Day 8 – Getting Into Jesus
“Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” John 6:56
While I was waiting for someone recently, a stranger began a conversation by asking me what kind of music I was into. People talk about “getting into” a subject or an activity. You can be into gardening, or movies, or football, or … quilting for that matter. I think all of us are into something, and even if we fail to verbalize it, our lifestyles and choices show what we are into.
The phrase suggests that we spend time, perhaps money, and probably some effort on an interest, hobby, or occupation.
In today’s scripture (John 6:51-59), the Lord Jesus tells us to get into Him. He says we are to eat and drink Him and feed on Him. Of course, earlier (verses 29, 40) He had explained that this means we must believe in Him. Jesus was “into” us – He came to earth and gave His life for us (v. 51). There is no greater way you can give yourself to someone than to lay down your life for them (John 15:13). Now, we are to believe and continue getting into Him on an ongoing basis. In chapter 15 He will indicate we are to be as dependent on Him as a branch is onto the vine. We are to see Him as essential for sustenance – as living water (ch. 3) and as the bread of life (ch. 6). He is to be our consuming preoccupation.
- Read John 6:51-59
- What does my life indicate I am consumed with? Is it worth it?
- To what degree am I into Jesus? What evidence suggests that He is a passion (let alone the main passion) of my life?
- Praise God for the passion of His Son on your behalf.
Day 9 – Harvest Time
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season e shall reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
Depending on where you live in the world, it may be harvest time. Corn crops, for example, are harvested in Argentina in March, April and May, in China from August through October. There are 96 references to “harvest” in the Bible, with most in the Old Testament speaking of the physical harvest of crops and most in the New Testament speaking of the spiritual harvest of souls. So, there is a common theme for both the physical and the spiritual harvest.
In my part of the world, there is a Thanksgiving observance in October, when we eat the bounty of the harvest as a symbol of God’s faithfulness and provision. If there were a poor harvest we would look for explanations: a dry summer, a wet fall, an infestation of insects, poor planning, too few farm labourers, etc. In missions work we anticipate the harvest of souls. If this harvest is less than we would like, what is the explanation?
- The soil of the human heart is hard and often unresponsive. Jesus said that the troubles and worry of life, and the deceitfulness of riches, block the reception of the truth.
Matthew 13:3-7, 19-22, “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.”
- While this is true, nonetheless, there is good soil awaiting the sowing of the seed as well. But sadly, we don’t see the opportunities as we should and perhaps this causes us to give up before we begin.
John 4:35- “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
- Then, there is our own disobedience. Sometimes God’s people disobey Him and don’t take the message to the lost (or fail to help others to go).
Jonah 1:1-2, The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai:‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish.”
- We don’t pray
(a) for workers.
Matthew 9:37-38, “Then He said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
(b) for a harvest.
II Thessalonians 3:1, (NASB),“Pray that the word of thre Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified.”
Note that this call to pray precedes the great harvest.
- It is not God’s time. This is a mystery to us but we are still to prepare for a harvest by planting and nurturing the seed – and we are not to give up too soon.
Galations 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
You can easily see the responsibility that rests with us: consider where to concentrate our efforts in the sharing of the good news of salvation, go in obedience, pray for more workers and for souls, and trust God for a harvest. And don’t forget to thank God for both the physical and spiritual harvests of this year!
- Read John 4:34-38 and the other verses above.
- Choose a person or people group and pray for a spiritual harvest in that person’s life or group – and do not give up praying!
- Ask God how you can plant the seed of the word of God in your encounters with people today.
Day 10 – Suffering Persecution
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10
In John 9 there are at least three lessons to be learned about suffering prejudice and persecution.
First, people can be persecuted for more than one reason. The man in John 9 was a two-time victim of prejudice: (1) as a result of a false belief that the only reason for sickness was his own or his parents’ sin (9:2); and (2) because of his association with Jesus (9:22, 28-29). We might suffer persecution because we speak with an accent, are of a certain color, are poor, identify as a follower of Jesus, or for any number of other reasons. There is no shame in such suffering (I Peter 4:15-16).
Second, there is an explanation for the wrong we suffer or the burden we bear (9:3). Jesus could explain why the man was blind and, in this case, He did. The suffering you experience can also be explained – but the reason may not be understood fully until God explains it to you in heaven one day. Then we will see as He sees and understand as He understands.
Third, the tables will be turned. The persecuted will enjoy acceptance and relief in the end while the persecutors will be judged. Persecution cries for justice and God is a God of justice (9:39, 41).
- Read John 9:35-41.
- Am I suffering in some way because of my own poor choices or actions? That should lead to repentance. But if unjustified, ask God what you can learn and how you can live through this difficulty.
- How do I treat others? Am I unkind to people for reasons of prejudice? Am I willing to come along side of the folk in this world who are hurting because of their race or culture or impairment?
Day 11 – Being A Servant
“Truly, truly, I say unto you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” John 13:16
The relationship of master and servant is emphasized in the Lord’s words in John 13:12-17. He notes that to us He is “Teacher” and “Lord”, our Example, Master, and the One who sends us. As Servants, we get our identity from the Master. Being linked to Him includes identification with His character and His mission. It can mean that we will suffer persecution because of this oneness (see John 16:1-4 where it says that terrible things happen to Christ’s servants when the persecutors do not know the Lord), but it can also mean that honor will come our way.
I think of Abraham’s servant who, in Genesis 24, is sent to find a suitable wife for Isaac. When his identity is revealed, he is welcomed by Laban who addresses him respectfully, cares for his camels, washes his feet, and provides a meal for him. Think of how this servant would have been treated if he had wondered into Laban’s camp without any connection to Abraham to recommend him! There would have been no water or food or polite words – and no Rebekah to take away with him! Those who know the master treat the master’s servant well.
It is also interesting that in Genesis 24, the Abraham’s servant is known only by that title and was willing to so identified, setting aside self. In John 13, Jesus’ example also involves setting aside self to wait on others in the performance of a lowly task. Our responsibility is to do as Jesus has modelled and commanded us to do. Abraham’s servant was equipped for the journey, provided with instructions to follow, and given the words to say. He relied on the provisions, followed the instructions to the letter, prayed to the God of Abraham for specific guidance, and worked in some words of praise of his master and his God. When I go out to serve God I can do no less.
- Read John 13:12-17 and Genesis 24.
- Do you often think of yourself as God’s servant? Both Jesus, God’s beloved Son, and the unnamed servant of Abraham intentionally, carefully, and thoroughly served the one who had sent them. How would your service be characterized?
- What are traits of a good servant?
- What examples of other servants found in the Bible can you recall? (e.g., Namaan’s servant girl, Gehazi, Jonah, Philemon, and many others). Think of how well or poorly they served. If my story of service were written for all to see, who would I be most like?
Day 12 – Invisible Presence
“And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive.” John 14:16-17
There is a commercial for an insurance company which has an angelic creature (he has wings, so he must be an angel) taking the hit for the customer who is fortunate enough to be protected by that company. The thought of a guardian angel is present in the Bible, and that is nice to know, but the passage in John 14 goes much beyond that thought. In our passage for today, Jesus assures us that we have the heavenly presence of the Holy Spirit. In various scriptures the Spirit is presented as guardian, teacher, counselor, one who convicts, comforter, assurance, and more. He is the very presence of God in the believer. As believers we have better than an insurance company, better than an angel; we have God Himself dwelling within.
This is an amazing truth! It explains why we see the world and life differently than the unbeliever. Sometimes I am amazed that others around me do not appreciate the things that have true value. Often, for example, they think something is “fun” when it is really destructive – but they cannot see that. Or they profess even good, even spiritual or eternal ideals, but somehow operate apart from the dependence on God which is necessary for the practice of those ideals. John 14 says this incongruity is because they neither see nor know the Spirit of truth (v.17). If you have no compass, you will wander aimlessly, sometimes hitting on the right direction but oftentimes going away from the good things you profess to want for your life or others. If we want a certain compass, we need God to show Himself to us (v. 21) – and He has! As we to obey what He has commanded us (v.23), He will make known more clearly His sweet, invisible presence (vv.26-27).
- Read John 14: 15-31.
- Can you think of a time when you especially felt or sensed the presence of God in your life?
- If you are a believer, the next time you are tempted to sin, or that you need guidance, or that you have a great fear, reflect upon the real presence of God in your life. Even our ‘highs’ – the good times – should be ones God can enter into and enjoy with us. Is that the case with the things that give you delight?
- What or whom are you depending on to protect you?
Day 13 – Choosing Relationships
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-6
Every day we encounter others, but with only a few would we say we have a “relationship”. The term implies some significant interaction, the closeness we have with a spouse or child or parent or dear friend. Today, let’s consider such a relationship with God. How does one move from seeing God as existing but distant, to experiencing God as essential and close?
That such a relationship is possible is evident in the Bible. God had a personal relationship in mind when He created Adam and Eve; several people in the Old Testament are called His “friends” (Abraham, Moses, David, etc.); those who know God are called “children”; and in the New Testament the relationship of believers to Jesus Christ is likened to that of disciple, friend, and bride.
All of these terms suggest that a personal relationship with God is a matter of choice. Certainly to be a friend or bride involves a choice on the part of both parties. And in the spiritual realm, even being born to, or becoming a child of God, requires such a choice. For example, we read that God has chosen us: “I have loved you…I chose you” (John 15:9, 16). And, we also learn that we must choose Him: “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right become children of God..” (John 1:12).
What is involved in choosing a personal relationship with God also is clear:
- Agree that I am separated from the holy God by my sin (Rom. 3:23);
- Agree and confess that Jesus Christ paid for my sin by His death on the cross and resurrection (Rom. 10:9-10);
- Accept by faith, as a gift freely offered to me, what God has done for me (Eph. 2:8-9);
- Continually develop this now-established relationship by obedience to what God reveals through His Scripture and His Spirit, and by fellowship with God and His people (Eph. 1:16-19).
- Read John 1: 9-18 and Ephesians 2:1-10.
- Have you entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, having accepted God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ?
- If so, are now continually developing that relationship?
Day 14 – Fulfilling our Fundamental Desire
“And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ ” Matthew 22:37
In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus answers the question about what is the greatest commandment by saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The focus of the second great commandment is to love one’s neighbour as oneself. In his book What Jesus Demands from the World, John Piper helps us to understand what this means when he writes, “You all want to be happy. You all want to live, and to live with satisfaction. You want food for yourself. You want clothes for yourself. You want a place to live for yourself. You want protection from violence against yourself. You want meaningful or pleasant activity to fill your days. You want some friends to like you and spend some time with you. You want your life to count in some way. All this is self-love. Self-love is the deep longing to diminish pain and to increase happiness.”
This is a very big demand, a very costly one. If I truly love my neighbor in this way I will have to go out of my way for another and lose something for myself. But we must remember that this is the second commandment. The first is, “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” We must realize that in God we find the greatest satisfaction of heart, soul, and mind that we fundamentally desire. The way to love ourselves is to love God first and foremost. Then, we desire that same fulfilling love for our neighbor. Our deepest satisfaction and joy comes from loving God and it is no threat or loss if we extend the same desire for our neighbor. We love him or her by showing generosity and compassion as God has given us the same; by introducing them to God’s friendship and grace, as God has extended His to us. If we have obeyed the first demand of God, we can also honour the second.
- Read Matthew 22:34-40.
- Meditate on the implications to yourself of loving God and loving your neighbour. Think of someone in your circle who needs your sacrificial love today.
- How does what Jesus says in Luke 9:23-25 fit into this teaching on the first and second commandments?
- When we talk about fulfilling our most fundamental desire, it is another way of speaking about what is involved in living abundantly (John 10:10b).