Praying the Message of Jesus

Daily devotions and thoughts from Eugene Peterson

November 1

Deny Me Three Times

 

Simon Peter asked, "Master, just where are you going?" Jesus answered, "You can't now follow me where I'm going. You will follow later." "Master," said Peter, "why can't I follow now? I'll lay down my life for you!" "Really? You'll lay down your life for me? The truth is that before the rooster crows, you'll deny me three times." JOHN 13:36-38

 

Among the twelve, Peter and Judas were the conspicuous sinners. But the contrasts between them were substantial: Judas's betrayal was calculated; Peter's denial was spontaneous. Judas's sin plunged him into the despair of outer darkness; Peter's sin brought him to a godly sorrow chat worked repentance. No sin must separate us from God; any sin can.

 

In what other ways do Judas and Peter differ?

 

Father in heaven, I make many naive promises and brave-sounding resolves. Much of it is sounding brass and clashing cymbals. I start out expecting your congratulations and end up needing your compassion. Receive me in mercy and forgive me far the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

November 2

Trust

 

"Don't let this throw you. You trust God, don't you? Trust me." John 14:1

 

The evening before his crucifixion, Jesus had an extended conversation with his disciples (see John 14-17). His purpose was to prepare them for a courageous act of belief-to trust in him even when it looked like every­thing was falling apart.

 

What troubles do you face?

 

God, you well know how the troubles in the world and the troubles in my heart gang up on me and threaten to defeat me. I reaffirm my trust in your strong presence and wait on you to renew my strength, through Jesus Christ. Amen. 

November 3

In My Father's Home

 

"There is plenty of room for you in my Father's home. If that weren't so, would I have told you that I'm on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I'm on my way to get your room ready, I'll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I'm taking." JOHN 14:2-4

 

Heaven will not be a vast spectacular country to visit as a tourist; it is a place where we will have a home and dwell as citizens. Jesus' words make heaven as specific and sure as any dwelling place we know on earth.

 

Why is heaven important?

 

Lord Jesus, when I worry about the future, harboring anxieties about health or money or family, revive these words in my memory and refresh me with the knowledge that the future is where you are getting things ready for me. Amen. 

November 4

We Have No Idea

 

Thomas said, "Master, we have no idea where you're going. How do you expect us to know the road?" Jesus said, "I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You've even seen him!" JOHN 14:5-7

 

Thomas's question defines our quest; Jesus' answer maps out our journey. But Jesus does more than give us a map. He not only plainly and personally shows us the way to God, he actually takes us to him.

 

Why is Jesus important?

 

Christ my Savior, how much motion I waste, how much needless searching I do, when all I have to do is follow you, listen to you, and let you live your eternal life in me. "I'll run the course you lay out for me if you'll just show me how" (Psalm 119:32). Amen. 

November 5

Show Us The Father

 

Philip said, "Master, show us the Father; then we'll be content." "You've been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don't understand? To see me is to see the Father. So how can you ask, 'Where is the Father?' Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you aren't mere words. I don't just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act." JOHN 14:8-10

 

Philip's question was a search for God; Jesus' answer ended the search: God is in Christ. God is historically revealed and defined. Speculations about God are over. Now the question is, "Will you believe in him, or not?"

 

What is your question for God?

 

Sometimes, Lord, I ask questions just to put off going to work as your disciple. I wonder if Philip was doing that? Like him, I know more than enough already-help me to put it into practice in active faith in Jesus Christ, your Son, my Savior. Amen. 

November 6

Words...Works

"Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can't believe that, believe what you see-these works." JOHN 14:11


We can take the meaning of Jesus' words, or we can observe the evidence of his works. We can listen to him, or we can watch him. Both the words and the works lead to the same conclusion: Jesus reveals God to us.


Do you place more value on words or works?


Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for your words-clear and convincing; and I thank you for your works-plain and definitive. Thank you for a complete revelation and a whole salvation. Amen. 

November 7

Greater Things

 

"The person who trusts me will not only do what I'm doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I've been doing. You can count on it." JOHN 14:12

 

God does not want us to be docile followers of Jesus, so overawed by him that we never attempt anything but pale imitations of his works. He in­tends people full of initiative, expanding in countless ways the ministry of redemptive love he launched.

 

What are some of the "greater things"?

 

Father in heaven, it is hard for me to think of doing greater things than your Son. What those things are is your business; the willingness to shed my lazy timidity and start believing and praying after the manner of Jesus is mine. I ask for help to do it faithfully. In Jesus' name. Amen. 

November 8

Request

 

"From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I'll do it. That's how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I'll do." JOHN 14:13-14

 

Too often we ask for things we don't need from people who can't supply our needs. Jesus' generous invitation, "Request," involves us in receiving the gifts God has for us, doing ministries to which he calls us, and experienc­ing the grace and mercy by which he completes us.

 

What will you ask God for?

 

God, instead of asking for many things I'll never need, from merchants and entertainers and friends, I will ask you for the few things I need eternally-light to take the next step in faith, grace to persevere for another day, forgiveness that changes sin to salvation. Amen. 

November 9

If

 

"If you love me, show it by doing what I've told you." JOHN 14:15

 

Obedience is rooted in love, not fear; it is activated by affection, not by force. Keeping the commandments, for Christians, is not dull rule­keeping but passionate love-making. Each commandment is a channel for expressing and sharing God's goodness.

 

What are your favorite commandments?

 

Thank you for the commandments, God-for so many clear-cut and convenient ways to express my love for you and for others. "Seven times each day I stop and shout praises for the way you keep everything running right" (Psalm 119:164). Amen. 

November 10

Another Friend

 

"I will talk to the Father, and he'll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can't take him in because it doesn't have eyes to see him, doesn't know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!" JOHN 14:16-17

 

When we are puzzled in life, we consult wiser, more experienced people­counselors, friends. Their sympathetic insight clarifies and encourages. The Holy Spirit is God-living-in-us to do just such work.

 

What has the Counselor clarified for you?

 

God, why am I running to the so-called wise men of this world every time I have a problem, when you have provided me with a resident Friend, even your Holy Spirit? I ought to be consulting you; I will consult you! In Jesus' name. Amen. 

November 11

Orphaned

 

"I will not leave you orphaned. I'm coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you're going to see me because I am alive and you're about to come alive." JOHN 14:18-19

 

The desolate separation between human beings and God is overcome by Jesus. He bridges the chasm between our sin and the Father's holiness. The result is a new shared life between Creator and creature, animated by love.

 

How does God keep his promise?

 

How faithfully you keep your promises, God! Your presence drives out loneli­ness, your love banishes emptiness, your commands cure my aimlessness. Thank you for continuing to be with me in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

November 12

In

 

"In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you're going to see me because I am alive and you're about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I'm in my Father, and you're in me, and I'm in you. The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that's who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him." JOHN 14:19-21

 

"In" is the preposition of intimacy and one of the most important words in the gospel. It is later picked up by Paul and used in his famous formula "in Christ." Jesus sets us in a relationship of intimacy with himself by which we experience the fullness of God.

 

Read Ephesians 2:13.

 

Jesus, I know that you will not leave me empty or orphaned. I thank you for the promise of your presence. Invade, invigorate, inspire by your Spirit. Amen. 

November 13

If Anyone Loves Me...

 

Judas (not Iscariot) said, "Master, why is it that you are about to make yourself plain to us but not to the world?" "Because a loveless world," said Jesus, "is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him-we'll move right into the neighborhood! Not loving me means not keeping my words. The message you are hearing isn't mine. It's the message of the Father who sent me." JOHN 14:22-24 

 

Judas tried to understand why God treats Christians differently from others. Jesus answered that he doesn't. The difference is in the love that responds co God's words and creates hospitable conditions for God's dwell­ing in us: "my heart-Christ's home." 

 

How does love change your relation with God?

 

God, I have such shallow, Hollywoodish ideas of love. I keep thinking it has to do with sunsets and soft music. You have something different in mind-not a feeling about you, but a decision for you, a decision that produces obedience and accepts your presence in Jesus Christ. Teach me such a love, for Jesus' sake. Amen. 

November 14

Make Everything Plain

 

"I'm telling you these things while I'm still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request. will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I'm leaving you well and whole." JOHN 14:25-26

 

When someone leaves us, we are poorer for his absence; when Jesus left his disciples, they were suddenly richer. They had, instead of the physical form ofJesus with them, the Holy Spirit in them.

 

What has the Holy Spirit taught you?

 

Holy Spirit, bring to my remembrance the words of Jesus that I may not be without guidance as I follow him, nor without knowledge as I speak of him, nor without peace as I trust in him. Amen. 

November 15

Peace

 

"That's my parting gift to you. Peace. I don't leave you the way you're used to being left-feeling abandoned, bereft. So don't be upset. Don't be distraught." JOHN 14:27

 

The world's way to get peace is to eliminate that which disturbs; God's way is to restore the unruly. The world's way to get peace is to say, "Shut up, I don't want to hear it anymore"; the Lord's way is to say, "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God" (Psalm 46:10). The world's peace is a precarious house of cards; God's peace is a cosmic wholeness.

 

How would you define peace?

 

"Thy mighty name salvation is, and keeps my happy soul above: comfort it brings, and power, and peace, and joy, and everlasting love: to me, with Thy great name, are given pardon and holiness and heaven." Amen. 

November 16

On My Way To The Father

 

"You've heard me tell you, 'I'm going away, and I'm coming back.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I'm on my way to the Father because the Father is the goal and purpose of my life. I've told you this ahead of time, before it happens, so that when it does happen, the confirmation will deepen your belief in me." JOHN 14:28-29

 

The disciples' love for Jesus was already strong. Jesus now leads them to extend that love to the Father. As Jesus goes to the Father, he leads them (and us) through their devotion to the Father also.

 

Why does Jesus go away?

 

Father in heaven, I rejoice in these words of your Son. They encourage and hearten me. Believing in him I also want to follow him until I finally arrive where he leads me-in your presence. Amen. 

November 17

Let's Go


''I'll not be talking with you much more like this because the chief of this godless world is about to attack. But don't worry-he has nothing on me, no claim on me. But so the world might know how thoroughly I love the Father, I am carrying out my Father's instructions right down to the last detail. Get up. Let's go. It's time to leave here." JOHN 14:30-31


Jesus had many things to say to his friends; he also had many things to show them: Jesus' words were completed in his actions. The leisurely hours of discourse led into strenuous hours of trial and crucifixion.


Are you as ready to go as to talk?


Jesus Christ, I like the way in which all your words become acts of faith and obedience. I like to ponder your words; I also like participating in your passion. Thank you for both the truths that give meaning and the commands that shape purpose in my life with you. Amen. 

November 18

I Am The Real Vine

 

"I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken." JOHN 15:1-3

 

Jesus is not a decorative shrub, useful for giving an aesthetic religious touch to life. He is not available to be arranged in a bouquet to delight us. He is life itself, its very center-the vine.

 

Compare this with Isaiah 5:1-7.

 

God, my habit is to think of myself as the vine with others branching off of me. How wrong! Jesus is the vine, and I am a branch on him. Do whatever needs to be done, Father, to make this vine-branch connection vigorous and healthy, in Jesus' name. Amen. 

November 19

Live In Me

 

"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me." JOHN 15:4

 

It is hopeless to try to be a human being apart from Christ-just as it is impossible for a branch severed from its vine to bear grapes. The basic choice we all make is whether we will get it on our own, or live in Christ, the vine.

 

How do you live in Christ?

 

Lord, your invitation is insistently gracious. It is quite plain that you don't leave any middle ground for casual, occasional, more-or-less religious visits between us. It is either live in him or be cast forth. I choose to live in you, even as you have invited and commanded. Amen. 

November 20

Abundant Harvest

 

"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is -when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples." JOHN 15:5-8

 

The invitation to ask whatever you will is linked to the goal to bear "abun­dant" harvest. When we live in Christ, our prayers cease to be disguised efforts to increase personal possessions and power and become the means of being increased in Christ.

 

What harvest is promised?

 

Lord, I want to be so saturated with your words that when I pray the words will reappear in the midst of my asking, intermingling your will with mine, and so glorify the Father. In Jesus' name. Amen. 

November 21

At Home In My Love

 

"I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done-kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love." JOHN 15:9-10

 

Christ sticks with us through thick and thin. There is an element of perse­verance to what he does, and there is also an element of serenity. Because Christ has done it, we can do it. He provides example, motive, and energy for us to live in his ways.

 

How many times is "at home" used?

 

You, 0 God, are steady and firm, but I am easily shaken and recurrently restless. Establish me in your love, fix in me your purposes, so that I may without wavering live to your praise and glory. Amen. 

November 22

My Joy ... Your Joy

 

"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature." JOHN 15:11

 

"Come, we that love the Lord, and let your joys be known; join in a song with sweet accord, and thus surround the throne. Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God; bur children of the heavenly King should speak their joys abroad."

 

What makes you joyful?

 

You, 0 God, have introduced a new kind of joy into my life-a delight in knowing that the king of creation is making something eternal in me. "A song to our strong God! A shout to the God of Jacob!" (Psalm 81:1). Amen. 

November 23

Your Life On The Line

 

"This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you." JOHN 15:18-20

 

If we get our ideas of love from journalists and entertainers, we will become hopelessly muddled. If we get them from Jesus Christ, we will have a clear and convincing pattern to follow as we obey his command to love one another.

 

How did Jesus demonstrate his love?

 

I don't know what more I need, Lord· You have both told me what you want me to do and showed me how to do it. In love you have given your life for me; now I give myself to you. Amen. 

November 24

Friends

 

"I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father." JOHN 15:14-15

 

God does not turn us into robot servants so that we can help do the chores and run the errands of salvation; we become intimate friends and share the secrets of redemption.

 

How do friends differ from servants?

 

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for lifting me to where you are, for telling me your whole mind, for sharing yourself completely with me, for trusting me with your ministry, and for giving me your love. Amen. 

November 25

I Choose You

 

"You didn't choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit. fruit that won't spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you. But remember the root command: Love one another." JOHN 15:16-17

 

Before we ever thought of God, he thought of us. Before we decided we needed God, he decided he wanted us. He has far better plans for us than any we can think up for ourselves.

 

Why did God choose you?

 

Dear God, I know you didn't choose me without having, also, some purpose for me. Show me what you have in mind-the tasks, the blessings, the acts of love that you have for me, in Jesus' name. Amen. 

November 26

The World Is Going To Hate You

 

"If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world's terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God's terms and no longer on the world's terms, the world is going to hate you. When that happens, remember this: Servants don't get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them. They are going to do all these things to you because of the way they treated me, because they don't know the One who sent me." JOHN 15:18-21

 

Jesus teaches us to expect neither popularity nor applause when we serve him. Christians get support not from the world but from knowing that we are chosen by Christ for difficult service.

 

How do you experience the world's rejection?

 

God, you know how much I want everybody to like me. Especially when I do what is good, I want them to cheer me on. But that's childish; they didn't applaud Jesus, why should they do it for me as I follow him? What I need is not the world's approval, but your blessing. Amen. 

November 27

Hated

 

"If I hadn't come and told them all this in plain language, it wouldn't be so bad. As it is, they have no excuse. Hate me, hate my Father-it's all the same. If I hadn't done what I have done among them, works no one has ever done, they wouldn't be to blame. But they saw the God-signs and hated anyway, both me and my Father. Interesting-they have verified the truth of their own Scriptures where it is written, 'They hated me for no good reason."' JOHN 15:22-25

 

Why do some, when confronted with the best, choose the worst? Why do people reject God in Christ? For the person who wants to do things his or her own way, who wants to live in unrestricted selfishness and unlimited pride, Jesus is bad news.

 

What Scripture does Jesus quote?

 

Lord, what you put up with from me! You patiently wait through my rebel­lion, my hate, my rejection-until all the energies of my sin are spent, and then receive me in love, graciously and lovingly. Thank you. Amen. 

November 28

Confirm Everything

 

"Whim the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes -the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father-he will confirm everything about me. You, too, from your side must give your confirming evidence, since you are in this with me from the start." JOHN 15:26-27

 

One way to respond to Christ is to hate him, rejecting him because he exposes our sin. Another way is to be a witness, talking to others about him in appreciation because he redeems us from our sin.

 

What witness do you make?

 

Gracious God, thank you far using me just as I am, far not waiting until I'm an expert Christian before you Let me witness to your presence and Lordship in my Life. Keep me in readiness far the word and act that will direct another to you, through Jesus. Amen. 

November 29

Rough Times Ahead

 

"I've told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he's doing God a favor. They will do these things because they never really understand the Father. I've told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you'll be well-warned and ready for them." JOHN 16:1-4

 

Words can deceive or reveal. Words either unsettle us or assure us. The words of Jesus reveal and assure. They purge us of the greasy sediments of men's words and keep us from being poisoned by the lies of the world.

 

What words of Jesus do you remember best?

 

I'm not a steady person, God. I waver and slip. Use the words of your Son to rivet my will to you in Loyal obedience that I may never fall away. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen. 

November 30

Let Me Say It Again


"But now I am on my way to the One who sent me. Not one of you has asked, 'Where are you going?' Instead, the longer I've talked, the sadder you've become. So let me say it again, this truth: It's better for you that I leave. If I don't leave, the Friend won't come. But if I go, I'll send him to you." JOHN 16:5-7


By repeating his message, Jesus is trying to shift their focus from the way things appear to the way they are, in Christ. It is a transition from our partial understanding to the Spirit's complete revelation.


What advantage does Jesus promise?


Lord, I get so caught up in my own plans-my childish fancies and private disappointments-that I fail to see the grand design you are working out. And then, by your grace, I see it again-a design that makes my life far richer than what I planned, more joyful than what I anticipated. Hallelujah! Amen.