What will it take for you to believe?

John 7

In John chapter 7 you find an interesting story about Jesus’ brothers who question his authority. Jesus’ brothers try to get Jesus to go up to Jerusalem, so that the miraculous works that he had been doing ( 2:1–11; 4:46–54; 5:2–12; 6:4–14, 19, 21) would be more visible: “No man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” His brothers are very excited that Jesus can do such wonders as heal the sick and turn water into wine and feed 5,000 people; so they want him to get on with the business of showing himself to the world. In one sense Jesus’ brothers have a lot of confidence in Jesus: they really believe he can do miracles. They have seen him. Verse 5, then, is a shock: John says that the reason they urged Jesus on in his miraculous demonstration of power was “because even his brothers did not believe in him.” You can believe Jesus is a great miracle worker and yet still lack the faith Jesus wanted. His miracle-working is insufficient for saving faith.

Are we sometimes like Jesus’ brothers? Taking bits and pieces of Jesus but not fully believing everything he has done. Maybe believing he is a great teacher, but not accepting him as our savior. Maybe we believe that he did those miracles all those years ago, but he could never do a miracle for you today. What will it take for you to believe? Read John chapter 7 and Judges chapters 7&8 and try to find the principles for true belief. The goal is to have saving faith and believing fully in Jesus Christ in everything.  Jesus says in John chapter 7:37-38, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. The one who believes in me, as the Scriptures said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”

Do you believe this? Make it your prayer today.

-Andy Cisneros

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Judges 7-8 and John 7

Making Breakthroughs

In Exodus 21 and 22 God lays down many laws for the Israelites to follow in order to try and establish them as a functioning and stable nation.  There is a lot in there about how to judge between two people when somebody is injured, or commandments to respect parents and authorities, or punishments for thieves.  Some of the laws, like the ones about how to deal with slaves, are quite outdated, but I think some of them can be very beneficial to us even today.

Exodus 22

21 “You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.

I think this is a good message today for how to treat foreigners and to help us realize that every person is a child of God and has value in his eyes, and that Jesus died for them as well.  But I think it also can apply to us when we look at unsaved people, because at some point in our lives we were all wandering away from God, and so we really cannot judge others who are currently living outside of God’s will too harshly, we need to humbly chase after them with love in hopes of helping them to find the grace of God that we have, not hit them over the head with a Bible so that we can let them know how wrong they are.

Meanwhile during Jesus’ ministry he is healing people and miraculously feeding thousands of people and is starting to get through to his disciples.  

Mark 8

15 As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.”

16 At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. 17 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? 18 ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? 19 When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?”

“Twelve,” they said.

20 “And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”

“Seven,” they said.

21 “Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.

Even after he had produced food out of nothing they were still thinking about physical food, not the deeper meanings of Jesus’ messages, but just a few verses later we see a breakthrough with Peter.

Mark 8

27 Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

28 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.”

29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”

I can imagine the relief that Jesus must have felt knowing that finally these think-headed, hard-hearted, best friends of his were starting to understand that he was doing something much deeper than just feeding people.  He was changing their hard hearts to love others the way he loved them.  He feels that same joy when we spend time studying his word and spending time with other believers and start to understand and reflect him more.

Chris Mattison

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 21-22 and Mark 8

Who is Jesus?

Hebrews 1

Hebrews 1 3a

There must have been some confusion to who Jesus was and who was greater between the angels and Jesus.  Most of the chapter compares Jesus with the angels, showing that he was never an angel and is superior to them.

The author of the book of Hebrews starts with establishing the importance of Jesus and making it clear that God placed him above all and heir of all things. It is important that we have a proper understanding of who Christ is. He is clearly greater than the rest of God’s creation – but that is because God gave him that authority and inheritance.

That should also give us caution when reading a few of the difficult texts in the passage to not make Christ equal to or greater than God, the creator and giver of all.

My favorite verse of the chapter: verse 3 –  tells of how Jesus perfectly represents God. Like an image – he gives us a clear picture of who God is – we see an example of God’s power and love but Christ is clearly still under God’s authority.

“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” Hebrews 1:3
-John Wincapaw

“Who Do You Say I Am?”

Matthew 16

matthew 16 16

During Jesus’ ministry, he caused a lot of controversy and caused many to question who exactly he was. In Matthew 16:13-20, this is exactly the issue that Jesus raised with his disciples. However, he not only asks what everyone else thinks of him, but asks the disciples specifically who they think he is. This is important for us to pay attention to, since Jesus says that Peter’s answer was revealed to him by the Father.

 

Jesus’ first question for his disciples is, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Apparently, there had been many ideas floating around during Jesus’ time; some said that he was John the Baptist, others said he was Elijah, and still more said that he was one of the prophets. We may think this is strange to hear, but the same thing is going on in our time today. If you were to ask people at your school or work, “Who is Jesus?”, you are likely to get many different answers. Atheists who accept that he existed would say that he was a good teacher. Muslims would say that he was a faithful prophet. Some Christians today say that he was an angel, that he was God Almighty, or that he was a spirit; many Christians today just simply don’t know what to make of Jesus.

 

Luckily for us, Jesus asks his disciples a second question that will answer all of the confusion for us. He asks them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replies by stating, “You are the Messiah (Christ), the son of the living God.” Jesus praises Peter for his answer, stating that this was revealed to him by the Father! This is the correct answer! Later on, Jesus says that this statement, or profession of faith, is going to be the rock that he will build his Church upon. If someone wants to be a part of Jesus’ Church, they need to accept that he is the Messiah and, according to Paul, that he was risen from the dead (Romans 10:9-10).

 

What is wonderful about this section of Scripture is that this question is still being asked of us today: “Who do you say that I am?” As Christians, we oftentimes worry too much about what everybody else’s answer to that question is. We desperately want people to accept Jesus so much that we forget that we need to answer that question as well. So, who is Jesus to you? If he is the Messiah, or king, of your life, are you fully devoted to him, or is there something else that has your allegiance divided? Do you dedicate your life to him, or is he simply someone you only see on the weekends?

 

The challenge for you today is to take time to examine your own life and walk with Christ, and stop worrying about everybody else. After Jesus’ resurrection in the Gospel of John, Peter is deeply concerned about what is going to happen to John. Jesus replies in verse 22, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” Jesus will be willing to work with the people you are so concerned about, but you need to make sure you are following him fully. You cannot possibly help someone if you aren’t giving it your all as well.

 

-Talon Paul