Yes, I LOVE Jesus!” and get some points for all that emotion without being fact-checked by my obedience.

Living love is so much harder than saying love.

Think: Do you think obedience to Jesus is a fair standard for whether we love him or not? How would you rate the distance between any feelings of love you have for God and your obedience of him?

Pray: Ask God to give you the courage and will to show your love for him by doing what he tells you to do.

Do: Listen this week for all the different ways people use the word “love.”

Believe Me: God’s Power in You

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” (John 14:12-13)

After pointing out three major clues that should have tipped off the disciples to the fact that Jesus is God (his character, his words, and his miracles), Jesus promised them even more evidence of his authentic power was coming—and they would see it in themselves.

believeme_350They didn’t understand it, yet, but the disciples would soon start to perform jaw-dropping miracles with the power God would supply. All they’d have to do, Jesus promised, is ask him. Then he would do it.

Have you seen evidence of God’s power through Jesus come out of your own life? A change in you that seemed impossible? A spiritual gift in action that God used in the life of someone else? A peace in your heart that defied your lousy circumstances? God’s power is especially convincing when it rolls out of your own, broken self.

Think: What evidence have you seen in your own life that Jesus is the Son of God, that faith in him makes a difference?

Pray: Ask God to help you to notice when he provides evidence of his power through Jesus in your life. And ask him to help you to remember to say, “Thank you,” and, “You’re great, God.”

Do: Ask someone who has trusted Jesus for a long time what evidence they’ve seen that confirms to them that Jesus really is the powerful Son of God.

Believe Me: The Evidence of Miracles

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:11)

Yesterday, we saw that Jesus pointed to two evidences that should have given him away as the Son of God to the 12 guys who knew him best. Evidence 1: He lived with God’s character. Evidence 2: He spoke with God’s words.

believeme_350Evidence 3: He displayed God’s power. The disciples had seen all those miracles with their own eyes. They’d gathered up all that leftover food after Jesus fed thousands from a sack lunch. Twice. They’d freaked out when he came walking toward them on top of the water. They’d smelled the stench of death as dead-four-days Lazarus hopped out of his own tomb.

How could they NOT know the Father was in Jesus? How could they, of all people, have missed the big idea that he was God made man?

Think: Do you think it would have been easier or harder for you to believe that Jesus is God if you had seen all his miracles? Don’t answer too fast. Why did some who saw the miracles still not believe he was the Son of God?

Pray: God didn’t owe us any miracles as evidence that Jesus was the Son of God. Thank him for being so generous as to demonstrate his power on earth to those eyewitnesses and the rest of us who believed their reports.

Do: Spend five minutes imaging yourself as one of the disciples on the scene when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. How would you have felt about him after that?

Believe Me: Walk Like Him Talk Like Him

“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (John 14:10)

Was Jesus using a little gentle sarcasm to help his disciples figure out the truth about who he was? He kept asking, “Don’t you believe this?” Of course, he knew what they believed in their hearts.

believeme_350He gave three reasons they should have figured out by now that he was in the Father and the Father was in him. We read the first yesterday: They knew him. They’d spent years with him. Had they ever seen him sin? Had he ever told a lie? In all the time they’d known him, hadn’t he, in fact, been like God in his character?

Second, in today’s passage, he pointed out that he has always talked with God’s own words. He said what God said, because he was God. Hadn’t all the people commented on his authoritative teaching? Hadn’t they noticed he wasn’t like other rabbis?

We’ll see His third piece of evidence tomorrow.

Think: If you spent three years with Jesus not knowing he was the Son of God, do you think you would have figured it out from his character and his words?

Pray: Thank God for revealing himself on earth through Jesus. Ask him to help you to not miss anything you can know about him through getting to know Jesus.

Do: Write down one big thing we know about God because we have seen it in the stories or words of Jesus.

Believe Me: See Me See Him

“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.’ ” (John 14:8-9)

Philip wanted to see God. In person. With his own eyes. He’d just heard Jesus say, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Okay, then, Philip said, let’s see him. That’s all we need.

believeme_350Philip was hoping the time had finally come. He’d been following Jesus for three years, believing his master was the Messiah who would bring peace and greatness back to Israel soon. Was it time, now, please? Can we see God? Can we see his power?

Jesus went around the same tree again: You have seen him, Philip. You’re looking at him. You still don’t get it. You know me = you know him. I’ve been right here with you the whole time. You can stop looking for the Father; you’ve found him.

Think: Even some who call themselves Christians still miss the point that Jesus is God, that the Father is in the Son, that the Son is a perfect revelation of God the Father. Why do you think it’s so hard to understand and believe?

Pray: Thank God the Father for allowing you to “see” him through getting to know Jesus in the Bible.

Do: Spend five minutes sometime today just thinking about what Jesus means when he says that seeing him is seeing God the Father.