Monthly Archives: March 2017

Day 5: Pride Rejects Jesus

I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive Me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? John 5:43-44

Read John 5

Jesus makes a hopelessly sick man stand up and walk simply by speaking to him, and He does this on the Sabbath. Which thing seems like the bigger deal—healing the man or doing it on the Sabbath?

To witness this previously sick man on his own two feet has to be amazing, yet all that the Jews in this scene care about is the scrupulous adherence to the law.

They totally miss the glory of God right in front of them.

As Jesus always does, He gets to the heart of the matter when He says something like this to them: You don’t accept Me because I come in my Father’s name, but if someone else came in his own name, you would accept him. Your need for praise from each other is keeping you from believing in Me.

Jesus’ humility offends them. Their prideful hearts send up warning flares. They want Him to be the king that they expect Him to be, and they reject Him when He won’t play by their rules–or praise them for their self-righteousness.

Jesus is often not the king we expect, either.

In our pride, we ignore Jesus’ complete opposition to sin because we don’t want to be convicted about our cherished private sins. Or maybe we downplay His sacrifice because it makes us feel small and unimportant in the work of our own salvation. We want a king who will put us on a pedestal and make others recognize our goodness; we crave our peer’s praise more than we seek glory for God. Our pride keeps us from right relationships with God or others.

If pride is the disease that makes us lose our way, then humility is certainly the antidote.

In John 5, Jesus has the opportunity and authority to proclaim His own glory to these interrogating Jews. He could even have called down worshiping angels to praise Him publicly. Yet He doesn’t do either.

If Jesus humbled Himself like this, how much more should we humble ourselves before the Father? Philippians 2:5-8 calls us to have this same mindset as Jesus:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Are there any of God’s truths that you willfully ignore because you would prefer a god made in your own image? In what ways do you seek acceptance and praise from others instead of from God? If pride weren’t a barrier for you, where would you find the glory of God in your life?

Looking to God instead of others for His glory changes our priorities, impacts our thought lives, and invites us to see Jesus for who He is.

Consider your response: Confess to Jesus when you find yourself rejecting Him and instead, try to emulate Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to make Jesus’ attitude toward the Father, yours also.

 

-Written by Emily Davis

Day 4: If You Knew How Much

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:9-10

Read John 4

To everyone in search of love—who has perhaps compromised or settled for less in the search: do you wonder if God could ever really love you?

Meet Jesus at the well.

No one goes to the well in the heat of the day. Yet Jesus waited for her, alone, sending His 12 into town for food so their conversation could be private. She was a woman on the bad side of a moral decision and caught up in a sinful situation . . . and the whole town knew it.

It also must have seemed crazy that He asked her for a drink—a Samaritan and a woman—especially when they both knew she was the one dying of thirst.

But whatever she was, she wasn’t dumb. She recognized His claim. “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst again.” Messiah? She needed proof.

That’s when He told her everything she had done in her search for love. Painful, private things. But He must have said it without the accustomed shame in His voice because for the first time, she looked up and saw love. The real thing.

When the disciples re-joined Jesus, they brought Him lunch. However, when the Samaritan woman left and told everyone what she had found at the well, she brought back to Him the whole town.

Jesus’ mission was motivated by love. “For God so loved the world” . . . the greatest motivator provided the greatest gift. God created us to respond to love, to long for the intimacy that pictures our relationship with Him. Pause to consider all that means for you.

God loves you like groom loves a bride1, like a father loves his child2, as an artist loves his masterpiece3. No one knows you better—all your secrets . . . faults . . . peculiarities that only a Lover can know.4 Yet His love depends only on His choice. It’s not at risk when you fail because it doesn’t depend on you. He loves you because that’s who He is.5 All He asks is that you put Him first.6 To please Him first. To make your relationship with Him the priority of your life. And when you do, He promises that all your other relationships will be more satisfying.

Look for His love in the details of your life and your heart will burst like a dam overflowing with living water.

Consider your response: Don’t do anything today that you think would earn God’s love. Instead, ask Him to show you how much He loves you.

Review these verses: 1Song of Solomon 4:10 2Psalm 103:13 3Ephesians 2:10 4Psalm 139:3 51 John 4:16 6Colossians 1:18.

 

-Written by Barb Peil

Day 3: Contrasting Belief

This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” John 3:2

Read John 3.

When Nicodemus met Jesus by night, we clearly see that he believes something about Jesus, that Jesus is a special teacher.

As readers, we cheer Nicodemus on, “Yes! You are on to something. You came to Jesus and now you’re going to see Him as Messiah!”

But instead of any ah-ha moments, only Nicodemus’ bewildered questions follow. No great moments await this esteemed teacher of Israel, this expert in the very Scriptures that foretold Jesus’ coming.

Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the dark, both inwardly and outwardly.

But not everyone misses Jesus’ arrival. Meet John the Baptist who also believes something about Jesus, that Jesus is ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’ 1

Unlike the highly esteemed teacher Nicodemus, eccentric John lives far outside the religious hub of Jerusalem. Here, a question is posed to John that potentially could arouse jealousy.

John’s answer expresses the fruit of his belief in Jesus as the true Messiah. In four short verses, John expresses deep contentment, joy, and selflessness.

What a contrast! Nicodemus is empty; John is full. Nicodemus is bewildered and questioning; John understands and has confidence rooted in the person of Jesus.

How we really live expresses what we really believe about Jesus.

Self-loathing reveals a disbelief in Jesus as our loving Savior who volitionally died on our behalf and gave us His righteousness.

Idolatry reveals a disbelief in Jesus as the only Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and who alone is worthy of worship and alone is able to give us true dignity, value, and worth.

In this second chapter of his gospel, the Apostle John repeatedly pleas for belief in Jesus as the only way to life eternal. To offer this incredible gift, Jesus knew His journey would bring Him to the cross.2

And as far as Nicodemus goes, Jesus knew his journey was not over. A few years later and at great cost to himself, this same Nicodemus would lovingly help prepare the lifeless body of Jesus for the grave.3

If we trust Jesus to save us, praise God our journeys likewise are not over, even in the midst of our disbelief.

1John 1:29 2John 3:14 3John 19:39

Consider your response: Reflect. How does your life reveal what you believe about Jesus and the glorious Gospel?

-Written by Eric Reeves

Day 2: The Transformative Power of Jesus

When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. John 2:22

Read John 2

The wedding in Cana looks like Jesus’ warm-up miracle—winning everyone over by improving the wine supply. It had an immediate effect. John tells us it manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in Him. But much like the rest of Jesus’ life, the meaning comes most clearly into focus by remembering that everything Jesus did leads us to the cross.

Jesus told the servants to fill the water jars used for “rites of purification,” and what did they find? The water that they hoped in vain would make them clean before God had been replaced with wine. Later in Matthew 26, when Jesus took a cup of wine and called it “my blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins,” the disciples likely remembered this moment at the wedding. In His death, Jesus took all of the futile ways we try to make ourselves clean and replaced them with Himself.

Exposing all these self-help ways to clean up our lives was such a consistent theme of Jesus’ ministry that it’s no surprise His next stop is the temple. On this day prior to Passover, the celebration of their redemption from slavery in Egypt, Jesus found people trying to sell redemption through sacrificial animals. Even today, thousands of years later when the things we buy and sacrifice have changed, our pursuit of ways to be redeemed and accepted has not. We may not all identify with the profiteers Jesus drove out of the temple, but we are all in line to buy oxen, sheep, and pigeons, just as we are all trying to wash ourselves clean with water.

How does Jesus respond to those in the temple? He does not tell them how to temple more effectively. Nor does he tell them that they have no need of redemption. Instead, as with the water jars in Cana, He plants a seed that will bring forth life at the foot of the cross. He tells the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” By rising from the grave, Jesus took all of the futile ways we try to be acceptable before God and man—or at least look the part—and replaces them with Himself.

Water to wine isn’t the only thing He loves to change.

Consider your response:  

What do you turn to when you want to be made clean? In Jesus’ death and resurrection, you are accepted and redeemed. Turn to Him.

 – Written by Thom Bullock

Day 1: Away from Home to Take Us Home

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. – John 1:10

Read John 1

John’s account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection doesn’t begin with a birth story. We don’t meet Joseph and his fiancée, Mary, on the road to Bethlehem. No shepherds, angels, or wise men stumble into the scene. There’s no great and lengthy, earthly lineage pointing to Jesus. Instead, John introduces us to Jesus by way of eternity past. In the beginning was . . . Jesus. There begins our journey home.

Over the next several days we will walk a journey with John that leads to an eternal destination. We pack our bags with stories of Jesus’ life and ministry, traveling with Him into death, joining Him in new, resurrected life.

Our journey home begins with a God who left His.

John 1 introduces us to several men who first realize Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, and begin their journey home with Him. Early on we meet John the Baptist, the one divinely destined to “make straight the way of the Lord.”1 Then we meet up with two brothers, Andrew and Peter2 who would spend their next three years walking beside Jesus to the cross and the rest of their lives following Him home. And then we encounter Philip and Nathanael, two men who came to know Jesus because He knew them first.3

Jesus came to a world that did not know Him4, but John is helping to fix that. John, Jesus’ best friend, the one who witnessed His life up close, the one who the Spirit whispered insight that became the inerrant Word, this John gives us name after name after name just in this first chapter of his gospel to help us know Jesus.

He is the Word.5 He is God.6 He is the Light.7 He is the only Son from the Father.8 He is Jesus Christ.9 He is the Lord.10 He is the Lamb of God.11 He is the Son of God.12 He is Rabbi/Teacher.13 He is the Messiah.14 He is Jesus of Nazareth.15 He is the son of Joseph.16 He is the King of Israel.17 He is the Son of Man.18 This is Jesus, our Lord and Savior—the One who was sent into the world, the very world who did not know Him —so that we could know Him.

Think of it—Jesus, who is God, who has no beginning and no end, left His home.19 The very One who was at home with the Father, left that home to be with us. Jesus left His rightful place with God the Father to travel to a place that He spoke into existence—traveling to a people who He created.

Because there was no other way that we could be at home with the Father apart from Jesus, Jesus left His home for us. To be with us. To live for us. To die instead of us. And to be raised for us. He’s home now—seated in glory beside the Father and one day, we will be with Him in all His glory.

Our journey home begins with a God who left His. Come and see Jesus for yourself. Meet Him along the way—the way to the cross, the way to the grave, the way to new life, and ultimately, the way home.

11:23, 21:35-42, 31:43-51, 41:10, 5,6 1:1, 71:8-9, 81:14, 91:17, 101:23, 111:29,36, 121:34, 49, 131:38, 49, 141:41, 15, 161:45, 171:49, 181:51, 191:1

Consider your response:  Consider the names and titles of Jesus in John 1. Write a sentence describing the importance of each. How do these statements point forward to the cross? Which one is most meaningful to you today? Why? Ask God to give you greater affections for Jesus as you come to know more of Him.

 – Written by Vince Black

 

21 Days to the Cross

On Sunday morning, we heard an introduction to our Easter Devotional – The Way Home. We imagined John sitting down in his old age to write his account and what he so earnestly wanted to tell his readers.

In preparation for our celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are encouraging the body to read through one chapter of John each day (March 27 – April 17). In an effort to help us focus on a specific element of each chapter of John, a brief devotion has been written for each of the 21 days by 16 different people from The Town Church.

Would you like to join us on this journey? CLICK HERE and enter your email address. You will receive one devotion a day for each of these 21 days.

We look forward to reading through John with you and as we follow Jesus along the way as he leads us home.