April 9 – Gospel Readthrough – Gospel Review

Read John 20:30-31

Over the past several months, we have been on a journey to read through the gospels in their entirety. We have read about the foretelling of Jesus, His subsequent birth and the detailed accounts of His ministry from a few of those closest to Him.

Over the past several months, you have ingested quite a lot of information.

How on earth do you summarize these 4 books into one applicable takeaway?

Throughout this whole challenge, we took one day a week to take a look on the past week of reading in order to pull out some form of application. After all, what’s the point of reading if you aren’t going to apply what you have read? If there is no application, your head is getting bigger…that’s about it.

There are a couple quick verses in John 20 that summarize the theme of the gospels:

“Jesus did many other miraculous sings in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

The gospel accounts from Matthew, Mark, Luke (with Peter) and John were written for two clear reasons:

Believe that Jesus is who He said He was

Jesus isn’t just a good guy or a prophet who said and did a lot of huge things that ended up getting Him killed. He was and is the Son of the Living God. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. As we discussed in a recent sermon series here at Grace, your opinion of God is the most important thing about you. Quite literally, it is a matter of eternal life or death that you believe Jesus is exactly who He said He is and make Him the leader of your life.

Some are still waiting for the Messiah to come. Friends, He came. He taught. He loved. He died and conquered death by walking out of the grave so that you can receive and live life like it was intended to live.

Have life in His name

Life without Jesus isn’t life at all. Jesus came to earth so that He could live a perfect life and be killed in your place so that your sins may be atoned for and that you may have eternal life through Him.

Believing in Jesus is one thing. Living for Him is quite another.

You say you believe in God? Satan himself believes in God.

That’s not enough.

Believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and commit to live for Him the rest of your life. Allow your life to be a vessel through which God can bring many to faith in Him.

Life without Jesus leading your life isn’t life at all.

Believing Jesus is who He said He was and through that belief, experiencing the Living Water is why these books were written.

Does Jesus need to be given more control in your life?

Does Jesus need to be given control in your life in general?

You may be living your best life through Christ, but others may not. Why are you going to show and tell of the living God who died for you and for them?

Let’s go out and change the world through the power and grace that only Jesus offers!

Jake Lawson

April 8 – Gospel Readthrough – John 21

Read John 21:1-25

In the 60’s there was a TV show called Mission Impossible.  At the beginning of each episode a small team, of highly trained agents were given their mission.  They were to use their skills against hostile and evil dictators.  Their instructions were given via a tape recording of an unseen person. Then the tape would self-destruct 5 seconds later.

Here in John 21 Jesus was giving the disciples their instructions for what seemed to be an impossible mission to become fishers of MEN!

The disciples had had 3 years of hands-on-training.  They had seen the miracles, they had heard His words!  They had been eye witnesses to a dead man being raised to life! They were experts at fishing for fish.  Now they would be fishing for the hearts of men.   They would be catching new believers and hauling them closer to God!  The strength of the Holy Spirit would be their net to bring them in.

Their mission is ours too.

“Feed my lambs”

As you bring new people into the fold, remember they are all baby believers and can be easily led astray by false teachings and half-truths.  So, they are not devoured by the false teachings of Satan they need to be fed the truth.  You can’t just lead a person to Christ and expect them to continue on the right path without being nurtured along the way.  It might mean having to invest some time not only in prayer but in their lives.

Take care of my sheep

This is a rescue mission.  Jesus knew horrible things were ahead for many of his followers. Some would face persecution, put in prison, beaten, or even literally fed to lions just because of Him.  They were going to need to be encouraged, and reminded of the truth over and over again.   Are you willing to be questioned or even mocked for sticking up for Jesus? Are you willing to come to the rescue of others who are being attacked because of the truth?  How about at school or work around the water cooler?  What about in front of your friends?   

Feed my sheep

Just like we get strength from the natural food we eat we get spiritual strength from the Bread of Life, Jesus, and the word of God, the Bible.  The disciples were to tell what they had seen, heard and lived. They needed to speak and write it all down for the spiritual food for the believers then and for future generations. We too have our own spiritual stories of what God has done for us in our lives.  We need to share them!  

Their mission is our mission!  We all have lambs/sheep around us who need to be cared for and fed.  Don’t let them die from spiritual starvation! 

They need you!

Pat Arnold

April 7 – Gospel Readthrough – John 20

Read John 20:1-31

“Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’”. 

John 20:18a

John 20 is the resurrection story about Jesus Christ and it is the key fact of Christian doctrine and hope. By rising from the dead, Jesus Christ fulfilled His own promise to do so and solidified the pledge He made to His followers that they too would be raised from the dead to experience eternal life (John 14:19).

Women’s rights have been a hot topic for many years now. They couldn’t vote until 1920 and black women could not vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

This was much the same environment in Jesus’ time. That makes it all the more impactful that a woman – Mary from Magdala – had the privilege of being the first eyewitness to see Jesus Christ following His resurrection; she not only saw Him, she heard Him and actually touched Him (1 John 1:1-4).

Mary came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So, she ran and found Peter and John.

When they got to the tomb, Peter looked in and noticed the linen wrappings and the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head were folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. They went in and looked around and started to believe how the previous comments Jesus made were coming true!

A little while later Mary was at the tomb and she was crying because of her need for Jesus. And that is where she saw Jesus, although she did not recognize him initially. She thought He was the gardener. Then Jesus said, “Mary” and she recognized Him.

What a moment.

So, she found the disciples and told them.

This astounding story was told by a woman who had had a broken life before experiencing healing from Jesus (Luke 8:2).

In what way can you, like Mary, share with others what God has shown you and done through you? In what way can you share the good news of the resurrection with those around you?

Without the resurrection, there is no gospel.

Tom Weckesser

April 6 – Gospel Readthrough – John 19

Read John 19:1-42

Did you know that in Jesus Christ Superstar, the rock opera that is currently traveling through the USA, there is an entire song about John 19:41? The musical ends with this dramatic song. Titled “John Nineteen forty-one”, the song has no lyrics. I just wonder why someone would write a song about one just one verse, especially this one? And why didn’t they end it with The Resurrection? What is the message here?

The music opera is loosely based on the truth of The New Testament and it can be misleading. It omits The Resurrection as well as other facts. The ending of this opera was not the end. The Resurrection is the reason that Jesus Christ is and was a superstar!

The lyrics to the title song -“Superstar” – were written by Sir Timothy Rice. Regarding Christianity he says, “I don’t follow it. I wouldn’t say I was a Christian. I have nothing against it.”

The first line of the lyrics of the title song, SUPERSTAR says it all:

“Every time I look at you I don’t understand.”

The Bible says:

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.

2 Corinthians 4:4

What is the message?

The Bible’s message is that Jesus is like no one else – He is both God’s Son (John 3:16) and God Himself – God in human flesh (I Timothy 3:16). He is fully man, and He is also fully God (Colossians 2:9).

John 19 is about when Jesus was crucified between two other men. Jesus’ death was important because it was the final sacrifice for the sins of the world. Jesus cried loudly, “It is finished” (v 30).

And then He bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

He died physically, which is important because of The Resurrection that followed in Chapter 20, which is why He is a superstar.

If you confess with your mouth and believe (Romans 10:9) in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, “Jesus is Lord,” you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

Jesus’ dead body was taken down from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and wrapped with strips of linen. Jesus was buried in a new tomb (v 41) – owned by Joseph – in a garden that was very near the site of crucifixion.

3 days later, this tomb was empty.

What does this mean for you? In what way does Jesus’ death and resurrection impact the world today? In what way does it immediately impact your faith?

Say a quick prayer of thanksgiving for all that Jesus took on for you and the life that you now have because of it!

Tom Weckesser

April 5 – Gospel Readthrough – John 18

Read John 18:1-40

Betrayed. Arrested. Denied. Questioned. Rejected.

And all of that in the 40 verses of John 18.

Even before Jesus is taken to the cross, He has the emotional trauma of being rejected by the very people he was there to save. And some of that trauma was from his closest friends…the very people He invested in for his 3-year ministry.

Think about it… Judas, one of his 12 closest friends, betrays him and earns money to lie and get Jesus arrested. After Jesus is arrested, Peter is quite bold in his response at that time. But it sure did not take Peter long to deny that he even knew Jesus. How this must have hurt our Savior? Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, denies him 3 times…

And it continues… Jesus is questioned by Pilot and although Pilot does not see any wrong that Jesus has done, he tries to strike a deal with the Israelites. Pilot offers to free Jesus, the innocent Messiah, or Barabbas, the criminal. And Jesus is rejected by the very people He loves so much.

This is a difficult and sad chapter of the Bible.  

And it’s easy for me to be critical of the Judas, Peter and the other disciples when I read this chapter. How could they not stand up for him? How could they have been with Him for all of this time, seen all of His miracles, learned from Him…and yet they deny and reject Him?

And then I pause…and I realize that I could be in that story. There have been times when I could have shared about Jesus’ love, but I kept quiet. I could have stood up for what is right, but I stood passively by…

So, as we finish this chapter, I encourage us all to take a look at our lives and to spend some time in prayer and confess. Asking our Savior, Jesus, for forgiveness when we have denied Him, not shared about Him and stood quietly when we should have stepped up.

And then remember…this isn’t the end of the story!  That same Jesus ended up dying so we could have life and forgiveness. Let’s allow his forgiveness to flood over us and then BOLDLY share the hope that Jesus provides! 

Make the most of today, my friends!

Tim Boucher

April 4 – Gospel Readthrough – John 17

Read John 17:1-26

Jesus and the Twelve had finished dinner and Jesus had just washed their dirty feet. Judas had run off to set the next day’s horror into motion. And before Jesus led them to the garden where He would pray so intensely that blood would pour from His pores, Jesus prayed for His disciples. He prayed for the Twelve, and He prayed for us.

When I face hard times, my prayers get more focused. I’m more intent on what my heart really wants, what my soul truly needs. I’m guessing that what Jesus prayed was His heart’s cry here in John 17, so let’s pay close attention. 

Here we find Jesus praying that the world will know who He truly is by the way His disciples would bear His name. He prayed that His glory, the truth of His essence, His very character, would be made clear through the name He had given, and now gives, to His followers.

In that culture, a name was inseparable from the person by whom it was called. It was “the manifestation or revelation of someone’s character”, according to HELPS Word Studies. So, when Jesus gave us His name, He gave us His character, His purpose, His strength, His protection. He gave us the character of the one true God, unified in every way, one purpose, one Spirit, one name.

The unity of God the Father and Jesus the Son weaves through His prayer like a thread holding together the blanket on my lap. Their purpose was (and is) one and the same. They have only ever worked together to bring glory to His name, to show the world the truth of who He is, the weight of His fierce love, and the world’s desperate need to trust Him for salvation from certain death and darkness. 

As bearers of Jesus’ name, one with the Father, unified in every way, how we love each other matters. Our unity as followers of Jesus Christ is one of the ways He uses to show the world who He is, to demonstrate His deep love. 

It means working for peace even when we disagree on politics or parenting styles. It means remembering the God whose name we bear, offering grace and forgiveness instead of judgment and gossip. Because Jesus the Son and God the Father have given us the Spirit to rely on, we can live in His strength and in pursuit of His purpose.

As a follower of Jesus, do you bear His name well? Does the way you live show off His true character? Do you live in harmony with other believers who also bear His name or do you perpetuate disunity?

It matters.

Because you bear His name.

Bria Wasson

April 3 – Gospel Readthrough – John 11-16 Review

The day after Christmas, Jeff Walter challenged us to draw closer to God by reading through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John leading up to Easter.

This week, you read John 11-16.

We thought that it would be important, as we continue to make our way through the gospels, more specifically John, to pause once a week to reflect over what we have read so far.

A huge part of reading the Bible, or internalizing any kind of biblical truth for that matter, is application. How are you aiming to apply what you’ve read to your life? In what way are you going to become a more fully devoted follower of Christ as a result of your reading?

So, whenever you are reading this Sunday, April 3rd, what lessons are you taking away from John 11-16? What stood out to you? What do you have questions about? I know there is a lot of takeaways from these chapters, but I challenge you to focus on even just one.

Take today to reflect on this past weeks’ readings and pray for God to open your heart and ideas to the principles you will receive this next week as we finish John and our gospel readthrough!

Thanks for taking on this challenge!

FYI, we have a private Facebook group for this challenge where people can interact with others and share what they’re learning. If you are interested in joining this group, email Sharon (skarhan@woostergrace.org) to receive an invite!

Jake Lawson

April 2 – Gospel Readthrough – John 16

Read John 16:1-33

Fanny Crosby, at 6 weeks old, caught a cold that caused an eye inflammation. The doctor instructed her mother to apply mustard compresses to the eye, which damaged the optic nerve resulting in blindness.  Fanny was raised by her mother and grandmother after her father passed away. Fanny’s grandmother helped her memorize passages of the Bible.  In 1825 she was examined by a surgeon, who told her that her condition was inoperable and permanent.  In spite of her blindness Fanny Crosby wrote many hymns, one being “Blessed Assurance.”  She had a “Blessed Assurance” of her life with the Lord.  In John 16, the Lord is speaking to His disciples to instill in them a:

“Blessed Assurance” of the Promised Advocate

But very truly I tell you, it is good that I am going away.

Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you;

but if I go, I will send Him to you.  

John 16:7

The promised Advocate will prove the world to be wrong about 3 things:

V 9 – Sin:  The Advocate-the Holy Spirit-convicts the world of unbelief

V10 – Righteousness of Jesus: The Holy Spirit’s coming is proof of Christ’s exaltation to God’s right hand (Acts 2:33). 

V11 – Judgment:  The prince of world is condemned and will be judged.

The promised Advocate is a distinct person with a proper name, the Spirit of Truth (vs. 12). The Advocate also has a mission to guide believers into all truth (vs. 13) which brings comfort. The Advocate will make the truth, that comes directly from Christ, known. (vs. 14).  There is a line in the hymn “Blessed Assurance” that says, “washed in His Spirit, washed in His blood”.  Do you know if you have been washed in His Spirit?  Have you acknowledged that you are a sinner in need of the cleansing blood of Christ?  Do you believe that His shed blood was for YOU?  Have you confessed your sins to Him?  Have you invited Him to be the Lord of your life?  If so, then you have been washed in His Spirit and washed in His blood!!!

“Blessed Assurance” of His Promised Return

“In a little while you will see me no more,

and then after a little while you will see me”

John 16:16

The disciples were confused. How would Jesus be gone but then be seen again? We know, that at His resurrection He showed Himself to be alive, with many infallible proofs.  At His ascension, He withdrew out of sight, but WILL return again. Jesus tells the disciples that the world will rejoice that He is going away, but the disciples will mourn.  However, their grief will turn to joy.   Jesus tells the disciples, in verse 22, that the reason for their joy, is that He will return to those who wait for Him. Jesus also tells His disciples that this joy cannot be taken from them, it is an eternal joy.

The line, “watching and waiting, looking above,” draws our attention to the blessed assurance of His return.  How are you “waiting” for His return?

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love

Both the promise of the Advocate and His return are expressions of His love for us. The last line of the song says, “filled with His goodness, lost in His love.” What does it mean to be lost in His love? It means to be so in love with Jesus that He’s all you think about.

This is the kind of love He has for you. He loves you so much that He doesn’t want you to be alone.  He has given you the assurance of His promised Spirit. He loves you so much that He desires to be with you.  He has promised that He will return.  Fanny Crosby’s story was one of affliction, but also one of praising her Lord.  What is your story?  Will it be a story of your Blessed Assurance in the promises of your Savior?  Are you lost in His love?

He is lost in His love for you!

Because of that, we should be “Praising our Savior all the day long!!”

Janene Nagel

April 1 – Gospel Readthrough – John 15

Read John 15:1-27

Spring has just arrived. The sign of newness surrounds us as we see the grass return to a lush green and hear the songs of the birds. Soon I will return to one of my favorite hobbies- gardening. Anyone who knows me, knows my happy spot is in the soil. I am amazed how many spiritual lessons are hidden in the art of gardening.

One summer, when I tended to my tomato plants, I noticed a straying branch. It was no longer tied to the stake and was burdened by its own weight. Without the support of the stake, the branch would bend and eventually break from the main vine. Any fruit that it produced would rot on the ground. Even as an amateur gardener, I knew the branch needed to be secured to the stake so that it could remain on the vine. As I tied it to the strength of the stake, I was reminded of this passage in John 15.

“Abide in Me, and I in you.”

As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.


It means to dwell or live. John was especially fond of this word. He used it again in his first letter to fellow believers.

“The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

1 John 2:6

Our natural tendency is to stray from the vine, Jesus Christ.  As we strive to bear fruit on our own effort, apart from Him, the weight is too heavy and we break under the burden. The fruit is useless and it will rot on the ground of our own making. We can do nothing apart from Christ. Just as I had to secure the branch to the tomato stake in order for it to remain, or live in the vine, so we must secure our life to the Way, the Truth and the Life, Jesus.

The image is beautiful, but the application is not easy. Jesus said:

“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”

John 15:10

John reiterates Jesus’ words in 1 John 3:24:

“And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in Him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”

Abide= Obedience.

To abide in Him, we are required to keep His commandments. As the Psalmist says, we are to establish our footsteps in His Word (Psalm 119:133). How are you abiding in Christ? Are you striving to obey His Word? Are you bearing much fruit?

Galatians 5 states that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Is that fruit evident in your life? If not, perhaps you need to see if you are secured to the Vine and tied to Him by the rope of obedience. For when we cling to Him, His right hand upholds us (Psalm 63:8).

Gardening lesson 101- Cling to the Vine!

Charline Engle

March 31 – Gospel Readthrough – John 14

Read John 14:1-31

What has the world given you?

When we stop to think about that, it’s ridiculous that we are attached to it at all, isn’t it?

I talk to God about that all of the time. I have to repent of my dependence and fondness for the world. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I’m pretty comfy with it.

But what has it given me? Temporary things. Relationships that don’t last. Fear of evil. Worry rooted in the instability of governments, finances, and all systems, really. They fail us. Our lack of control frustrates us. We’re distracted and lose sight of what matters the most.

Thank God, Jesus tells us He doesn’t give as the world gives.

Jesus makes a way for the things we love to last. Evil has no hold on Him. He is our Rock – the stability we long for. He never fails us. He is in control. He matters the most.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

He has given us an advocate. Through faith, the Spirit will help us navigate this world and teach us truth that will drown out the lies of our enemy. He will remind us of God’s love when the world hates us. He will never leave us.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus has the world by the tail and we get to ride along. He’s done it. His work is finished. He has done everything His Father commanded Him to do. The plan was/is perfect, and we are recipients of the gift of eternal life.

The world has never, nor will ever, see anything that compares to it.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”

The world does its best to rob us of peace. But can it be taken from us? When we have the assurance of our salvation through Jesus and the help of the Advocate, how can we wallow in unrest? We have everything we need to hold us secure as we navigate this world.

And we’re forgetful. We forget the power of God. We forget we’re not alone. We forget that, even if the world does all kinds of crazy things around us and to us, God still has us. We forget that the prince of this world has already failed. He will not prevail.

But our God does!

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

This is a discipline. An act of faith.

What are we allowing to control our view of the world? Where does our faith lie?

Jesus is preparing a new world for us. If it wasn’t so, He wouldn’t have said it. What a glorious truth to unravel our troubled hearts!

Let’s set our hearts on things above. Let’s love God and people. And let’s lower our heads onto our pillows at night in peace.

He’s got us and this big old world and nothing will ever change that.

Shelly Eberly