Daily Bible Reading

Anything

You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, Ask anything in my name, and I will do it!

John 14:13-14 (NLT)

This verse almost sounds like Jesus is giving his disciples carte blanche to do whatever they want whenever they want to do it. Many people today look at this verse that way and then end up bitter and disappointed when Jesus didn’t give them the boat they’d been lusting after for months.

While Jesus didn’t place stipulations on what anything means, the next few verses offer a little more clarity.

If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit who leads into all truth.

John 14:15-17a (NLT)

The anything Jesus talks about in verses 13 and 14 is part of the truth that is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus isn’t a genie in a bottle waiting for us to rub the lamp and invite him to perform a few magic tricks. He’s telling his disciples that, as Jesus has been speaking the words of the Father, so we—with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit—will also be able to speak the words of the Father.

The Spirit leads us in all truth. Jesus is the Truth and the Truth is the way to the Father. We are able to do the greater things Jesus spoke of in verse 12 because we have the full power of the Truth living inside of us. Greater things come when we align ourselves with the Truth. When we are one with the Truth, we can ask anything in Jesus name and he will do it because the words we speak are not our own. They are His.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 13-16, John 14 

Daily Bible Reading

Servant

Last weekend, we had a work day at the church. The men were lured in under the guise of a breakfast meeting and, after pancakes and sausage, were immediately put to work doing an assortment of tasks around the building. Most of these men are leaders in the church. Our head usher spent much of the morning hauling branches and trees into the back of a truck to be taken to the dump. Our sound man/bass player/greeter was put to work building lockers in the basement. A board member mowed and trimmed the lawn. And our pastor was armed with a chainsaw cutting down the last of the trees damaged in a winter ice storm.

For our church, this is normal. When there’s work to be done, the leadership team is first to arrive—no matter what that work is.

At the end of the day, when everyone was tired, sweating, and hungry again, I was set to leave and someone pointed out that one of my tires was rather low. The pastor was cleaning off his tools with an air compressor. I thought I’d see if he had the right piece so I could put air in my tire. Rather than hand me the piece so I could do it myself (which I was completely prepared to do), he got down on his artificial knees and did it himself.

For me, having my pastor do that extra small task of putting air in my dirty tire, was akin to Jesus getting down on his knees to wash the feet of his disciples.

We often look at the story in John 13 as Jesus humbling himself to bless his followers. He did do that, but that wasn’t all he did. The moment Jesus got down on his knees, he not only blessed, but he empowered his disciples.

In Jesus’ day, the caste system was alive and well. Servants served and lords lorded. Lines were defined and no one dared to cross them. But in order for God’s plan to work, Jesus had to put himself in the lowest position possible. The job of washing the feet of guests went to the lowliest servant in the house.

You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because it is true. And since I, the Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master. Nor are messengers more important than the one who sends them. You know these things—now do them! That is the path of blessing.

John 13:13-17 (NLT)

By taking the position of the lowest servant in the house, Jesus not only showed great humility, but he put his disciples in a position greater than his own. Had Jesus remained sitting and allowed someone else to wash his feet, his followers would have always seen him as Lord and Teacher and never servant. But because they saw him as a servant, they could suddenly see themselves as master. Jesus was preparing them to hear his next words.

The truth is, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

John 14:12 (NLT)

A servant could never do greater things than the master. In order for the disciples to do greater things than Jesus, Jesus had to become the servant, and they the master. Jesus not only humbled himself, but he empowered his followers.

When my pastor got down on his knees to put air in my tire, he was following the example Jesus put forth. What would seem to be a menial task that someone of a lower position should be doing showed me that my pastor—a man deserving of great honour and respect—is willing to humble himself and put those who serve under him in a greater position. By emulating Jesus’ humility, he empowers his volunteers to do greater things.

It is great to be a master. But it is better to be a servant.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 7-9, John 13:1-17

Daily Bible Reading

Will, not can.

CAN: to be possible

WILL: divine determination

Lately, I’ve found my faith being stirred. Whether it’s because of what I experienced on the mission field or conversations with old friends, God is stirring something me and, I believe in the Church as a whole. We, as in the majority of the Western Church, have grown complacent and lazy. Not everyone, but enough that the world has largely forgotten about us. We’ve lost our power. We’ve lost our influence. We’ve lost our drive. We’ve lost our determination.

We’ve lost the difference between can and will.

Before Jesus finished his earthly ministry, he left the disciples with a lot of helpful information. They obviously made great use of it because the Church is still around today. Let’s look at a couple of these tidbits:

I live by the power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because of me.

John 6:57 (NLT)

I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

John 14:12 (NLT)

Let’s set the record straight here. Jesus didn’t say that we can live by the power of the living Father, he said that we will.

Jesus didn’t tell us that we can do the same works [he has] done, he said that we will.

The more I read what Jesus says I will do, the less can becomes an option. Can implies maybe it will happen or maybe it won’t. Will indicates that there is no doubt about it, this is going to happen. Period.

Jesus commanded sickness and death to go. There was no wishy washy little prayer begging God to do something. There was no doubt about Jesus’ own ability or the ability of the Father who sent him. There was no maybe. Jesus never asked the question, “Can I do this?”

It’s time that we stop thinking we can do something and start knowing that we will do something. Even greater works.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 20-22, John 6:45-71

Daily Bible Reading

Light

The first chapter of the Gospel of John may well be my favourite in all the Bible. I can read it over and over again and still be greatly humbled by those few words.

In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. the light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:1-5 (NLT)

We’ve looked at the parallels between these verses and those in Genesis 1 before, but it never hurts to go back. Both books start with the same three words, in the beginning. The beginning as we know it to be. we know that God is timeless. John said that the Word already existed. So when God created the heavens and the earth, Jesus—the Word—was there. We also know from Genesis 1:2 that the Spirit was there, hovering over the surface of the void.

Then there was light. Not the sun, mind you, but Light. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. The sun doesn’t appear until verse 14.

Jesus is Light. Jesus is the Word. When God spoke His Word over the void earth, He spoke Jesus. Jesus went out and accomplished all that God spoke. In my head, Jesus is always the man with the well-coiffed hair, white robes, and a lamb draped around his shoulders. But he is so much more than that.

He is the Good Shepherd, but he is also the Word that created the earth. He is the friend of sinners, but he is also the Light that pushes back the darkness. He is the healer, but he is also in the seed that produces after their own kind.

If we only ever see the Jesus of the Gospels, we will never understand the Jesus that existed prior to his short stint on earth. He was there in the beginning. He literally was the Word that went out when God the Father spoke. He created everything there is. Jesus did that. The same Jesus that went to the cross and gave up his life for us is life itself. He is light.

Science lesson: The only reason we see anything at all is because of light. Of course! Our eyes receive signals of light reflecting off surfaces and our brains translate that into objects. What we perceive as colour is certain wavelengths of light. Light is a type of energy.

Now swap out light for Jesus.

I’m not going to explain that any further. Just think about it for a while.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 14-15, John 1:1-28

Daily Bible Reading

About the future

Yesterday we talked about the couple on the road to Emmaus—Cleopas and his wife. They walked seven miles with Jesus without recognising him. Cleopas talked for seven miles of all that had happened to Jesus while Jesus spoke to him of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Cleopas was still clueless. It wasn’t until they’d reached their destination, invited Jesus to stay for dinner and Jesus blessed and broke the bread that they realised who they’d been with the entire time.

Cleopas and his wife returned to Jerusalem to share their story with the rest of the disciples only to discover that Jesus had also shown himself to Peter. While all this is happening, Jesus suddenly appears again. He’s there. He’s not there. What are these people supposed to think? (Even after Jesus had said all along something like this would happen.) Even though Jesus stood before his believers with scars on his hands and feet and boiled fish in his belly, they doubted.

Then he [Jesus] said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must come true.” Then he opened their minds to understand these many scriptures.

Luke 24:44-45 (NLT)

These followers of Jesus knew him. They knew the scriptures. They had grown up hearing and reading the prophecies about the coming Saviour, yet when that Saviour stood right in front of them returned from the dead, they couldn’t understand. Not until it was revealed to them.

How many situations do we go through in our lives when we can’t see God? We beg and we plead and we walk away in disappointment because we couldn’t see the answer. We stand on the promises of God only to throw them back in His face because we are blinded by our own hurt and pain. Spiritual tunnel vision. We only see one thing.

Yet God sent the Spirit to show us many things.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me. All that the Father has is mine; this is what I mean when I say that the Spirit will reveal to you whatever he receives from me.

John 16:13-15 (NLT)

If we truly believe and trust in God, we be assured that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide us into all truth. Even in the difficult situations—the times when it seems as though God is far—the Spirit can reveal Truth to us. He can open up our vision to see purpose in the pain and to help us through our hurt.

Cleopas and his wife assumed Jesus had abandoned them to the point of walking away, yet Jesus chose to walk with them on their journey. They didn’t understand everything until they’d returned, but Jesus was still there. Walking with them. Talking to them words from the past about the future.

If you’re like the disciples in Jerusalem, disappointed, but still waiting for a miracle or like Cleopas and his wife, walking away, Jesus is there. He appeared to both parties where they were. Don’t fool yourself into thinking he can’t reach you where you are.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 12-13, Luke 24:36-53

Daily Bible Reading

I lay it down

We always talk about how Jesus was killed. He was murdered. He was put to death. But was he really?

When Jesus was finally sentenced to being flogged and crucified, the religious leaders thought they got the last laugh. They got what they wanted. The man who threatened their entire way of life would die. They would have him killed.

Read the scriptures again. Yes, Jesus was sentenced to death. Yes, Jesus was flogged. He was crucified. But was he actually murdered? Was he really put to death?

Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46 (NLT)

He shouted. As he hung on the cross in unbearable pain for crimes he did not commit, he shouted. He raised his voice so every ear in the vicinity could hear that he would not be put to death. He gave his life of his own volition.

How angry the Jewish leaders must have been. In the moment when they expected to finally be able to breathe that sigh of relief, the man they wanted to have killed made sure everyone knew his life was given willingly. And Jesus had to do so.

The Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may have it back again. No one can take my life from me. I lay it down voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it up again. For my Father has given me this command.

John 10:17-18 (NLT)

By proclaiming with his last breath that he was giving up his life into God’s hands, Jesus was fulfilling his own words. Those words took all power away from the men who put him on the cross. Little did they know that, in their anger and indignance, they played right into the plan of God. By putting Jesus on the cross, they fulfilled prophecy and gave the plan of salvation another big push toward fulfillment.

The next time you consider the account of the cross, keep in mind that, while Jesus died, he was not put to death. He laid down his life voluntarily. For me. For you.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 8-9, Luke 23:39-56