Thursday, November 12, 2020

Without Judgement

 

Jesus Met Nicodemus Without Judgement

The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus

Day Twenty-Two

 

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.” John 3:1-7 (NKJV)

Nicodemus, a wealthy, well-educated, highly respected member of the Sanhedrim, snuck around at night to meet with Jesus. Why? Perhaps fear caused him to do so since he had much to lose. According to John Gill’s commentary,* history proved Nicodemus ben Gorion was a man of great wealth and reputation.

Probably then, he did visit Jesus at night because of fear. He understood how his colleagues felt about Jesus and His miracles. He knew they were furious with Jesus for disrupting temple life when He threw out those who degraded His Father’s house (see John 2). He knew it could cost him everything, if his peers were aware of his clandestine meeting with Jesus. And yet, he also knew Jesus was called of God. Did he recognize Him as the Messiah? At that point, I don’t know. He did recognize Him as someone who came from God.

I love Jesus’ response to Nicodemus. Or maybe I should say lack of response. Jesus didn’t reprimand him for coming to Him at night. He didn’t scold him for his fear. Jesus saw the hunger in his heart as he sought out the truth of who Jesus was. Jesus’ response showed compassion toward a man who desired to draw closer to God.

Even though he snuck around at night to find answers to the longings of his spirit, Jesus met him there without judgement. Jesus saw the sinful condition of his soul and offered him hope without condemnation. You must be born again.

God meets us right where we are at too. We don’t have to get our act together to meet with Him. In fact, when I come “just as I am without one plea,” He changes me.


https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/2.htm

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/expositors/john/2.htm

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/john/3 *

Monday, August 31, 2020

Jesus' Authority

Jesus' Authority

The "Red-Letter" Words of Jesus

Day Twenty-One


So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.       John 2:18-22

“So the Jews” – referring to the religious leaders – challenged Jesus’ authority. He had just cleared the outer courts of the temple throwing out those who had abused His Father’s House. (See John 2:13-17.) To be honest, the leaders had a right to question His destructive behavior. They didn’t know Him or what motivated Him to do such a thing. As overseers of the temple, it fell within their responsibility to protect the integrity of the temple. Unfortunately, they didn’t so Jesus did.

“What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” they asked. In other words, “Who do you think you are and what do you think you’re doing?” In their minds, He was out of place in their realm of religious dominion and rulership.

Jesus’ answer to their question was prophetic. He understood the darkness in their hearts (John 2:24-25). He saw their self-righteous attitudes, their jealousies, and their indifference to the sufferings of the people. He knew that just like they abused the temple, they were going to abuse The Temple. The ironic part is that, in killing Jesus, they destroyed the temple. When He died, He revealed His authority when the temple’s veil tore in two.

In the above scriptures, Jesus didn’t try to prove or justify Himself. He simply stated what He knew would happen. I think He did it for the benefit of the disciples. After His resurrection, they remembered the Old Testament scriptures prophesying His death and resurrection. But they also recalled this incident which strengthened their faith in His Word.

People today still question Jesus’ authority. However, as Christians, we comfort ourselves knowing He’s in control. He was in control then and He is now. Like the disciples, His authoritative Word builds our faith. Amid the world-wide turmoil we are experiencing, we find resolve and strength in His Word.

 

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/2.htm

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/expositors/john/2.htm

https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-thebible/john-2-1.html

https://www.bibleref.com/John/2/John-2-18.html

https://www.bibleref.com/John/2/John-2-19.html

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Zeal for His House/Part Four

Zeal for His House/Part Four
The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Twenty


Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”  John 2:13-17 (NKJV)

“My Father’s house.” Right from the start of His public ministry, Jesus made it clear who He was and what He was about. He proclaimed Himself to be equal to God. Even as a child He said He must be about His Father’s business. According to the Hebrew Law, those words could’ve earned Him the death penalty. Eventually they did.

Obviously, He never read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Make Friends and Influence Others. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus enraged the spiritual leaders of His time (mainly the Pharisees and Sadducees) whenever He declared Himself God. Statements such as “My Father’s house” and “My Father’s business” and “I AM” (as in I AM the Bread of Life; I AM the way, the truth and the life) made it clear to everyone He claimed to be God. He then backed up those words with miracles, signs and wonders.

Declaring Himself God was one of the reasons the spiritual leaders began to plot Jesus’ death (along with the fact they were jealous of His popularity among the common folks).

Jesus could’ve done good, healed the sick, raised the dead, and kept His mouth shut. The mobs of people would’ve continued to follow this remarkable Rabbi. His popularity would’ve soared. However, He chose not to remain quiet. He came for a specific purpose. Affirming His divine nature was a part of the plan.

If God called me to serve others but I knew for sure it would lead to persecution and death, would I continue down that path? I don’t know. My self-preservation is alive and well. 

Jesus knew His words would lead to death on the cross. That truth didn’t bother Him one bit. He stayed the course. He didn’t hesitate to declare and fulfill His divine destiny.


https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/2.htm
https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/expositors/john/2.htm
https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-thebible/john-2-1.html

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Zeal for His House/Part Three

Zeal for His House/Part Three

The "Read Letter" Words of Jesus

Day Nineteen


Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”  John 2:13-17 (NKJV)

The only remarkable events in Jesus’ life up to this point were turning water into wine at a private wedding and recruiting a few disciples. (Well, not including His miracle conception and birth.) That all changed when, in his first public display of authority, He declared Himself to be God. He also took ownership of what was rightfully His to take. His actions didn’t win Him any followers among the spiritual elite either. It did guarantee He’d be the talk of Jerusalem for a long time to come.

“My Father’s house.” What a bold statement. There’s a lot to unwrap here. First, He declared Himself to be equal to the Father. As far as the spiritual leaders (and the law) were concerned this blasphemous statement was worthy of the death penalty.

Second, He took ownership of the temple. His Father’s house belonged to Him too giving Him the authority to keep it pure. His soul grieved to see it mistreated. After all, the temple was the dwelling place of God’s presence; a sacred place of prayer and worship. Sadly, sacrificing its holiness, folks turned it into an opportunity for financial gain.

Third, Jesus expressed zeal toward His Father’s house. So much so that He created a huge scene when He saw it abused.

For the next couple of devotions, we’ll continue to dissect these scriptures. We’ll look at what He meant when He said, “My Father’s house” and why He was zealous for His Father’s house.

  

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/john/2.htm

https://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/expositors/john/2.htm

https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-thebible/john-2-1.html

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Zeal for His House/Part Two

Zeal for His House/Part Two
The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Eighteen

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”  John 2:13-17 (NKJV)

In the last devotion, we established the fact that Jesus didn’t have a problem with the stalls of animals and moneychangers. They provided a necessary service for the travelers who came to the temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and pay the temple tax. The problem was where they were located.

Originally, the business of purchasing sacrificial animals and exchanging money for the temple tax probably took place outside of the temple. However, over a period of time, these entrepreneurs crept closer and closer to the temple until they made it to the outer courts where the Court of the Gentiles was located. This court was a place where Jews and Gentiles could visit whether they were clean or unclean. It was a place where Gentiles, who converted to Judaism, could worship and pray to the Lord.

Perhaps the Jewish attitude toward Gentiles (reflective of that time in history) exposed their disrespect in using this area. There would’ve been a horrible stench because of the urine and dung from all the animals. It would’ve been considered an unclean area. Surely, they reasoned, it won’t hurt to set up stalls and tables here. After all, isn’t it already considered defiled because of the Gentiles who congregate here?

The Gentiles’ freedom to worship and pray in the outer courts was hindered by all the commotion. Jesus definitely wasn’t a happy camper when He came upon the scene. It probably had bothered Him for years but He kept silent until He was anointed and called to ministry by His Father through the Holy Spirit. After that, He couldn’t keep silent any longer.

Jesus was always a voice for the underdog. Recognizing their great value in God’s Kingdom, His compassionate spirit not only fought for them but sought them out in friendship, and eventually He died for them. Even today Jesus’ compassion knows no bounds. After all, He even saved a sinner like me.



Tuesday, April 21, 2020

We Are More Than Conquerors


My pastor at Omaha Christian Center asked me to write a devotional to send out to our church. This is what I wrote (edited slightly from the original). I pray it will encourage you. The entire world is under siege right now but not even the coronavirus can separate us from Jesus' love. His love is a sure thing in these uncertain times.

We Are More Than Conquerors
Romans 8:35-39 (NKJV)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created things, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We’re currently experiencing tribulation, distress, peril, and a myriad of other life-altering challenges. And yet, in the midst of all this craziness, God’s Word declares we’re hupernikao. We are more than conquerors. Hupernikao is a Greek word taken from two other words. Huper means “over and above.” Nikao means “to conquer.”

In my New Spirit Life Bible, it states, “The word describes one who is super victorious who wins more than an ordinary victory, but who is (also) overpowering in achieving abundant victory. This is not the language of conceit, but of confidence. Christ’s love conquered death, and because of His love, we are hupernikao.”

Maybe you don’t feel like you’re an overcomer right now. Perhaps you feel a little like Gideon. Remember him? He was hiding in the winepress when the Lord called him “a mighty man of valor.” His response was, “Who me? I’m from the weakest tribe of Israel.” (Read Judges 6-8 for the full story.)

Perhaps you’re telling the Lord, “Me? An overcomer? You’ve got the wrong person. I’m stuck here in my house and going stir crazy…the kids and their school work are driving me loony…I’m lonely…I’m scared…I can’t pay my bills…Food is scarce…I’m not for sure what the future holds…I’m….fill in the blank to fit your situation.”

Once again, please allow me to give reference to the footnotes of my Bible: “For any Christian who is discouraged this powerful passage gives assurance of Christ’s present love, active at every moment in the Christian’s life. Are any causes of discouragement greater than those Paul mentions (above)? If not, [good news] then we are never in this life separated from Christ’s love. Even in hardships, we can be more than conquerors.”

We’re indeed more than conquerors…not because of our strength or might…but because of His strength and His might poured out on us, His children. The coronavirus can’t separate us from His love. Isolation can’t separate us from His love. Fear can’t separate us from His love. An uncertain future can’t separate us from His love. We are hupernikao.

Life is difficult right now. For many, this has been the greatest trial of their lives. I’m finding out that I can live without a lot of things (well, except maybe toilet paper). However, I can’t live without His love and, thankfully, I don’t have to live without it. Grab a hold of His promises. His love is a sure thing and will see us through.         

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Zeal for His House/Part One


Zeal for His House/Part One
The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Seventeen

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”  John 2:13-17 (NKJV)

A couple years ago I went to an ordination service at a local church to see a dear friend receive her minister’s license. I was somewhat surprised by what greeted me when I walked into the church’s foyer. It had a coffee shop, complete with cute little tables, coffee, smoothies and snacks. They also had displays of books, music cd’s, and t-shirts for sale. Everyone enjoyed themselves in the festive atmosphere.

Even though I arrived a little early, I decided to find a seat in the sanctuary before the crowds came in. The district denomination’s leaders had called a prayer meeting during that time. Five people showed up for the prayer meeting.

I want to be careful here…there’s nothing wrong with all the amenities the church provided. It drew people to the church. However, it saddened me to see the hundreds versus the five.

In today’s scriptures, out of necessity there were stalls of animals and moneychangers. Many people traveled a long distance to visit the temple. Instead of trying to bring animals on the journey for the sacrifices, people found it easier to purchase the animals once they arrived in the holy city, Jerusalem. Hence, the stalls of animals and cages with doves for sale. Many folks had to pay a temple tax of half a shekel and it could only be paid by using holy currency. Hence, the need for moneychangers.

The problem wasn’t the stalls of animals or moneychangers. The problem was where these were located. We’ll take a closer look at that in the next devotion.

Reflecting back on the church I mentioned, I can’t help wonder what the Lord thought of all the commotion. Again, I’m not saying their actions were wrong but I have to admit, as I sat in my chair in the quiet sanctuary, today’s verses came to my mind as I contemplated what I saw.



Monday, March 16, 2020

Being Vulnerable


Gulp, I’m Being Vulnerable
from Today’s Prayer Journal


I’m going to do something that I’ve never done before. I’m going to share with you what I journaled this morning during my devotional/prayer time. Up until last night I’ve had an incredible peace about all the craziness that has happened over the past couple weeks. Maybe you can’t relate to what I was feeling last night but, perhaps, you can. Last night fear got a hold of me during the early evening hours and increased throughout the night. The only thing I knew to do was, since fear got a hold of me, for me get a hold of God.

3/16/2020

Father, this coronavirus has me rattled and, yes, fearful. That’s why I’m up at 4:45 a.m. (well, that and the dog was up most of the night and Mike’s snoring…)

I don’t think my biggest fear is the actual virus. I believe “this too shall pass.” It may get worse before it gets better but it will pass. I think my biggest concern is that it’s going to hurt the economy. Big time.

For example, our business is service oriented. When the economy slows, our business usually slows too. That’s true of almost every service-type business in our country. As of right now, we only have two cars scheduled at the shop for this entire week because, well, that’s what happens when folks are unsure of their future. They’re afraid. Terrified.

I understand their fear completely. Father, we have a lot of mouths to feed…five right now and eventually maybe more. We need an income. We need cars to fix. Please open the doors wide. Or if that’s not going to happen, I pray You will meet our needs. Help us pay our bills and put food on the table.

Oh, good grief. Father, please forgive me for telling You how to take care of us. The truth is I need to trust You. I need to trust You with the coronavirus. You are God and You are still in control…of the world, our country, our city and my family. I need to trust You with the nation’s economy, and more specifically, our finances. If the shop closed today and never opened again, we will be okay. You will take care of us. You will meet our needs. I’m not going to tell You how to do it. I’m not going to even speculate how you’re going to do it. It might not look like I think it should, but You will take care of my family. I trust You totally. We are in Your caring, loving hands.

Our world may not look normal for a while but that’s okay. We’ll find a new normal. The good in all of this is people are crying out to You by the millions. I know You hear their cries. You love them so much. Have Your way, Father, in all of their lives. Thank You for Your Perfect Love and Your Perfect Peace which passes all understanding. You are able to do above and beyond all that we imagine. You are more than able. Thank You for Your Love and Peace and Comfort and Hope saturating my soul in this moment. You totally rock, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

P.S. Are you calling me (and others) to a season of prayer and fasting? Please help me say yes, if that is indeed the case. And please forgive me for getting furious with the dog last night and spanking her harder than I should have. I lost a lot of sleep because of Shelby but that can’t excuse my anger. Please give me strength for the day. And help me not to use lack of sleep as an excuse to be cranky. And could You snuff out the ants that have infiltrated and taken over our kitchen? Amen & amen.

1 John 4:18
Jesus, Your perfect Love removes my fears.

Is. 26:3, 4
I am at peace because my mind is on You, Lord.

Ephesians 3:14-21
Your Love will sustain us. You are more than able.

Philippians 4:19
You are more than enough.

Proverbs 3:5, 6
I trust You completely. That is enough.


I would like to encourage you…if fear has gotten a hold of you then get a hold of God. It won’t change the reality of what is happening but it will change you. For the better.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Wedding Celebration/Part Three

The Wedding Celebration/Part Three
My Hour Has Not Yet Come
The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Sixteen

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”   John 2:1-4 (NKJV)

In John 2:5-10, Jesus quietly performed the miracle of turning water into wine. He even had servants do all the work…fill the jars with water…take a cup to the host for his approval. Jesus made sure He didn’t receive public credit for this wonder. I’m sure the servants talked about it later causing word to spread quickly. It spread far enough that a man in Capernaum (a little over sixteen miles from Cana) asked Jesus to perform His second miracle…healing his son.

However, Jesus knew once folks were aware He was a miracle worker, it would put into play His public ministry. He probably felt that step forward needed to be done according to His Father’s will and in His exact timing. Hence, His lowkey actions.

The five disciples who accompanied Jesus saw water turn into wine. So did His mother. They, along with the servants, knew who was responsible for this special deed. As a result, they glorified Him and His disciples believed in Him. And yet, He came away without fanfare or a large crowd following Him.

God’s timing is everything. Quietly, Jesus turned water into wine. He knew His hour had not yet come. When the right time came, He’d be ready. Sometimes God says to us, “Yes, now.” Sometimes He says, “No.” Sometimes He says, “Wait.” Although waiting is difficult, even Jesus understood the importance of not getting ahead of His Father’s timing.

Has God called you to a specific endeavor but you don’t see it coming to fruition? Prepare yourself for the task ahead and then be patient. He will make a way when your hour has come. Trust Him to know the when.


https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-thebible/john-2-1.html

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Wedding Celebration/Part Two


The Wedding Celebration/Part Two
The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Fifteen

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”  John 2:1-4 (NKJV)

This will sound terrible but one of my father’s nicknames (he had several) for my mother was “egghead.” What an insult. Right? Not really. I don’t know how the nickname came about but when he called her egghead, it was used with affection. “Hey, Egghead, let’s go fishing.” “Hey, Egghead, let’s go to Sizzlers.” You get the point. Mom never protested the name.

In today’s scriptures, I suppose Jesus’ reference to Mary as “woman” could be taken in a derogative way. “Hey, woman, fetch my sandals.” It shouldn’t be taken that way. In the culture which He lived the word was used affectionately for a close family member or dear friend. Jesus used the word “woman” in John 19:26 when He passed the responsibility of the care of his mother to John.

I think the word “woman” showed the intimacy between mother and son. Even though Jesus is the Son of God, I like the humanness that His life reflected in these verses. He enjoyed a festive wedding celebration with family and friends. He liked good food and drink. He lovingly related to His mother.

I’m reminded of the scripture, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin.”  (Hebrews 4:15)

He truly does relate to us human beings. He lived life just like we do. Since He does understand, we can’t ask for a better intercessor. He gets us. What a reassuring thought.

I have to admit, I’m thankful the nickname “egghead” never socially caught on. “Woman,” I can live with that.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Wedding Celebration/Part One


The Wedding Celebration/Part One
The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Fourteen

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine." Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”   John 2:1-4 (NKJV)

It only took a couple days for Jesus to recruit Andrew, John, Peter, Philip and Nathanael to be His disciples. On the third day after Nathanael became a follower, they were invited to a wedding in Cana. Cana was near Nazareth where Jesus grew up, and Capernaum (about sixteen miles away) where some of the disciples lived. Since they were invited to the wedding, it’s possible several men were acquainted with the bridegroom or bride.

It’s fun imagining Jesus at the party. I like to think He laughed and socialized with family and friends. Everyone had a great time until the unthinkable happened. The host ran out of wine.

There’s some speculation among Bible scholars as to why the host ran out of wine. Perhaps Jesus and the disciples showed up toward the end of the feast; after all, most wedding celebrations lasted for several days. Perhaps it was due to poor planning. Perhaps the host wasn’t wealthy and lacked spendable assets to sufficiently cover the cost. Although we don’t know the reason, we can understand the fallout. It would’ve been an embarrassment to the bridal couple and an insult to their guests not to have enough food and wine.

Mary knew Jesus would care about the host’s predicament. She knew He would want to do something to help him. This was “the beginning of signs” (vs. 11) so Mary didn't know about His miraculous capabilities just yet. (She would soon.) However, she knew her son’s compassionate heart and didn’t hesitate to ask Him for help.

Do you understand Jesus is more than willing to help us when we ask too? (Read Ephesians 3:20, 21.) Be encouraged. His compassion towards us knows no bounds.



Tuesday, November 26, 2019

An Open Heaven/Part Three


An Open Heaven/Part Three
The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Thirteen

And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”  John 1:51 (NKJV)

Did you hear about the guy who fell off a cliff but managed to grab hold of a branch jutting out of the cliff’s side? Hanging there he cried out to the Lord, “Please help me, God!” In response to his plea, the Lord replied, “Let go of the branch. Trust Me to catch you.” The guy thought for a moment and then replied, “Is anyone else up there?”

If the Lord said He’d catch him, then that’s exactly what the Lord would do. Too bad the man couldn’t see with his spiritual eyes. He’d have seen angels doing God’s bidding working on his behalf.

Jacob saw this spiritual realm in a vision (see Genesis 28). The experience overwhelmed him. “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” Jacob’s reaction in Genesis 28:17 showed his excitement because the vision revealed the one true God.

Jesus, in John 1:51, revealed the same true God…Himself. Declaring an open heaven with angels of God ascending and descending upon Him, He was saying, “I am the house of God. I am the gate of heaven.” What a bold statement He made.

On numerous occasions, Jesus enraged the Jewish religious leaders of His time with His declarations  of deity. He began with John 1:51 and continued to reveal Himself throughout the Gospel of John. Every time He said “I Am,” He declared Himself to be God. (It all goes back to Exodus, chapter three, but we’ll leave that for future devotions.) Every time he healed, raised folks from the dead, forgave sin…it was a clear indication of Who He was…

…And is. Even now heaven is open to us as a result of Jesus' death and resurrection. We can freely approach His throne of grace with confidence (see Hebrews 4:13). We can experience His miracles, healing, forgiveness, deliverance, compassion and grace as we walk intimately with Him.



Thursday, November 14, 2019

An Open Heaven/Part Two

An Open Heaven/Part Two
The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Twelve

And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”  John 1:51 (NKJV)

In the last devotion, I referenced Genesis 28:10-22 where in a dream Jacob saw angels ascending and descending from heaven on a ladder. Some translations reference it as a staircase.

During this time in Mesopotamia, *ziggurats, tall towers with terraced steps, were part of the polytheism culture (the worship of more than one god). Ziggurats were built because people believed their gods existed in the sky and they desired to get closer to them. Temples were built on top of the towers to honor the gods. They would even name them. **The ziggurat at Eridu was called “Eunir” meaning “House Temple-Tower.” At Nippur it was called “Eduranki”, meaning “House Binding Heaven and Earth.”

The ziggurats could have influenced Jacob’s ladder dream. One of the important factors in these verses, though, was Who stood at the top of the ladder. It was the Lord Himself.

He declared He was the one true God. “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac…” (See Genesis 28:13.) Jacob, moved by his encounter with God, renamed the place Bethel. “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God (Bethel), and this is the gate of heaven!” (See Genesis 28:17; italics mine.) He clearly understood the implication. His ancestors worshiped the one true God and, in a dream, this same God called Jacob to be the father of a particular people.

In Genesis 28, the Lord stood at the top of the ladder while the angels fulfilled His purposes and plans between heaven and earth. In John 1:51, Jesus said angels would ascend and descend…where? Upon the Son of Man. Do you understand the “I am the Lord God” of the Old Testament is the reincarnated “Son of Man” of the New Testament? 

Powerful truth, for sure. Next, we'll learn how through Jesus, the Lord God of the O.T. and N.T, we have access to the open heaven of Genesis 28 and John 1:51. 


https://biblesutdytools.com/bible-stories/jacob-s-ladder-bible-story.html
https://.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends-europe/stariway-heaven-story-jacobs-ladder-006173

Thursday, November 7, 2019

An Open Heaven/Part One


An Open Heaven/Part One
The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Eleven

And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”  John 1:51 (NKJV)

Before I write a “The ‘Red Letter’ Words of Jesus” devotion, I research the scriptures using several resources. I use the same resources every time enabling some consistency for my research. In relation to the above verse, they all referenced Genesis 28:10-22. Let’s look at these verses to see if there’s a connection to John 1:51.

Here’s the Old Testament background story (see Genesis 27-28): In Canaan, where his family lived, Jacob stole his brother’s birthright. Esau, being furious, wanted to kill him. Jacob fled to Haran, his mother’s hometown in Mesopotamia. One night on the journey, he had a dream. Genesis 28:12-13(a) reads, “A ladder was set up on the earth, and it’s top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it…” The Lord met with Jacob that night speaking many promises to him. All the promises eventually came to pass.

Two important things happened in these verses. (We’ll discuss them in a couple devotions). The first key event was that in the dream Jacob saw angels ascending and descending from heaven on a ladder. God allowed Jacob access into the unseen – a spiritual dimension where the Lord’s purposes were being completed.

Ephesians 6 reminds us some things which happen in our lives are unseen. There’s a sacred dimension where God continuously works on our behalf. It’s a realm we can utilize through prayer, fasting and the armor of God. If we could literally see it, we’d see a place where angels busily accomplish the Lord’s will, battles are fought and our prayers activate the hand of God.

Jacob experienced this spiritual realm in a dream. In John 1:51, Jesus promised Nathanael he would see heaven open. Because of Jesus’ completed work on the cross, we can take comfort knowing we too can access God’s open heaven any time day or night.


https://biblesutdytools.com/bible-stories/jacob-s-ladder-bible-story.html


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Greater Things


Greater Things
The “Red Letter” Words of Jesus
Day Ten

Nathanael said to Him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered and said to him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things then these.”  John 1:48-50

I like Nathanael’s response to Jesus’ words “when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Jesus had touched a place in Nathanael’s spirit which caused him to proclaim Jesus as Teacher, Son of God, King of Israel. His heart couldn’t contain what he was feeling. I believe Jesus liked his response too.

I’ve heard sermons where Jesus’ words were seen as a rebuke. I don’t agree. Nathanael reacted with sincerity after being impacted by Jesus. I believe Jesus’ response was just as enthusiastic. “Dude, you think this is cool? This is only the beginning. You will know me in an even greater way. You ain’t seen nothing yet.” (Yes, that’s a Lollie paraphrase but you get my point.)

How do you respond to the touch of God on your life? I’m not usually a crier, and yet, tears flow when God is working in my spirit. Sometimes when I get excited about what God is doing, I’ve been known to dance a little jig or two. My favorite though is when a friend of mine couldn’t contain God’s wonderous blessings in her heart. Anne did cartwheels at the back of the church. How cool is that? (Yes, she was wearing slacks.)

Jesus loved Nathanael’s vulnerable response to His “I saw you.” He loves when we respond in fervent sincerity as well. Maybe it’s in making powerful affirmations like Nathanael’s. Or in our tears. Or in silent adoration.  Or in prostrating ourselves on the floor. Or in joyful shouts. One thing’s for sure…I believe it thrills Jesus causing Him to make declarations over our lives.

“You will see greater things than these.”