cccdailybiblereading

A daily encouragement to read the Bible with others from Christ Community Church, Conway.

Month: May, 2013

Bible Reading Day 151

Day 151 – John 11:47-57

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Good morning!
After the resurrection of Lazarus, the plot by the Jewish leaders to murder Jesus was settled. They could no longer tolerate Him as a threat to their power. Perhaps the greatest miracle of Jesus’ ministry is met by implacable resistance and evil fury. In response, Jesus withdraws to a private place with His disciples. Don’t think this is an act of fear, though! It is more of a strategic retreat to prepare for the greatest battle which is still to come.

The people look for Him, but the religious leaders order that He must be reported if seen. The manhunt has begun!

To consider: what gave Jesus such courage in the face of death, opposition, and attacks? And what was it about Him that made Him so attractive to the people? 

One more thought – how can I be more like Him?

Have a great day!

Mark.
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Bible Reading Day 150

Day 150 – John 11:18-46

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Good morning!
Day 150 – Well Done!
 
Today we read the conclusion of the account of the raising of Lazarus. Yesterday we read that Jesus waited two days before setting off to Bethany, and that when He arrived, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. We can see the intentionality of the way Jesus handles this need – not according to the desires of the sisters, but for the demonstration of the power and love of God. Also Jesus will use this episode to state something very significant about Himself and His mission.
 
First we see the difference between Mary and Martha – Martha, ever practical, goes to meet Jesus and tell Him Lazarus would still be alive if He had come sooner. You may hear some accusation in those words, but when Jesus makes His significant statement “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” Martha has no hesitation in replying “Yes, Lord,” “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” In other words, Martha comprehends Jesus’ mission, and believes in Him.
 
Then the focus shifts to Mary, who also goes to meet Jesus. This time, all the mourners from Jerusalem go along too! In the midst of all this wailing and mourning, there are also questions from unbelievers about why Jesus didn’t prevent this from happening. John does not tell us whether Jesus’ anger is caused by the unbelief of the critics, or the grief of His friends, or the fact that our fallen world regularly snuffs out human life too early, but the depth of emotion He felt is captured in the shortest verse in the Bible: Jesus wept.
 
The anger (righteous anger, not vindictive anger) moves Jesus deeply as He tells them to roll away the gravestone. The word we translate anger means to have your guts churned with compassion and desire for justice. And we know the result – Jesus calls out “Lazarus, come out” and out comes the four-day corpse, resurrected! Preachers love to say that Jesus specified Lazarus’ name because this was likely a local burial cave, with many bodies inside, and Jesus had to be specific to avoid being overrun by resurrections!
 
Notice what happens when unbelievers see the power of God released by the depth of compassion and anger that Jesus displayed: they become believers. And that explains why Jesus managed this need and this answer in the way He did; for many to believe through witnessing God’s power at work. 
 
How does God want to demonstrate His power through you today? If you are unsure, ask yourself what it is that moves you deeply with anger and compassion; then see what God is doing there.
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
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Bible Reading Day 149

Day 149 – John 11:1-17

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Good morning!
Today we begin the story of Lazarus; perhaps one of the most famous stories in the New Testament. John provides extensive detail on this miracle, and the circumstances leading up to it. For instance – Mary is the same Mary who will later pour perfume on Jesus’ feet. The family (Lazarus and his two sisters) lived in Bethany, in Judea near Jerusalem. That was a dangerous place for Jesus because the religious leaders wanted to kill Him, but we see no sign in today’s passage that Jesus had any doubts about going there to demonstrate God’s power, and to bring glory to God.
 
John also includes some humor (such as Jesus using the euphemism “he’s sleeping” which led the disciples to believe Lazarus would get better). The funniest part is perhaps when Thomas (the twin) says to the other disciples “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.” That reminds me of Eeyore in the children’s animations of Winnie the Pooh! It also shows the reality of the danger they faced.
 
Tomorrow we will read about the outcome of this story, but for today I suggest you reflect on the courage of Jesus, and what motivated Him to go into danger.
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
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Bible Reading Day 148

Day 148 – John 10:22-42

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Good morning!
Today we step closer to the crucifixion, with Jesus at Jerusalem in the winter for the feast of Hanukkah. 
 
The people are impatient, thinking Jesus will overthrow the Romans and set up a Jewish Kingdom. But Jesus is not pushed by external demands. Instead He is propeled by internal obedience. His purpose is to do the Father’s will, and to speak the Father’s truth, anything more is just human (politics, religion, sin, or selfishness). Of course, such a perspective is unpopular with those in power!
 
Jesus defines obedience as doing the Father’s works. What does that look like in your life?
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
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Bible Reading Day 147

Day 147 – John 10:1-21

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Good morning!
After the battle with the Pharisees over the man born blind, Jesus returns to teaching the people in the light of what He has just said to the Pharisees. They are under judgment because they claim to have light but don’t, and so their leadership is defective.

He uses the illustration of the shepherd (a vivid picture for that agricultural society dependent on sheep for their livelihood and their worship). As you read today, allow the characters in the narrative to come to life in your imagination: Jesus: the good shepherd; satan: the thief; those who lead and disciple us: the gatekeeper; religion: the hired hand; you and me: the sheep!

What does God highlight for you as you do this?
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
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Bible Reading Day 146

Day 146 – John 9:24-41

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Good morning!
We continue our reading of the account of the man born blind. This healing caused a major disturbance, causing the religious leaders to become even more angry with Jesus.

Yesterday we saw what Jesus says about the man’s infirmity – not a penalty for sin, but an opportunity for the power of God to be seen. If only we could keep that attitude about every bad thing we come across!
The religious leaders are firmly in the “sickness is the penalty for sin” camp. They operate on a “tit-for-tat” basis and assume God does too. No wonder they are furious about the healing, especially when the man (who was clearly quite a character) starts teasing them for their lack of understanding.

Their response is the only one they have available – they exclude him from their religious “club.” But Jesus finds him again and helps him come to true faith – believing in Jesus through accepting His mission, rather than relying solely on miracles. The reason John gives us so much detail on this healing is because it  contrasts natural blindness with spiritual blindness. The sin is not in the life of the man born blind, but in the hearts of the Pharisees who will not accept the truth of what they see!
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
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Bible Reading Day 145

Day 145 – John 9:1-23

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Good morning!
Today we read about the healing of the man born blind.
 
Several things I suggest you might reflect on as you read:
The disciples think suffering is caused by sin, what does Jesus say?
What does Jesus say is the purpose of the man’s infirmity?
How does the man react?
What do the religious leaders object to?
How does that affect the others in the story?
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
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Bible Reading Day 144

Day 144 – John 8:37-59

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Good morning!

Today our third, and final, section of John Chapter 8 sees the climax of the growing conflict between Jesus and the people over freedom. They think they are free because they can trace their descent back to Abraham, but Jesus knows they are slaves to sin who can never be free until they know the truth and the Son sets them free.
 
In this section the argument reaches a peak and, as is usually the case when an argument rages, words are spoken that reveal deeper motives and truths than before. Jesus tells them that they are children of the devil because they refuse to recognize the truth. They are so deceived that they will not change their own thinking when presented with God’s truth.
 
In verse 47 Jesus says “Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God.” This is reassuring for us, that our willingness to hear what God is saying not only brings truth to our hearts (setting us free) but also confirms that we belong to God.
 
Jesus goes on telling them truth, including that He knows God but they don’t. And there is a clear revelation of His divinity when He declares “Before Abraham was, I AM”. Using the name of God is enough cause for these religious people, blinded by their tradition and the deception of their hearts, to attempt to stone Jesus for blasphemy. But he disappears (“Beam me up Scottie!”) and leaves the Temple.
 
Why not take a moment now and listen to God again – demonstrating your desire for the truth that sets you free, and affirming that you belong to Him?
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
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Bible Reading Day 143

Day 143 – John 8:21-36

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Good morning!
When Jesus teaches truth from God to sinful humans, there is a gap between what He knows and what we can understand. Sometimes the truth He speaks is beyond our comprehension. That is certainly the case for the unbelievers who are listening to Jesus in today’s reading.
 
Notice, though, that when Jesus is lifted up (i.e. crucified), then unbelievers understand. Jesus underlines how He only speaks and acts in obedience to the Father’s will. That demonstrated obedience leads many to believe in Him. Perhaps the lack of faith in Jesus in society today is connected to the drift away from obedience to Biblical standards by many who claim faith in Christ?
 
Then Jesus goes on to apply the same principle of obedience to our relationship with Him. Verse 32 is one of my life verses; when I truly receive God’s revelation of truth, I am set free from my past hurts and failures; freed to live out my destiny. The religious people of Jesus’ day were trusting their tenuous family tree link to Abraham to save them. Since they all sinned they were slaves to sin. Now we can be brothers and sisters of The Son – living in the Father’s love securely forever. If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!
 
If you would like to think on this further, I suggest you listen to a series I recorded some years back, called “The Truth Will Set You Free.” It is available for free download here.
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
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Bible Reading Day 142

Day 142 – John 8:1-20

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Good morning!
After His invitation at the end of the Feast, Jesus stays in Jerusalem to teach in the Temple. The conflict with the Pharisees that will result in His death is still growing, and has not yet reached its peak.
 
Today’s reading is one of my favorite passages of scripture, because God’s loving heart is so clearly revealed by the words and actions of Jesus. At the same time the spite and judgment of religion is exposed for the evil that it is.
 
The religius leaders bring a woman to Jesus who has been caught in the very act of adultery. The Law actually says that both parties should be brought to trial and executed, but there is clearly a conspiracy here  – the appeal to Jesus has nothing to do with seeking justice, and everything to do with creating a trap (see verse 6). If they can get Jesus to agree she should be stoned then they can charge Him with rebellion against the Romans (who had banned the Jewish leaders from sentencing people to capital punishment) and if Jesus disagrees with her stoning they can brand Him a heretic.
 
I beleive Jesus’ reaction is a reflection of His personal habit of always listening to His Father. When He writes on the ground, He is journaling His thoughts and the words His Father is saying to Him. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” In other words, only one who is not guilty has the right to condemn one who is guilty. Not in general terms of comparing guilt between sins, but in the specific sin – in this case, adultery. Starting with the oldest (and thus wiser), the crowd of accusers melts away. They all know they are guilty of sn, and especially by accusing only the woman and not the man – they are guilty of conspiracy, and they know it!
 
Then Jesus turns to the woman. Of course we know (and probably she knew too) that He is the only one qualified to condemn her. But when she says that her accusers have left, He says these amazing, powerful words: “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” 
 
It is important to read those two sentences correctly: Jesus is not saying He is recusing Himself from condemning, in the same way the Pharisees did. He is without sin, and entitled to judge, but He says clearly “I do NOT condemn.” We would do well to recognize that this is just as much a disclosure of Father God’s will as the earlier statement “He who is without sin can cast the first stone.” Jesus says to every one of us “I do not condemn you” – which seems like crazy love (and an invitation to license) until we realize what Jesus did to enable Him to say that with authenticity: He went to the cross and died in our place.
 
We must also read the second sentence carefully – religion says “go and sin no more, or else I will smite you next time” (or words to that effect). Jesus, by contrast, is saying “you can go free, and in addition, you no longer need to sin as you look for love – you have found love in God’s grace.
 
So you can see why I love this passage – God’s grace is extended to everyone who will receive it, and we will find freedom from sin in any areas where we have been striving to find love!
 
So how can Jesus operate in such wisdom and grace? The rest of our reading explains for us how Jesus gets His wisdom from the Father, and how much God’s love is shining light into this dark world. So how does God want to shine through you today?
 
Have a great day!

Mark.
 
You are welcome to forward this to a friend.
 
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