I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
The Gathering Storm
“He left His Father’s throne above—
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race.”
(Charles Wesley, 1707-1788)
40 daily readings and
reflections for Lent based on
Forty daily readings and reflections
“Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against
Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
(Hebrews 12: 3)
These daily readings and reflections are based on John’s Gospel chapters 11
to 19. John’s account is very different from that of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
John devotes eight chapters to the last week of Jesus’s earthly life — much of
it to the last two days — and includes a lot of Jesus’s teaching that is not
recorded in the other Gospels. He also adds a lot of his own comments on the
events recorded. These short studies are designed to begin on Ash
Wednesday, and end on Easter Saturday (Sundays are not included). They
trace Jesus’s last days as He faced growing opposition from the Jewish
authorities following the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
Why not use each daily passage and short reflection to aid your own thoughts
West Camel Independent Methodist Church,
Cover photo: pxhere.com
Unless otherwise stated, Bible references are from the New King James Version
© 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Day one. John 11: 45-52
The raising of Lazarus, after he had been in the grave for 3 days, caused a huge
stir. Whilst this miracle convinced many that Jesus was the Messiah, the
Jewish leaders were furious, and called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. Not only
were they concerned about Jesus’s growing popularity, but they felt their own
position was threatened, and that the Romans might be provoked into a
Caiaphas the high priest unwittingly made a prophetic statement: “It is
expedient for us that one man should die for the people” (verse 49). John’s
comment underlines that fact that, although Caiaphas was only thinking of
getting rid of Jesus to save themselves, his statement had wider implications,
since Jesus would indeed die, not just for Israel but all humanity.
Many people feel threatened by Jesus today, and would rather ignore or
oppose Him than face the implications of accepting Him for who He is, and the
changes He would bring to their lives. However, as we shall see, opposition
was futile then and is futile now. Much better to accept Him as our Lord and
Saviour and be on the winning side!
Day two: John 11: 53-57
Although Jesus knew His death was near, and was willing to face it, the right
time had not yet come. So, He left the crowds and withdrew to the
countryside with His disciples. Meanwhile, preparations were underway to
celebrate the Jewish Passover, and crowds began to converge on Jerusalem.
His enemies were on the lookout for Him. “They sought for Jesus” and said to
one another: “What do you think — that he will not come to the feast?” (verse
56). Surely He would come to the city for such an important festival? They
felt that this would be a golden opportunity to arrest Jesus, but it wouldn’t be
easy to find Him in the crowds. So they sent out an order that anyone who
spotted Him should report it to them so that they could move in to make an
arrest. Jesus was a wanted Man!
Little did they know that they were actually playing a part in God’s age-old
plan to bring salvation to the world. God was working His purpose out through
all these events, including the actions of Jesus’s enemies, and He is still doing
so today, even in all the happenings of our troubled world. His Kingdom will
come — and in His time!
Day three: John 12: 1-11
Jesus returned to Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, where a
dinner was given in Jesus’s honour. Mary, feeling overwhelmed with gratitude
and love for the one who had restored her brother to life, anointed Jesus’s
feet with an expensive perfume. Judas complained at the waste, suggesting
that the perfume should have been sold to benefit the poor. However, his
motives were less charitable, and his true character was beginning to show.
Jesus rebuked Judas, recognising that Mary’s action was a genuine expression
of her love as well as a sign of his impending death. (verse 7).
The miracle of raising Lazarus had caused many Jews to believe in Jesus, and
a large crowd of people, eager to see both Jesus and Lazarus, had gathered
outside. The Jewish leaders were becoming increasingly concerned, and
hatched a plan to kill not only Jesus, but Lazarus too. Then they could easily
refute any claim that Lazarus had been resurrected. But it was too late! Mary
gave her best to Jesus, regardless of the cost. When we consider what Jesus
endured for our salvation, can we do less than give Him our best?
Day Four: John 12: 12-19
Word got around that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. The time had now
come for Him to publicly reveal Himself, and the crowds of festival-goers were
ready to acclaim Him as their King on that first Palm Sunday. Unlike most
kings, Jesus entered riding a donkey, not a war-horse. Did His disciples think
that He was now going to take power and reign? It appears that they would
not really understand what was going on that day until after Jesus was
crucified and rose from the dead (verse 16).
The enthusiastic crowds were swelled by the people who had witnessed the
miracle of the raising of Lazarus. Their testimony encouraged many others to
join in the welcome Jesus received. Meanwhile, the Pharisees were filled with
despair, since all their efforts to oppose Jesus were making no difference to
His popularity. They said to each other, “You see that you are accomplishing
nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!” (verse 19).
How ready are we to share our faith, tell people what Jesus has done in our
lives and encourage others to follow Him? For many Christians around the
world faith is costly. If our turn comes, are we prepared to endure any
opposition we may face for being known as His disciples?
Day Five: John 12: 20-26
The first three verses seem almost like an intrusion in the ongoing story. It
relates that some Greeks — probably Gentile converts to Judaism —were
among the people flocking to the Passover festival. However, there was
something else they were keen to do. Finding Philip, one of the disciples, they
said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” The news about Jesus and the raising of
Lazarus must have reached them, and they wanted to find out more. Jesus
was told about them, and although He surely would have met them, these
seekers are not mentioned anymore.
What we do find is that Jesus responded to this request by stating that the
time had come for him to be “glorified.” He compared His impending death
with a seed which has to “die” to produce a harvest (verse 24). His death
would produce a great harvest of forgiven sinners. Jesus also stated that
“anyone” who chose to serve and follow Him would be with Him, even though
it would mean giving up things they held dear. That “anyone” included those
enquiring Greeks, who would have heard all this. If we choose to follow Jesus,
there will be a cost — but it will be worth it!
Day six: John 12: 27-33
Jesus feels a sense of foreboding about the events that He knew lay ahead.
His soul was “troubled”, since, being fully human, the prospect of suffering
was very real. Should He ask His Father to save Him so that He could avoid the
pain of the cross? Jesus firmly rejects this notion. “For this purpose I came to
this hour. Father glorify your name!”
At this point came “a voice from heaven” — God spoke to confirm that He
would be glorified again through Jesus. The crowd thought it was either
thunder or the voice of an angel, and Jesus told them that the voice came for
their benefit. For those who were prepared to accept it as a message from
God, this was confirmation of His identity. Those enquiring Greeks would have
also heard it too, including Jesus’s comment that the time had come for
judgment on the world, and the defeat of Satan. (verse 31).
Through being “lifted up” on the cross many people would be saved. This was
an echo of some words spoken earlier in John’s gospel: “As Moses lifted up
the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that
whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3: 14).
Day seven: John 12: 34-36
In response to Jesus’s words about being “lifted up”, some of the crowd —
most likely sceptical Jews — objected. They clearly understood that Jesus
meant that He was going to die, and reasoned that He therefore couldn’t be
the promised Messiah, who, according to their understanding of the Old
Testament law, would never die. “Who is this Son of Man?” they asked
sarcastically. Yet they were ignoring passages such as Isaiah 53, which clearly
predicted that the “suffering servant” would indeed die. They couldn’t see
that His Kingdom would only come after an apparent defeat and ignominious
Jesus warned them that He would not be with them much longer, and that
they should respond to the light while they still had it. They could become
“sons of light” if they responded to Him – the true Light.” (John 1: 4-9). If they
refused, they would remain in the darkness. Jesus once again withdrew from
public view, since it was still not quite time for His death. Today, many remain
in the dark because they reject Jesus. How can we, as His followers, guide
them to come to the Light – Jesus, the Light of the World?
Day eight: John 12: 37-43
How stubborn some people can be! John records that, even after witnessing
His miracles — including the raising of Lazarus — people still would not believe
that Jesus was the Messiah. Here, John inserts his own comments, quoting
verses from the prophet Isaiah which referred to the coming of Jesus, and
clearly implying that these people were wilfully blind, and deaf to the truth.
“There are none so blind as those who will not see.” They preferred darkness
to light, as we read earlier in John’s Gospel: “This is the condemnation, that
the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light
because their deeds were evil.” (John 3: 19).
Yet there is some good news here: even some of the Jewish leaders now
believed in Jesus. Yet they were still not prepared to say so openly, fearing
they would be excommunicated from the synagogue. “They loved the praise
of men more than the praise of God.” (verses 42-43). In some parts of the
world it is dangerous for Christians to confess their faith, and it’s
understandable if they have to keep their faith secret. but it’s not so with us,
so are we prepared to openly confess our faith in Jesus?
Day nine: John 12: 44-50
In these verses, Jesus again speaks about light and darkness. He declares that
believing in him was to believe in God Himself, who had sent Him into the
world (see John 3: 16). Jesus said that whoever looked at Him was actually
seeing God. Jesus was the “Word made flesh.” The New Testament
emphasises the Deity of Jesus. He is “the image of the invisible God.”
(Colossians 1: 15). The Jews had a healthy respect for the “otherness” of God,
but this often meant that they felt Him to be distant. They could only approach
Him through the mediation of the priests. Jesus changed all that. God had
revealed Himself in a new way, so that they no longer needed to be in the
dark. Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk
in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8: 12).
Jesus then went on to speak about judgment: “I did not come to judge the
world, but to save the world.” He explained that people would be judged by
their own words, and their response to His words. “The word that I have
spoken will judge him in the last day.” Rejecting Jesus amounts to rejecting
what God has said through Him, and losing the eternal life He came to bring.
(verses 48-50). Whether we accept or reject Him is a matter of life or death!
Day ten: John 13: 1-11
Here is a wonderful example of the humility of Jesus. Here is the One through
whom all things were created (John 1: 3) acting like a servant and washing His
disciples’ feet — and at this time when He knew that His “departure from this
world” was near. Why did Jesus do this? Because he “loved his own who were
in the world”. Among the group was Judas, who had already opened himself
to Satan (verse 2). Jesus knew Judas would betray Him (verse 11), but He still
loved him, and didn’t leave him out of the foot-washing.
This act would have impressed itself on the disciples; it certainly did on Peter,
who initially insisted that he would never allow Jesus to wash his feet. When
Jesus insisted, Peter then asked that his hands and head be washed too! Jesus
said this was unnecessary — it was only the feet, which had become soiled
from walking the dusty roads, that needed washing (verse 10). So with us: if
Jesus has forgiven us, our sins have been taken away through His death on the
cross. However, we still get soiled through our contact with the world, so we
need to come to Him for daily forgiveness and renewal.
Day eleven: John 13: 12-20
After Jesus had finished washing His disciples’ feet, he asked them if they
understood what He had just done. His actions were certainly not what they
would have expected from their long-awaited Messiah. However, this was
further fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies which described the
Messiah as “a servant.” (Isaiah 52 & 53), and reminds us of Graham Kendrick’s
words: “This is our God, the servant King.” This was a salutary lesson to the
disciples, who sometimes argued among themselves about who was the
greatest. (Luke 22: 24). Jesus challenged them to “do as I have done to you,”
and follow His example of humble service, and promised that, if they did, they
would be blessed. If we are true followers of Jesus, we must be prepared to
serve Him with humility.
Jesus then went on to refer to Judas, and his impending act of betrayal, seeing
this as the fulfilment of an Old Testament scripture (Psalm 41: 9). He explained
to the disciples: “I tell you now before it comes, that when it does come to
pass you may believe that I am He.” (verse 19). He also said that those who
accepted Him, were also accepting God. Judas heard those words, but,
tragically, his heart had already been turned. He had rejected God.
Day twelve: John 13: 21-30
To be betrayed by a friend is devastating, and Jesus was clearly affected by
the prospect of what Judas planned to do. “He was troubled in spirit” as he
told the disciples what was going to happen. They were perplexed and
bewildered, and John persuaded Peter to ask Jesus to pinpoint the traitor.
Jesus would not name Judas, but simply said that the person to whom he
handed a piece of bread after dipping in it the dish was the one. He then
passed it to Judas. As he took the bread, “Satan entered him.” Judas had
reached the point of no return: he had decided on the course he would take.
Jesus recognised this, and said to Judas, “What you do, do quickly.” (verse 27).
However, the other disciples had no idea what Jesus really meant, assuming
that He was telling Judas, who was their treasurer, to go and buy provisions
or donate some money to a charity. Judas then left the company and went
out. This passage ends with the words, “And it was night.” How chillingly
fitting! Judas rejected the Light of the World, to follow the Prince of Darkness.
How careful we need to be to keep walking in the light!
Day thirteen: John 13: 31-38
John, alone of the four Gospel writers, uses the words “glory” and “glorified”
in relation to Jesus’s death and resurrection, and they occur numerous times,
either in John’s own comments or the recorded words of Jesus Himself. After
Judas left the room, Jesus said “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is
glorified in him.” (verse 31). The events of the next few days would be the
completion and climax of His earthly ministry. It would not be a coronation,
but a crucifixion. Jesus told His disciples that He would not be with them much
longer, and that they wouldn’t be able to follow Him. Jesus gave them a new
commandment. “Love one another… as I have loved you.”
Peter questioned Jesus, asking where He was going. Jesus said that they
would be able to follow Him later, but not just then. “Lord, why can’t I follow
you now?” Peter asked. “I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus saw through
Peter’s bravado. He said, “Most assuredly I say to you, the rooster shall not
crow till you have denied me three times!” Matthew and Mark both record
Peter’s indignant response: “Not me, Lord, never!” As we know, Peter did
exactly what Jesus predicted, but we shouldn’t be hard on him, since there
are times when all of us fail our Lord in some way or other.
Day fourteen: John 14: 1-6
The remaining eleven disciples were now deeply concerned about what was
going to happen. Jesus seeks to reassure them: “Let not your heart be
troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.” Although they were not able
to follow him at that time, He promised them that He was going to prepare a
place for them in His “Father’s house,” and that He would take them there,
where they would be with Him for ever. Still puzzled, Thomas asked, “Lord,
we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus
replied with those well-known words: “I am the way, the truth and the life.
No-one comes to the Father except though me.” (verses 5-6). These words are
still true, if unpopular. Jesus is the only path to the Father.
The words of verses 1-4, used at most Christian funerals, are a source of great
comfort and assurance to every believer. If we have come to God through
Jesus His Son, then we can be sure that He is preparing a place for us, too. He
will certainly keep His promise that we will be with Him where He is. That is
the ultimate security which should sustain us through life’s trials.
Day fifteen: John 14: 7-14
When Jesus told the disciples that if they knew Him they would also know His
Father. One of the disciples, Philip, was unsure, and asked Jesus: “Lord, show
us the Father and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus gently reprimanded him: “Don’t
you know me, Philip, after all this time?” He had already told them, “I and my
Father are one.” (John 10: 30). Jesus replies: “He who has seen me has seen
the Father, so how can you say ‘Show us the Father’?” (verse 9). This was a
clear statement of Jesus’s deity, which John had emphasised in the opening
chapter of his Gospel.
Jesus suggested that, even if they found it difficult to accept His deity because
of his words, they should do so because of His deeds: “At least believe on the
evidence of the miracles themselves.” (verse 11 NIV). Throughout his Gospel,
John referred to Jesus’s miracles as “signs” which pointed to His true identity.
Jesus told His disciples that they would continue His ministry, even doing
“greater things.” This didn’t mean greater miracles, but that after Pentecost,
empowered by the Holy Spirit, they would reach many more people with the
Gospel as they took the message far and wide. We, too, can be part of those
“greater things” when we share the Good News in our generation.
Day sixteen: John 14: 15-21
In these verses, Jesus makes a clear promise and description of the gift of the
Holy Spirit. He told the disciples that, if they truly love Him and obey His
commands He will “pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that
He may abide with you for ever — the Spirit of truth.” (verses 16-17). The Spirit
would only be given to those who believed, but when He came He would be
with them “for ever.” In using personal pronouns such as “He” and “Him”,
Jesus clearly taught that the Holy Spirit is a Person, a member of the Trinity.
The disciples were concerned that Jesus was leaving them, so He promised
that they would not be left alone. “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to
you.” (verse 18), although they would not fully understand this until after
Pentecost. Jesus assured them that they would see Him again, and that
“because I live, you will live also.” They would then know without a doubt who
He really was, that they were one with Him and His Father, and that His
continuing love for them was assured. (verses 19-21). As believers today,
these promises are ours, too. May they reassure and encourage us.
Day seventeen: John 14: 22-31
Jesus continues His discourse about His departure and the promise of the
Spirit. One of the disciples — the other Judas — asks: “But Lord, how do you
intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Was he still expecting
Jesus to establish His earthly kingdom, and overthrow the Romans? Jesus
replied, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love
him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (verse 23). The
use of the word “we” emphasised that this would be a divine indwelling for
every believer. Jesus came as “Immanuel – God with us,” but the coming of
the Spirit would mean “God in us.”
Jesus went on to say more about the coming of the Holy Spirit. He would
teach them “all things” and remind them of everything He had said while He
was with them (verses 25-26). That is why we can trust the record of John and
the other Gospel writers. As Paul reminds us: “All Scripture is God-breathed”
(2 Timothy 3: 16 NIV). Jesus then promised to give them His peace — a peace
that the world could not provide — which should calm their troubled hearts
and drive away their fears (verse 27). We can have that peace, too. Finally,
Jesus warned them that “the prince of this world” would come, but assured
them that “he has nothing on me.” Jesus would triumph over Satan’s strategy!
Day eighteen: John 15: 1-8
In their Passover meal, Jesus and His disciples had just drunk the fruit of the
vine. In the Old Testament, Israel was likened to an unfruitful vine (Isaiah 5:
1-7). Jesus tells His disciples that He is the “true vine” and that they — and us
— are the branches. As with a natural vine, branches are designed to bear
fruit, and a good vineyard owner prunes them to increase their fruitfulness..
Clearly, the purpose of a vine is to be fruitful, and God expects us, like those
first disciples to produce fruit. Pruning is sometimes drastic, yet necessary.
Jesus said that His Father was “the vinedresser” who pruned the branches
The branches can only bear fruit if they are joined to the vine. Likewise, Jesus
said, “Neither can you [bear fruit] unless you abide in me… Apart from me you
can do nothing.” (verses 4-5). This emphasises how important it is to maintain
a close relationship with Jesus. Like the sap which gives life to the branches of
a vine, we need His life flowing into us. Then the fruit we produce will bring
glory to God, and be the true evidence of our discipleship (verse 8).
Day nineteen: John 15:9-17
In this passage Jesus has a lot to say about love: God’s love for Him, His love
for His disciples, and their love for one another. If we are truly following Jesus,
then we will want to obey His commands, and in so doing will remain in His
love. Love is one of the defining marks of being a Christian. Elsewhere, John
wrote: “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:
8). Jesus told His disciples that if they loved one another, they would have His
joy in them (verse 11). He then repeats the command: “Love each other as I
have loved you.”
That was a tall order, when we consider the lengths to which Jesus went to
prove His love. The cross was looming as He said “Greater love has no one
than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (verse 13). Jesus then said
that His disciples were His friends, and that because of this He shared with
them what His Father had made known to Him. He had chosen them, and
appointed them to bear lasting fruit. What a privilege and honour to be one
of Jesus’s friends! May we never be ashamed to be known as such.
Day twenty: John 15: 18-27
Jesus wanted His disciples to understand that they could expect serious
opposition, even death. He reminded them that they didn’t really belong to
this world because He had chosen them “out of the world.” He said, “A servant
is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute
you.” The reason for this was because “they do not know Him who sent me”
(verse 21). In spite of the evidence of His miracles, the Jewish leaders would
not believe that Jesus was their promised Messiah, and their hatred and
rejection of Him would lead to His trial and execution. They would then turn
on His followers. Jesus pointed out that this meant they actually hated God
Himself (verse 23).
Jesus then had more to say about the coming of the Holy Spirit, whom He
again referred to as “the Helper.” The Greek word used in the original is
“paraclete”, which can literally mean “called alongside to help.” Some Bible
versions translate this as “Counsellor”, “Comforter” or “Advocate.” Like those
first disciples, we certainly need the help of “the Spirit of truth” if we are to
be effective witnesses for Jesus, and be able to handle opposition. Let’s
remember that Jesus has chosen us “out of this world” too!
Day twenty-one: John 16:1-11
Jesus continues to warn the disciples that they will face opposition, even
death, for their faith, and that this will come from people who think they are
offering a service to God — people who knew neither God, nor Jesus, His
promised Messiah. Jesus was warning them ahead of time, before He
returned to heaven, so that they would be prepared. He recognised that,
because of these warnings, “sorrow” had filled their hearts. They were also
sad because Jesus was leaving them, but He assured them: “It is to your
advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to
you” (verse 7). The presence of the Holy Spirit would be as good as having
Jesus with them — and He would then be with all believers in every age.
Jesus said that the Spirit would convict the world of sin, including the sin of
rejecting Him, vindicate who He really was following His return to heaven, and
confirm that “the ruler of this world”, Satan, had been defeated. The disciples
would certainly see the convicting work of the Spirit after Pentecost, when
their witness would bring many to repentance. (Acts 2: 37). Let us pray that
the witness of the Church will have a similar impact in our day.
Day twenty-two: John 16: 12-15
On a number of occasions in the Gospels, we read that the disciples found it
hard to understand some of the things Jesus told them, especially relating to
His death and resurrection. (e.g. Mark 9: 31-32). This may have been partly
due to the fact that they were not expecting the Messiah to have to suffer.
Although Jesus would have liked to have shared many more truths with them,
He understood their limitations (verse 12), and promised that when the Holy
Spirit came He would guide them “into all truth.” He would also tell them of
“things to come.”
The Holy Spirit never draws attention to Himself. Jesus said, “He will glorify
me, for He will take of what is mine and declare it to you.” (verse 14). How
thankful we should be that those first disciples received the gift of the Holy
Spirit. Without Him, not only would they never have had the courage to be
effective witnesses to the truth as it was in Jesus, but we wouldn’t have the
full and reliable record of Jesus’s life and teaching that is in the four Gospels.
Let us pray that the same Holy Spirit will bring glory to Jesus through our lives
Day twenty-three: John 16: 16-24
Once again, Jesustries to get His disciples to understand what He meant when
He said “A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and
you will see me.” He is very patient with them, in spite of the fact that He had
told them several times that He would be put to death, and on the third day
rise again. Jesus told them, “You will weep and lament, but the world will
rejoice.” (verse 20). That was exactly what happened a few hours later. The
enemies of Jesus did rejoice when Jesus was condemned and crucified,
thinking they had at last succeeded in silencing this trouble-maker.
However, the disciples’ grief would be short-lived, since they would meet Him
again after His resurrection. Jesus used the illustration of a woman in
childbirth; her short-lived pain would be forgotten as she rejoiced in the birth
of her child. In the same way, the disciples’ short-lived grief would be replaced
with great joy when He rose from the dead. “The disciples were overjoyed
when they saw the Lord.” (John 20: 20 NIV). No-one would be able to take that
joy from them (verse 22). They would even be able to rejoice when they faced
opposition. (Acts 5:41). Does our relationship with Jesus give us the same joy?
Day twenty-four: John 16: 25-33
In these verses Jesus explains to the disciples that, after His resurrection, their
relationship with Him will be different. Whereas He had often used parables
in His teaching, in future they would be able to better understand the things
of God. He appears to be referring to the time after His ascension and
Pentecost, when He will have returned to the Father (verse 28). Then God will
reveal His truth to them directly through the Holy Spirit. This is apparent in
the three letters John himself wrote to first century Christians. e.g. “That
which we have seen and heard we declare to you” (1 John 1: 3).
The disciples are beginning to see more clearly. “Now we are sure that you
know all things…. By this we believe that you came from God” (verse 30). “Do
you now believe?” asked Jesus (verse 31). It had taken them a long time to
grasp the truth about Him, and even now they had more to learn when the
“Spirit of truth” came. Jesus again warns them of trouble ahead. They would
forsake Him, leaving Him to His fate (Mark 14: 50). But He would not be alone,
and He assured them of His ultimate victory: “Be of good cheer, I have
overcome the world” (verse 33). With Him, we are always on the victory side!
Day twenty-five: John 17:1-5
John is the only Gospel writer who recorded this moving prayer of Jesus, which
should rightfully be called “The Lord’s Prayer.” It is a heartfelt prayer to His
Father, on the eve of His arrest and crucifixion, in which He pours out His
heart. In these first few verses Jesus prays for Himself — but not in a selfish
way: It begins, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son
also may glorify you.” Jesus knew that the climax of His ministry had now been
reached, and that suffering lay ahead.
Once again, we have that reference to glory. Jesus has already brought glory
to God, by completing the work He came to do (verse 4). God has given Him
absolute authority over all people, so that He can give eternal life to all who
believe. And what is eternal life? It is “that they may know you, the only true
God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (verse 3). Although Jesus’s three
years of ministry had brought much glory to God, He would be glorified again
through the Cross and resurrection. This would be the greatest glory of all —
the final defeat of Satan and his power (John 14: 30).
Day twenty-six: John 17: 6-12
As His intimate conversation with His Father continues, Jesus now prays for
His disciples, and His words reveal His deep love and concern for them. God
had given them to Him, and during the three years they had spent with Him,
they had come to recognise who He was. “I gave them the words you gave me
and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and
they believed that you have sent me” (verse 8 NIV). Jesus even said that glory
had come to Him through them. Are we bringing Him glory?
Jesus expresses His concern for the disciples after He has left them and
returned to His Father. They would be “still in the world”, facing growing
hostility, and He would no longer be with them in person to care for them. He
prays for their protection: “Holy Father, keep through your name those who
you have given me.” Jesus also prayed for their unity, “that they may be one
as we are.” (verses 11-12). He would have recalled the occasion when James
and John asked to be granted a special place in heaven, (Mark 10: 35-41), and
when the disciples argued about who was the greatest among them (Luke 9:
46). Any rivalry or sense of superiority among them now would seriously
hinder the cause of the Gospel.
Day twenty-seven. John 17: 13-19
Jesus continues to pray for the disciples. He asks that they may be filled with
His joy — a joy that stayed with Him even as He faced the suffering of the
cross. (Hebrews 12: 2). This was important, since the disciples would all face
hatred from the world, because they, like Jesus Himself, no longer belonged
in the world. The things they said and did, and the values they upheld, would
be totally alien to those of the world. Jesus had already warned them about
this. (John 15: 18-19), and John recalled this later, when he wrote: “Do not
marvel… if the world hates you.” (1 John 3: 13).
Jesus did not pray that they would be taken out of the world, but that they
would be protected from the evil one (verse 15). He prayed that they would
be sanctified (made holy and set apart) to stand for and share the truth of
God’s word (verse 17). Just as Jesus had come into the world, so they, too, had
been sent. The challenge for Christians in every age is to be “salt and light”,
living holy lives, without being polluted by the world. (James 1: 27). We need
the help of the Holy Spirit to achieve the right balance in our hostile world.
Day twenty-eight: John 17: 20-26
This final part of Jesus’s prayer is especially important, because He was now
praying for all future believers — and that includes us! “I do not pray for these
alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word” (verse
20). Just as Jesus was concerned that His disciples should all be one, so He
expressed a similar concern for the unity of His future followers. He prayed
for their unity with Him and His Father, and unity among themselves. “May
[they] be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent
me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (verse 21 NIV).
The history of the Church has been marred by disunity, and we are not talking
about matters of doctrine or morality, where upholding the truth is vital (see
Jude 3), but the many trivial issues which have divided Christians, and
continue to do so. This is very off-putting to unbelievers and a hindrance to
evangelism. If our relationship with Jesus is right, and He lives in us by His
Spirit (verse 26), we should be able to live in love and unity. Jesus prayed that
all believers would be with Him and see His glory (verse 24). He has now been
glorified, and by His grace we look forward to seeing His glory. In the
meantime, let’s pray, “To [God] be glory in the church” (Ephesians 3: 21).
Day twenty-nine: John 18: 1-11
The gathering storm is about to break. Jesus and His disciples go to the Garden
of Gethsemane. The other 3 Gospels record Jesus’s agonising prayer as He
faced the cross (see Matthew 26: 36-46). However, John moves straight into
the treacherous actions of Judas, who had agreed with Jesus’s enemies to
betray Him for money and was now leading them to Him. It was dark, and they
carried torches and lanterns to light their way, as well as weapons. Jesus,
knowing exactly what was going to happen, “went forward and said to them,
‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’.” Jesus said,
“I am he” and they “drew back and fell to the ground.” (verses 4-5).
Why this reaction? There could be two reasons: first of all, they may have
been shocked that He didn’t try to escape, but it’s more likely that it was His
use of the words “I am He,” — words that God had used to describe Himself
(see Exodus 3: 14). This would have struck the religious leaders as blasphemy
(see Mark 14: 61-62). Jesus asked the crowd to let His disciples go, but before
they did, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant.
Jesus rebuked Peter (verse 11). This was not His way; He was not going to bring
in His kingdom by force. His victory would be won after an apparent defeat.
Day thirty: John 18: 12-18
Jesus was arrested by a detachment of soldiers and the Jewish officials. Like a
common criminal, He was bound and led away to face Annas, the father-in-
law of the High Priest, Caiaphas, for a pre-trial hearing. Caiaphas had earlier
said that it would be good if one man died for the people. only because he
reasoned that getting rid of Jesus would help to keep the peace. Just two
disciples followed behind. One was Peter, and the other, unnamed, was likely
John. Since he knew the High Priest, he was allowed to accompany Jesus into
the courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside. John spoke to the servant-girl
who guarded the door, and Peter was then allowed in (verses 15-16).
Peter’s earlier bravado disappeared when that servant-girl asked if he was one
of Jesus’s disciples. “I am not,” he replied, as he went to warm himself at a
fire. His earlier insistence that he would never deny Jesus, but was willing to
die for Him, seems far from his mind. At that moment, it appears that he has
forgotten Jesus’s earlier prediction of his denial. Peter’s only concern now was
protecting himself from the anger of Jesus’s enemies.
Day thirty-one: John 18: 19-27
This trial had been planned for some time (John 11: 53). The Jewish leaders
had just been waiting for the right moment. Their problem now was getting
Him condemned to death. The High Priest questioned Jesus closely about His
teaching, hoping to be able to find something that would be enough to convict
Him. Jesus responded that He had taught quite openly in their synagogues, so
why were they asking these questions? One of the officials responded by
slapping Jesus in the face, accusing Him of insulting the High Priest. Jesus
responed: “If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke
the truth, why did you strike me?” (verse 23).
This was just the beginning of His humiliation, and the fulfilment of Isaiah’s
prophecy: “He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and
acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53: 3). What lay ahead of Him was truly horrific,
and we should not allow our familiarity with these events to take away our
realisation that Jesus endured all this because of His love for us sinners.
Meanwhile Peter denied Jesus twice more when challenged. It was now
daylight, and a cock crowed. Luke recorded Peter’s reaction (Luke 22: 60-62).
Day thirty-two: John 18: 28-32
Having completed their own interrogation, the Jewish leaders now lead Jesus
to the palace of Pilate, the Roman governor. Their hypocrisy is sickening; they
have no qualms about wanting to kill an innocent man, yet they won’t enter
Pilate’s palace “lest they should be defiled”, which would prevent them from
celebrating the Passover (verse 28). The Governor had to come out and ask
what they were charging Jesus with. They responded that they wouldn’t have
brought Jesus to him if He were not a criminal.
Pilate, who had very little time for their religion, told them to take Jesus away
and judge Him by their own law. The Jewish leaders responded, “It is not
lawful for us to put anyone to death” (verse 31). This was true, since they were
ruled by the Romans, who tolerated most aspects of their religion, but
retained the right to decide who could be executed. That’s why the Jewish
leaders had to find a way to persuade Pilate to pass the death sentence on
Jesus. John comments that this was the fulfilment of Jesus’s own words. (John
18: 32-33). We know that He could have called upon His Father to rescue Him
(Matthew 26: 53-54), but He chose to go to the cross to pay the price of our
sin and set us free.
Day thirty-three: John 18: 33-40
Pilate, who no doubt had heard rumours about Jesus, summoned Jesus to
come into his palace, where he begins his own questioning. “Are you the king
of the Jews?” he asked. Jesus asked whether that was his idea or if someone
had put the idea to him. Pilate retorts: “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the
chief priests have delivered you to me. What have you done?” (verse 35).
Jesus replied that His kingdom was not of this world, otherwise His servants
would have prevented His arrest. He said, “My kingdom is not from here.” We
may sense a note of sarcasm in Pilate’s voice, when he, an agent of the
powerful Roman empire, exclaimed, “Are you a king, then?” Jesus said he was
right, and that He had come into the world to testify to the truth.
Pilate replied with a question which has echoed down the years: “What is
truth?” He then went out to tell the Jews that he could find no basis for
charging Jesus. It was the custom to release a prisoner at Passover, so Pilate
offered to release Him. The Jewish leaders rejected this and asked him to
release Barabbas, a terrorist, instead. Thus they rejected their Messiah.
Day thirty-four: John 19: 1-7
Initially, we may feel some sympathy for Pilate, who appeared to be willing to
set Jesus free, yet now he had Him flogged. A Roman flogging was horrific,
being carried out with a three-pronged whip, which ripped chunks of skin from
the victim’s back. Soldiers rammed a crown of thorns on Jesus’s head, and
taunted Him: “Hail, king of the Jews!” (verse 3). Why did Pilate allow such
cruelty, then once again tell the Jews that he found no fault with Jesus? Did
he have a sadistic streak? He presented Jesus, bleeding, and wearing the
crown of thorns, with the words, “Behold the man!” Pilate couldn’t have
known the significance of those words! Jesus was “the Man” – “the man Christ
Jesus” — the “one mediator between God and man” (1 Timothy 2: 5-6).
The response of the Jewish leaders was instant: “Crucify Him!” How they must
have gloated to see Jesus like this. They had longed for this day from early in
Jesus’s ministry, and had tried to arrest Him before, but it was not the right
time (John 7: 30). Still Pilate insisted that he could find no basis for
condemning Jesus to death, and told the religious leaders to crucify Jesus
themselves, but under Roman law this they could not do. They responded that
Jesus had broken their law in claiming to be God’s Son, so He should die.
Day thirty-five: John 19: 8-16a
Now we see the first hint that Pilate, the tough Roman governor, was afraid.
He cared little for their religion, but could this man’s claims be a political
threat? Could it cause social unrest? Pilate asked Jesus “Where are you
from?”, but Jesus remained silent. Pilate retorted: “Are you not speaking to
me? Don’t you now know that I have power to crucify you, and power to
release you?” Jesus’s reply must have surprised the governor. “You could have
no power against me unless it had been given you from above.” (verses 10-
11). This spurred Pilate to make another attempt to set Jesus free, but the
Jewish leaders would have none of it. Although they hated the Roman
occupation, they now used political blackmail by suggesting that, if he
released Jesus, Pilate would be opposing his own emperor! (verse 12).
Pilate brought Jesus out again, and said to the Jews: “’Behold your king!’ But
they cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’” ‘Shall I crucify
your king?’ asked Pilate. The response revealed their sickening hypocrisy: “We
have no king but Caesar.” (verse 15). In the end, Pilate, the tough Roman
governor, proved weak. He caved in and handed Jesus over to be crucified.
Day thirty-six: John 19: 16b-22
The storm was now reaching its climax. After a mockery of a trial, the only
sinless person ever to walk this earth was on His way to a lingering, agonising
death. Jesus, severely weakened by the flogging, struggled to carry the heavy
cross. The other three Gospel writers tell us that a man called Simon, from
Cyrene, was forced to carry it instead. Eventually, they reached “the place of
a skull” — Golgotha. There Jesus was crucified between two common
criminals. Here again we see Isaiah’s prophecy being fulfilled. “He is despised
and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with suffering… He
was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53: 3 & 12).
Pilate fastened a sign to the cross. It read: “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF
THE JEWS.” Golgotha was near the city and the sign was in three languages,
so lots of people could understand it. The Jewish leaders protested (verse 21),
but Pilate wouldn’t change it. Was this his last attempt to get back at them, or
just a case of irony? Hanging there in ignominy, Jesus hardly looked like a king,
yet He was King, not just of the Jews but the whole world. At that moment it
looked as though Jesus was defeated, but His victory was imminent!
Day thirty-seven: John 19: 23-27
Picture this scene: Jesus and the other two men were hanging there, nailed to
wooden crosses. Crucifixion was one of the cruellest forms of execution ever
devised. Yet four Roman soldiers callously shared out Jesus’s clothes, and
gambled for His robe. They may have witnessed many crucifixions, but they
had no idea of the identity of the One on the central cross. John later wrote:
“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the
sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2: 2 NIV). Exiled on Patmos he wrote that
Jesus had “washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1: 5).
John doesn’t record the taunts of Jesus’s enemies (Luke 23: 35), but draws
attention to some women who were there, including Jesus’s own mother
(verse 25). She must have recalled Simeon’s comment, when Jesus was a
child, that a sword would pierce her soul (Luke 2: 35). Only one of the disciples
was present, whom we believe was John himself. Jesus said to His mother:
“Woman, behold your son!” and to John: “Behold your mother!” (verses 26-
27). How touching that in His dying moments, and in awful pain, Jesus was
concerned about Mary’s wellbeing.
Day thirty-eight: John 19: 28-30
Jesus knew “that all was now completed.” The purpose of His coming into the
world was being fulfilled. When Jesus began His ministry, John the Baptist
exclaimed: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
(John 1: 29). For centuries, animal sacrifices had been offered to cover sins,
but these were only temporary, pointing to the coming of the One who would
be the “full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice” for sin. As Isaac Watts wrote:
Not all the blood of beasts on Jewish altars slain,
could give the guilty conscience peace, or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb, takes all our sins away,
a sacrifice of nobler name and richer blood than they.
Someone took pity on Him, lifting a sponge soaked in wine vinegar to His
parched lips. Then Jesus said: “It is finished.” Jesus wasn’t finished; He had
completed what He came to do. The price of sin had been paid in full for all
who are willing to admit their sin, and repent. Jesus then “gave up his spirit.”
He was in full control to the end, even deciding His moment of death! (see
John 10: 18).
Day thirty-nine: John 19: 31-37
It was against God’s law to leave a dead body exposed overnight, or to do
work after sunset on the day before the Sabbath. The Jewish leaders, who
cared not that they had condemned an innocent man, were insistent that the
bodies be removed from the crosses to comply with their law. In order to
make sure that the victims were really dead, it was customary to break their
legs, which would cause instant suffocation. But Jesus was already dead. The
law of Moses stipulated that none of the bones of the Passover lambs should
be broken (Numbers 9: 12). Such was the case with Jesus. Paul wrote: “Christ,
our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” (1 Corinthians 5: 7).
We read: “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately
blood and water poured out” (verse 34). These graphic details were witnessed
by John himself (verse 35), who recognised in them the fulfilment of Old
Testament prophecies (verse 36). See Psalm 34: 20 and Zechariah 12: 10. The
other Gospel writers reported that the sun stopped shining, plunging the
world into darkness for three hours. It seemed as though the forces of
darkness had finally triumphed and extinguished the Light of the World.
Day forty: John 19: 38-42
What would now happen to the lifeless body of Jesus? None of His disciples
were around. Surprisingly, it was two members of the Sanhedrin (Jewish
Council) who took this task upon themselves. Joseph of Arimathea, who was
“a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews,” received Pilate’s
permission to take Jesus’s body away. He was joined by another member of
the Council, Nicodemus, who once met Jesus (John 3: 1-12), and also defended
Him when the Sanhedrin were debating how to arrest Jesus (John 7: 50). Now
both these men took their courage in their hands to give Jesus a proper burial.
They laid Him in a new tomb — probably reserved for Joseph himself.
Did they think this was the end of Jesus? What about His disciples? Jesus had
told them several times that He would be crucified and then rise again, but
they didn’t really take it in. (e.g. Luke 18: 31-34). While His enemies gloated,
His friends thought it was all over. The only thing left for them to do was to
anoint His body. (Luke 23: 55-56). However, we know what they didn’t know
then. The darkness of the storm would pass, and a new day would dawn. The
Light of the World would rise again! However, before we celebrate Easter,
let’s linger at the tomb and be thankful to Jesus for all He endured for us.
Why John wrote his Gospel:
Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are
not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may
have life in His name. (John 20: 30-31)
‘Don’t befriend angry people.’Proverbs 22:24 NLT
Ever seen an oyster shell without an oyster inside, and wondered how the oyster got out? Look for a small hole in the top of the shell made by a whelk. This little ocean creature has an appendage that works like an auger. With it the whelk bores into the shell and sucks the oyster out through the hole, little by little, until it has devoured it. Don’t allow somebody’s angry outbursts or critical remarks to bore a hole in your good nature and rob you of your sunny disposition. If you aren’t careful, you can become irritated to the point where anger and bitterness begin to seethe in you. And that can be dangerous to your health. There’s a mountain of medical evidence to support the fact that certain kinds of depression are simply anger turned inward. Remember the old adage, ‘It’s not what you’re eating, but what’s eating you that’s making you ill.’ The Bible says, ‘Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul [emotions]’ (vv. 24-25 NLT). If you’re wise, you’ll try to avoid people you find continually negative or habitually angry at life, as well as those who seem to delight in needling you. In other words – avoid whelks! John Mason writes: ‘One way to be free of unwanted baggage is to take your mind off the things that seem to be against you. Thinking about negative factors simply builds them into a power they truly don’t possess. Talking about your grievances merely adds to those grievances. Attach yourself to God’s forgiveness, plan, and Word. Then watch yourself become loosed from former “sticky” situations.’Luke 19:28-48, Psalms 105-106
What to expect on life’s journey
‘Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.’Hebrews 12:1 NKJV
Here are two more things you need to know: 1) The wrong people will hurt you. There are two groups of people you should never be influenced by. The first is composed of VNP people: Very Needy People, Very Negative People, and Very Needling People. The second contains VDP people: Very Draining People, Very Doubting People, and Very Distracting People. Love them and help them any way you can, but never be influenced or led by them. Encourage them, but when they start to pull you down instead of lifting you up, disconnect graciously and turn them over to God. 2) The right people will help you. When God has a job to be done, He calls a man or woman to do it. But He seldom calls them alone. He calls others to stand with them and support them. That means your willingness to reach for help isn’t a sign of weakness, but strength. Paul spent an entire chapter in the New Testament acknowledging the people who helped him fulfil his vision. Here’s what he said to the Philippians: ‘Every time I think of you, I give thanks…Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now’ (Philippians 1:3-5 NLT). If you’re wise, you’ll acknowledge the things God hasn’t gifted you to do, delegate them to qualified people, and work from your core strengths. That takes humility on your part, but in the long run it pays great dividends!Luke 19:1-27, Psalms 103-104
How to fight – and win
26 SEPTEMBER 2020
‘Fight the good fight of faith…to which you were…called.’
1 Timothy 6:12 NKJV
Here are six proven Bible strategies for defeating the enemy when he comes against you. 1) Think aggressively. ‘Fight the good fight of faith…to which you were…called.’ Plan and calculate like a general preparing for battle; study how to engage and defeat your enemy the devil. 2) Pray aggressively. We are told to approach God’s throne ‘boldly’ (see Hebrews 4:16). Which means aggressively! Don’t be bashful with God. He’s your ‘Abba’, which means ‘Daddy’. And you’re His redeemed child, so approach Him with confidence and ask for what you need. 3) Speak fearlessly. The apostle Peter writes, ‘Speak as though God himself were speaking through you’ (1 Peter 4:11 NLT). In other words, use a commanding, authoritative tone when you resist the forces of evil. ‘Be strong in the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:10 KJV). 4) Give generously. The level at which you give is the level at which you receive. ‘Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed’ (Proverbs 11:24-25 NLT). No offering is too small, and none too great. 5) Work intently. The Bible says whatever you put your hand to, do it with all your heart (see Ecclesiastes 9:10). Don’t approach your tasks with dread and a desire to escape. Stir yourself up in the Holy Spirit and get the job done (see 2 Timothy 1:6). 6) Love unconditionally. As a follower of Christ, you must endeavour to love others as He loves them – unconditionally and sacrificially.
Change your attitude!
19 SEPTEMBER 2020‘[Having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude].’Ephesians 4:23 AMPC
We can learn a lot about the importance of a good attitude by looking at the children of Israel. It’s estimated that about 1.5 million Israelites came out of Egypt. God delivered them from slavery and led them to the Promised Land. The trip should have taken about eleven days, but instead it took forty years. Why? Because they were constantly complaining about everything! They complained about the food God sent from heaven each day. And any time something difficult crossed their path they were ready to give up and go back to Egypt – back to slavery. What’s astounding is that out of the 1.5 million people who left Egypt, only two from the original group made it into the Promised Land. And today there are many Christians who have also escaped from ‘Egypt’ (their former life of slavery to sin), believers who are always looking forward to the Promised Land, yet they end up wandering in the wilderness their entire lives, dealing with the same old problems and issues. Are you one of them? Do you feel like you’ve been circling the same mountain for too long? (See Deuteronomy 2:3.) If so, here’s your answer: ‘Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterised your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; and be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness’ (Ephesians 4:22-24 AMPC). In other words – change your attitude!Isaiah 32-33, Ephesians 5:1-16
Guidelines for parenting
12 SEPTEMBER 2020‘
Discipline your children; you’ll be glad you did.’Proverbs 29:17 MSG
Several years ago, sociologists and child psychologists made an interesting discovery. Contemporary thought assumed that putting fences around playgrounds made children feel restricted in their recreation. And based on that theory it was decided to remove the fences so children wouldn’t feel confined. To the astonishment of the experts, the opposite effect occurred. Researchers found that children became more inhibited in their activities. They tended to huddle towards the middle of the playground and exhibited signs of insecurity. Interestingly, when the fences were replaced, the children once more played with great enthusiasm and freedom. What’s the lesson here? We all need boundaries – something to define the limits of safety and security. Whereas the ‘experts’ theorised that boundaries restrict creativity, children on the playground proved that we need a clear understanding of what’s safe and acceptable in order for ingenuity and inventiveness to flourish. That means your children will flourish and you’ll function better as a parent when guidelines are clearly communicated, and the consequences for not following them are completely understood. There’s a humorous story of a father who gave his sixteen-year-old son his first car. Before handing him the keys, he said, ‘This is a magic car, Son.’ ‘Really?’ the boy replied. ‘Yeah,’ answered his dad. ‘One speeding ticket – and it will disappear!’ And if you buy a car for your child, it should be a ‘magic’ car too. Bottom line: God sets the rules for success in life, and He rewards those who honour them. In the words of Scripture: ‘Study this Book of Instruction continually…obey everything written in it…then will you prosper and succeed in all you do’ (Joshua 1:8 NLT).
Don’t ‘suffer fools gladly’
06 SEPTEMBER 2020‘Fools despise wisdom and instruction.’Proverbs 1:7 NKJV
Three Hebrew words are used to define the word ‘fool’ in Proverbs. 1) ‘Kesil.’ This refers to a hard-headed person who thinks he or she needs no advice. 2) ‘Ewil.’ This word has a root meaning of ‘growing thick of fluids’. It refers to a thick-headed person who refuses to listen to counsel. 3) ‘Nabal.’ This refers to an empty-headed person who demonstrates his or her lack of wisdom through a foolish lifestyle. So the fool is an empty-headed, thick-headed, hard-headed person who gets a failing grade when it comes to the school of wisdom. They may be intellectually brilliant, financially successful, and socially admired, but they’re morally and spiritually bankrupt. Solomon warns, ‘Fools die for lack of wisdom’ (Proverbs 10:21 NKJV). Just as a body will die from lack of oxygen, a man or woman will ultimately and eternally die from a lack of wisdom. Then Solomon bottom-lines it: ‘Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge’ (Proverbs 14:7 NKJV). The message is clear: only a fool hangs around with fools! So when you’re forming a friendship, here are some questions to which you need answers: Does the other person bring out the best or the worst in you? Do they have a positive or a negative attitude? What other kinds of friends do they keep? Are they involved in things that violate your values? Do they exercise restraint and control their temper? Do they draw you closer to God or drive you further from Him?Luke 17:1-19, Psalms 91-93
Sunday 30th August 2020
Originally prepared for Sunday 19th July by Len Ogilvie
With all that is going on at the moment especially at this time of the year, we remember, that we live in a beautiful world, in an astonishing universe and in the gracious care and provision of an absolutely amazing God for which the term “resourceful” must be a huge understatement.
Hymn: Sing or read
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty the king of
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation;
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation;
All ye who hear, brothers and sisters draw near,
praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth:
hast thou not seen? All that is needful hath been
granted in what He ordaineth.
Praise to the Lord who doth prosper thy work and defend thee!
surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew all the Almighty can do,
who with His love doth befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath come now with praises before Him!
Let the Amen sound from His people again:
gladly for aye we adore Him.
Time of Quiet Prayer
Isaiah 55 9 to 13
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”
Hymn – read or sing
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.
- Do you like watching make-over programmes? We might see the process of transforming people, rooms or entire houses, changing squalid messes into some sort of tidy order, and, I suppose the most popular of all changing outdoor spaces from derelict crumbling surroundings into delightful gardens or play areas.
- I suppose the inevitable question is, “will it last?” You may have seen programmes where the team go back six months or a year later to find out, and the results can be pretty eye-opening but not in a very positive way.
- Things left to themselves deteriorate quickly which very probably explains the run on hairdressers over the past couple of weeks
- The passage we have this week reminds us of a God who, having created the world, didn’t just leave it to itself, and from the word “go” has been engaged in the remedial work necessary to make the world a good place to be despite human tendencies to drag it back to chaos.
- The passage is part of the outworking of the famous “servant song” which is introduced in chapter 49, the inspiration for Paul’s ministry, has the marvellous depiction of Jesus in chapter 53 and culminates in the vision of a completely new, unspoilt and everlasting creation – the perfect makeover! All of it is neatly summarised in this passage and it has some encouragement for all of us in the situation we face.
- Wouldn’t it be lovely to leave our homes in joy and return secure? Well, the path to that will not necessarily be straightforward but we can be certain that whatever twists and turns may come about, that we don’t have to be left to our own devices. There is a God who cares, who stands with us in the very midst of all the tragic, negative things that are going on and encourages us in our own small way to witness to that picture of that perfect make-over. But, of course the best witnesses are those who’ve looked in the mirror at the end of the programme and their eyes widen and their jaw drops as they see –Wow! – they have been given that perfect make-over for themselves. Something like the image of God? Something like Jesus? That is a “Wow!” moment.
Lord we thank you that in all things You are sufficient. Help us to remember that when we feel hemmed in, when we feel the future looks bleak, when we are anxious and afraid especially about those we love. Lord, if you decided that your own Son’s death was a price worth paying for us, how can we doubt your provision for us in the future? Help us to remember that nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus.
The Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
Forever and ever
God Bless and Stay Safe
The sacrament of ‘The Lord’s Supper’ is held at the close of evening worship the first Sunday of each month.
Anyone between 5 years and 16 years will be made welcome
Come and join the kids at
Leaders Kay White and Pauline Harrison
Sunday Worship 5.30pm
Anyone and Everyone will he given a warm and friendly welcome to all our church services