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wake up your spirit during the week

Today we come to the end of our walk through John’s Gospel, and we land at the perfect place. Two thousand years ago, John-the-Gospel-writer came to the end of HIS book, and he sat back and surveyed the life of Jesus that he was privileged to witness. John concluded, &ldquo ...read more

Different writers have different explanations for what Jesus’ question means ... so you can read and find other explanations than this. But in light of everything, I think Jesus was taking Peter back to the table at the Last Supper. Remember, Peter had said, “Even if ...read more

Thomas sometimes gets a raw deal among Christians. He has become the poster-boy for doubt. We literally refer to a person who struggles to believe something as a “Doubting Thomas". It’s no wonder Jesus admonishes a person like that ... right? As I read these vers ...read more

Before she met Jesus, Mary Magdalene’s life was a train-wreck. I can’t explain what it looks like when a person has “seven demons”, and I can’t explain how they were “cast out,” but I do know that Jesus completely changed her messy life. ...read more

When I read John’s account of Resurrection Morning, I’m struck by two key details: 1) That John makes a point to record in Scripture that he outran Peter to the tomb. Men, right? He couldn’t resist taking one last shot to rub it in! :) 2) That Peter charged past ...read more

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were Pharisees. They were bright, important, influential men who, (along with the other Pharisees), had monitored Jesus closely during his ministry. It just so happened that both men came to believe that Jesus was who He said He was. In a sense, ...read more

John is an excellent writer who knows how to capture the essence of any moment. He was standing at the foot of the cross during what must have been one of the most horrific moments of his entire life. I wouldn’t want to witness the brutality of anyone being executed in such ...read more

There are some times in life when you can’t be neutral. There are some issues that require you to make a stand. Injustice, for instance, demands a response, and those who don’t stand against it (sometimes unwittingly) stand for it. Some issues are cut and dry, black a ...read more

As I read this description about Jesus standing in front of the Anas and Caiaphas and Pilate, I am struck by Jesus statement in verse 36: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to ...read more

For Simon Peter, the night of Jesus’ arrest highlighted his best and his worst - Moments of triumph followed by moments of complete failure. Just hours before this scene in John 18, Peter sat at the table with Jesus and confidently pledged his unyielding support; his eterna ...read more

(Based on the entire chapter of John 17) Jesus is praying for me. That jumps out from these verses right away. Jesus Christ is just hours from being arrested and crucified, and He knows it, and in those final precious hours He stops to pray for the Church. Notice, He explicitly ...read more

What an ironic time for Jesus to talk about peace. In a short time, Roman soldiers and Jewish leaders will burst into the garden and disturb the peace. They will arrest Jesus and scatter His followers and light the fuse to a weekend that will change history forever. There are man ...read more

Weeping is part of life, for know. We weep at funerals. We weep in hospital rooms. We weep with friends standing on the brink of divorce; with loved ones who are hurting; with displaced and mistreated people around the world. We live in a sick, broken world – a world that P ...read more

Over three years of close fellowship with Jesus, the disciples must have been used to hearing tough, confusing teachings. Jesus constantly said things that challenged their thinking and stretched their understanding, so hearing Jesus drop a bombshell was nothing new. But I can&rs ...read more

There is something in all of us that loves fairness and justice. Humans are born with a programmed desire for both. Listen to kids play on the playground at recess at you are certain to hear, “That’s not fair!” screamed every few minutes. Read the posts on your ...read more

Last words are powerful. That’s because dwindling time attaches extra meaning to our words and actions. Think about the last tender evening around the bedside of a dying loved one, or the last hurried conversation at the airport, or the emotional embrace before driving away ...read more

This winter has been one of the wettest in my memory. We’ve had tremendous amounts of rain nearly every week. The ground is soft. And this week, the wind has been brisk. Recently, during the night I heard the creaking sound of a tree that finally gave into the wind. It&rsqu ...read more

In a recent interview, John Ortberg mused about the lackadaisical way American Christians often approach the concept of “discipleship.” We argue across denominational lines exactly what is required for salvation, and at what point a person moves across the line from & ...read more

I’m breaking protocol this morning. Instead of taking the next section of verses and working through them, my eyes stopped on this ONE – the second half of verse 19. Jesus told the Disciples, “Because I live, you also will live.” As I write these words, E ...read more

How can Jesus say this? Of all the promises He made to His followers on this fateful night, this is probably the most incredible of all. Jesus looks the Disciples in the eye and says, “You know the amazing things you’ve seen me do? Well, you’re going to do great ...read more

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and ...read more

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Even if you’re not a big Charles Dickens fan (like I am), you are familiar with that line. You’re also familiar with the concept. How many moments in life seem to turn on a swivel from the best to the ...read more

“A new commandment I give you.” There is no way for me, a Gentile living in 2019, to hear that phrase with the same ears as the Jews sitting around the table with Jesus. The “Commands of God” were at the heart of their identity. God have given them Torah, ...read more

I can’t bring to mind a story in Scripture more tragic than the story of Judas Iscariot. Here is a man who spent real time with Jesus. He walked with Him. He dined with Him. He witnessed incredible miracles, and He heard challenging teaching. How could he do this? This morn ...read more

Sometimes I try to imagine what it would be like to be in the room with Jesus during this moment. What would it be like to have Jesus Christ kneel in front of me, take my embarrassingly sweaty foot in his hand, and start washing it like a servant? I imagine the sniffles and suppr ...read more

In every story about Jesus, it is important to recognize who Jesus really is. Yes, Jesus was a great teacher. Yes, He was a visionary leader. Yes, He was a reformer, and an activist, and a prophet. Jesus was all of those things and more. Focus on that word, “more.” Je ...read more

What an incredible statement we find in verse 43! These authorities believed that Jesus was who He claimed to be, but they refused to admit it out of fear of the Pharisees. Why? Because they craved the glory of their positions more than the glory that comes from the Lord. They va ...read more

There is so much in this passage that strikes me – so much tension and unseen drama. Though the crowd was completely oblivious, Jesus as coming to the end of the most significant quest in history. It was the culmination of a mission which originated in the Garden of Eden. I ...read more

The cost of discipleship is often very high. To be clear, Jesus never tried to hide that fact. He said things like:  Mark 8:34 - “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” Luke 14:25 - Whoever does not bear His ow ...read more

This is an odd scene, to say the least. Jesus has just entered Jerusalem, and the Jews have worshipped and received their king. Ironically, within a few days the crowds will declare, “We have no king but Caesar” – Jesus was not the king they expected. At this mo ...read more

Jesus entered Jerusalem as a “rock-star.” In modern times, He would have come into the city signing autographs and conducting interviews, all the while surrounded by paparazzi. John points out that the reason for this sudden explosion of popularity was because of Laza ...read more

I’ve read through John’s Gospel many times, but these three verses have always escaped my scrutiny. I’m familiar with them, of course. I’ve read them, but I don’t think I’ve always stopped and considered this story from Lazarus’ point of ...read more

It is hard for people like me, living in this culture in this time in history, to understand what is happening in these verses. Obviously, at the time Mary poured out this expensive perfume, it was a bold, even controversial act. According to one source I read, Mary’s perf ...read more

When the Jewish leaders gathered to discuss Jesus, they assumed they were in control of the outcome. These men were power brokers in Israel. At least that’s how they saw themselves. (Rome was really in charge, but they allowed the Jewish leaders to control most parts of lif ...read more

“It shouldn’t have happened like this.” That was the heavy conclusion reached among the inner circle of family and friends in Lazarus’ house following his burial. They all loved Lazarus, of course, and they knew that Lazarus loved Jesus. They knew that Jes ...read more

Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus. John tells us that straight-out. He had history with that family. He loved to visit them and dine with them. He cared for them. That’s a key to this entire story. You see, when Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother w ...read more

One of the great ironies of life in this age is that words like “unity” and “love” and “acceptance” have never been more revered, not have they ever been less understood. People of this age claim a deep desire for harmony. We worship “acc ...read more

The world is filled with thieves. Jesus says that thieves are those who steal and kill and destroy. Our world is full of those people ... and many of them do not even know they are thieves. Sometimes they come with malice, but other times, they come with a sincere belief that the ...read more

There are so many voices. So many empty words. So many airwaves filling time. So many strong takes - hot takes - crude takes. So many critics and salespeople and liars and boasters and flatterers. This roar is deafening. In the midst of the noise, find an oasis, even a momentary ...read more

Jesus came for judgment. We don’t like to think about it like that. Those aren’t words that easily roll of our tongues, but judgment is an integral reason (and result) of the incarnation. Jesus is light, and He came into the world as “the true light which gives ...read more

A few years ago I met every week or two with a guy in our congregation who wanted to believe in Christ, but he just couldn’t let go and follow Him. He had so many questions, and he wanted all of the answers before he had faith. When we met, this guy would argue and debate ...read more

How does the mortal explain the immortal? How can the simple make known the ways of the divine? We worry so much with HOW God does what He does that we often lose sight of WHAT He is doing. That’s the more pertinent question. In John 9, Jesus opens the eyes of this blind m ...read more

Why do bad things happen to good people? It’s a question that has plagued the people of earth almost since the very beginning. The oldest book in the Bible, Job, tackles that issue right from the top. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide very many answers. Job demands an ...read more

The Pharisees’ view of the Messiah was too small. Their view of Salvation was too small. Their view of God was too small. They imagined a Messiah who would fit all of their neat requirements, and a Salvation that would be only for people who thought like them, and a God who ...read more

With the exact same data available to us, people around the world have very different opinions about WHO Jesus is. Some people think that Jesus was a great teacher who showed the world how to love and care for those marginalized by society and bring about lasting social change. ...read more

From the very beginning, this scene was between Jesus and the religious leaders. The woman, caught in the act of adultery, was nothing more than a backdrop. It was obvious. After all, adultery takes two, and they only brought one. Justice for the crime was never on these men&rsqu ...read more

Nicodemus has become one of my favorite stories in the New Testament. His story stretches across the entire Gospel of John, and we see just enough of him to understand that he is on a journey to get closer to Jesus. In fact, his journey is not unlike many that I see in our Church ...read more

John 7 is such a brutally honest look at how mobs of people respond to Jesus. Scan the crowd and you can see everyone at the party. Over there, with their arms folded across their robes, are the religious leaders. They are scowling because Jesus doesn’t fit their particular ...read more

Can this man be the Christ? Everything hinges on that question: Who is Jesus? If Jesus is not who He claims to be, then the religious leaders were right. He was leading the people astray should be soundly rejected. But if Jesus is the Christ, as He claimed to be, that changes eve ...read more

I’m always fascinated by these interactions between Jesus and His family. It’s really hard to imagine the dynamics of Jesus’ home life growing up, or to picture the struggle His brothers must have had with His claim to divinity. Everyone things his/her brother a ...read more

This is such an honest passage of Scripture – raw and gritty and real-life. Anyone who assumes that the Bible is a collection of made-up, pie-in-the-sky stories about easy faith and effortless belief needs to read this and put themselves in the moment. Jesus has just finis ...read more

One of my favorite Bible words is “TRANSFORMATION.” God makes old new. He turns water into wine. He makes sick well; blind see; lame walk; deaf hear. God is a transforming God, and at the heart of the Gospel is His transformation of us. As Jesus stands to speak in Jo ...read more

The more time I spend with Jesus in Scripture, the more convicted I am by the juxtaposition He presents between the things of Heaven and the things of Earth. Jesus came from Heaven, which is eternal, and He lived on Earth, which is temporary. While He was here, He constantly taug ...read more

It’s funny that the Disciples were afraid. They had been with Jesus for many months, and during that time, they had certainly seen Jesus perform miracles. Changing water into wine was just the beginning. In the presence of Jesus, lame people got up and walked! Deaf people w ...read more

It’s so easy to become overwhelmed by what I don’t have. The world is complicated – suffering is all around me – so what do I have that can really make a difference? Do you ever feel that way – ill-equipped for the incredible problems and needs you w ...read more

Jesus is God. This was the “sticking point” for the Jews in Jesus’ day, and it remains the sticking point. Jesus was more than a good teacher; more than a miraculous healer; more than a gifted storyteller – from the beginning He claimed equality with God. ...read more

One thing I have learned through the hours of helping people work through conflict – arguments are seldom what they appear to be on the surface.  A couple may fight viciously about some seemingly small issue that has almost no lasting impact, but it doesn’t take ...read more

Do you want to be healed? On the surface, that looks like one of the silliest questions Jesus ever asked! But dig just a little you we see that the question was actually profound. Jesus and the Disciples were standing by the Bethesda Pool in Jerusalem – a pool believed by ...read more

Don’t you wish there was an appendix in the Bible that told the rest of the story, like what happened to some of these people after the Bible story ended? What happened to Zaccheaus? What happened to Nicodemus? What about the Woman at the Wall, or the Woman caught in adulte ...read more

This account of Jesus and the Samaritans touched me. They reveal so much about Him, which in contrast reveals something about me. Jesus always noticed those on the margins. The Samaritans definitely fit that bill. Notorious half-breeds, their very existence plagued their Israeli ...read more

The woman left her water jar. That may be the most telling, poignant verse of the entire passage. She left her water jar and went to tell people about Jesus. Remember, this lady came to the well in the heat of the day, presumably to avoid the verse people she is going to talk to ...read more

One element of my job which can be pretty heavy sometimes is talking to people whose lives are stuck in cycles of dysfunction. I’m talking about people who habitually make bad decisions. Every time they repent and recover from one, they go out of their way (it seems) to mak ...read more

I am always fascinated when reading the small details about Jesus’ mission in the Gospels. These are the things we often miss, because they simply set up the bigger story, but they reveal so much about who Jesus was and what His ministry was like. In this story, John tells ...read more

Scott Sauls once pointed out that he has never seen someone come to God because they were condemned by a Christian. He has only seen people come to God through the Gospel of Jesus’ love. These verses from John 3 are often considered the perfect expression of that Gospel: Go ...read more

We are the most educated country in the history of the world. By law, every child attends school from age 5 – AT LEAST age 16. Most people continue until age 22, and some go 2-4 years beyond that. Our schools are well-funded; we have resources at our fingertips; even childr ...read more

The old proverb states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one, single step.” What it doesn’t tell you is that that journey rarely goes in a straight line. When you look back, later, on your progress, the line does sideways and doubles even makes circles ...read more

Hi, my name is Matthew, and I’m a recovering “Approval Addict.” Like most people, I crave the approval of other people. When I post on social media, I check regularly to see how many people have “liked” my post. I judge a picture on how I look in it, ...read more

Some stories about Jesus are widely misunderstood; this is one of them. Of course, that should not surprise anyone. Jesus was misunderstood even while He lived on this earth. If those living with Him in that culture at that time struggled to understood the things He said and did, ...read more

Jesus’ first miracle is not at all what we might expect. It certainly wasn’t a “burst-on-the-scene” moment, since only His mother, His Disciples, and a couple servants even knew what had happened. And it wasn’t a “wow-what-a-great-deed” m ...read more

Sometimes I try to imagine what it must have been like to be one of the Disciples. I think we forget that these were real men with real families and children (some of them) and mortgages and responsibilities. They were uneducated, yet they did their best to understand the Scriptu ...read more

From the first moment Simon saw Jesus, his life was changed. That’s because from the first moment Jesus saw Simon, He saw something different than anyone had ever seen. Simon came to meet Jesus at the request of his brother, Andrew, a follower of John. Andrew heard John&rs ...read more

The Bible holds up very few “heroes” that really seem, well, heroic. We see the Abraham’s bouts of doubt and David’s bouts of lust; we see the Disciples at their very worst; our first glimpse of Paul is of him holding the coats of those who stoned Stephen. ...read more

Do you know what it’s like to wait for something that you really want? Like when you order a package online, and then you constantly check its status, hitting refresh again and again until you finally see that truck pull into your driveway. Or when you have been marking day ...read more

Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose today? Those big, existential questions plague some people for their entire lives. They go on pilgrimages to the distant corners of the earth; they seek counsel from wise men and women who are considered visionaries; they read self-help ...read more

Light and darkness. Those two words form one of the Bible’s favorite contrasts. The world is dark. The human heart is dark. Our path is dark. The entire earth is the “doman in darkness.” But through God, there is light. God’s Word is light. Jesus is the li ...read more

“IN THE BEGINNING was the Word. This is where the story of Jesus begins – “In the Beginning.” My story begins in a hospital in Thailand in 1973; my children in a hospital in High Point in the early 2000’s. Every person who has ever lived as a birth d ...read more