We will be studying within John’s Gospel through the month of February. Within the month of March, we will return to the book of 1 Samuel. This month’s daily readings were written by Dougie Wolf, Probabationer Minister at Inverness East church.
Monday 1st February
John 1: 1-18
Within verse 11 we see that the Jesus the Messiah came to earth as a man, he was rejected by his very own. A sad reminder of the words in Isaiah 53: 3 ‘He was despised and rejected by men… and we esteemed him not.’ Even though he was the Messiah of the world, Israel did not except his majesty, because of the way in which He came to earth. He came like a servant, not as royalty. Some though, saw Him as their saviour, and therefore are adopted into his family as ‘children of God’. We must remember as verse 13 clearly points out, we are ‘children of God’, because we have been reborn of the Spirit into His Family, not earthly might. Born again and saved for a life of eternal glory with Christ.
Tuesday 2nd February
John 1: 10-28
John has become well known, and the Jewish leaders sent officials to find out who this man was. He was questioned, but John deferred each time they asked. Only answering by directing them toward Jesus. They continued, requiring a definite answer of his status. His only answer about who he was made it very clear, he was a servant of the Lord. Nothing else mattered to John, only that God’s work was to bring repentance. Therefore, a right relationship with Jesus brought straight paths to God the Father. The officials thought more of their traditions, than any new understanding on the Word of God. We are to keep our relationship with Jesus the central point of our lives never letting anything get in the way.
Wednesday 3rd February
Jesus is given many names within this portion of Scripture, testifying who he is. The ‘Lamb of God’, ‘Eternal’, ‘Son of God’, ‘Teacher’, and ‘Messiah’. Through our knowledge of the Bible we can relate different understandings to each of the names. The ‘Lamb of God’ speaks of His sacrifices for our sins on the cross, so that we no longer need to give animal sacrifices as atonement. The ‘Son of God’ brings the understanding that Jesus is the true Son, God’s one and only begotten. The ‘Teacher’ explains that only He could know the Kingdom of God, because He was ‘Eternal’ before the world began. And finally He is the ’Messiah’ declared by Andrew, the ‘Anointed Saviour’ of the world. With all these names in mind, who do you say He is in your heart. Do you acknowledge He is all of the above and more?
Thursday 4th February
Our belief in Jesus comes from many different ways, some believe because God has intervened when our lives became difficult. Some, because they read of His life and death in the Bible. Some are brought up in a Christian family, and therefore they see how others live with Christ. In Nathanael’s experience it was through the witness of Philip, who told him of the man prophets spoke of, Jesus. Nathanael was intrigued that such a truth could be happening within his life, and he took the word of Philip heading off to see. Jesus did not fall short of Philip’s witness, and He told Nathanael where he had been before such truth had entered his life. Nathanael declares you are truly the Son of God. Jesus reveals to us as he did to Nathanael, many more things about His Reign in the Kingdom of God if we declare Him King of our lives.
Friday 5th February
Within the passage read today is one of Jesus’ first miracles within the gospels. The very fact Mary, Jesus’ mother went to Him asking for such a transformation to happen is proof that she had faith in her son. Faith that whatever was going to happen it would resolve the predicament of no wine at the wedding. Do we come to Jesus in life’s predicaments asking Him to intervene, or doing we see ourselves as being a nuisance, not able to ask because it’s the wrong time?
The well know song ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ gives us the needed response we should have in these times: Verse 2 of the song. ‘Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.’
Let us, like Mary, have the faith to take all our circumstances to God in Jesus name, and in His time we’ll see miracles happen.
Saturday 6th February
Jesus’ well known out-burst towards the merchants selling within the Temple at Jerusalem, brings us to a place where we should ask what are we putting in the place of true worship to God? Have we set aside a time when we come to Him with personal worship? Praising God for all He has done in our lives. It is very easy to find something to fill the time of day. With all the good intentions and strong motivations, we set out all well and good, but a day comes along when the sun is shining. It might feel better to get out and walk the dog. Before we know it the day has gone, the week has gone, and the year has gone. We place objects in the way of the worship of God, just like the Jewish leaders allowed merchants to fill the courtyard of the temple, and so stopping many being able to enter and worship. We have to guard well our time that is set aside for God, protecting it; so that daily we come to God giving Him praise and honour. A commentator once said: ‘There are numerous definitions of the word ‘worship’. Yet, one in particular encapsulates the priority we should give to worship as a spiritual discipline: Webster’s Dictionary explains ‘Worship is to honour with extravagant love and extreme submission’.
Sunday 7th February
Nicodemus is seeking many answers from Jesus. He requires guidance from the one he calls teacher. Little does he know God is not only with Jesus (v2) but Jesus is God’s own Son. Nicodemus’ ignorance is because of a lack of spiritual awareness. He cannot see because as Paul writes: –
‘And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The God of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (Corinthians 4:3-4).
Jesus can teach all things because he is divine, truly God, and made all things. The revelation of Christ is knowing Him, and believing he is God’s only Son. We are therefore justified through Christ, allowing the light of Christ to sanctify us from our sinful nature. Only when we believe and trust in Jesus are we born again, reborn into the ways of the Spirit. It is this way; our true obedience becomes evident, because when we walk in the light of Christ, His light exposes the darkness of sin. If our repentance is true and faithful, in Christ we are not judged. Our response to this passage is to seek Jesus like Nicodemus with the hope of His Salvation as God’s only begotten Son.
Monday 8th February
John the Baptist has been committed to telling all about Jesus, his ministry always shows him putting Christ first and foremost. We very rarely see such humility within our lives. One that would do without so that others might gain, but here the overpowering stance of John’s gospel message is to show we must never look for personal elevation. Jesus is to be first and last in every acknowledgement of stature. We have only received what we have by the grace of God, John the Baptist says in verse 27 “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven”. This is commonly forgotten when receiving praise for a job we do, a task well done, or a talent we have. Praise is not to be denied, but glory has to be given – unto whom is due all honour. Our focus, like that of John the Baptist, is to complete our work in the acknowledge that Jesus is above us in all things. Praise God today for the many things he has poured upon us, His wonders never cease.
Tuesday 9th February
John 4: 1-26
The woman at the well is one of the most well known stories within the gospels. It speaks of the openness of God’s love to a people once unable worship Him freely, other than through law. Jesus has approached the woman and asks for a drink, He makes a connection where before no such relationship would have been accessible. The woman even asks ‘how do you ask me for a drink?’ referring to the fact they came from differing sects. But Jesus overcame this cultural and religious difference with words of encouragement for a future hope. “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.” He was explaining the spiritual needs a person has within their life. All the natural body requires is to be fed by water and food, but the Spirit of a person requires to be fed by God. Jesus fulfils this spiritual need, when he offers ‘living water’. Life in Christ completes a person’s longing for a relationship with God. We tend to seek other things; wealth, lust, greed, and materialism, to mention but a few. Receiving ‘living water’ from Jesus, who offers it unrestricted; no matter what sect, race, or stature brings a connection to the God, who ‘is spirit’ through the only name – the giver of life everlasting, Jesus.
Wednesday 10th February
John 4: 27-38
A second part to the story of the woman at the well is not so well known; in fact it is probably forgotten on occasion. After the disciples return to the well, they are keen for Jesus to eat. Jesus has Kingdom matters in hand, not concerns about eating, he wants to be busy ‘doing the Father’s will’. His prime objective is to preach the gospel wherever he goes, and that gives him the satisfaction of knowing all people will be reached. As we see through this passage the harvest for many souls is readily available if we are focused on the work at hand. God’s work can sometimes be excluded by other matters, over-indulgence in family, work, money, food, and social activities pulls us to worldly things. Paul spoke many times, about how we should look to heavenly things. This is where our security should be found, as we are a people alienated in this world. This is where our security should be found, because our Father is found in the heavenly places. This is where our security should be found, where our King Jesus reigns on high. Jesus had this in mind and saw no need for too much food, or even too much of anything. A good factor we should structure our lives around, and promote kingdom living. As with all things, we can have too much, and so become reliant on them. So we should seek the spiritual realms of life, as this gives us a greater satisfaction fulfilling the ache of our hearts.
Thursday 11th February
The character of the woman at the well, did not affect those she told about Jesus. She spoke of all the things Jesus had known concerning her and such a past life. This did not deter the people from going to see the man who knew many things. The woman’s testimony gave reference, “He told me everything I ever did”. They asked him to stay with them in the town, and so taught them many things. Our own testimonies have as great a power, as that of the woman’s. It is because of what Jesus has done in each of our lives, that many will know that Jesus is Lord. Nothing we do, can make any differences, only what God does for us whilst changing the heart of a sinner to the new life of one redeemed. The people who asked Jesus to stay are the same as those who ask Jesus to come and stay within their hearts. Once they know and hear His truth, they are transformed by the revelation of His power and might. The people of the town proclaimed ‘He really is the Saviour of the world’. Our confession should be as it was then with the Samaritan people, and thus many more will come to Christ.
Friday 12th February
John, the writer of the gospel, has come from a passage of scripture that describes people hearing testimony and believing in Jesus (vv39-42), to that of Jesus warning the people of Galilee they have no faith, because they only believe if they see something miraculous happen (v48). After this warning John writes that the ‘royal official’ does actually believe in the word of Jesus, as He speaks healing into the royal official’s son. Only after he has seen Jesus in person, does he ask Him. The royal official leaves Jesus knowing his son was healed, this he had confirmed to him on the journey home.
Why did Jesus give such a warning to the royal official, about faith? Matthew Henry gives a good explanation that the royal official had come to ask Jesus, because he did not believe he could heal from a distance, from afar off. The warning should stand as a mark for our own faith, thus Jesus is not visual, no longer a physical presence here. Do we believe in God through faith unseen? If so, our faith is blessed, because we believe through faith not seen. Knowing that He is alive and risen from the dead, and reigns on high, seated at the right hand of the Father.
Saturday 13th February
The story of the invalid at Bethesda requiring healing is such that we ask why did Jesus firstly ask if the man wanted healed. And then, secondly wait till the man explained his situation, before performing the miracle. We therefore must look at the verse before Jesus’ enquiry, and here we understand Jesus has learnt about the man’s period of the disability. He then pursues to do something about this lengthy predicament, but the man must take his part in the healing.
We also have to look at the story as an illustration for redemption. And with all acts of salvation there is an acceptance of one’s personal circumstance, acknowledging we need spiritual healing for sin. We must ask Jesus to bring his forgiveness for the past wrong we have committed. Only then and through this act of dialect between a person and Christ can redemption take place. Like the invalid, no one else could ask Jesus to bring healing, likewise we must take responsibility for previous actions and seek healing.
Sunday 14th February
As we look at this passage it is notable, we should be amazed (v20). Rightly so, as the writer expresses. The Father has given much to the Son, yet there is more from the Son, ‘greater things’ – He is the giver of life after death. We therefore must acknowledge that Christ has been given the power to judge (v22), by the Father. This is hard for some (like the Jews) to comprehend, many still deny that Jesus Christ is equal to God. Many people will not entrust their salvation to Jesus, because they do not believe the power of Jesus’ name.
True salvation only comes through Jesus, ‘the name above all names’ been given by God Himself. As we see within this passage that power has been entrusted to Him because the Father loves Jesus. We have to give Him all authority over us, and see Him as the true Son, our Majesty, and King. Whilst this statement is commonly used, let us remember He should be all authority over our lives.
Monday 15th February
Jesus’ primary goal was to bring acknowledgement, that through Him God has brought redemption. Believe in the testimony that He is the new life, sent by the Father. We must believe in our heart that Jesus is who He says He is, not purely because of knowledge i.e. historical, religious, traditional claims. It says in 2 Cor. 5:7 ‘For we live by faith, not by sight’. This is the very thing that makes us stand on the truth that Jesus is the Son of God, because we believe the testimony of God and Himself. It is the testimony that Jesus says he is the Messiah, and so the Redeemer came to set us free that gives us true salvation. ‘This stupendous and beneficent result is due to “hearing his voice.” “They that hear shall live.” They that “have ears and hear not” will remain in death. “Every one that hath ears let him hear.”’ B. W. Johnson.
Tuesday 16th February
Our estimation of God can sometimes be effected by what we see around us, the practical and physical. We forget He is God and not controlled by our material and mortal things. Just as Jesus ask Philip for advice on where to get food, probably because Philip once lived nearby. So God places situation around us to evaluate the strength of our faith. We should never rule ourselves out of the race though. Our requirement is to focus on God and rely on the power of Christ, then we are effective to the fullness of God’s will. Like the disciples must have thought (like they did many times before with children) what can this little child bring that we could not? I wonder whether they had thoughts of chasing the boy away, with his few fishes and loaves, but to their amazement Jesus used this mere sample. Bringing a great feast to the crowd and showing one of the most astounding miracles referred to in the New Testament. We should never underestimate the power of a few, and even the effectiveness of children. They sometimes bring a lot, with few hang-ups to draw their thoughts away.
Wednesday 17th February
The reading today gives us an illustration that Jesus is always with us in time of struggle, we just have to trust in Him and call out. The disciples wasted time by not having faith in Him, they thought He was a ghost. His words are very helpful and reassuring, “It is I, don’t be afraid.” In our walk of life we come to some situation that can look like having no way out. Jesus brings us a way out of our fear, call out to Him and he’ll bring peace to your heart. The disciples ‘were willing to take Him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore’. Our situation might not come to an end, like the disciples came to the shore and their ordeal finished. Rather it may continue on around us, but the peace that covers all understanding will rest on us.
Thursday 18th February
Jesus wanted to explain something in spiritual terms to the people, He often brought illustrations by speaking of materials objects, that the people were used to. Alas they always turn their thoughts to physical/religious matters. This often grieved Jesus because of their interpretation and material wants. He warned them of such religious acts, telling them that such things spoil. In his explanation of ‘the bread of life’, Jesus tries to tell us in our spiritual lives, all we need is Jesus as the ‘bread of life’. In this passage he goes to length showing this will give us eternal life, but like the crowd, our physical desires overtake Kingdom matters. We have to be content with such knowledge. Jesus is the one who sustains our life, rather than expect the physical things to fill the spiritual void that sometimes rules what we do. Is your satisfaction spiritual or physical?
Friday 19th February
Many of the followers of Christ within the crowd, were unable to understand the teachings of Jesus for differing reasons. They did not believe in Christ, and so rejected such teachings about eating flesh and drinking blood. The law forbade such practices, concerning blood. Many knew no difference because they did not see through spiritual eyes; this would have given them understanding about Jesus’ teaching. His teaching, like that in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 is about communion. We are commanded to take the bread and wine, so as to remember the Lord and his sacrifice for our sin. Many don’t take communion, because they think it is not really necessary! Many because they look at themselves rather than looking at what the Lord Jesus has done. Jesus said ‘He knew from the very beginning which of them did not believe’. We are to continually ask Him for spiritual eyes, so as to increase our faith in Him, and thus follow Him more closely.
Saturday 20th February
John 7: 1-13
Clearly Jesus is wanting to keep His ministry from public displays. He was aware that His time was precious, and He had much to teach. The Jewish leaders would have brought it to an end if He had over-stepped any public displays. The same is often apparent within our own public display of Christ; we are in turn persecuted for loving the Lord. Why is this so, when we are doing good for the kingdom? John gave us the very explanation back in chapter 1:4, 5. The life that Jesus brings is a light shining in the darkness of the world – It is this darkness that did not understand the light of life. We shine like lights because we have Jesus within us, and it brings hope, faith, and direction. With direction brings change from ways that have been wrong, these wrongs are sin. Many people don’t want to give up sin, because they like and enjoy it! We are therefore going against what they want in the name of Christ, as He was in many ways going against what the religious leaders wanted, on many occasions. We must remember that the battle we are in is against spiritual powers, not physical flesh and blood. Don’t beat yourself up if you are getting persecuted, you are obviously bringing the light of Christ into the realms of darkness.
Sunday 21st February
Jesus’ teaching amazed the people and Jewish leaders, because He spoke the truth, and the truth sets us free. This went against the religious stance of the leaders; they held religious order of the people through the use of laws and traditions. As Jesus describes even if this goes against one law to keep another – circumcision was carried out on the eight day after birth, even if it fell on the Sabbath. This in turn broke the law of not working on the Sabbath as circumcision was working, as the leaders had added to the laws of Moses to suit their own means. We must be very careful what we listen to, because many religious people add thoughts to God’s word for their own gains. If the teaching does not continue with the will of God and the Gospel of Christ, we must disregard it as false teaching. Many gospels today are preached for the advance of man’s ways, look carefully at the preacher’s lifestyle before believing their practices. We must pray and rely on the Holy Spirit to give us of discernment, enabling our walk in Jesus, and then we are right with God’s Kingdom ways, not man’s.
Monday 22nd February
Within this chapter the people who are now calling into question Jesus as the Messiah, have called Him many things: good man (7:12); a fraud (7:12); demon possessed (7:20); the Messiah (7:26); the Prophet predicted by Moses (7:40). They try to seize and kill Him, because of the truth He speaks concerning His eternal existence. The people are not fully aware of the Scriptures concerning Jesus coming as the Messiah (Micah 5:2), they are becoming frustrated and angry with Jesus. In our lives there are similar tendencies if things don’t always go our own way, or the way we pray. This can come from a lack of knowing Jesus, a lack of knowing the Scriptures. Our resolve should be to trust in Him as the true Messiah, and seek Him in prayer and word. Draw near to God today and He will bring the peace that surpasses all understanding, guarding your mind and heart (Philippians 4: 4-7).
One of His great promises is then evident further on in this passage (7: 37, 38) ‘If you are thirsty and believe in me, I will give you a drink. Streams of living water will flow from within him’. Jesus’ promise is you’ll receive the Holy Spirit, if you seek Him, and believe in Him. Those who believed in Him at that time, received the Holy Spirit some time later at Pentecost. The promise for a believer of Christ today is they will immediately be filled with the Holy Spirit, because Jesus has been glorified in heaven.
Tuesday 23rd February
The first thing we see is the guards that were sent to arrested Jesus, could not find He had broken any laws. Why? Because He had spoken truth to them, truth about Himself and God’s Kingdom (found in the previous passage). This amazed the guards, but not the leaders as they believe that Jesus had deceived them. The Jewish leaders thought themselves above all other authorities concerning religious matters. Their own blindness came because they had made many trivial laws, which in turn made it impossible not to break some laws. Nicodemus brought this to their attention, saying that a person should be first heard before being condemned. The leaders’ allusion was so far gone, that they could only condemn Nicodemus for his truthful thinking. Do we have areas in our lives that have been put there by ourselves? If we have anything that gets in the way of God’s truth, we should remove it and ask for forgiveness from God, turning to a new direction in Him.
Wednesday 24th February
We are not to judge others in sin, this must be left to God. We have to be very careful not to condemn those who are seen to be sinning. The woman caught in adultery, was surely going to be judged by Jesus. She had not denied the very fact, but where was the other party within this act. He was nowhere to be seen, the leaders had just brought her so as to trick Jesus. The law found in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22, says the both parties to adultery should be stoned. Jesus knew this very fact, and so proceeded to show compassion and forgiveness to the woman, and the others gathered. Jesus knew that all the other people gathered had sinned, he then asked for a similar judgement they had received. No one threw a stone, because they could not say they hadn’t sinned. We are called to look at our own cases, look at our own sin. Many times we do this and find that our reasons for correction is wrong. Jesus tells us to ‘look at the plank in our own eye before addressing the speck in our brother’s eye’ (Matthew 7:3-5). We would do well to take such advice and apply it to our own situations; we will then be right with God and in a better place of love to help others recognise their sin.
Thursday 25th February
As we have seen before in our devotions within John, the validity of Jesus is being brought into question. Jesus proclaimed being ‘the light of the world’, and so if we follow Him we will ‘never walk in darkness’ v12. This was brought into question by the religious leaders, they denied Him as Lord and Saviour of the world. In our walk of life, have we ever questioned His validity? If Jesus is Lord we must obey Him as Lord, and walk in His ways. We must allow His word to become the light that guides us on our walk of life: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105). It is made very clear within the passage if we are against God’s Son Jesus, we are not of the Kingdom. We are in fact of the world and Jesus went further, He said “you will die in your sins” v23. Jesus finally proclaimed He ‘always does what pleases the Father’ v29. Take a moment in prayer, and see what you have done to please the Father. If you have praised Him today, if you thanked Him today, if you have told Him you love Him, if you have obeyed Him today, and if you have prayed to Him then you have pleased the Father.
Friday 26th February
Sin captures us and holds us within the realm of darkness, as Jesus explained to those who wanted to follow Him. You will forever be in sin if you do not believe the truth I tell you, stop listening to things that are of man or you’ll forever belong to sin. Jesus, excellently explained how being free would mean being part of God’s family; this was through the understanding that as a slave you have “no permanent place within a family, but a son belongs to it forever” (8:35). Being part of God’s family doesn’t mean we have a freedom to what we want, rather a freedom to follow God. Through this we become the person that God wanted us to be. God made Adam to be such a person so he could have a relationship in the Garden of Eden, but then sin corrupted this relationship. Adam and Eve took the fruit and so fell into the slavery of sin. God had warned them not to eat from the tree of knowledge (Genesis 3). We have a response to make, like Adam, he chose the lie. Do we sin or choose Jesus and the truth that sets us free and relationship with God everlasting?
Saturday 27th February
The religious leaders had become so engulfed in stubbornness and pride; again, they would not listen to Jesus’ truth. Jesus made them aware that were sons of the Devil, who was their father because of such hatred of truth. Jesus knew only too well what Satan is like; he has encountered him through times past. He knew him at creation to be a liar, and never able to acknowledge God with reverence. We must realise that Satan will always be corrupt, never speaking truth. His ways are to set himself above God, and so is cast to an eternity of damnation. Our own actions are often motivated by selfish power and wants, something the Devil will promote as correct. These motivations are not correct, and neither is Satan. We must use the power God has given us to combat Satan. Jesus is the only name that overcomes such lies and wrong ways, call on His name today. He will give you all the armour you need to fight the battle (Ephesians 6:10-20).
Sunday 28th February
Jesus makes a striking proclamation in a very definite statement “Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58). He has endured remarks about His character by the religious leaders, remarks about being a Samaritan and demon possessed. The Samaritans were hated by the Pharisees, even to the point of death. They also called Him possessed by Satan, because they saw Him in opposition to their doctrine. Throughout chapter 8 we see Jesus as: Compassionate and forgiving, not condemning (v8); ‘the light of the world’ (v12); superhuman in his origin (v23); manifestation of the Father (v29); sets all who obey Him free (vv31-36); Sinless (v46); life-giver to all who obey (v51). His words are testimony to His actions, because He was, and is, and is to come. He gives glory to the Father, who will glorify Him (v54). Many deny Christ is the ‘I am’, because they do not know, or want to know Him. Praise God, we know Him and stand on the Rock that is Jesus, and we know the Father through Him.
Monday 29th February
We see the man is healed by Jesus, after a lifelong blindness. Jesus makes it clear that the renewal of sight is so God can receive all glory. This is a remarkable teaching of faith, because He told the man to do something before healing would take place. “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam” (v7), and the man did as Jesus said. As we learn from the crowd, there was differing reactions from neighbours, Pharisees, and the man’s parents. The man’s reaction was to follow the master’s words, and wash in the pool – He received sight and was no longer in darkness. Great joy would be the normal response, but not so by those around the man! Similar attitudes are often heard when salvation is told of, people saying there is no way that person can change. We are to trust in the power of God, and in Jesus’ name people are transformed and are no longer blind, but see. Let us praise God for His continue work in our lives. Let us pray to God that His Holy Spirit touches those lost. Let us bless the name of Jesus for His great and wonderful name.