All posts by JT

Christian. Husband. Dad. 911 dispatcher. Baseball fan. Horror nut. Music nerd. Bookworm. Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.

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)

Love One Another (1 Peter 1:22-23)

Love One Another

1 Peter 1:22-23

I. The audience

    A. “Pilgrims of the Dispersion” and the “elect” (1 Peter 1:1-2)
    B. Christians who have “purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit” (1 Peter 1:22; Acts 2:40; 2:38)

II. The result of obedience: sincere love of the brethren

    A. Philadelphia (brotherly love)
    B. Sincere – unfeigned (KJV), without hypocrisy (Romans 12:9; James 3:17), genuine (2 Timothy 1:5)
    C. Love (philadelphia) leads to love (agape)
    D. Fervently – earnestly (Luke 22:44)
    E. Having been born again (1 Peter 1:23; 1:3)

III. How do we show love to the brethren?

    A. Selflessly elevate one another (Romans 12:10, 15)
    B. Defer to another’s wishes or prejudices (Romans 14:1-3)
    C. Help spiritually and physically (Galatians 6:10; 6:1-2)
    D. Forgive (Matthew 6:14-15; Ephesians 4:32)

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 200/260: Joseph

Read Matthew 1:18-25

God’s Family

A man who will raise someone else’s child as his own is a special kind of man. Even though he is not biologically related to the child, he still cares for him and wants the very best for him. Not every man is wired to fill that role. Joseph the carpenter, however, was one such man.

He was likely ridiculed about his situation. He claimed that he and Mary were innocent, and perhaps his friends and family believed that he never touched her, but what does that say about her morals? If she had never been with Joseph, then she must have been with someone else. That’s how a woman gets pregnant. The whispers. The stares. The rumors. Joseph put up with it all. Why?

He believed what the angel of the Lord said to him in his dream. “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Joseph believed, and when he woke up, he “did as the angel fo the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus” (Mathew 1:24-25).

Like the confidence shown by Mary, Joseph had faith in God’s plan. He protected the young Jesus by fleeing from his home and hiding in Egypt until the death of Herod, who was paranoid that Jesus would take his place on earth as the King of the Jews. When Jesus was twelve years old and left behind in the temple, Joseph searched for him anxiously. He did everything a biological father would have done for his own child.

In the church of our Lord, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are family, even if there is no blood relation. We should care for one another as a spiritual family. “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 199/260: Mary

Read Luke 1:26-38

Confidence in God’s Promises

When Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, she was called “highly favored” and “blessed…among women” (Luke 1:28). Mary’s reaction to seeing an angel was the typical one: “she was troubled” (Luke 1:29). Throughout the Scriptures, when an angel appeared to a person, that person was generally troubled or afraid. Thus, Gabriel said to Mary, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).

Then the angel told Mary why she was “highly favored” and “blessed”: she was the woman through whom God would bring “the Son of the Highest” into the world (Luke 1:32). Mary questioned the angel further, saying, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34).

Was Mary exhibiting doubt in the word of Gabriel here, or was she simply seeking clarification? We must be very careful that we do not impugn upon her doubt when we do not have the full story. Mary was well aware of how babies were made, and she was also aware she had not participated in such activities. How then could she bring a child into the world?

A prophet of old said, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Indeed, as Gabriel said, “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

After the angel’s explanation, Mary did not ask any further questions. She accepted the message and showed great faith, saying, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Are we as confident as Mary in the promises of God? He has promised many things contingent on our faithful obedience, but how often do we doubt and search for loopholes? This is not to suggest that we should never seek further information or clarification; when we do not fully understand something that God says, we certainly should ask questions! But when we receive the answer, are we satisfied that God will deliver on His promises?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 198/260: John the Immerser

Read John 1:6-8, 19-28

“Who Are You?”

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John” (John 1:6) Those words by the apostle John introduce another John, know as “the Baptist,” “the Baptizer,” or “the Immerser.” He was the forerunner prophesied by Malachi, born about six months prior to Jesus. The apostle makes it clear that John was not himself “the Light,” but was sent “to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe” (John 1:7).

When word of John’s activities reached Jerusalem, the religious elite wanted to find out more. They asked him, “Who are you?” (John 1:19). John did not want to mislead anyone. He did not want them to think that he was the promised Messiah, and promptly stated, “I am not the Christ” (John 1:20). The Jews then asked if he was Elijah. They believed Elijah himself would return before the Messiah, misunderstanding the prophecy that spoke of one with the spirit of Elijah who would come first (Malachi 4:5). Again, John answered in the negative.

The priests and Levites then asked, “Are you the Prophet?” (John 1:21). This was really nothing more than asking him again if he was the Christ, which he had already denied. Moses had spoken of “a Prophet like me…Him you shall hear” (Deuteronomy 18:15-18). This was a prophecy of the Messiah; the priests and Levites were perhaps trying to trip John up in his answers, much like many news reporters who reword their questions in an attempt to confuse their subjects, trying to get them to contradict themselves.

John would not fall for their trap and again denies that he is the Christ, or “the Prophet.” His questioners press him for an answer. “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” (John 1:22). John answers not with his own words, but the inspired words of God given through Isaiah: “I am ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord”’” (John 1:23; cf. Isaiah 40:3).

When someone asks you, “Who are you?”, could you respond with Scripture? What Scriptures best describe you? We are not prophesied forerunners like John, but we should still be able to see the Lord working in our lives through the Word.