Praying the Message of Jesus

Daily devotions and thoughts from Eugene Peterson

August 1

Plain as Day


No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one­of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day. JOHN 1:1 


In the words of Jesus, we know precisely what God says. In the actions of Jesus, we know accurately what God does. Jesus has taken all the guess­work out of thinking about and responding to God.


What does God look like?


God Almighty, whose ways are past finding out, thank you for your plain speech in a language I can understand, and your forthright actions in forms to which I can respond, in Jesus. Amen. 

August 2

Thunder in the Desert


When Jews from Jerusalem sent a group of priests and officials to ask John who he was, he was completely honest. He didn't evade the question. He told the plain truth: "I am not the Messiah." They pressed him, "Who, then? Elijah?" "I am not." "The Prophet?" "No." Exasperated, they said, "Who, then? We need an answer for those who sent us. Tell us something-anything!-about yourself." "I'm thunder in the desert: 'Make the road straight for God!' I'm doing what the prophet Isaiah preached." JOHN 1:19-23


John attracted much attention and was prominent in the public eye. He could have used the attention and popularity to build himself a following. It didn't even occur to him: He had only one aim-to announce Jesus as the Christ.


What Isaiah passage does John cite?


When people pay attention to me, Lord, I am apt to be flattered, pleased, and self satisfied. Give me, instead, the grace to quickly refer all such interest to your love and grace and will in Jesus Christ. Amen. 

August 3

Why Do You Baptize?


Those sent to question him were from the Pharisee party. Now they had a question of their own: "If you're neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet, why do you baptize?" John answered, "I only baptize using water. A person you don't recognize has taken his stand in your midst. He comes after me, but he is not in second place to me. I'm not even worthy to hold his coat for him." These conversations took place in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing at the time. JOHN 1:24-28 


John's baptizing ministry fixed attention on our deepest need (sin) and God's greatest promise (forgiveness). But even while he did it, he made it clear that baptism was only sign-language-soon they would see and hear the actual words and authentic actions to which his ministry was mere prelude.


Why the reference to Elijah in the questions?


Don't let me ever, Lord Jesus Christ, get so interested in what others do in your name that I miss seeing your very presence; never let me get so caught up in questions and answers that I fail to hear you speak to me personally. Amen. 

August 4

God's Passover Lamb


The very next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out, "Here he is, God's Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world! This is the man I've been talking about, 'the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me.' I knew nothing about who he was -only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize him as the God-Revealer. That is why I came here baptizing with water, giving you a good bath and scrubbing sins from your life so you can get a fresh start with God." JOHN 1:29-31 


The lamb was the animal most connected in Israel's mind with forgiveness. Its use in sacrificial worship demonstrated that God had a way of dealing with sin and guilt. When John identified Jesus as God's Lamb, it meant that the great drama of forgiveness was about to take place before their eyes in him.


Compare this with Isaiah 53:7.


"When to the cross I turn my eyes, and rest on Calvary, 0 Lamb of God, my Sacrifice, I must remember Thee; remember Thee, and all Thy pains, and all Thy love to me: yea, while a breath, a pulse remains will I remember Thee." Amen. 

August 5

Like a Dove


John clinched his witness with this: "I watched the Spirit, like a dove flying down out of the sky, making himself at home in him. I repeat, I know nothing about him except this: The One who authorized me to baptize with water told me, 'The One on whom you see the Spirit come down and stay, this One will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' That's exactly what I saw happen, and I'm telling you, there's no question about it This is the Son of God." JOHN 1:32-34 


The descent of the dove was a sign that the Spirit of God dwelt in Jesus-the very life of God the Father was also the very life of God the Son. John's witness of the sign authenticated Jesus' identity as Messiah.


What are the characteristics of a dove?


"Spirit of God, descend upon my heart; wean it from earth; through all its pulses move; stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art, and make me love Thee as I ought to love. " Amen. 

August 6

Two Disciples


The next day John was back at his post with two disciples, who were watching. He looked up, saw Jesus walking nearby, and said, "Here he is, God's Passover Lamb." The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. Jesus looked over his shoulder and said to them, "What are you after?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are you staying?" He replied, "Come along and see for yourself." They came, saw where he was living, and ended up staying with him for the day. It was late afternoon when this happened. JOHN 1:35-39


The test ofJohn's integrity came when the time arrived to turn his disciples over to Jesus. He passed the test: He knew he had finished his preparatory work and so without reluctance turned chose he had trained in repentance to follow Jesus in faith.


What is a disciple?


Help me, Lord Jesus, to be a good witness: quick to recognize your appearance, skilled at directing attention to you, and unhesitating in releasing people in my care to your care. Amen. 

August 7

He First Found His Brother


Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard John's witness and followed Jesus. The first thing he did after finding where Jesus lived was find his own brother, Simon, telling him, "We've found the Messiah" (that is, "Christ"). He immediately led him to Jesus. Jesus took one look up and said, "You're John's son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas" (or Peter, which means "Rock"). JOHN 1:40-42


The first impulse of those who are attracted to Jesus is generosity-not to get all we can, exclusively, for ourselves, but to share all we can with others. Andrew's generosity was evangelism.


Whom have you brought to Jesus?


I want to be a good witness to you, Lord God, so that none among family or friends or neighbors lacks an invitation into your presence because of rudeness or forgetfulness or selfishness on my part. Amen. 

August 8



The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. When he got there, he ran across Philip and said, "Come, follow me." (Philip's hometown was Bethsaida, the same as Andrew and Peter.) Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, "We've found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It's Jesus, Joseph's son, the one from Nazareth!" Nathanael said, "Nazareth? You've got to be kidding." But Philip said, "Come, see for yourself." When Jesus saw him coming he said, "There's a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body." Nathanael said, "Where did you get that idea? You don't know me." Jesus answered, "One day, long before Philip called you here, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael exclaimed, "Rabbi! You are the Son of God, the King of Israel!" Jesus said, "You've become a believer simply because I say I saw you one day sitting under the fig tree? You haven't seen anything yet! Before this is over you're going to see heaven open and God's angels descending to the Son of Man and ascending again." JOHN 1:43-51


Nathanael was an open book to Jesus-as are we all. His surprise at Jesus' comprehensive knowledge of his background and character led him to an immediate confession of faith.


What kind of person was Nathanael?


God, your spirit searches the depths in me: discovers sin, whets an appetite far righteousness, prompts obedience, kindles faith. Search me deeply; know me thoroughly, in Jesus. Amen. 

August 9

A Wedding In Cana


Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were guests also. When they started running. low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus' mother told him, "They're just about out of wine." Jesus said, "Is that any of our business, Mother-yours or mine? This isn't my time. Don't push me." She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, "Whatever he tells you, do it." Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus ordered the servants, "Fill the pots with water." And they filled them to the brim. "Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host," Jesus said, and they did. When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn't know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, "Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you've saved the best till now!" JOHN 2:1-10


As the first sign of Jesus' ministry, the miracle at Cana establishes joy at the center of all that Jesus does. Exuberance surrounds all our Lord's words and work. Salvation is life plus.


What was the result of the sign at Cana?


You do this a lot, Lord: just when I think there is nothing that can be done, with life reduced to mere survival and all resources exhausted, you step in and miraculously restore the joy, better than anything I thought possible. Thank you. Amen. 

August 10


After this he went down to Capernaum along with his mother, brothers, and disciples, and stayed several days. JOHN 2:12

Jesus' work was not always in public, out where people could see it. There were also quiet interludes of retirement and rest. The quiet asides are as characteristic of his ministry as the glorious signs.

Where is Capernaum?

In this moment of quiet prayer, Father, so center my heart in your will and grace that all my actions and words today may flow from you as a cool stream from its subterranean source. Amen. 

August 11

Zeal for Your House


When the Passover Feast, celebrated each spring by the Jews, was about to take place, Jesus traveled up to Jerusalem. He found the Temple teeming with people selling cattle and sheep and doves. The loan sharks were also there in full strength. Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out of the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right. He told the dove merchants, "Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father's house into a shopping mall!" That's when his disciples remembered the Scripture, "Zeal for your house consumes me." JOHN 2:13-17 


Religion is easily and commonly commercialized. Each church needs repeated and vigorous temple-cleansings to restore it to its proper function as a center for prayer.


Where does the "zeal for your house" quotation come from?


Lord God of hosts, invade our cluttered churches, clogged with religious baggage, and do a good housecleaning among us so that there is room for the one thing needful, for prayer. Amen. 

August 12

His Body as the Temple


But the Jews were upset. They asked, "What credentials can you present to justify this?" Jesus answered, "Tear down this Temple and in three days I'll put it back together." They were indignant: "It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you're going to rebuild it in three days?" But Jesus was talking about his body as the Temple. Later, after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this. They then put two and two together and believed both what was written in Scripture and what Jesus had said. JOHN 2:1-22


The body ofJesus took over the functions of the Jerusalem Temple, center­ing attention on God's presence among his people, providing a focus for sacrifice and adoration, and best of all, showing forth the resurrection.


Compare this with 1 Corinthians 6:19.


Just as your body, Lord Jesus, was a temple, make mine also a temple-a place where your spirit dwells, a place to glorify God, a place for crucifixion and resurrection. Amen. 

August 13

Inside and Out


During the time he was in Jerusalem, those days of the Passover Feast, many people noticed the signs he was displaying and, seeing they pointed straight to God, entrusted their lives to him. But Jesus didn't entrust his life to them. He knew them inside and out, knew how untrustworthy they were. He didn't need any help in seeing right through them. JOHN 2:23-25


Jesus did nor plot his course on the basis of popular opinion polls. The response of the crowds played no part in guiding his ministry. God provided the compass points for his journey.


At what seasons of the year does Passover come?


All the things that, in my naivete, seem so important to me-acclaim, enthu­siasm, success, acceptance-are on the periphery of your ministry, Lord Jesus. You march to a different drummer. Give me ears to hear that drum beat, too. Amen. 

August 14

Born from Above


There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, "Rabbi, we all know you're a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren't in on it." Jesus said, "You're absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it's not possible to see what I'm pointing to-to God's kingdom." "How can anyone," said Nicodemus, "be born who has already been born and grown up? You can't re-enter your mother's womb and be born again. What are you saying with this 'born-from-above' talk?" Jesus said, "You're not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation-the 'wind hovering over the water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life-it's not possible to enter God's kingdom. When you look at a baby, it's just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can't see and touch-the Spirit-and becomes a living spirit. So don't be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be 'born from above'-out of this world, so to speak." JOHN 3:1-7


Birth is a sudden and violent transition from the womb to the world, from darkness to light, an explosion into humanity (the world of the flesh). New birth is the same transition into the reality of God.


Have you been born from above?


Spirit of God, breathe through my existence and bring new life to every part of it. Open my eyes to the light of salvation, make me conversant with the truth of faith; guide me in the growth of holiness, in Jesus Christ. Amen. 

August 15

The Wind Blows This Way and That


"You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it's headed next. That's the way it is with everyone 'born from above' by the wind of God, the Spirit of God." JOHN 3:8


"Wind" and "spirit" are the same word in Greek. Neither is visible, but what they produce is visible. Will we believe that which we cannot see? We do it all the time with the wind; why don't we do it with the Spirit?


What do you know about the Spirit?


I look to you, O God, whom I do not see, to renew all that I do see. Even while I am immersed in the world of the senses, I put my trust in the world of the Spirit, where all stength, love, and redemption originate. Amen. 

August 16

How Does This Happen?


Nicodemus asked, "What do you mean by this? How does this happen?" Jesus said, "You're a respected teacher of Israel and you don't know these basics? Listen carefully. I'm speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give you witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don't believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can't see, the things of God? No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up -and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life." JOHN 3:9-15


There is much that we can understand about God's ways, but also much that we cannot. God's ways do not contradict our reason, but they do exceed our reason. The revelation that Christ ("who came down from that Presence") brings to us puts all the bits and pieces of our knowledge into a complete truth.


How does the reference to Moses help?


My questions and all knowledge barely make a dent in what I need to know, O Christ. Tell me all I need to know; show me what I need to do; complete my understanding with your revelation. Amen.

August 17

God Loved the World


"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life." JOHN 3:16 


The verse is deservedly famous: from it we learn God's attitude toward us (love), his action among us (he gave his Son), and his purpose for us (lasting life). Everything we need to know about God-and all of it is good.


When did you first learn this verse?


"Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven, to earth come down, fix in us Thy humble dwelling, all Thy faithful mercies crown! Jesus, Thou art all compassion, pure, unbounded love Thou art; visit us with Thy salvation, enter every trembling heart. " Amen.

August 18

The Crisis

"God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. This is the crisis we're in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won't come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God­light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is." JOHN 3:17-21 

Judgment is not an arbitrary lashing out from a despotic deiry; it is self­inflicted. It follows from the deliberate, conscious choice of darkness over light, of evil instead of good.

What is the crisis?

Thank you, gracious Father, for relieving me of fears but not of responsibility, for banishing my anxiety without robbing me of the dignity of decision, in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior. Amen. 

August 19

Baptizing at Aenon


After this conversation, Jesus went on with his disciples into the Judean countryside and relaxed with them there. He was also baptizing. At the same time, John was baptizing over at the Aenon near Salim, where water was abundant. This was before John was thrown into jail. JOHN 3:22-24


The ministries of John and Jesus overlapped at Aenon, an obscure spring along the Jordan, in the magnificent practice of baptism-a sign churn­ing away from sin in repentance and evidence of turning toward God in faith. Baptism linked the two ministries so that nothing of value in John's ministry was lost in the full exercise of Jesus' ministry.


How is baptism an appropriate link?


Great God: such great acts of ministry! and in such ordinary, everyday places! Continue to do your great works in the kitchen and family room and bedrooms of my house, and among the neighbors on my steet. In Jesus' name. Amen. 

August 20

Off to the Sidelines


John's disciples got into an argument with the establishment Jews over the nature of baptism. They came to John and said, "Rabbi, you know the one who was with you on the other side of the Jordan? The one you authorized with your witness? Well, he's now competing with us. He's baptizing, too, and everyone's going to him instead of us." John answered, "It's not possible for a person to succeed -I'm talking about eternal success -without heaven's help. You yourselves were there when I made it public that I was not the Messiah but simply the one sent ahead of him to get things ready. The one who gets the bride is, by definition, the bridegroom. And the bridegroom's friend, his 'best man'-that's me-in place at his side where he can hear every word, is genuinely happy. How could he be jealous when he knows that the wedding is finished and the marriage is off to a good start? That's why my cup is running over. This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines." JOHN 3:25-30


John, used to being at the center of attention, was ready, on signal, to step out of the spotlight into the shadows. All ministry is Christ's. There can be no competition or rivalry among people who are working God's will, even when they are working along different lines.


Do you think it was difficult for John to take second place?


Dear Jesus, teach me my place: as a servant, not a master; as the friend of the bridegroom, not the bridegroom; as a witness to the truth, not the truth itself Amen. 

August 21

From Above


"The One who comes from above is head and shoulders over other messengers from God. The earthborn is earthbound and speaks earth language; the heavenborn is in a league of his own. He sets out the evidence of what he saw and heard in heaven. No one wants to deal with these facts. But anyone who examines this evidence will come to stake his life on this: that God himself is the truth. The One that God sent speaks God's words. And don't think he rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces. The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away-a lavish distribution of gifts. That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn't see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that." JOHN 3:31-36 


Jesus is not just a better version of Moses, or David, or Elijah-or John. He is different entirely: "from above." Jesus is not a word about God, but the very Word of God. His presence brings us into the fullness of God. In him we have not just a fragment of truth but the whole picture of redemption.


What is the difference between John and Jesus?


I receive of your fullness, O God in Christ. Increase my capacity to believe, to obey, and to enjoy. I will not be content with hand-me-down truth or second­hand faith. I want it fresh and whole. Amen. 

August 22

Jacob's Well


Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee. To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob's well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon. JOHN 4:1-6


For more than seven hundred years, racial hostility existed between Samaritans and Jews. But a thousand years before that, Jacob, a common ancestor, had dug a well from which they both drank. If we go back far enough in history, we find sources of a common heritage.


Name other Samaritans mentioned in the Bible.


Lord, plunge us in Jordan's baptismal stream; dig us a deep Samaritan well, waters to wash the guilt from our land; cleanse us and sing our peace. Amen. 

August 23

The Generosity of God


A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, "Would you give me a drink of water?" (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.) The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, "How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?" (Jews in those days wouldn't be caught dead talking to Samaritans.) Jesus answered, "If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water." JOHN 4:7-10


Jesus began the conversation by asking for something; he will end it by giving something. His asking is always preparatory to his giving. Our relationship with God changes radically when we realize the generous nature of his being; he does not harass us with petty requests but offers us a magnificent gift.


What is the "generosity of God"?


Deepen my sense of need, dear Christ. Enlarge my expectations of your gifts. Help me to see faith not so much as that which I give you, but as that which you give me-even eternal life. Amen. 

August 24

Give Me This Water


The woman said, "Sir, you don't even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this 'living water'? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?" Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst-not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life." The woman said, "Sir, give me this water so I won't ever get thirsty, won't ever have to come back to this well again!" JOHN 4:11-15 


Misunderstanding does not always prevent communication; sometimes, as in this case, it is a creative stimulus to pursue complete understanding. Jesus uses the physical as a basis of awakening desire for the spiritual. 


Compare with Matthew 5:6.


Give me this water, Lord Jesus; satisfy my spirit at the deep well of eternal life, springing up abundantly. Let me drink of it daily and always, and never thirst again. Amen. 

August 25

Worship in Spirit and Truth


He said, "Go call your husband and then come back." "I have no husband," she said. "That's nicely put: 'I have no husband.' You've had five husbands, and the man you're living with now isn't even your husband ... .'' "Oh, so you're a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?" "Believe me, woman, ... the time is coming-it has, in fact, come-when what you're called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself-Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration." The woman said, "I don't know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we'll get the whole story." "I am he," said Jesus. "You don't have to wait any longer or look any further.'' JOHN 4:16-21, 23-26


The conversation intensified as the discussion moved from getting water out of a well to worshiping God. The woman was led into an awareness of her interior needs and of God's ultimate fulfillments.


What does this tell you about worship?


God, I don't want to get hung up on questions of the places for worship or the times to worship or the forms of worship: I want to worship, inwardly, ardently, and truly, and so discover you as the center of my life, in Jesus Christ. Amen. 

August 26

It's Harvest Time!


Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn't believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it. The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, "Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?" And they went out to see for themselves. In the meantime, the disciples pressed him, "Rabbi, eat. Aren't you going to eat?" He told them, "I have food to eat you know nothing about." The disciples were puzzled. "Who could have brought him food?" Jesus said, "The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. As you look around right now, wouldn't you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest? Well, I'm telling you to open your eyes and take a good took at what's right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It's harvest time!" JOHN 4:27-35


The description of the Samaritans as a field ripe for harvest must have been a surprise! The usual Jewish view was chat they were no more than a vacant lot, filled with rubble. Jesus removed the blinders of prejudice from our eyes so that we can see truly.


Compare this with 1 Corinthians 3:6-9.


Forgive me, Lord, for rejecting people whom I suppose are not interested in your love and for avoiding others whom I think will revile your grace. Where I see a field of weeds you see a field ripe for harvest. Help me to see it your way. Amen. 

August 27

Your Son Lives


Now he was back in Cana of Galilee, the place where he made the water into wine. Meanwhile in Capernaum, there was a certain of­ficial from the king's court whose son was sick. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and asked that he come down and heal his son, who was on the brink of death. Jesus put him off: "Unless you people are dazzled by a mir­acle, you refuse to believe." But the court official wouldn't be put off. "Come down! It's life or death for my son." Jesus simply re­plied, "Go home. Your son lives." The man believed the bare word Jesus spoke and headed home. On his way back, his servants in­tercepted him and announced, "Your son lives!" He asked them what time he began to get better. They said, "The fever broke yesterday afternoon at one o'clock." The father knew that that was the very moment Jesus had said, "Your son lives." That clinched it. Not only he but his entire household believed. JOHN 4:46-53 


The official believed before he saw. He did not require signs and wonders as a condition for his trust. He had nothing to sustain him on his trip homeward but the word of Jesus. He believed simply because Jesus spoke.


How far is it from Cana to Capernaum?


Jesus, speak the word that will put my faith in motion; then send me back to the sphere of my obedience and raise my expectations for the fulfillment of your promises. Amen. 

August 28

I Don't Have Anybody


Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people -blind, crippled, paralyzed-were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, "Do you want to get well?" The sick man said, "Sir, when the water is stirred, I don't have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in." Jesus said, "Get up, take your bedroll, start walking:" The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. JOHN 5:1-9


The sick man had been within sight of help throughout his illness. He knew he needed help; he knew help was available; but he couldn't help himself. Jesus helps those who can't help themselves.


What can't you do for yourself?


"I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me; it was not I that found, O Savior true; no, I was found of Thee. " Amen

August 29

On a Level with God


The Jews stopped the healed man and said, "It's the Sabbath. You can't carry your bedroll around. It's against the rules." But he told them, "The man who made me well told me to. He said, 'Take your bedroll and start walking."' They asked, "Who gave you the order to take it up and start walking?" But the healed man didn't know, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd. A little later Jesus found him in the Temple and said, "You look wonderful! You're well! Don't return to a sinning life or something worse might happen." The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. That is why the Jews were out to get Jesus -because he did this kind of thing on the Sabbath. But Jesus defended himself. "My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I." That really set them off. The Jews were now not only out to expose him; they were out to kill him. Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was calling God his own Father, putting himself on a level with God. JOHN 5:10-18


Far from misunderstanding Jesus, his persecutors understood precisely what was involved: that Jesus, by healing on the Sabbath and calling God his Father, was the very presence of God among them. But they preferred to keep God at a distance.


How close to you do you want God?


I do this too, Lord: I acknowledge you, but want you to work only within the framework I have constructed; I believe in you, but get uncomfortable when you get involved in my affairs. Forgive me. Amen. 

August 30

The Son Gives Life


So Jesus explained himself at length. "I'm telling you this straight. The Son can't independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing. But you haven't seen the half of it yet, for in the same way that the Father raises the dead and creates life, so does the Son. The Son gives life to anyone he chooses." JOHN 5:19-21


God the Father and God the Son, the God they could not see and the Christ they saw right before them, were, for all practical purposes, the same. The functions of the one were to audibly reveal the mind and visibly execute the will of the other.


What did he mean by "you haven't seen the half of it yet"?


I offer you my adoration and my obedience, Lord Jesus. By your life I discover redemption; in your words I find direction; through your resurrection I enjoy eternal life. All praise to your great name! Amen. 

August 31

Honor the Son Equally

"Neither he nor the Father shuts anyone out. The Father handed all authority to judge over to the Son so that the Son will be honored equally with the Father. Anyone who dishonors the Son, dishonors the Father, for it was the Father's decision to put the Son in the place of honor. It's urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living." JOHN 5:22-24

It does no good to say that we honor God if we dishonor him in our actions. God is not a far-off idea that we venerate in pious moments; he is an actual presence that we respond to in the historical now of Jesus Christ.

How do you honor God?

"Blessing and honor and glory and power, wisdom and riches and strength evermore give ye to Him who our battle hath won, whose are the Kingdom, the crown, and the throne." Amen.