In John, we read that the “children of God” became so because they “did receive him,” they “believed in His name.” So often we talk about when we “received” Jesus or “believed in Jesus.” To outsiders it may sound confusing. What does it mean to “receive Jesus”? This is something one may consider.
I remember when I was in college, we had to memorize the Prologue. It was a task I accepted but considered a bit strange because memorization tests are not always very fruitful with time. How many things have you memorized for a test and yet you can still remember today? But I understand the importance of this passage in John, which wraps everything up as a beautiful gift to open for all who read.
The gift we receive is Jesus Christ. The introduction speaks of a forerunner coming to prepare the way for the One Who, since the very beginning, was to come and redeem the world from sin that God knew would separate God from man. Many are overwhelmed by the words that speak of deity, life, light, flesh, law, truth, and grace. First, open the gift of Jesus Christ. Receive Him. Believe in Him. These two things are linked together. You cannot believe without receiving. You cannot receive something unless it was freely given. Jesus Christ laid down His life for you; He has been reaching out to you so you can come to know Him. If you receive, you believe. This is a belief of trust. If you believe, if you receive—you have the right to become a child of God.
“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12
I have a very bad memory. I write everything down and I use technology to remind me of everything short of breathing. Many days I will find myself noticing my hands are dry. It is then I remember that I did not put lotion on my hands. I have lotion—lots of lotion. But it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for me to neglect to put it on my hands.
I have a shelf full of Bibles, each a different type or a different translation. But they will not do anything for me unless I actually take one off the shelf and read it. Nor will it help much if I neglect to pray and seek the Lord’s will. It is so easy to neglect what Jesus gave us as a Comforter, as a Helper. It is so easy to neglect His Truth.
Today is a great day to start making a habit of connecting with your Lord and Savior. Did you know experts say it takes about ten days to make something a habit? As you continue to spend time with God, in His Word and in prayer, you will be more aware and responsive to His presence. Before you know it, you will spend more time acknowledging His presence and you will have a great relationship with your Father. I’m going to go put on some more lotion, as I am realizing I forgot once again. Then let us open up His Word and seek His face.
“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” – Psalm 105:4 [NLT]
I have two crosses that I wear daily. The one cross I was given as a birthday gift by my dear friend and mentor; the other cross I received from my church when I finished the discipleship program and became an official disciple of the church. One day a fellow saw that I was wearing two crosses and he asked if I could give him one. As we continued to converse, I found that he wasn’t teasing for me to give him one since I had two, but that he felt that I had twice the blessing and protection of God while he was cross-less.
I told him that we each have our own cross to bear but I did not forget the encounter. Later in the day I thought about this man and his request for one of my crosses. He felt it would bring him protection and blessing. He felt it would help him to have one of mine. It was a firm reminder that we cannot save another person—we cannot give someone something that will provide them salvation, we cannot accept Jesus for someone, we cannot save someone.
Remember this truth as you go about your day today. Your unsaved friends and family, you may be the only one who can bring them the Gospel. Those of you who went to church all your life but never independently accepted Christ, stated your belief or have not been baptized, cannot depend on the faith of your family. You personally need to declare that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior. Salvation is a beautiful gift, a gift only available from God through Christ Jesus. Do not miss out on this gift. Do not miss out on what God has offered you. It is not about wearing two crosses around your neck—it is about the life you can have through Jesus.
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9 [NIV]
There is a lot of noise in the world. I love Sundays because I can enjoy quietness. I don’t hear the bells and whistles of the world. I get to experience quiet. I get to experience peace. I get to sit on the sofa and read God’s Word and simply listen. I do the same thing on lunch break during the week. I lock myself in my car, locking out the rest of the world, and spend time with God and His Word in the quietness. There is such unexplainable peace with our time together.
In Isaiah, we read of this “quietness and confidence.” This comes from righteousness. The righteousness comes from Christ. The confidence is assurance, assurance that comes from Christ and what He has done for us to be justified by faith. We only need believe.
One day justice will rule and righteousness will bring a peace beyond our understanding. This is not something we can do on our own—only through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is this quietness and confidence possible, only through Him can we have this forever.
“Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever.” – Isaiah 32:16-17 [NLT]
Throughout history people attempted to complicate what God desired. Today you can read hundreds and thousands of books telling you what to do and how to act. You can get bogged down and burned out by service. You can become overwhelmed by not matching up to expectations.
But God isn’t asking for what the world continues to desire from you. Jesus said that “the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” BELIEVE in THE ONE He has sent. Believe in Jesus.
If you want to do the works of God, you need only believe in Jesus. That alone is what is required of you. Yes, this will bring you to serve the Lord. But it won’t be complicated—it won’t cause you to become overwhelmed. It will be a joyous outpouring from believing in the One God has sent us.
“Jesus told them, ‘This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.’” – John 6:29 [NLT]
Many people will agree that the Bible mentions some type of “do not fear” phrase 365 times and these same people hold that God left us these phrases so we have one for each day of the year. The Bible verse I return to often is Isaiah 41:10 which tells us to “fear not.” That’s where FearNot Ministries was born.
In Mark 6, the disciples were in the middle of storm that produced great wind. The disciples were struggling. Through this storm, there was Jesus walking on the water. It frightened the disciples. Who can say what was going through their minds? But Jesus told them not to be afraid. Then he said, “Take courage! I am here!”
Take courage. Jesus is here. If you’ve accepted Him into your heart—if you believe in Him and He is your Lord and Savior, He promised that you would receive His Spirit. God is always with you. So take courage. No matter what you are going through. Take courage. He is with you.
“They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage! I am here!’” – Mark 6:50 [NLT]
Do you have different clothing you wear to different places? Perhaps you have “work clothes” or a work uniform to wear when on the job. Maybe you have gym clothing to use when working out. I even have “laundry clothing,” which is clothing I wear when doing the laundry.
In Isaiah 52, it speaks about putting on “beautiful clothes.” There is the command to “clothe yourself with strength” and to “put on your beautiful clothes.” So how do you clothe yourself with strength? It’s more than just eating your whole grain cereal in the morning. And what exactly are beautiful clothes?
Strength—clothing yourself with the armor of God. Your strength comes from Christ. Beautiful clothes—clothing yourself with holy, royal garments. Remember you are a child of God. Remember you are the bride of Christ. Today when you walk out the door, be sure to clothe yourself with strength and wear your beautiful clothes.
“Wake up, wake up, O Zion! Clothe yourself with strength. Put on your beautiful clothes, O holy city of Jerusalem, for unclean and godless people will enter your gates no longer.” – Isaiah 52:1 [NLT]
Almost a year ago I sat down to write about Daniel 3:18. When I write, there are two different ways that I begin. First, there are moments when I am walking my dog Max and the Lord leads me to something. Second, there are moments when I am reading my Bible (many times during my lunch break), when He leads me to something and I will scrawl down some notes for later. Nonetheless, this week I was again reading Daniel 3:18 and was led to write about it. But it felt very familiar.
I considered that perhaps I had written about it before. After writing devotionals, other books, papers, sermons, lessons, etc., it was a possibility. I felt this overwhelming need to search, and then I found it, “But Even If.” Does someone need to hear it again? Yes, and God knew—it was me!
Life has been very difficult lately. Life in general is difficult, but lately I have been feeling exhausted. Not tired. Exhausted. Everything is a battle. I have followed the narrow path. But when we are on the journey God has placed before us, our expectations of the outcome might be very different from where God takes us. Hence the exhaustion. For some of us it’s frustration or even worse. But God reminds each of us that He is with us and He has a great plan for our lives. No matter where we are at on the journey, no matter what our expectations for a situation, our lips should say, “But even if he doesn’t” we will still press forward and live each day firmly rooted in Him. I’m pressing forward. He is my hope and my confidence.
“But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” – Daniel 3:18 [NLT]
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” – Psalm 25:5 [NIV]