Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 209/260: Peter, Andrew, James, and John

Read Matthew 4:18-22; Luke 5:1-11

“At Your Word”

Matthew’s account of Jesus calling the two sets of fishing brothers is brief; Luke gives a little more detail into the incident leading up to their decision to leave their livelihood behind. After an unsuccessful day of fishing, Jesus comes and tells Peter, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). Peter hesitated, but relented, “At Your word I will let down the net” (Luke 5:5).

You know what happened next. The nets became so full that they began to break, and they filled both boats so full of fish that they began to sink! What an incredible display of God’s power accomplished because Peter obeyed!

Have you ever encountered something as you study the Scriptures that you’ve never seen before? Perhaps a command or a principle that someone taught to you differently than the Bible actually presents it? You have a decision to make when such happens. You can either continue to practice what you have always practiced, even though you now know better. Or you can say, “At Your word, Jesus, I will do what You have commanded.”

Do you know what happens when you choose the latter? You will be blessed beyond measure. Even if you lose some things that are important to you, such as friendships, or family relationships, or even material possessions—Jesus will bless you because you obeyed!

“Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).

Peter, Andrew, James, and John “forsook all and followed Him” (Luke 5:11), and because of their faithful service to the King they will enjoy His incredible blessings for eternity. Are you willing to do what Jesus says, “At His word”?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 208/260: Nicodemus

Read John 3:1-21

Born Again

Nicodemus was a man with a seeking heart. Despite his status as “a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1), he still recognized not only the power of Jesus, but the source of His power. He told the Lord, “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” (John 3:2).

Jesus seized this opportunity to teach Nicodemus salient truth. He plainly stated, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Despite the many objections from modern-day religionists, this is a clear reference to baptism. After further questioning from the Pharisee, Jesus explained, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

As one reads through the New Testament, it becomes clear that one must die to his sins and become a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The apostle Paul describes this process in his epistle to the church at Rome. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

Christian baptism is a reenactment of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Himself. We die to sin, we are buried in water, and we are raised out of that water a new creation committed to following His will. The Scriptures connect baptism and salvation on several occasions. Read Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21. To deny the connection between baptism and salvation is to deny the revelation of God through the inspired penmen of the New Testament.

Have you been born again? Have you been buried in the waters of baptism for the remission of sins by the authority of Jesus Christ?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 207/260: Mary

Read John 2:1-12

Just Do It!

What comes to mind as you read the words, “Just Do It”? Perhaps you think of the famous Nike “swoosh” logo, or the shoe company’s most famous endorser, Michael Jordan. “Just Do It” has been Nike’s slogan since the last 1980s.

Have the words, “just do it,” ever crossed your mind while reading the Bible? There are many commands contained within the pages of inspiration, and as God’s creation, we are expected to “just do it” when we read and understand what He has revealed.

In our text today, Jesus is at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, along with His mother and His disciples. Mary brought to Jesus’ attention a situation that would have caused the host great embarrassment: they had run out of wine. After bringing this fact to the Lord’s attention, she then turned to the servants and said, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5). In Mary’s mind, Jesus had the ability to solve the problem—and He did. Perhaps she was concerned, however, that the servants would find His instructions strange. Thus, she instructed them, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Are these not words that we should apply to our very lives as we read what has been revealed by the Spirit? Jesus later said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). If we don’t “just do it” when we read the words of Jesus, we set ourselves up for eternal failure. His words are available to all, so don’t think that you can claim ignorance when all is said and done. Read the Scriptures. Study the Scriptures. Obey the Scriptures. Don’t try to find loopholes—just do it!

When Jesus instructs us to seek ways to strengthen our faith, just do it! When He says to repent of our sins, just do it! When He demands public confession of our belief, just do it! When He says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16), just do it! When He says, “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27), just do it!

“Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 206/260: Nathanael

Read John 1:47-51

No Deceit

Nathanael accepted Philip’s invitation to “come and see” (John 1:46) the man he claimed was the Man “of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote” (John 1:45). Nathanael had doubts though, asking rhetorically, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (John 1:47). Nathanael was in fact an Israelite, a fleshly descendant of Abraham, but there was more behind Jesus’ words than describing the man’s race. The Lord looked forward to spiritual Israel here—men who were of such a mind that they would accept the truth of God when it was presented, even if it went against everything they expected.

Nathanael had already expressed doubt that someone from Nazareth could possibly be important in God’s plan, and certainly not important enough to be the promised Messiah. And yet he possessed a certain quality that would not allow him to deny the truth when he learned it. He was spiritually minded, and there was “no deceit” in him.

Paul later included deceit in a list of things that are “not fitting” of one created by God, sandwiched between “strife” and “evil-mindedness” (Romans 1:28-32). Peter likewise commanded that Christians who desire to grow must lay aside “all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking” (1 Peter 2:1-3).

And here is Nathanael, a man “in whom is no deceit!” It is a high compliment to be paid by the Savior, but one that caused further questioning. “How do you know me?” (John 1:49). Nathanael was humble enough to know that a stranger could not possibly identify a character trait such as this so quickly, but the Lord’s answer put him at ease and helped him to realize that he was talking to the “Son of God,” “the King of Israel” (John 1:49).

When Jesus looks at you, can He call you “an Israelite indeed,” in the spiritual sense? Are you spiritually-minded, willing to accept God at His Word, to trust Him, and obey Him? Can He call you a person “in whom is no deceit”?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 205/260: Philip

Read John 1:43-46

“Come And See”

Philip is another apostle, like Andrew, of whom we know very little. Matthew, Mark, and Luke simply include him in the list of the apostles with no further information. Only John gives us additional details about this man.

From John’s gospel, we learn that Philip was from Bethsaida, the same city Peter and Andrew called home (John 1:44). Philip is involved in other events later in the book, but let’s focus today on what Philip did here in this short passage.

Jesus said to Philip, “Follow Me” (John 1:43). We see no hesitation from this disciple; in fact, much like Andrew, we see an eagerness from Philip to get others on board. The very first thing he did was find Nathanael, and he said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45).

Philip was familiar with both Moses’ writings and the prophecies concerning the Messiah. No doubt he had heard the rumors of this man from Nazareth, and when he encountered Him, he took hold of the opportunity to follow the Christ. Yet, Philip was not selfish with this information. He wanted others to join him in this journey of discipleship.

His friend Nathanael was not impressed. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). What was Philip’s response? He did not try to convince Nathanael that Nazareth could produce good things. He did not berate his friend for being prejudiced. He did not even try to convince him that Jesus was who he claimed, or who John preached. He wanted Nathanael to discover for himself Jesus’ identity. Philip said, “Come and see” (John 1:46).

Christianity is a personal religion. Jews are born Jews, but Christians are born again by choice. It involves personal investigation into the facts, personal faith in the promises of God, personal commitment to the cause. No one can be a Christian for you. You stand or fall on your own choices, and it all starts with the invitation to “come and see.”

Have you investigated the claims of Jesus? If not, take Philip’s challenge, and “come and see.”

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 204/260: Andrew

Read John 1:35-42

“He Brought Him To Jesus”

Some of the apostles play a major role in the gospel accounts. We are told a number of things about the “inner circle” apostles Peter, James, and John. We know the nefarious part that Judas Iscariot played. And yet there are other apostles of whom we know very little. One of those is Andrew, Peter’s brother.

We learn from the first chapter of John’s gospel that Andrew was one of John the Immerser’s disciples or learners. It is thought by many that the second, unnamed disciple is none other than the inspired penman of the gospel account himself, John.

After hearing John the Immerser praise Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), Andrew and the other disciple leave their teacher and begin following the Messiah. They followed Him to where He was staying and remained with Him the rest of that day, no doubt learning many things from their new Rabbi or Teacher.

Andrew was very excited about what Jesus taught him and was eager to let others know about Him. The first person Andrew thought to tell was his brother, Simon Peter. “He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus” (John 1:41-42).

If you have read much of the gospel accounts and the book of Acts, you know the important role Peter played in the establishment of the Lord’s kingdom, His church. What if Andrew never thought to tell his brother about Jesus though?

Who have you brought to Jesus? You never know the impact someone else will have in the kingdom until they are invited to learn about the King of Kings. Do not think for a moment that your closest friends, your neighbors, perhaps even your own brother, cannot be used by God for His glory. As we learn more about Peter in the New Testament, we see that he is often brash and acts before he thinks. As his brother, Andrew knew well Peter’s attitude and personality. But that did not stop him from inviting his brother to meet the Messiah. “He brought him to Jesus.”

Reach out to someone today. Introduce them to the Christ. Bring them to Jesus.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 203/260: John the Immerser

Read John 3:22-36

Humility Leads To Obedient Faith

John’s disciples were concerned. They had heard what their teacher said about the Christ, but then Jesus arrived on the scene and started to become more popular than John. “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” (John 3:26). Many have attributed the reaction of John’s disciples to an attitude of jealousy.

John’s reaction was quite different, however. He never claimed to be the Christ; rather, he denied it when directly asked (John 3:27-28; 1:19-20). The departure of his students did not bother him; neither did the growing crowds that Jesus attracted. John recognized that it was all a part of God’s plan. “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven” (John 3:27).

One of the greatest displays of humility in the Scriptures is found in John 3:30: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” We must take on this attitude in our lives. When we commit to God’s will, we should see an increase of Christ in our lives and a decrease of our own desires. The apostle Paul preached a presentation of our bodies as “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” and that we should be “transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). At some point, we must realize that it is not about “me”; it is about Him!

It is about “the bridegroom’s voice” (John 3:29), not ours. It is about “His testimony” (John 3:32-33). “He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all” (John 3:31). Jesus has the authority, but do we exalt Him as the one with authority in our lives?

Far too many pay lip service to God, saying they believe in the Son but denying that claim with their behavior. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). Compare that verse in other translations, and you will see that it is an obedient faith under consideration; the phrase “does not believe” (NKJV) is translated “does not obey” (ESV, NASB) or “obeyeth not” (ASV). Do you believe? Do you obey?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 202/260: John the Immerser

Read Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18

John Preached Repentance

Can one be a true follower of something without actually following what is required? It is a contradiction to think that you can be a follower of God without actually following what God commands, is it not? Thus, John preached a message of repentance and obedience, specifically “a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,” for those who desired to truly follow God. Those who refused to repent and be immersed would not be granted forgiveness. While Christian baptism looks back to the blood shed on the cross and John’s baptism looked forward to Christ’s sacrifice, the fact remains that both had the same purpose: “the remission of sins.” Without the baptism commanded by God today, one cannot be saved.

And yet, there is more than just submission to baptism involved in Christianity, just as there was more involved when John preached. Repentance was and still is required. A change of life. Repentance requires a purge of sinful behaviors, replacing that old way of life with a dedicated service to God. Paul commended the church in Thessalonica because they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). That is repentance!

John preached repentance to the multitudes, telling them that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). It was near, almost here, when John preached; it came in power on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2.

While he preached repentance in general to everyone, Luke also records a specific message for two particular groups of people. John the Immerser told the tax collectors to practice fairness in their trade: “Collect no more than what is appointed for you” (Luke 3:13). To the soldiers, he told them to exercise restraint and truthfulness in their occupation, and contentment with their compensation: “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14).

You may not have to leave your occupation to follow Jesus, but you may need to change the way you behave in your occupation. Consider the activities in which you are involved and ask if they violate Scriptural principles. If they do, repent, changing the behavior that needs to be changed!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 201/260: Simeon

Read Luke 2:25-35

Salvation For All

Simeon is a man of whom very little is known. Adam Clarke claims he was the son of Hillel, who was also the father of Gamaliel. Another scholar, H.D.M. Spence, made note of the fact that the Mishna, which included the sayings of many great rabbis, contained no record of any words from Simeon. He surmised that this may have been the case because of the “hatred incurred because of his belief in Jesus of Nazareth.” Luke’s inspired testimony of Simeon is sufficient for people of faith.

Simeon “was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him” (Luke 2:25). At times we view the religious elite of the first century as unrighteous and selfish, but there were some like Simeon who still held to the truth and patiently looked forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises through the prophets of old.

The word “devout” is translated from a Greek word that means, “taking hold well; carefully and surely; cautiously.” He was living his life in such a way that he carefully watched his behavior. He was pious and reverent in his conduct, not wanting to stray from the path God had established.

The Holy Spirit told Simeon that he would not die until he had witnessed the Christ. He believed God, and Simeon praised God when the Christ was presented at the temple. “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

Simeon proclaimed what many in the Jewish world considered a curse: “revelation to the Gentiles.” It did not matter that he also declared “the glory of Your people Israel.” Men like Simeon were few and far between. Men who wanted to see the salvation “of all peoples,” not just one race or nation.

Do we desire the same today? Do we want to see all nations accept the gospel and obey the Lord? Or do we believe it is a special honor bestowed only upon the citizens of our country?

Four Questions (Acts 22:1-16)

Four Questions Acts 22

Acts 22:1-16

I. “Why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 22:7)

    A. Paul’s identity and activity (Acts 22:1-5; 8:3; 9:1)
    B. What you do against the church, you do against the Lord (Acts 22:6-7; 22:4-5)

II. “Who are you, Lord?” (Acts 22:8)

    A. The most important question (Acts 22:8; 7:52)
    B. Theories of Jesus’ identity (Matthew 16:13-14; Luke 9:7-9)

III. “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10)

    A. The second most important question (Acts 22:10; 2:37; 16:30)
    B. The answer depends on where you are (Hebrews 11:6; Acts 16:31; 2:38)
    C. Jesus used and still uses men to answer (Acts 22:10)

IV. “Why are you waiting?” (Acts 22:16)

    A. Ananias (Acts 22:12-15)
    B. There is work to be done; you are wasting time sitting here thinking about it! (Acts 22:16)

But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. (Acts 8:12)