Acts 1-4; Don’t Give Up

Are there people who hold a special place in your heart, but who don’t know the Lord? You are burdened for them, and pray for them constantly. Maybe you’ve shared your love of Jesus with them, only to have them shut you down. Maybe this has gone on for years, and you just don ‘t see any sign that they will ever accept the grace of God through His Son Jesus.

There is something here in Acts I want you to notice. The Gospels tell us that Jesus’ siblings didn’t accept him as anything other than their crazy big brother. (Matthew 13, Mark 6) Even from the cross, Jesus asked his friend to care for His mother. Where were his brothers?

But something must have happened between the cross and Acts 1:14. Jesus had spent about 40 days teaching and performing miracles after He rose from the dead. Many people watched as He went home, ascending into heaven as they were looking intently up into the sky.

Now they waited. Jesus had said He was going to send the Holy Spirit to them. So they returned to Jerusalem like the Savior had instructed them. Scripture tells us who were present in that upper room as they waited:

Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James Alphaeus, Simon, and the other Judas. These were Jesus’ closest disciples while He was on earth. But that’s not all who were there. Verse 14 tells us:

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. 

Did you catch that? Read it again. Who joined those in the upper room? Who were constantly in prayer? The disciples, some women, Jesus’ mother, AND HIS BROTHERS!

We don’t know the details of their conversions. But we can rejoice in the fact that at some point they believed. It doesn’t appear they believed before Jesus died on the cross. But here they are, with the disciples, obeying what Jesus had told them to do, praying, and waiting.

Don’t give up on that loved one who seems to think you are crazy because you are a follower of Jesus. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop living outloud. Don’t stop finding opportunities to talk about your Savior. Don’t stop loving them.

Many of us can share testimonies of people we prayed for for years, maybe with a bit of doubt they’d ever really humble themselves and accept the Savior. But they did. God loves answering that prayer. And as long as they have breath, Jesus is willing to save.

Don’t give up.

Luke 18-21; How Can You Know, Really?

Can anyone really know whether or not they are going to heaven? I mean, who’s to say this person is, but that person is not? There are so many religions out there, isn’t it a bit conceited for anyone to think they’ve got the only key to heaven, the only claim to truth?

Well, first of all… I know I am going to heaven. I know it. I don’t hope so, I don’t even pray so. I know it as sure as I know my name. I am going to heaven. And honestly, I look forward to it.

You might ask how I can be so sure. That answer is found in the chapters we read today in Luke’s Gospel.

But these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (20:31)

You see, I’ve read the Gospels. I’ve searched the entire Bible, and I can’t help but believe it. John tells me that the words in this precious book were written so that I could know that by believing in Jesus, I will have life in His Name.

John tells us what is written is only a portion of everything Jesus did before and after the cross. There is no way he could record each and every word and miracle. But he tells us what is written is enough to convince the strongest skeptic.

I like what Matthew Henry has to say about this verse. The “life” John speaks of is both spiritual life and eternal life. I like that thought because yes, I am going to heaven. But I am also living my best life right here, right now, with Jesus at my side, His Spirit living in me.

Oh, I believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. I know He lived, died, and rose again to pay for my salvation. I am His. He is mine. Now and forever.

I know it. Really.

John 12-17; What Would You Say?

We get a glimpse of the table conversation at the Passover Feast by one who was actually there in the upper room. John, who identifies himself as loved by Jesus, shares this last, intimate exchange between Jesus and those closest to Him.

Jesus knew He was about to die. What did He want his disciples to know before everything changed for them? Let’s take a look.

Jesus keeps reinforcing the fact that He is the Son of God, that He is on a mission from the Father, that what He says comes out of the Father’s mouth, that He and the Father are one. “Don’t ever forget,” He seems to say, “I AM who I say I AM.”

Jesus not only spoke to them about being a servant, He demonstrated His role as servant by getting on His knees and washing their feet. He showed them that He came to serve. Now it was their turn. “Love one another as I have loved you,” He tells them. They would need to love each other fiercely in the days and years ahead.

He encouraged them to trust God, knowing their faith was about to be tested. He told them He was going to lay down His life, but they would see Him again. In fact, He spoke about heaven, and told them they would join Him there some day.

We’ve already looked at some of the “I AM” statements that Jesus spoke during His ministry. Here, in this last conversation before the cross, He tells His disciples:

I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him. (John 14:6-7)

One of the last things Jesus says to His disciples is I AM the only way. Don’t ever forget that.

Jesus went on to tell his disciples about the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth. He wanted His disciples to know He was not leaving them alone. “I’m sending help,” He tells them. “One who will never leave you!” (or me!)

Then, to draw one last picture, Jesus says;

I AM the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. (15:1)

The Spirit within us produces fruit that is straight from God. Our lives in Him bear fruit. Lives apart from Him can do nothing.

Jesus goes on to talk about love. I think I’d want to tell my loved ones how much I loved them, too, if I knew I was going to die. “I love you like the Father loves me,” He tells them. “Love each other.” And then Jesus called them His friends. Imagine. The Savior of the world said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

Then, before making His way to the garden where He would be arrested, Jesus did something amazingly beautiful. He prayed. He prayed for those men sitting at His feet. And He prayed for us. For you. For me.

If you knew you would die tonight, what would you want to say to your loved ones? What would you leave them with? In these chapters in John, we read what Jesus said to wrap up His earthly life. We hear His love, feel His passion. And we know He didn’t leave there before He prayed. Not a prayer that focused on what He was about to experience. He prayed for us.

What I have shared by no means covers everything Jesus said in these chapters of John. Please read them for yourself. Let God speak to your heart about the things that are on His. What Jesus said to His disciples that day, was meant for your ears, too.

Dear Father, thank You for inspiring John to let us in on that last, intimate conversation Jesus had with His disciples. We get to hear Him put a cap on His ministry, find out what He wanted us to remember. Thank You for Jesus. Thank You for Your Spirit that lives in those of us who call You Lord. And thank You for this precious Book that allows us to know You in such a personal way.



John 8-11; Who Is This Guy?

He healed a blind man. He raised his dead friend to life again. He forgave a sinful woman. He not only said He was God, He backed up His claims with action.

Who is this guy? Let’s look at who He says He is.

  1. I AM the light of the world. (8:12) He said in verses 31-32, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The Truth of Jesus Christ is the light in a dark world. Chapter 8 is full of Jesus’ deity, ending with His bold pronouncement in verse 58: “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I AM!”  That’s the Light; the knowledge that makes everything clear, makes the world make sense, frees us from the chains of sin. Jesus is God!
  2. I AM the Son of Man (9:37) Once again Jesus is proclaiming His deity. Then He says to all of us, “Now that you know that, what you do with the Truth is on you. You will be held accountable.” (vs 41) Once you’ve read these words here in God’s Word, once you have heard it proclaimed, you can no longer say, “I didn’t know.” Because now you DO know. Jesus is God!
  3. I AM the gate. (10:1-10) Jesus is not only God, He is the ONLY way to the Father. There is no other way into the fold. Jesus is the protector and defender who knows His sheep by name. Which means He also knows who are NOT His sheep.
  4. I AM the Good Shepherd (vv 11-18) And not just for Jewish sheep! All of us who listen to His voice are part of His flock, loved and secure. Our Shepherd laid down His own life so we can live eternally! His sheep! Our Savior!
  5. I AM the Resurrection and the Life (11:25) From creation to the end of time and into eternity – Jesus IS.

The Great I AM.

Yes, Jesus made some bold claims, did some unexplainable things while He walked in human form here on planet Earth. And He did and said those things so that you and I could know Him.

If Jesus had been crazy or delusional like some have claimed, the Pharisees would have killed him the first time the words “I AM” came out of His mouth. I don’t believe a mere man would have been able to survive their attempts. They certainly thought about it often enough. They just couldn’t wrap their minds around what they heard and saw.

Can you? Who is this guy? Martha knew:

“Yes, Lord,” she told Him, “I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” (11:27)

He is that guy!


John 5-7; Jesus and the Father

Did you notice what all Jesus said about Himself in these chapters today? The Gospel of John is such a good resource for getting to know the Savior, in the same intimate way John knew Him.

Jesus wants us to know His relationship with the Father. He calls God “MY Father,” and says His role as Son includes:

  1. Doing what the Father does (5:19)
  2. Raising the dead the like His Father does (vs 21)
  3. Using His God-given authority to judge (vs 22, 27)
  4. Deserving the same honor given to the Father (vs 23)
  5. Giving eternal life (vs 24)
  6. Doing that which the Father sent Him to do (vs 36)

Jesus points to the Old Testament prophets, then said they were talking about Him! In fact, He says, if you really believed Moses, you’d believe Me. Jesus in verse 43: “I have come in my Father’s name.”

In chapter six Jesus likens Himself to the manna that fed the wandering Jews in the wilderness as recorded in the Old Testament. He called Himself the Bread of Life! (6:35) Just like manna, Jesus came from heaven to save those Jewish people… and us! He said His body would be given for the life of the world.

I hope you’ll read these chapters today and get to know Jesus, your Savior. Oh what love the Father has shown us in the person of His Son.


John 1-4; I Am He

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (3:16-18)

The pop-theology so popular today in the world, and creeping into our churches, wants us to believe that God is accepting of a multiple of avenues to Himself. “Good thoughts,” “Good actions,” “Sincerity,” and the right to believe what you want to believe has become the topic of sermons, books, and testimonies. The belief that Jesus isn’t God is foundational in some religions.

But let’s let God speak for Himself. Please read the book of John with me, and open your hearts up to what God would have you know. He won’t play games with you. In fact, God reveals Himself in such a powerful way in this Gospel.

Hear what Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well. She spoke of the coming Messiah. Jesus as clear as anything says: I who speak to you am he.

John 3:16 is a verse that is probably familiar to you, even if you have not accepted the fact that Jesus is the Savior. But I included the next two verses for a reason. What you believe about Jesus is the difference between heaven and hell. Read those verses again and know they apply to you.

Then keep reading with me as we get to know this amazing God through His precious Son.

Dearest Father, I thank you for this Gospel of John because it reveals You and your plan of salvation in such a dynamic way. God, there may be people who are questioning Your authority, or maybe even your existence. I pray that all of us reading through this book in the next few days will open our hearts and minds up to You and allow You to show us what You want us to know. Thank You for the privilege.

Luke 22-24; In The Garden

Every time I read the Gospels’ accounts of the crucifixion I find myself loving Jesus even more. This Man willingly died for me, a sinner. My God who has every reason to hate me, loves me and gave Himself for me.

For me.

But I will tell you I get a little sad when some people talk about the events surrounding the cross. Especially when they talk about Jesus’ prayer in the garden. I get a little offended at what they say about my Lord. I know I’ve shared this before, but it’s on my heart again.

First let me ask you this: How would you describe Jesus’ character? His mission? His passion? Is there anything in Jesus’ character that would suggest He was tentative about why He was here?

Some people cut the garden prayer out and lay it along side of everything they know about Jesus. I just can’t do that. Jesus was fully God and fully human. There is nowhere in Scripture that even hints that that balance ever changed. So when people say that during this garden prayer, Jesus’ humanness was taking over, I totally disagree. Point to a verse that supports that idea. You won’t find one. We’re so accustomed to hearing that Jesus was praying that the “cup” of the cross would be removed, we actually believe it.

Yes, it was Jesus the man who knelt there in anguish. But it was also God kneeling there, preparing to die for me. Jesus prayed to the Father, “Let this cup pass from me.” But, friend, He didn’t need God’s permission not to go to the cross. God could have gotten up off His knees and ascended into heaven at any point.

But this God/Man felt pain. He was tired to the point of death. It could have ended right there. But Jesus didn’t come to die in a garden. Yes, He prayed that this cup be removed. I believe it was. God the Father sent an angel to minister to God the Son to strengthen Him to do what He’d come to do, by removing the “cup” of anguish and physical torment Jesus was experiencing at that time. It was that “cup” that could have prevented Jesus from going to the cross. And that God/Man didn’t get up off His knees begrudgingly. He didn’t “suck it up” and walk toward His death because He HAD to.

If Jesus had second thoughts about going to the cross He could have answered the liars who accused Him in court. He didn’t. He could have called 10,000 angels to rescue Him. He didn’t. I know with all my heart that Jesus wanted to go to the cross. I believe He always wanted to go to the cross. And nothing was going to stop Him. Not exhaustion. Not pain. Not humiliation. Not betrayal. And I believe that prayer in the garden was answered so He could.

When I read about the crucifixion and the events surrounding it, I see my Savior who – for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, discounted the shame. He was willing to suffer great pain and humiliation for me. He was willing.

I know I’m not going to change many minds concerning this. That’s ok. It’s not a matter of heaven or hell. Just know that when we gather around the communion table tomorrow and remember what Jesus did, I’m going to remember His willing sacrifice, His unwavering determination to pay for my sins. I’m going to thank Him for that garden prayer that highlights His passion to do the unthinkable, die a very painful death for a worm like me.

Every time I read about the crucifixion I love Jesus even more.