The Challenge — Day 170

Today’s Scripture: John 21
[It’s the last day of our journey. Open up the Word however you prefer: a Bible or click the reference to read online.]

…Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples…
John 21:1
Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples, again, to encourage them of the truth, to comfort them, to guide them.
Fishing was these disciples normal way of life. They had been fisherman before they were chosen by Jesus and this is what they went back to, not knowing what else to do since they saw Him the first time. In their everyday way, He made Himself known.
“It is the Lord!”
John 21:7
God reveals Himself to Believers in their everyday work life.
Jesus served His disciples breakfast, and there they saw Him. 
Now none of the disciples dared asked him, “Who are you?”
They knew it was the Lord.
John 21:12
God reveals Himself through provision of our everyday needs.
After breakfast, Jesus revealed His heart to Peter through conversation. He revealed how He felt about Peter and what He desired Peter to do for Him.
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John,
do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything;
you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. …”
John 21:17
God reveals Himself to His disciples through conversation, the spiritual discipline of prayer.
God: Father, Son, Spirit, reveals Himself again and again in the lives of His disciples.
Through our everyday way.
Through provision of our daily needs.
Through our prayers.
To reveal truth.
To guide.
To comfort.
Where has He revealed Himself to you lately?
If He hasn’t, maybe you haven’t been looking. Or maybe you haven’t spent enough time with Him to recognize Him when He reveals Himself.
Hopefully, the last 170 days have helped you to know Him better. See Him better. Recognize Him more readily.
Hopefully the last 170 days have stirred up a hunger for His Word, for His presence, in your life daily. We do not wholly live by bread alone, we need His Word to fully live.
It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4 ESV
Celebrate today what you have been filled with over the last days and months.
Praise Him for His faithfulness in walking with you through His Word.
Praise Him for the revelation of Him in Scripture.
Thank Him for the blessing of His Word and the Word made flesh.
You may be wondering… What’s next?
Come back tomorrow. We may have the answer for you.
Father God, thank You for Your faithfulness to Your Word and to Your people.
Thank You for the blessing of the Spirit who reveals Your heart through Your Word.
Thank You for Jesus who shows us how to walk in Your Word.
Fill me with a hunger for more!

The Challenge — Day 169

Today’s Scripture: John 20:11-31
[The end of the journey is very near. Click the reference to read online, or perhaps you have your Bible handy by now.]

The disciples experienced a terrible loss. A great confusion. The one they believed to be the Messiah had been crucified and buried. Their hope buried along with Him.

In fear of being found out, maybe even being next, they locked themselves away from the world.

We too as Believers experience times of terrible loss. Times we’ve trusted, hoped, only to find ourselves faced with disaster. Sudden death. A terminal diagnosis. The betrayal of a loved one.

Confused. Afraid. We lock ourselves away. From the world. From community. From Him.

Or at least we try.

Today’s passage shows God as One who cannot… will not… be locked out from the lives of His disciples.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, 
the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, 
Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
John 20:19
God will not be locked out when He is ready to bring peace to our hearts after the storm.
Take heart. Whether you are the one locked up in fear and doubt or you have a loved one who seems to have locked themselves away. He will not be locked out. We can’t lock Him out. We can lock ourselves away from the world, but not from Him.
Look for Him to come. Look for Him to bring peace.
Father God, You have a purpose in all You allow.
So often we just can’t see what it is from this side of eternity.
Comfort us with the knowledge that You will come.
I may lock myself away from the world, but I cannot lock myself away from You.

The Challenge — Day 168

Today’s Scripture: John 19:28 – 20:10
[Click the reference above to read on]

Several times in our passage today, the fulfilling of Scripture is mentioned.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said
(to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”
John 19:28
For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled:
“Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another
Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”
John 19:36-37
Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb.
He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth,
which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up
in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first,
also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand
the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
John 20:6-9
It’s clear to see, God keeps His Word.
We don’t always understand what Scripture is saying or what exactly a specific prophetic Word will look like when it is fulfilled. But rest assured… He keeps His Word.
God does not forget what He says.
It is impossible for Him to lie.
The question is, do we know what He says? do we remember?
My prayer for those participating in the challenge of reading the gospels in 170 days is for each to develop a hunger for His Word. A hunger for Him, the Word made flesh, and continue to pursue Him each day through Scripture.
Father God, fill me with a desire to know You through Your Word.
Remind me that You keep all of Your Word. You do not forget. 
You are faithful to what You’ve said. May I be faithful to Your Word.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.
Psalm 145:13 ESV

The Challenge — Day 167

Today’s Scripture: John 19:1-27
[Click the reference above to read online, if your Bible is out of reach. We are almost within reach of the finish line, three more days after today.]

…but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister,
Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother
and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother,
“Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!”
And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
John 19:25-27
God was crucified. But even in crucifixion, pain, agony, His true character was revealed… He is always other-centered.
God the Trinity: Father, Son, Spirit.
The Three-In-One does everything for His own glory. But it is not anything like when we seek our own glory. As we have seen, the Father glorifies the Son, the Son the Father, the Spirit glorifies both. 
Many may think God self-aggrandizing when His Word says all things were made for His glory. But it’s just not true. He is not like us. His glorification is due Him. He alone worthy of glorification as Creator but it is not a self-seeking glory.
Here on the cross we see His primary concern is not for Himself, it is for His mother, for others.
God is rejected by those who are self-righteous, seeking their own glory, creating their own truth, following human tradition rather than the heart of God’s law.
So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.
Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him,
they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”
John 19:5-6
God has no self-righteousness in Him. 
He is Righteousness Himself.
He endured crucifixion, rejection, humiliation, because of His other-centered nature. He endured to save those He created.
So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know
that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?”
Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all
unless it had been given you from above. …”
John 19:10-11
God is the Highest Authority and He used His authority to allow Himself to be abused and murdered for others… for you…
His greatest glory is His love for others.
God of love You are to be glorified above all, 
yet when You came into the world we crucified You.
Lord, grow me to love like You. Enlarge my heart to be other-centered,
loving others not for my glory but for Yours.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, 
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

Sabbath Challenge — Day 166

Today’s Scripture: John 18:25-40
[This is the last Sunday on our journey through the gospels. Be prepared to spend some extra time with Him today. Open up your Bible or click the reference above to read online.]

Jesus came to bear witness to the truth of His Kingdom. And everyone who is of the truth, a part of His Kingdom, listens to His voice.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born
and for this purpose I have come into the world — to bear witness to the truth.
Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
John 18:37

God’s voice is only heard by those who are of the truth.

Pilate’s response to the truth is the response of the world: What is truth?

There is truth and it only comes through God: Father, Son, Spirit.
He alone is the source of truth and knows truth.

Those who long for truth, long for Him.
Those who seek truth, hear His voice.

Do you have questions about what’s true and not true?

The world these days says we all make our own truth. But truth by definition is singular, two different “truths” cannot be true. If they contradict each other in any way, one is a lie.

We do not create our own truth. We are not God. He alone set His Kingdom on truth and those who are a part of it listen to Him and know the truth.

Who are you listening to these days? Do you hear His truth? receive it?
Or do you say with Pilate: What is truth?

Lord, I ask today for truth. I ask for ears to hear Your truth and a heart that listens.
Bless me with the discernment to identify the lies of the world
from the Truth of Your Kingdom.

Ask, and it will be given to you…
Matthew 7:7 ESV
Sabbath Challenge:
As you watch, read, or listen to any source of media today, consider if it is true. 
Ask if it is presented from a worldview that accepts truth exists.
Pray as you listen to the different voices of the world: Lord, is this true?
His Kingdom is founded on truth and that is the only kingdom we want to be found in and listen to.
Today’s Sabbath Challenge is one to extend through out the week and beyond…
We do not want to be deceived. His truth is the only place of freedom.
“If you abide in m word, you are truly my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” —Jesus
John 8:31-32 ESV

The Challenge — Day 165

Today’s Scripture: John 18:1-24
[Five more days after today, and we’ll be done with The Challenge. Open up His Word, get your Bible in hand or click the reference above to read online.]

Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward…
John 18:4
Jesus knew what was coming. He knew He would suffer. He knew it would be hard. But He did it all out of love for those He created.
God, too, knew all that would happen — the Fall, the Flood, the Crucifixion — even before He created, yet He chose to move forward and create. He knew what was coming. He knew He would suffer. He knew it would be hard. But He created out of love.

Those who have the power to hurt you the most are those you love the most.
Those on whom you can inflict the greatest pain are those you love more than anyone else in the world.

Love causes us to endure hard things because it is worth it in the end to love.
Consider God’s great love for you today, all He willingly endured to create.
Thank Him.
Praise Him.
He is love.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
1 John 4:16 ESV
Father God, open my heart to Your love.

The Challenge — Day 164

Today’s Scripture: John 17
[Click the reference above to read online… or open up your Bible…]

“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son
that the Son may glorify you…”
John 17:1
God the Father glorifies God the Son, so God the Son may glorify God the Father.
To glorify is to cause someone to have glorious greatness (Louw-Nida Greek Lexicon).
We’ve read three gospels already, so we know what comes next: Jesus’s unjust arrest, beating, mocking, and crucifixion… the hour has come… 
Jesus is glorified in laying down His life for others. 
Jesus is glorified in suffering.
Jesus is glorified through obedience to the Father, even unto death on a cross.

And in turn… Father God is glorified by Jesus.

Jesus says of His disciples and those who will believe…

“… The glory that you have given me I have given to them,
that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me,
that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know
that you sent me and loved them as you loved me. …”
John 17:22-23
Just as Jesus was glorified through suffering, we are too.

Just as Jesus glorified the Father through suffering, we do too.
Sons of God, brothers of Jesus, look like Him.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. …”
Luke 9:23 ESV
It is through our loving obedience to the Father through the Son to willingly enter into suffering on behalf of another that we are glorified and we glorify Him.
As we glorify Him, we reveal who He is to the world that they may know His love.
“… Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life for his friends. …” —Jesus
John 15:13 ESV

Are you willing to suffer for others that they might see Him? believe that He came? because He loved them?

Suffering seems an odd way to be glorified or to bring glory to God, but in a broken world that is the way it works.

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist,
in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder
of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Hebrews 2:10 ESV
Ask Him to prepare your heart to suffer for others.
Ask Him to prepare your heart to embrace the privilege of suffering for others.
Ask Him for the faith and trust to obey in the opportunities He sets before you to suffer for others.
Let’s make Jesus’s prayer our prayer:
O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you… 
I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known,
that the love with which you have loved me may be in them…

The Challenge — Day 163

Today’s Scripture: John 16:16-33
[We’re coming close to the end of our journey through the gospels. You know what to do. Open up the Word through your Bible or by clicking the reference above.]

Jesus has been preparing His disciples for this moment…

“A little while, and you will see me no longer;
and again a little while, and you will see me.”
John 16:16

But they could not understand… What is He saying to us?

Through Jesus we discover God’s grace in preparing us for what’s to come, what lies ahead. We just don’t always get it.

There was a time in my life He prepared me for something He knew was coming. For a season of several weeks, months, I felt His call to fast several hours a day, several days a week.

I had no idea why. Previous to this time, the call to fast also came with a call to pray. But not this time. Through these days I felt a little crazy. Was this me? Is it Him? The pressing to fast continued, and by faith I chose to obey.

During this time He revealed some issues in my heart with food. It was one place I went for comfort and solace, instead of Him. In the exercise of fasting, He revealed how I worshiped the clock for the hour of fasting to conclude for the day rather than seeking my strength from Him. Through the spiritual discipline of fasting He revealed and corrected skewed places in my heart.

The day came when I walked into Target and did not feel the need to buy and eat their popcorn (one thing I’ve really loved!). I was content just to enjoy the aroma. The moment surprised me… something had changed in me.

A few days after this moment came the call from the doctor’s office. Glucose intolerant… decrease the carbohydrates you eat… check your blood sugar… schedule an appointment in three months…

My life was radically changed when it came to my eating habits. The diagnosis completely unexpected. After the shock wore off, my thoughts went to the last few months of struggling with fasting. My heart cried out… You knew this was coming…!

Yes, He knew and He prepared me for the change I would have to make.

He still prepares His people for what’s coming. We just don’t always understand.

The best we can do is listen, trust, and obey. Even when it doesn’t make sense, and we feel a little crazy in the process.

Father God, thank You for preparing me for what is to come.
Bless me with the faith to trust and obey, even when I don’t understand.
I want to be prepared.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5 ESV

The Challenge — Day 162

Today’s Scripture: John 15:18 – 16:15
[Open up the Word, either in your Bible or click the reference to read online.]

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. …”
John 16:12

God has many things to say to us, but He waits for just the right time. There are some things we are just not ready to hear, we are unable to bear them.

The Greek translated as bear is bastazo. According to the Louw-Nida Greek Lexicon it means: to accept, but with the implication of the truth being difficult to comprehend or to respond to properly — ‘to accept, to receive.’

God knows our hearts. He knows the amount of faith He has blessed us with. He knows when we are ready to accept and receive His truth and when we are not.

There’s an amazing amount of grace in His holding back teaching until we are ready. He longs for us to succeed in this walk of faith. He does not want to give us more than we can handle. He is our loving Father who watches our growth and offers us new teaching when we are ready to bear it… walk in it.

No father would teach his infant how to buckle themselves in their carseat.
No father would hand the car keys to a 4 year old and begin teaching them to drive.
Or suggest a 6 year old learn to change a flat tire.
They’re just not ready.

Our heavenly Father knows when our hearts are ready to bear the next step in our spiritual growth. He reveals truth as we’re ready to actually walk in it.

We too need to offer grace to others, because we are all at different places in our faith journeys. You may look at someone and not understand what they are doing, even if they tried to share what God has called them to. Or you may see someone who looks like they’re not doing anything, but maybe they just haven’t grown to the same place as you.

God knows our hearts and He loves each of us as a Father.
He gives each of us teaching as we are prepared to walk in it.
Trust Him with what He’s teaching you, and don’t judge where others are in their teaching.

It is by grace we are saved.
Let’s pour out grace on each other, just as we have received.
In just a little while, you may receive the teaching that helps you understand where someone else is in their walk, and be able to be gracious with those who are more spiritually immature.

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?
It is before his own master that he stands or falls. 
And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:4 ESV
Father God, thank You for Your teaching which comes at the right time.
Thank You for the guidance of the Spirit of truth. Bless me with the grace
to not question or judge where others are in their walk with You.
You alone are able to uphold each one of us as we grow in faith.
Thank You for Your grace.

The Challenge — Day 161

Today’s Scripture: John 15:1-17
[Be sure to read the passage before the words below. If you only have time to read one or the other, choose His words not ours. Click the reference above to read online.]

“… You did not choose me, but I chose you…”
John 15:16
God chooses His followers; we do not choose Him first.
If you are a follower of God: Father, Son, Spirit you are chosen.
For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and blameless in His sight.
Ephesians 1:4 HCSB
If you are chosen, you are appointed to bear much fruit.
…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…
Galatians 5:22-24 ESV
Of course, the only way to be fruitful is to abide in Christ, live your life in Him.
“… I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me
and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me
you can do nothing. …”
John 15:5
As a chosen one, if you choose to live your life apart from Him, you will not bear fruit for His Kingdom. Those who are not fruitful are cut off.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away…”
John 15:1
You have been chosen.
Live the life you were chosen to live.
Abide in Him every moment of every day.
Lord, thank You for choosing me.
Help me to choose to live in You every day.
Every moment of every day.
I want to be fruitful for Your Kingdom.