Archive for the ‘John’ Category

November 22nd, 2015

The Purpose of Scripture

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31 (ESV)

John reveals his purpose in recounting the works of Jesus in this gospel: that upon reading this account of Jesus the one who reads will be overwhelmed by its testimony and find abundant life. Incidentally, John also provides us with a larger purpose for Scripture generally. All Scripture functions in this way. The Word of God is meant to testify to the redemptive work of the Lord amongst first a particular people and now among all people. The Bible anticipates the need for a savior, reveals Jesus as that savior, and lays the groundwork for His ultimate victory over all things in His second coming. He is the promised hope for all of creation and John’s gospel exemplifies in a microcosmic way that truth, showing Christ’s authority over things both physical and spiritual.

Be thankful for the revealed truth of God’s Word today. Treasure it, for it is meant to be used by the Spirit of God to seal up belief in your heart. As you read the accounts of God’s redemptive activity, the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to how He has worked redemptively in your life in similar ways. Allow the Word of God to do what John desires to do in His gospel: affirm in you correct and saving belief in Jesus Christ. Read the Bible and be amazed at God’s provision and miraculous work for His people.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, November 22nd, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Holy Spirit, John, Word of God.
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November 20th, 2015

What is Truth?

“Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’” John 18:38a (ESV)

At some level, every single person that has ever lived on this earth has asked the question we read Pilate asking today. “What is truth?” The importance of the answer to this question cannot be overstated, both in the narrative of the passion of the Christ in John and in the narrative of our own lives. In the case of the biblical account, Pilate finds (at least initially) no fault in Jesus, as He apparently is a teacher of abstract, philosophical ideas of which no person can truly know the merit. The one deciding truth, then, tries to release Jesus on the basis of the idea that abstract truth is unknowable. Does this rationalization sound familiar?

Jesus declares that He came to “bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37 ESV, emphasis mine). Jesus’ own words, then, declare that there is an ultimate truth to which all of creation will be held accountable. This truth is accessible and knowable, although admittedly also convicting. The truth of the gospel is not an option in the pursuit of truth; it is THE truth.

We live in a culture of warring ideologies, reflective of the tension exposed in John’s gospel. Many around us today will ask how we can know that the truth of Jesus is the truth, suggesting that any religious conviction is at best probable rather than certain. The challenge for us is to remember that there are truths that are absolute. There are plenty of things about which we can be certain, and the gospel of Jesus revealed to us by the work of the Holy Spirit is such a thing. Rest in the certainty of the work of Christ and give thanks, knowing (as is of course the purpose of John’s gospel) that He is the way, the truth, and the life and that no man comes to the Father except through Him.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, November 20th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category John, Questions, Truth.
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November 18th, 2015

Jesus is the Way

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’” John 14:6-7 (ESV)

Jesus, proclaimed in John as the “Word of God in the flesh,” is divine communication. He represents fully to us the character and nature of God, allowing us to behold our Creator and witness what it looks like to walk in complete intimacy with Him. Jesus, then, communicates our goal. We are to walk in fellowship with God as Jesus walked in fellowship with Him. We are to be one as the Father and the Son are one. The dilemma for us, unlike Jesus, is that we are sinful and, therefore, cannot be one with Him unless our nature is changed. We, who are dead, cannot have fellowship with the life that Christ embodies unless that sin is eradicated.

Jesus allows for this provision. He came to communicate to us, yes, but He also came to make a way for us to have fellowship with God, as we were created to do. Further, He was the only one who could have made this way. His unique incarnation and perfect fulfillment of the law makes Him the only way to the Father. We cannot earn this nor choose a different path, for only Christ do we see the fullness of God displayed both in His life and in His resurrection.

Rejoice today, dear child of God, that the Lord did not abandon you. Rather, He loved you enough to send His only begotten Son, and in this sacrifice we find the ability to be fully satisfied and have our joy be made complete.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category John, Love, Provision.
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November 17th, 2015

A New Commandment

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (ESV)

The distinguishing mark of a true disciple of Christ is not the ability to raise people from the dead nor heal the blind. Rather, Christ proclaims that our identity as Christians is inherently tied to our ability to love one another as Christ Himself loved us. How did Christ love us? He loved us sacrificially and humbly. Think about the act of service Jesus performs for His disciples earlier in this passage. He washes their feet, and He does this having full knowledge that the Father had “given all things into his hands” (John 13:3 ESV). These hands that hold divine power in their grasp are the very same hands removing the dust and dirt from the feet of those He loves.

Jesus did not allow power to cloud His affection for His people, and we must guard against the spirits of this world doing the same. We cannot fake the kind of love that Jesus is calling us to. This kind of love is more than tolerance or acceptance. This kind of love is transformative and self-sacrificing. This kind of love is only possible in light of the gospel. We must love one another in a supernatural way, and when those around us see people from such different backgrounds and ethnicities loving each other so completely, they will be astonished. They will wonder why these people are acting so differently toward one another, meeting each other’s needs and bearing one another’s burdens, and we will be able to tell them we are able to because of how Christ first loved us!

Dear family of God, we must love one another. The growth of God’s Kingdom depends on it. Will you commit to love sacrificially today?

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, November 17th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category John, Love, Sacrificial Love.
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November 10th, 2015

We Must Lift Jesus High

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32 (ESV)

The way to draw people into the Kingdom of God is simple: we lift Jesus high and He will draw all people to Himself. How simple the plan of God truly is! Our responsibility as disciples is not to force people into a relationship with Jesus nor to convince them of gospel truth. We simply proclaim. We proclaim His unmerited death and our unmerited favor as a result of this work of grace. We proclaim His victory over sin in the resurrection and our impending victory as a result. We proclaim the abundant life He lived and has given us as a people transformed by His Spirit. We tell the gospel, the good news of Jesus, and as we proclaimed Christ crucified and resurrected, people will come to Him.

Are you proclaiming the gospel of Jesus, the full good news? Or are you proclaiming only part? For many of us, we offer good biblical advice based on principles from the bible, but we never get to the point of challenging people in their sin and depravity and revealing their need for repentance. Christianity is more than good advice. In fact, the advice we give is inherently tied to the gospel. Marriages and relationships only work when we recognize the sacrifice of Jesus and how He has loved and forgiven us. Only then will we work to show that kind of love and forgiveness to others. Advice, then, that is not rooted in the gospel is man-centered and lacks transformative power.

Dear friend, do not lose the message of Christ. Do not forfeit the gospel for an easier, man-centered philosophy. Proclaim this good news and watch as Jesus draws all people unto Himself and brings about restoration as a result.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Jesus, John, Proclamation.
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November 5th, 2015

Come Forth

“When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:42-43 (ESV)

There is no more perfect picture of the process of salvation than is found here in the gospel of John, for the story of Lazarus is all our story. We, like him, were dead in our trespasses, bound by our ever-deepening entanglement in sin, and grieving the heart of our loving Lord. And, yet, when it seemed that all hope was lost, Jesus spoke life into us as He did the brother of Mary and Martha.

Do you remember that day? Do you remember when the Lord of heaven and earth gently but firmly spoke your name and called you to “come forth”? Do you remember when He released you from the binding of sin, free to walk in abundant life? Oh, child of God, never forget that day. Never forget that when Christ has set you free, you are free indeed.

And why must we remember? We must because of our tendency to wander back into the tomb. Every now and then we forget that we have this life within us and act as we did when we were dead, cold and unresponsive to the movement of God. We allow sin to find a place in our lives once again, forgetting the death it spoke over us.

When temptation comes or when you stumble, remember the voice of the Lord speaking over your life, for when you do you remember that sin has no victory and death no sting! Rejoice today that Christ called you to come forth.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, November 5th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Death, John, New Life.
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October 31st, 2015

God’s Work on Display

“And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” John 9:2-3 (ESV)

For me, this passage is one of the most challenging in all of scripture. Jesus and His disciples happen upon a man, who was born blind, and the disciples, influenced by the common belief of the day, asked what fault existed in this man or his parents that God would judge him by making him blind. Jesus, as He so often does, challenges the false assumptions of the disciples by suggesting to them the cause of this man’s blindness was not his sinfulness nor that of his parents but rather so the glory of God might be displayed through him, which of course it was when Jesus healed him.

What an incredible question this passage presents! Are we, as disciples of Jesus, willing to allow our bodies, our resources, our talents, our failures, indeed everything we have to be used for the work of God to be displayed? When difficulties arise in our lives, when we lose that job or sickness befalls us, are we willing to say to the Lord, “Work through me in this time to display your glory and my ultimate satisfaction and trust in you,” instead of asking, “Why me?” The tendency for us, like that of the disciples, is to ask what we have done to deserve such treatment. We want to know how we can fix it to regain that which we have lost, but what if the purpose is greater than that? What if we have been placed in that situation for God to do a miraculous work through us so that others may see Him and believe?

Are you willing to be used in that way? Are you willing to allow every circumstance in your life to be used for the glory of God? This teaching is challenging, yes, but I suspect our willingness to do so represents a new level of faith in our walk with the Lord.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, October 31st, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category God's Purpose, God's Will, John.
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October 30th, 2015

Does the Truth Set You Free?

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” John 8:31-32 (ESV)

Do you know the truth of God? He has revealed it to you. The scriptures offer us the complete revelation of God, concerning His character, His covenant, and His plan for all things. As a disciple of Christ, that truth should make you come alive. Simply by reading the Bible you can know the God of the universe more intimately and uniquely. Granted, the truth given to us may not always be easy to read or hear, but we welcome it because we know that in it lies freedom. Freedom is in this truth because of how we are shaped into the image of Jesus as a result of hearing it, thereby enabling us to be more fully satisfied by Him as opposed to the things of this world.

For those who are not children of God, however, the exact opposite is true. While for us, there is a welcome reward to hearing the truth of God, those outside of the family of God are offended, seeing the truth as an obstacle to their freedom rather than a gateway. They see the principles and precepts of scripture as restraints, whereas you and I see them as pathways to greater freedom.

Simply, how you respond to the truth of God spoken over you says a lot about your place as a disciple. If you welcome truth because of how it enables you to be more like Jesus, then take comfort, child of God. If, however, you resist that truth to pursue your own selfish endeavors, you may want to take a moment and see what part of your life you have yet to surrender fully to the Lordship of Christ.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, October 30th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Freedom, John, Truth.
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October 25th, 2015

Why Do You Seek Him?

“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.’” John 6:26 (ESV)

Throughout the book of John, we see a progression of miraculous signs performed by Jesus through which He communicates to the world His authority over things both spiritual and physical. Earlier in this chapter, for instance, Jesus takes five barley loaves and two fish and feeds thousands of bystanders, proving His glorious and ample ability to provide and satisfy. The people in the crowd who experienced this miraculous work wake up the next day to find that Jesus and His disciples have crossed the Sea of Galilee (Jesus on foot and the disciples by boat) to Capernaum and decide to pursue Him.

The issue for Jesus, though, in this pursuit is their motivation for doing so. Why were they coming after Him? Were they coming because they had recognized this miracle as a “messianic sign”? Or were they coming after Him because He was a free meal ticket? Jesus suggests that the latter is the true motivation, rebuking them for using Him rather than worshiping the Anointed of God.

Why do you follow Jesus? Have you recognized Him as the Messiah, the only hope of the nations? Have you seen your depravity and great need for a savior and found Jesus alone able to satisfy that need? Or do you simply like what He can give you? Do you like the idea of receiving blessing? Do you like the idea of escaping Hell? Are you just using Him to feel better about yourself, feeling spiritually full? Or do you recognize the bread He offers as something much more profound?

Oh, child of God, do not mistake the generosity of Christ as a license to feel entitled. Do not lose the humility that should accompany the recognition that Jesus is the Son of God, Who has come to take away the sins of the world. Yes, we will receive blessing and, yes, we will escape eternal judgement, but our sole motivation for seeking Jesus should be a result of His greatest miracle, when He overcame sin and death so that we could have life abundant!

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, October 25th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category John, Provision, Seeking First.
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October 8th, 2015

We Have Seen His Glory

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (ESV)

Consider this profound truth for a moment, follower of Christ! Have you truly comprehended the enormity of this declaration by John in his beautifully written prologue? We have beheld the glory of God, the Father! That which would have immediately brought about death in us under the law because of our sinfulness has now become our source of hope and life. Jesus has come as the full revelation of God’s glory to us, unveiling a plan established in eternity past in which the grace of God and the truth of His sovereign plan for all things would be profoundly revealed in the person and work of Christ.

Jesus is divine communication, and the Word among us communicates that our separation from God is not permanent. Further, our communion with Him is no longer confined to a building, for as Jesus lived among us, so now does the Holy Spirit live within us, imparting life in us to walk in beautiful fellowship with our God, having been redeemed by revealed grace and truth in Jesus.

Have you truly beheld the glory of the life of Jesus? Are you overwhelmed by the grace exemplified in His mission, death, and resurrection? Have you been transformed by the truth that in Him the glory of God gives us life rather than death? Dear child of God, called that by virtue of Christ’s work, take a moment this morning and rejoice that God sent His son to reveal His glory and dwell not just among us but in us!

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, October 8th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category God's Glory, John, Life.
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