John 17-18

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father- that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.” 18:20-21

I love that Jesus had us on his mind that night. Isn’t that beautiful? This paragraph does a couple things for me: 

It reminds me to widen my scope of prayer. Jesus prays for his friends and family, and the ministries that they’re a part of. But then be specifically prayers for future Christians, missionaries, churches and pastors. I want to do this as well! Pray not only for my church, but for what it will be like in the great future. 

It emphasizes and urges unity amongst fellow believers. We need to do this too. After his life on earth, out of all the things Jesus could’ve asked for, he prays for unity, protection from the evil one and holiness for future believers. These are all intertwined. Satan wants to divide and distract us and when we allow it, our holiness is compromised. 

Is there someone you have had a falling out with? Have you done everything in your power to make peace with them, as Romans 12:18 commands? 

Let’s approach our interactions with Christians, online, in person, in church, outside the church, with these verses in mind. 
-Carly 

John 15-16

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (15:10-13)

This passage is a glorious portrait of perfect love giving way to joy, honor and unity. 

One of the greatest mysteries in theology (indeed it is the primary point of concern for our Muslim brothers and sisters) is the one-ness and three-ness of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These chapters weave us our best explanation, and I always come out feeling like I just got a really intensely perfect group hug.

I love that the name Jesus gives the Holy Spirit is Advocate. We don’t deserve one, but we desperately need one. In an unexpected twist, the One who has the power to send us to hell, is also the One who paid our death sentence, and the One who defends us. 

The God of Abraham came to us, humbly as a man, and showed us how to live. In all the chaos of Israel’s failure to be a holy people, chosen to bless the nations, you can almost hear a tired, collective moan, crying, “Let’s see you do it”. Now here, before 12 men, stands Jesus: the perfect God, clothed in humanity about to accomplish what we could never do. 

What’s more is His assertion, the Holy Spirit coming at His departing, is better than His staying. Now the God of Abraham dwells, not in a building, but in the temple-bodies of His sanctified people. 

The Great I AM the Father, the Great I AM the Son, and the Great I AM the Spirit. 

Abide in this love. Live here. Soak it in, as a branch soaks up nutrients from a vine. Don’t worry about bearing fruit, because making fruit is all the work of God, through us, as we live in this glorious love we’ve so graciously been invited into. 

Let’s keep our eyes on Him. Let’s remind ourselves, every minute of every day, to exist in this love. The command The Great I AM gives us is LOVE. What a magnificent call of duty. Read and re-read this passage. It’s a good one to frequent. 

I am called a friend of God, the Great I AM.

-Bethany

John 13-14

A couple things jumped out to me this morning:

Jesus’ posture in the midst of anguish. He knows what’s about to happen, and yet he spends the evening at a dinner party with his dearest friends. He serves them, teaches them and spends time with them. What a beautiful example of how we’re suppose to approach fearfulness. In a few chapters, we’ll read that he goes somewhere quiet to pray and petition his fears to God. He doesn’t let the crushing fear of suffering and death control him. 

We are given over to our sinful desires. Judas had already made it up in his mind what he was going to do. Jesus, completely aware of our hearts, knows this, and allows it.

I love what my Bible commentary says about Judas being involved in Satan’s plan:

“Satan assumed that Jesus’ death would end his mission and thwart God’s plan. Satan did not know that Jesus’ death was the most important part of God’s plan all along.”

Are you facing something hard in your life right now? How’s your heart? We can come to him with anything, because he is a God who is with us and faced our all our ultimate fears himself. Rejection. Pain. Suffering. Death.

“I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give you isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” 14:27

 

-Carly

John 11-12

Jesus is our perfect, beautiful King, coming humbly on a colt, anointed by a former prostitute, weeping with friends, because death is the pinnacle of our brokenness. He shows us His power over this horrible thing, which has tormented us from the beginning. Jesus dove head first into humanity’s mess and loved us, enough to die for us.  

Now He lets us in on a new power of death:

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

Jesus gave up everything and saved the whole world. When we lay down our lives, both figuratively and literally, for others, it is also powerful. Suddenly the very thing that exploited our weakness, becomes a source of strength.

What does it mean for Jesus to look into the eyes of an orphan woman, mourning her only brother, and say, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

Knowing Jesus, and being fully, deathly, surrendered to Him is the beginning of resurrection life. Not only in the age to come, but right now. He multiplies our life as we lay it down. Hands off, hands up. 

Let’s meditate on this today. What do we still fear? What power does death hold over us? What power is available to us when we surrender our lives, laying it down with Christ’s at the foot of the cross that we might be raised to life with Him?

-Bethany 

John 9-10

Weren’t these chapters amazing? I could read the paragraph about The Good Shepherd over and over again. 

“I don’t know…but I know this: I was blind but now I can see!” 10:25

This pretty much sums up my apologetics. I can relate to having doubt, I’m not a scholar and I don’t have fancy rebuttals. I just know what my life was like without Jesus and what it’s like now. This is a good place to park in conversation with people. We don’t need to argue, attack or fixate on the details of religion. 

I noticed myself relating to the people reaching for stones to take down Jesus. They don’t believe what he is saying and their passionate to defend their religion. Sometimes I get so caught up in the system that I miss what God is really telling me. God is in places we don’t expect, and he never tells us to defend him, but instead wait for him to defend us. Is he showing up somewhere in your life unexpectedly? How are you responding? 

Let’s familiarize ourselves with his voice so we don’t miss what he’s telling us. 
-Carly 

John 7-8

Sometimes, we can get so carried away with crazy ideas and deceptions, we wouldn’t recognize the truth if it slapped us the face. 

The Jews are trying to debate Jesus with their “know how”, but then claim things like, “We’re the decentant of Abraham! We’ve never been a slave to anyone!” Okay really?! What about those 400 years in Egypt or the slavery cycles in the book of Judges? Y’all have had the lions share of oppression, and now you’re claiming never being enslaved by anyone??

We’ve all got what people love to call “blind spots”. Those planks in our own eye. The easiest person to deceive is always your own self. It makes sense that Paul warns of people constantly sliding toward theologies that “tickle their ears”.

The story at the beginning of chapter eight is a big example of this skewed understanding: They bring a woman caught in a adultery to Jesus to see if He knows the right Moses-answer about how to punish her (which involves also punishing the man BTW. Another convient thing to forget). He stoops down, writes something in the sand, than says, “whoever is without sin, cast the first stone.” This turns everyone away and in that moment, He silently declares, “you don’t know God at all.”

Understanding the gospel is a Spiritual gift the Father reveals to us. Like scales falling from our eyes, He makes us to see and allows us to drink deeply of living water. He is the source of Life and Truth. 

This is why it’s so important to read the word everyday. It’s way too easy to forget which way is Up. We must to connected to the source and drink up truth as often as we can. Otherwise we flounder in lies from the enemy, ourselves and each other. We can fall so far down the rabbit hole, we forget we’re slaves, unable to recognize freedom. 

Pray for understanding. Pray for wisdom and the Truth to sink to the depths of your soul. Ask God about your blind spots. Thank Jesus for coming to earth to understand our pain. Wasn’t that so cool of Him?

-Bethany 

John 5-6

Huge, iconic miracles in Jesus’ ministry take place in these very full chapters.

This morning I was drawn to the story about the man Jesus healed after 38 years.  Jesus heals him physically, and then later finds him and calls him to repentance of his sins so that he may truly be saved. 

I don’t know what healing pools are and I’m not paralyzed, but this story is more relatable than I thought. God cares deeply about our physical needs and often uses them as ways to reach us or reveal himself. Is there something in your life God has healed you from, or something you wish he would heal you from? Have you prioritized this over true healing from your sins?

I have anxiety. I wear it like an every day jacket and fixate most of my spiritual life on being freed from it. I constantly wonder why God won’t magically dissolve it so that I can think and work towards other things. I’m realizing more and more that if he did that, a really beautiful piece of our relationship would be gone. And if one day I woke up without chronic back pain, panic attacks or the threat of a migraine, it wouldn’t mean I would stop sinning. Only through the gospel will we experience true freedom. 

What story from these chapters jumped out to you today? What did you learn about Jesus? The gospel? 
-Carly