All posts by JT

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

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 233/260: Read 1 John 2

There are those who say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” They claim to have a love for God, but refuse to spend time learning about Him. They are not interested in what the Bible says. In doing so, they sadly and foolishly turn their backs on the One they claim to love.

Jesus is clear: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). The apostle repeats the Savior’s teaching in today’s reading.

One cannot truthfully claim to be in Jesus, to know Him or to love Him, if they reject His Word. Reading what He reveals and doing the opposite leads to destruction (Matthew 7:21-23). Many will be surprised at the Judgment, but you don’t have to be. God does not expect anything from us that He doesn’t tell us (John 12:48).

Do you love Jesus? Do you obey His commands? The answer to those two questions must match if one is to be truthful, and they must be “yes” if one is to be faithful. One cannot be spiritual without actively and faithfully living the Word of God.

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

1 John 1:7. But if we walk in the _____________ as He is in the _____________, we have fellowship with one another, and the _____________ of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Pray

Pray for opportunities to obey God wherever you find yourself today: at work, at a restaurant, driving your car. Pray for the wisdom “to walk just as He walked.”

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 232/260: Read 1 John 1

What a great blessing the blood of Christ is to His followers! John says Jesus’ blood “cleanses us from all sin”—but there is a caveat. We are only cleansed “if we walk in the light.”

We must not take it upon ourselves to decide how to live, or to guess at what pleases God. He tells us what He expects! Jesus called Himself “the light of the world” in John 8:12, saying, “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Following Christ means following the inspired Word. The Psalmist declared, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Those who refuse to spend time discovering God’s will in His Word have no fellowship with Him. John equates it to walking in darkness.

God’s blessings are infinitely abundant, but we must keep in mind that His promises are absolutely conditional on our actions. Do you want your sins covered by the blood of Christ? Be faithful. Follow His doctrine. Walk in the light. When you realize your shortcomings (and you will as you read the Bible!), don’t make excuses. Make changes.

Memory (Copy into a notebook 5-10 times)

1 John 1:7. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Pray

Pray for the strength to recognize the sin in your life, the wisdom to repent, and the humility to beg for the forgiveness offered through Christ’s sacrifice.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 231/260: Read John 21

Our God is a God of second chances. In John 18, we read of Peter’s three-fold denial of Jesus, but his story doesn’t end there. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberius.

Three times, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” Peter, who “wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62) when he realized what he had done in the courtyard, now affirmed his love for the Lord. “You know that I love You.”

Jesus gave Peter a mission. He told him, “Feed My lambs.” He said, “Tend My sheep.” He said, “Feed My sheep.” Jesus, “the good shepherd,” had given “His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). He was now ready to go to the Father and begin preparations for His faithful followers to join Him (John 14:2-3). While He does that, He gives Peter the responsibility to feed and tend the flock.

We can continue to learn from Peter and the other inspired writers of the New Testament, by reading their words and obeying the instructions God has given us through their pens. We are the sheep, and we are to follow the good shepherd.

Memory (Read aloud 5-10 times)

1 John 1:7. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Pray

Pray for selflessness in loving Christ and doing the will of God as He revealed in the New Testament.

Jesus Before Pilate and Herod (Luke 23:1-25)

Jesus Before Pilate and Herod Luke 23:1-25

(Luke 23:1-25)

I. Before Pilate

    A. The accusations (23:1-2; Acts 10:38; Luke 20:20-26)
    B. “Are You the King of the Jews?” (23:3; John 18:33-37)
    C. “I find no fault in this Man” (23:4-6)

II. Before Herod

    A. Herod’s curiosity (23:7-8)
    B. Jesus’ silence (23:9-10)
    C. Herod’s mockery (23:11-12; Revelation 3:17-18)

III. Before Pilate (again)

    A. Pilate’s plan (23:13-17)
    B. The Jews’ rejection (23:18-19)
    C. Jesus delivered to the will of the Jews (23:20-25; Romans 12:1-2)

What Makes a Strong Church?

What Makes a Strong Church?

I. A strong church is a converted church

    A. Priorities (Matthew 6:33)
    B. Conviction (1 Peter 3:15)
    C. Love (1 John 5:3)

II. A strong church is a working church

    A. Every Christian must bear fruit and win souls (James 1:22)
    B. Prevents worldliness (1 John 2:15-17)
    C. Prevents error (Matthew 7:21-23)

III. A strong church is a praying church

    A. We should communicate with God often (Hebrews 4:16)
    B. Every faithful Christian’s prayer is powerful (James 5:16)

IV. A strong church is a united church

    A. Christ prayed for unity (John 17:20-21)
    B. Paul preached unity (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 230/260: Read John 20

People react to bad news in different ways. Mary Magdalene rushed to tell two of the Lord’s disciples that His body was missing from the tomb. Upon hearing that, Peter and John “ran together” to the tomb to verify her words. “So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.” When they saw that His body was gone, they believed Mary and returned to their homes.

Mary stayed at the tomb, and was weeping. Distraught over the situation, she demanded answers. Two angels sat inside the tomb and asked her the reason for her tears. “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Then Jesus Himself appears behind her and asks the same question. Not recognizing Him, she accuses Him of moving the body. He spoke her name, “Mary,” and she realized it was Him. Then she sought out the disciples and told them what had happened.

They didn’t rush back to the tomb this time. Rather, they stayed indoors, fearing the Jews. Jesus appeared in their midst and said, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” After everything they witnessed, all the bad news they had experienced over the past few days, “they glad when they saw the Lord.”

Do we react the same way when our bad situations turn around? Are we glad to see the Lord working in our lives to turn things around, to accomplish His will through us?

Memory (Recite to a friend without looking)

John 17:17. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

Pray

Pray that you might be the instrument through whom the Lord works to accomplish His will.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 229/260: Read John 19

He was innocent, yet they mocked Him. He was innocent, yet they demanded His blood. He was innocent, but they cried, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

He was their King, but they denied His power and authority and called for His death. They claimed, “We have no king but Caesar!”

Pilate, the spineless governor who had the vast armies of Rome at his beck and call, gave in to the howling mob aroused by the chief priests and sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion. He wrote a title and put it on the cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

The chief priests objected and asked Pilate to amend the statement to show that “He said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’” Pilate refused, and the truth prevailed.

The King on a cross. The King that had the power to deliver the Jews from their oppressive enemy. Rome was a nuisance, but there was an enemy greater than Rome: Satan. The Jews did not want to hear the truth, nor did they want to follow such a meek man as Jesus as their leader.

Satan thought he had won, and the Son of God had lost. He was rejected by His own people, died upon the cross, and was buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. But the story of Jesus and His battle against sin and death was not over. The final chapter had not yet been written.

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

John 17:17. _____________ them by Your truth. Your _____________ is truth.

Pray

Pray for the wisdom to see that, even when things look bleak, God is working through the things in our life to bring about the accomplishment of His will.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 228/260: Read John 18

The apostle Peter is remembered for many things. He was a part of the “inner circle” of apostles along with James and John. He was the focus of much of the first half of the book of Acts, which included the establishment of the church in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost. He wrote two inspired epistles that were preserved for us.

Yet, for all the good that Peter accomplished, he certainly had his less-than-stellar moments. He may be most remembered for his denial of the Lord, recorded in all four accounts of the gospel. Initially, Peter is ready to fight and defend the Lord, drawing his sword and cutting off Malchus’ ear as Jesus is betrayed in the garden. But then, he reaches his persona low, three times claiming that he did not know Jesus.

It is not difficult to see part of the problem. Peter put himself in a precarious position. “Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and hey warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.”

The closer we get to the enemies of the Lord, the easier it becomes to separate ourselves from Him and His truth. Peter was asked three times if he knew Jesus, and three times he denied it, all while in the company of the Lord’s enemies. It is easy to be bold with a friendly audience, but when surrounded by an antagonistic crowd, one’s boldness may waver.

Surround yourself with people who will support your faith; avoid becoming comfortable with those who will help you lose it.

Memory (Fill in the blanks)

John 17:17. Sanctify them by Your _____________. Your word is _____________.

Pray

Pray for faithful friends.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 227/260: Read John 17

Are the things you pray for important to you? Do you want to see those prayers answered in a positive manner? Do you work to accomplish a positive outcome for those things?

If you consider your prayers important, should you consider the prayers of the Son of God important as well? Do you want to see Jesus’ prayers answered in a positive manner? Are you working to accomplish a positive outcome for His requests?

Jesus prayed for unity among His followers, even in the shadow of the cross. This was just prior to the betrayal in the garden, before He was arrested and taken before the authorities, before He was sentenced to death by crucifixion. In spite of the physical horrors that lay before Him, Jesus prayed for “those who will believe in Me through (the apostles’) word.” He prayed for you and He prayed for me. That should humble us, that the Lord was thinking about us as He faced extreme persecution.

There was unity in the early church. Immediately following the establishment of the church, Luke says that “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Notice that the unity was based upon the teaching of the apostles, those who were led into all truth by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13).

Are we still working toward unity based upon the truth? Are we seeking a positive outcome for the Lord’s prayer?

Memory (Copy into a notebook 5-10 times)

John 17:17. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

Pray

Pray for the unity of the Lord’s followers today.

Read the New Testament in a year, one chapter a day, five days a week

Day 226/260: Read John 16

Part of the work of the Holy Spirit is revealed by Jesus in these words He spoke to the apostles. In addition to the Spirit’s bringing to their remembrance the words of Christ (John 14:26) and His testimony of Christ (John 15:26), He would also “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” The accomplishment of this began on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2.

Luke tells us that the apostles “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). It was through the preaching of the truth that the hearers of that gospel sermon “were cut to the heart,” leading them to ask a question of eternal importance: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)

Peter’s answer was specific and to-the-point. He did not beat around the bush. He said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ of the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). There was nothing in Peter’s response that indicated this was only a suggestion; he did not recommend that they schedule a time to be baptized as a so-called “outward sign of an inward grace” (a phrase that is never used in the Scriptures).

These men were convicted of their sin by the Spirit-inspired message of Peter and the other apostles. The Spirit continues to convict men in the same way today: through the inspired Word (2 Timothy 3:16). Have you obeyed His Word?

Memory (Read aloud 5-10 times)

John 17:17. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

Pray

Pray for the courage to obey what God has commanded rather than what man suggests.