Praying the Message of Jesus

Daily devotions and thoughts from Eugene Peterson

July 1

A Pile of Rubble

 

Jesus then left the Temple. As he walked away, his disciples pointed out how very impressive the Temple architecture was. Jesus said, "You're not impressed by all this sheer size, are you? The truth of the matter is that there's not a stone in that building that is not going to end up in a pile of rubble." MATTHEW 24:1-2

 

The destruction of the Temple was spiritual urban renewal-getting rid of an inadequate physical structure so that a "God-made, not handmade" one could be constructed in its place (2 Corinthians 5:1).

 

What was the purpose of the Temple?

 

God Almighty, I don't want to become so attached to what my ancestors built in obedience to you that I miss the firsthand opportunities of participating in the new things you are doing in my generation. Amen. 

July 2

Tell Us When

 

Later as he was sitting on Mount Olives, his disciples approached and asked him, "Tell us, when are these things going to happen? What will be the sign of your coming, that the time's up?"  MATTHEW 24:3 

 

The view from where they sat was impressive: Jerusalem panoramic before them, with the magnificent Temple in the foreground. But it is not what religious people build that makes the kingdom, but how and when a gracious God comes.

 

Do you spend most of your time looking at religious sights, or listening to Jesus' words?

 

Lead me into asking the right questions, Lord God of truth, and train me in a careful listening to your answers. I don't want to stand around looking at the religious scenery; I want to be alert to the new word you are speaking to me in Jesus Christ. Amen. 

July 3

Doomsday Deceivers

 

Jesus said, "Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, 'I am Christ, the Messiah.' They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don't panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming." MATTHEW 24:4-8

 

A lot of people have franchises these days on predicting the future; it is one of the blue chip businesses in religion. The only thing worse than the crass­ness of the sellers is the gullibility of the buyers. Jesus warned us well and in detail-there is no excuse for any of us being deceived by these people.

 

Who has tried to deceive you by pretending to know God's timetable?

 

It is hard not to be impressed by these people who speak so urgently and convincingly about the future, Jesus; they afl claim a direct commission from you. But then I return to these words of warning and their deceit is exposed. I am again content to be obedient at your feet. Amen. 

July 4

Thrown to the Wolves

 

"They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other's throat, everyone hating each other. In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in - nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes. Staying with it-that's what God re­quires. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry, and you'll be saved. All during this time, the good news-the Message of the kingdom-will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come." MATTHEW 24:9-14 

 

If we do not experience betrayal at this moment, we must not therefore become complacent and surprised if and when it comes. Betrayal, which was the fate ofJesus, is also the fate of his followers. Being a Christian is not a surefire way to get ahead in the world.

 

Have you experienced any of the forms of betrayal mentioned by Jesus?

 

I don't want my identity as a Christian to be shaped by the culture around me, but by the words that you, Jesus, address to me. How carefully you warned me to keep my guard up against the influencing attitudes of others, whether seduc­tive or hostile. Keep me daily mindful of the dangers. Amen. 

July 5

If Left to Run Their Course ...


"But be ready to run for it when you see the monster of desecration set up in the Temple sanctuary. The prophet Daniel described this. If you've read Daniel, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you're living in Judea at the time, run for the hills; if you're working in the yard, don't return to the house to get anything; if you're out in the field, don't go back and get your coat. Pregnant and nursing mothers will have it especially hard. Hope and pray this won't happen during the winter or on a Sabbath. This is going to be trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again. If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God's chosen people, the trouble will be cut short." MATTHEW 24:15-22


If history were left to run its course, everybody receiving their-moral deserts, the consequences would be merciless and inexorable. But we are not left to our fate; history is interrupted by mercy.


What do you most abhor in current history?


Sovereign and holy Christ: I listen and look at and read the news of the world, and despair-such absurd carnage, such mindless evil. And then I listen and look at and read your salvation and take hope-such mercy, such grace! Amen. 

July 6

Don't Fall for It

 

"If anyone tries to flag you down, calling out, 'Here's the Messiah!' or points, 'There he is!' don't fall for it. Fake Messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better. But I've given you fair warning. So if they say, 'Run to the country and see him arrive!' or, 'Quick, get downtown, see him come!' don't give them the time of day. The Arrival of the Son of Man isn't something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you! Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it's not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds." MATTHEW 24:23-28

 

The moment we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we quit believ­ing a lot of other things. We quit believing in self-promoting preachers who say they have the latest word from God; we quit believing in schemes by which we can help ourselves to a fortune; we quit believing the puffery that puts religious leaders on pedestals.

 

Who and what don't you believe in these days?

 

You have made things so simple for me, dear Jesus. I simply believe in you. I don't have to take seriously everyone who speaks seriously in a religious tone of voice. Thank you for the simplicity of your life, saving me from the complexi­ties of false Christs and false prophets. Amen. 

July 7

Pulling in God's Chosen


"Following those hard times, 'Sun will fade out. moon cloud over, stars fall out of the sky, cosmic powers tremble.' Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies-no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. At that same moment, he'll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God's chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole." MATTHEW 24:29-31


The terrible dissolution and falling apart of society and cosmos is decisively countered by the coming of Christ that signals a comprehensive coming together. "Coming together" is the last word, not "falling apart."


What Old Testament Scripture is Jesus referring to?


Come, Lord Jesus! Come and save your people, come and save your elect, come and establish your kingdom. Keep me faithful in prayer for you're soon coming and aflame in hope. Amen. 

July 8

Won't Wear Out

 

"Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer's just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you'll know he's at the door. Don't take this lightly. I'm not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won't wear out." MATTHEW 24:32-3S

 

The earth looks so solid, the skies look so immense-and words seem so fragile. But it is the words that will endure, that are full of energy, and that accomplish our redemption, for Christ speaks them.

 

Reflect on the prominence of "word" in the gospel.

 

"O God of Light, Thy Word, a lamp unfailing, shines through the darkness of our earthly way, o 'er fear and doubt, o'er black despair prevailing, guiding our steps to Thine eternal day." Amen. 

July 9

Be Vigilant

 

"But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows. The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah's. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing-until the flood hit and swept everything away. The Son of Man's Arrival will be like that: Two men will be working in the field-one will be taken, one left behind; two women will be grinding at the mill -one will be taken, one left behind. So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up." MATTHEW 24:36-44 

 

Jesus warned against getting anxiously upset by announcements of the end. Now he warns against complacently missing the signs of his arrival. In prayer we must be alert, but not gullible.

 

Do you have a lively sense of expectancy?

 

I never, O God, want to live in complacent sloth, soggy in religious routine, smug in pious satisfaction. I want to be expectant and ready for the new thing that you are doing today, and again tomorrow. Amen. 

July 10

Overseeing the Kitchen

 

"Who here qualifies for the job of overseeing the kitchen? A person the Master can depend on to feed the workers on time each day. Someone the Master can drop in on unannounced and always find him doing his job. A God-blessed man or woman, I tell you. It won't be long before the Master will put this person in charge of the whole operation. But if that person only looks out for himself, and the minute the Master is away does what he pleases -abusing the help and throwing drunken parties for his friends -the Master is going to show up when he least expects it and make hash of him. He'll end up in the dump with the hyp­ocrites, out in the cold shivering, teeth chattering." MATTHEW 24:45-51 

 

The ignorance of all of us (including the angels!) regarding the schedule of the coming again of Christ sets us free to go about our work oflove without forever nervously checking the clock or calendar.

 

Do the predictors ever distract you from your work?

 

My curiosity, Lord, sometimes consumes me: I want to know when. And you draw me back into the fullness of this now, in which I can live by faith, content to receive what you give at the right time, and be steady at my work. Amen. 

July 11

Ten Virgins

 

"God's kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart vir­gins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn't show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep. In the middle of the night someone yelled out, 'He's here! The bride­groom's here! Go out and greet him!' The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, 'Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.' They answered, 'There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.' They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked. Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, 'Mas­ter, we're here. Let us in.' He answered, 'Do I know you? I don't think I know you.' So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive." MATTHEW 25:1-13 

 

The story asks, "What's smart?" rather than "What's right?" Our minds as well as our morals are to be put to proper use in expectation of Christ's coming. Silliness is as much to be avoided in kingdom matters as wicked­ness.

 

How do you watch?

 

Dear God, you have given me careful teaching that you are coming, but not when. Keep me ever alert so that I am ready for whatever you have for me to do, whenever you choose to command me. Amen. 

July 12

Delegated Responsibilities

 

"It's also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's in­vestment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money. After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dol­lars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.' The servant with the two thousand dollars showed how he also had doubled his master's investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.' The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hid­ing place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.' The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew 1 was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness."' MATTHEW 25:14-30 

 

All of us have times when it appears that everyone else has more than we do. We covet the more that others have, instead of devoting ourselves to use what we do have. Jesus has no patience with us at such times; his story is a prod to live our lives, just as they are, to the glory of God.

 

Do you ever use your inadequacy as an excuse to do nothing?

 

Help me to accept my status, Lord, and be thankful for what you have given me. And help me to boldy participate in the exchanges of love that will mae a profit for your kingdom. Amen.

July 13

Sheep and Goats

 

"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me -you did it to me.' Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because - I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes. sick and in prison, and you never visited.' Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?' He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me-you failed to do it to me.' Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom. but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward." MATTHEW 25:31-46 

 

The great acts of judgement are not arbitrarily imposed from the outside, they develop out of the ordinary actions of everyday life. The final kingdom has all its seeds in the acts of love and compassion of each day.

 

Do you think you will be surprised at the last judgment?

 

Thank you for this story, Jesus; now I know that everything counts. I will never again suppose that what I do is insignificant. I will look for your presence in every person I meet and serve you through each one. Amen.

July 14

By Stealth

 

When Jesus finished saying these things, he told his disciples, "You know that Passover comes in two days. That's when the Son of Man will be betrayed and handed over for crucifixion." At that very moment, the party of high priests and religious leaders was meeting in the chambers of the Chief Priest named Caiaphas, conspiring to seize Jesus by stealth and kill him. They agreed that it should not be done during Passover Week. "We don't want a riot on our hands," they said. MATTHEW 26:1-5 

 

While Jesus prophesied his death, his enemies plotted it. The rapt listening of the disciples was in contrast to the stealthy conspiring of the high priests. The world is divided between those who hang on Jesus' every word and those who plot to eliminate him from their lives.

 

Why were the priests against Jesus? 

 

Lord Jesus Christ, how grateful I am that you have entered the arena of suffering and hurt and evil. If all I had were words spoken from a quiet hillside, I would not have what I need most - your victory over the worst, your presence in time of need. Amen.

July 15

Very Expensive Perfume

 

When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. "That's criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor."e When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. "Why ar you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired." MATTHEW 26:6-13

 

Devout living is not tightfisted stinginess, but something flaming, with alabaster extravagance. We do not grow in faith by hoarding and saving, but by pouring out generous aces of sacrifice in love. 

 

Are you generous?

 

Save me, Lord Jesus, from the niggardly spirit that calculates and resents. Release me for a life that pours itself out without counting the cost, even as you poured yourself out for me. Amen.

July 16

It Isn't Me, Is It?

 

That is when one of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the cabal of high priests and said, "What will you give me if I hand him over to you?" They settled on thirty silver pieces. He began looking for just the right moment to hand him over .... After sunset, [Jesus] and the Twelve were sitting around the table. During the meal, he said, "I have something hard but important to say to you: One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators." They were stunned, and then began to ask, one after another, "It isn't me, is it, Master?" Jesus answered, "The one who hands me over is someone I eat with daily, one who passes me food at the table. In one sense the Son of Man is entering into a way of treachery well-marked by the Scriptures -no surprises here. In another sense that man who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man -better never to have been born than do this!" Then Judas, already turned traitor, said, "It isn't me, is it, Rabbi?" Jesus said, "Don't play games with me, Judas." MATTHEW 26:14-16, 20-25 

 

It is difficult to comprehend that this act of betrayal could be committed by a man associated personally with Jesus, surrounded by peers in a common meal and intimate conversation. But any of us is capable of it: "It isn't me, is it?" is an honest question to ask ourselves.

 

Why did Judas do it?

 

Forgive me, Father,for the times that I have suddenly left the way of faith and gone off to execute a plan that I thought would bring me some short-term benefit. Amen. 

July 17

The Bread and the Cup

 

During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples: "Take, eat. This is my body." Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them: "Drink this, all of you. This is my blood, God's new covenant poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins.' I'll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that new day when I'll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father." MATTHEW 26:26-29

 

The comon elements of the meal, through Jesus' words and prayer, became the signs of our eternal salvation. The deepest spiritual truths are represented in the everyday material of bread and wine.

 

What does the Lord's Supper mean to you?

 

I receive what you give to me, Lord Jesus Christ - your life and your salvation. As I receive it, I live in hope, anticipating the full life of the kingdom, even as I am participating in it now by your grace. Amen.

July 18

Sheep Will Be Scattered 

 

They sang a hymn and went directly to Mount Olives. Then Jesus told them, “Before the night’s over, you’re going to fall to pieces because of what happens to me. There is a Scripture that says, 'I’ll strike the shepherd; helter-skelter the sheep will be scattered.' But after I am raised up, I, your Shepherd, will go ahead of you, leading the way to Galilee.” Peter broke in, “Even if everyone else falls to pieces on account of you, I won’t.” “Don’t be so sure,” Jesus said. “This very night, before the rooster crows up the dawn, you will deny me three times.” Peter protested, “Even if I had to die with you, I would never deny you.” All the others said the same thing. MATTHEW 26:30-35

 

Stumbling was a way of life for Peter, as it is for us. Optimism in our capacity for faithfulness is not the basis of our salvation. Our trust is in the resurrection.

 

When was the last time you stumbled?

 

I am grateful, God, that your plans do not depend upon my loyalty, that your salvation is not contingent on my on my steadfastness. Your resurrection takes place anyway. All praise to you, O God. Amen.

July 19

Do It Your Way

 

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane and told his disciples, "Stay here while I go over there and pray." . . . Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, "My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?" When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, "Can't you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don't wander into temptation without even knowing you're in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there's another part that's as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire." He then left them a second time. Again he prayed, "My Father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I'm ready. Do it your way." When he came back, he again found them asleep. They simply couldn't keep their eyes open. This time he let them sleep on, and went back a third time to pray, going over the same ground one last time. When he came back the next time, he said, "Are you going to sleep on and make a night of it? My time is up, the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the hands of sinners. Get up! Let's get going! My betrayer is here." MATTHEW 26:36, 39-46

 

Sleeping, we slip into a private world, unconscious of God's action. Praying, the opposite of sleeping, explores every detail in the drama of existence, draws us into participation in Christ's passion.

 

What are some contrasts between sleeping and praying?

 

Live in me, Holy Christ; create a new Adam, a new Eve, to live to your glory in this garden. Teach me the freedom that lives your will instead of asserting my own. For Jesus' sake. Amen.

July 20

Cut and Ran

 

The words were barely out of his mouth when Judas (the one from the Twelve) showed up, and with him a gang from the high priests and religious leaders brandishing swords and clubs. The betrayer had worked out a sign with them: "The one I kiss, that's the one -seize him." He went straight to Jesus, greeted him, "How are you, Rabbi?" and kissed him. Jesus said, "Friend, why this charade?" Then they came on him -grabbed him and roughed him up. One of those with Jesus pulled his sword and, taking a swing at the Chief Priest's servant, cut off his ear. Jesus said, "Put your sword back where it belongs. All who use swords are destroyed by swords. Don't you realize that I am able right now to call to my Father. and twelve companies -more, if I want them -of fighting angels would be here, battle-ready? But if I did that, how would the Scriptures come true that say this is the way it has to be?" Then Jesus addressed the mob: "What is this-coming out after me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day 1 have been sitting in the Temple teaching, and you never so much as lifted a hand against me. You've done it this way to confirm and fulfill the prophetic writings." Then all the disciples cut and ran. MATTHEW 26:47-56 

 

Rome and religion conspired against Jesus and seized him, but he feared no evil. He was so sure of God's "shepherd's crook" (Psalm 23:4) that he was confidently dismissive of all "swords and clubs."

 

Where are you in this crowd? 

 

You lived, Jesus, not by sword but by Scripture. Yet I continue to use violence, even when I am attempting to do right things. Teach me to do it your way-your goals, yes, but also your methods. Amen. 

July 21

Caiaphas ... Peter

 

The gang that had seized Jesus led him before Caiaphas the Chief Priest, where the religion scholars and leaders had assembled. Peter followed at a safe distance until they got to the Chief Priest’s courtyard ... The high priests, conspiring with the Jewish Council, tried to cook up charges against Jesus in order to sentence him to death. But even though many stepped up, making up one false accusation after another, nothing was believable ... Jesus kept silent. Then the Chief Priest said, “I command you by the authority of the living God to say if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus was curt: “You yourself said it. And that’s not all. Soon you’ll see it for yourself: The Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Mighty One, Arriving on the clouds of heaven.” At that, the Chief Priest lost his temper, ripping his robes, yelling, “He blasphemed! Why do we need witnesses to accuse him? You all heard him blaspheme! Are you going to stand for such blasphemy?” They all said, “Death! That seals his death sentence.” MATTHEW 26:57-60, 63-66 

 

Caiaphas and Peter are mentioned in successive sentences. The high priest and the chief apostle both centered their attention on Jesus. Earlier, Peter had said "You're the Christ" (Matthew 16:16). Here, Caiaphas says it. The content of the gospel stays the same-but how different it sounds on the lips of Caiaphas and of Peter.

 

Why was Jesus silent?

 

A striking scene, Lord! The torture and mocking intended to reduce you to insignificance only reveal your strength. Out of this suffering your love appears with immense dignity and beauty. Thank you. Amen.

July 22

The Word Was First

 

The Word was first, the Word present to God , God present to the Word. JOHN 1:1 

 

John and Genesis both fix our roots in God-realit y: Our origins are in the God who speaks (and is therefore intelligible to us) and whose speech (Word) makes the very stuff of our existence.

 

Compare John 1 with Genesis 1.

 

God of creation, Let all my "firsts" be in you: every thought, every act, every desire, every purpose, every plan. I want to be rooted and grounded in you, and only you. Amen.

July 23

Created Through Him

 

The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. Everything was created through him; nothing- not one thing! -came into being without him. JOHN 1:2-3

 

It is impossible to separate what we know of God from who God is, what God has said from his very being. Everything that is made is a clue leading to God, and God, of course, is the truth of everything.

 

How did creation take place?

 

Thank you, Lord, for this gloriously intricate, put-together, held-together universe. Everywhere I look I find evidence of what you have done. Everything I see gives me another reason to marvel and praise. Amen. 

July 24

The Life Was Light

 

What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. JOHN 1:4

 

Our ability to see anything and understand it is because of God. Even our questions about God are evidence of God. Our enlightened minds, which we may use to deny God, are a gift of the God who gives us life.

 

What are some characteristics of light?

 

Father of lights, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, I thank you that "every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven" (James 1:17). Amen. 

July 25

Life-Light/Darkness

 

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn't put it out. JOHN 1:5 

 

In a contest between light and dark, light always wins. Darkness never smothers light; light always dissipates darkness. Darkness has no initiative and no energy. It is helpless against the pulsating radiance of the light .

 

What are some characteristics of darkness?

 

"This is the day of light: let there "be light today; O Dayspring, rise upon our night and chase its gloom away." Amen

July 26

The Way to the Life-Light

 

There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light. JOHN 1:6-8

 

The contrast is abrupt: Our minds are drawn from the wide, cosmic sweep of creation to the rough Judean wilderness, where a man was calling partic­ular attention to God's work and word in Jesus Christ .

 

What do you know about John?

 

By your word, God, the heavens were created, and by that same word, I am addressed. What is going on in the heavens and in my home are equally your interest. Make the connection in my faith between your grand purposes and your specific involvement in my life. Amen. 

July 27

The World Didn't Notice Him

 

The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn't even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn't want him. JOHN 1:9-11

 

That which is obvious in revelation and faith is not obvious to mere clever­ness or doubt. "Think of it! The Word was made flesh and not one of the journalists of those days even knew it was happening!" 

 

Why was Jesus not recognized and not received?

 

Dear Lord, help me not to overlook the obvious-through carelessness miss the great signs of your saving love, through sloth have my eyes closed to the flashing lights of eternity, in Jesus Christ. Amen. 

July 28

God-Begotten

 

But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, he made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood- begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten. JOHN 1:12-13

 

New birth is a theme that recurs throughout John's Gospel. All that we know of birth, naturally, is a kind of story of what God wills for us supernaturally.

 

Compare this with John 3:1-15.

 

Create, shape, and bring to maturity, Mighty God, the new life that you will for me in Jesus Christ. I want to be known as your child, be recognized as your child, and grow up into eternity as your child. Amen. 

July 29

The Word Became Flesh

 

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of­a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish. JOHN 1:14

 

The "Word" by which God made all things (see verses 1-3) became an actual flesh-and-blood person, Jesus of Nazareth. A most astounding event, scarcely imaginable, but impressively documented in our Gospels by chose who saw it take place ("we saw the glory").

 

Compare this with Galatians 4:4-5.

 

Father, open my eyes to see all that you reveal in Jesus Christ. I don't want to miss a single instance of grace, nor overlook one item of truth. I want to see it all, your glory in Jesus. Amen. 

July 30

This Is the One!

 

John pointed him out and called, "This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word." JOHN 1:15

 

John knew what to look for and what to expect-he was the first century's leading expert on the subject of Messiah. His years of preparatory preach­ing climaxed in his identification ofJesus as the Messiah sent and anointed by God.

 

How did John know that Jesus was the Messiah?

 

I thank you, dear God, for those teachers and preachers you have sent into my life to train me in what to look for and alert me to your living presence in Jesus Christ. Amen. 

July 31

Gift After Gift

 

We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift. We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, this endless knowing and understanding-all this came through Jesus, the Messiah. JOHN 1:16-17

 

God does not carefuHy calculate his stores of grace and truth and then cautiously dole them out in bits and pieces. He is lavish and extravagant as he reveals and shares himself in Jesus Christ.

 

How has God been generous to you?

 

God, what a change from what I was ttsed to, living hand to mottth on morsels of law! Every day now is a banquet, grand and abundant! Thank you for this new lifestyle of "gift after gift after gift." Amen.