God-Given Peace: John 14:15-31

Focus Passage: John 14:15-31 (GW)

15 “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever. 17 That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn’t see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you all alone. I will come back to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. You will live because I live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me and that I am in you. 21 Whoever knows and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me. Those who love me will have my Father’s love, and I, too, will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Judas (not Iscariot) asked Jesus, “Lord, what has happened that you are going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will go to them and make our home with them. 24 A person who doesn’t love me doesn’t do what I say. I don’t make up what you hear me say. What I say comes from the Father who sent me.

25 “I have told you this while I’m still with you. 26 However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. He will remind you of everything that I have ever told you.

27 “I’m leaving you peace. I’m giving you my peace. I don’t give you the kind of peace that the world gives. So don’t be troubled or cowardly. 28 You heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away, but I’m coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I’m going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am.

29 “I’m telling you this now before it happens. When it does happen, you will believe. 30 The ruler of this world has no power over me. But he’s coming, so I won’t talk with you much longer. 31 However, I want the world to know that I love the Father and that I am doing exactly what the Father has commanded me to do. Get up! We have to leave.”

Read John 14:15-31 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Often when reading a passage from a different translation, I catch new words or ideas that I have never seen before. Perhaps this is the translation’s or translator’s fault, or maybe, the original language used a word that conveyed something more that this translation wants to draw out.

Whatever the reason, this passage includes a word and an idea that I have not ever noticed before.

In verse 27, we read Jesus’ promise, and see this “new” word/idea:  “I’m leaving you peace. I’m giving you my peace. I don’t give you the kind of peace that the world gives. So don’t be troubled or cowardly.

Jesus tells us not to be cowardly?

What does that have to do with the peace He promises?

Some might believe that God gives us peace in situations where we have no power to change the circumstances. This is often the case. But where people go too far in their thinking is that God’s peace excuses them from being engaged. Receiving God’s peace is not a sign that we can now retreat. That would be “cowardly”.

The peace God has promised comes on a deeper level. His peace fills your heart. His peace assures us that we are loved, forgiven, saved, and now empowered to act. His peace says that He will be with us as we face whatever the future holds.

Peace that the world gives is different. This peace is bartered and temporary. It could be the lull in a storm of circumstances. The world’s peace is nice, but it cannot fill our lives like God’s peace. God’s peace is present when things get out of control. God’s peace remains when the world’s peace has expired and left.

God’s peace is peace that I want. When life throws us doubts and uncertainties, with Jesus’ peace, we can be empowered and freed to move forward – and moving forward with God is not cowardly!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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A Greater Testimony: John 5:16-47

Focus Passage: John 5:16-47 (NIV)

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

Read John 5:16-47 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During a response Jesus gave to a group of Jewish leaders, He shares a statement and concept that is incredibly profound when we stop to think about it – and in this statement is something that we can all apply in our lives 2,000 years later.

While giving His response, Jesus told the Jewish leaders, “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.” (v. 31-32)

Perhaps you have known someone who seems to speak highly of themselves and their accomplishments. Individuals like this will brag about things they have done, who they know, what they own, or any number of other things that help them look good in whatever conversation they are having.

However, the principle Jesus shares is that testimony about oneself should always make us cautious about believing it because it is rarely ever true. When someone else says something positive about the individual, it is more believable.

Jesus says that His testimony about Himself, if it were by itself, would not be valid, but there is another who testifies about Him, making Jesus’ claims valid. While we might be quick to point out John the Baptist, who was Jesus’ cousin and forerunner in ministry, Jesus immediately acknowledges but discounts John by saying, “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.” (v. 33-35)

Jesus mentions John the Baptist as a secondary witness that would be someone everyone would know of – including the non-believing Jewish leaders. However, Jesus Himself does not need to rest on John’s testimony. Jesus continues His response by saying, “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.” (v. 36-38)

God the Father is Jesus’ second witness, and God the Father validated Jesus’ ministry by giving Him the power to do the tasks that He had send Him to do. God the Father even spoke from heaven on a number of occasions, but those present who didn’t believe did not understand what was being proclaimed.

The key in Jesus’ words to learning the truth about Him and the key to being able to hear the Father is simply by believing in the One He sent and by paying attention to the truth He has already shared in the past. These Jewish leaders did not believe in Jesus, and because of this, they missed out on seeing, hearing, and experiencing what He was doing during their lifetimes – and their unbelief led them to crucify their own Messiah.

For us, we should focus on the testimony we have been given regarding Jesus and on the truth God has revealed through the Bible, and when we have these two things in place, we can move forward through life with Him by our side directing our steps.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Choosing to Doubt: John 6:22-59

Focus Passage: John 6:22-59 (NCV)

22 The next day the people who had stayed on the other side of the lake knew that Jesus had not gone in the boat with his followers but that they had left without him. And they knew that only one boat had been there. 23 But then some boats came from Tiberias and landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 When the people saw that Jesus and his followers were not there now, they got into boats and went to Capernaum to find Jesus.

25 When the people found Jesus on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Teacher, when did you come here?”

26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you aren’t looking for me because you saw me do miracles. You are looking for me because you ate the bread and were satisfied. 27 Don’t work for the food that spoils. Work for the food that stays good always and gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give you this food, because on him God the Father has put his power.”

28 The people asked Jesus, “What are the things God wants us to do?”

29 Jesus answered, “The work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sent.”

30 So the people asked, “What miracle will you do? If we see a miracle, we will believe you. What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the desert. This is written in the Scriptures: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven; it is my Father who is giving you the true bread from heaven. 33 God’s bread is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 The people said, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Then Jesus said, “I am the bread that gives life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you before, you have seen me and still don’t believe. 37 The Father gives me the people who are mine. Every one of them will come to me, and I will always accept them. 38 I came down from heaven to do what God wants me to do, not what I want to do. 39 Here is what the One who sent me wants me to do: I must not lose even one whom God gave me, but I must raise them all on the last day. 40 Those who see the Son and believe in him have eternal life, and I will raise them on the last day. This is what my Father wants.”

41 Some people began to complain about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that comes down from heaven.” 42 They said, “This is Jesus, the son of Joseph. We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

43 But Jesus answered, “Stop complaining to each other. 44 The Father is the One who sent me. No one can come to me unless the Father draws him to me, and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the One who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 I tell you the truth, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread that gives life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but still they died. 50 Here is the bread that comes down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give up so that the world may have life.”

52 Then the evil people began to argue among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, you must eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood. Otherwise, you won’t have real life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day. 55 My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them. 57 The living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father. So whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 I am not like the bread your ancestors ate. They ate that bread and still died. I am the bread that came down from heaven, and whoever eats this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said all these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Read John 6:22-59 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Periodically throughout the gospels, we catch glimpses of doubt winning in people’s minds over whether to believe Jesus’ claims about Himself and His role – and when we find these places, we also find incredible lessons we can learn about ourselves and some of the things that might challenge our faith as well.

During one of the more unique conversations Jesus ever had during His ministry, we see a significant reaction from some of those present who were doubtful about Jesus. John records this by saying that partway through this discussion some of the crowd began to complain about Jesus because Jesus had said, “‘I am the bread that comes down from heaven.’ They said, ‘This is Jesus, the son of Joseph. We know his father and mother. How can he say, “I came down from heaven”?’” (v. 41-42)

This short, two-verse reaction highlights one of doubt’s traps that we all can fall into. This trap says that the closer we are to a situation causes us to doubt how God is moving within it. Those who knew Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’ brothers on earth had a more difficult time believing God was His Father than those who knew nothing about His childhood.

It is the same with us. The closer we are to someone who God sends our way with a message, the less likely we will believe it was from God. This doesn’t mean that we should avoid growing close to others or even opening up, but it does mean that we should be more open to looking for God’s words spoken in places we might not expect it – perhaps even by those closest to us.

The closer we are to others, the clearer we can see their flaws, and the clearer they can see our faults. We are all fallen people with flaws and room to grow – and if we are to grow fully into the people God created us to be, we will grow into relationships with others who are also growing towards God.

This set of verses also tells us that there will always be room for doubt. We can look at the fact that Jesus had a mother and father on earth in Mary and Joseph, and conclude that His claims of divinity were dreamed up by those who wanted to start a movement against the Jewish religion. There are plenty of reasons to doubt Jesus’ claims about Himself and His role. If we choose to doubt and our lives end before being shown the error of our choice, it will be too late to change.

However, if we place our faith in Jesus, and choose to delay needing answers to all of our questions, an amazing reality opens up around us – and it is a reality that shows us evidence of God’s hand everywhere, working through all the events in history, leading His people towards a perfect future life with Him!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Valued By God: John 10:1-21

Focus Passage: John 10:1-21 (CEV)

    1 Jesus said:

   I tell you for certain that only thieves and robbers climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate to the sheep pen. 2-3 But the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and he goes in through it. The sheep know their shepherd’s voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out.

    4 When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. 5 The sheep will not follow strangers. They don’t recognize a stranger’s voice, and they run away.

    6 Jesus told the people this story. But they did not understand what he was talking about.

    7 Jesus said:

   I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. 8 Everyone who came before me was a thief or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. 9 I am the gate. All who come in through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture.

    10 A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest. 11 I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. 12 Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. 13 Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep.

    14 I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. 15 Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.

    17 The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. 18 No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.

    19 The people took sides because of what Jesus had told them. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon in him! He is crazy! Why listen to him?”

    21 But others said, “How could anyone with a demon in him say these things? No one like that could give sight to a blind person!”

Read John 10:1-21 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In this passage, Jesus gives one of His more profound and perplexing statements.

It is our tendency when we read this that Jesus is talking to a select group of people, but this teaching was to a crowd where every group and class of people were represented.

John 10, verse 10 is the verse that holds this statement: “A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.

In this short verse, Jesus contrasts the mission of His ministry with all other “ministries” that would come before and after. In this verse, Jesus challenges the notion that He came to “steal” people away from earth. That idea goes against what Jesus says here. A “thief” steals from the places they have targeted, and Jesus positions Himself on the opposite side of this idea.

Jesus sets Himself on the platform that He came to help everyone have a full life.

This is where things can get a little uncomfortable for some. Jesus clearly says “everyone”. This is not Jesus saying, “Only those who follow Me can have the full life.” That might make sense, but this is not Jesus’ words. Jesus wanted everyone in the crowd to live a full life – regardless of their past, and regardless of where they were in the moment He spoke those words.

The same is true today. Jesus wants you and I, regardless of our past or where we are in the present, to have a full life. His statement is 100% inclusive and not exclusive to anyone.

However, not everyone wants a “full” life. Not everyone believes the truth about what leads to a full life. There are billions of people running across the planet who might say they want a full life, but then they act in ways that cheapens their value to others and themselves. God’s idea of a “full” life does not lead to anyone feeling less than how God feels about them, and if you don’t know what God thinks of you, simply look to the cross – the place where the Creator of the earth died. We see our value in how much God gave up to be with us.

When we get a glimpse of how valuable we are to God, we can begin to live life to God’s fullest!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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