June 27 – Names of Jesus – Bread of Life

Read John 6:25-65

Free Food! Whenever we see an opportunity for some free food, we take it! When our children were young, they enjoyed walking around sampling different treats in grocery stores on Saturdays. Well, to be honest, we still enjoy this when the opportunity presents itself!

A phrase I’ve heard over the years will guide our thoughts today:

“You are what you eat!”

This statement has merit and can help us in our physical world but Jesus, in John 6, wants to show His followers who He is. He uses His power over the wind and waves and then multiplies a few loaves of bread and fish to allow all to see His identity.

They saw Jesus as a Rabbi, and then as a Prophet like Moses. Jesus corrects their thinking in verses 32-33 “I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Verse 35 goes on to say, “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’”  He then addresses their unbelief and says multiple times so very plainly who He is and why He came.

Look at verses 35-65. I know it seems like a lot to read, but so valuable in the conversation of the text. Jesus says to them that He is the One sent from heaven and He is the Bread of Life, the Living Bread that came from heaven. He challenges their diet of religiosity and lays out the opportunity for them to believe and receive this truth. Their response was to immediately argue sharply among themselves and their conclusion in verse 60 was in question form; “This is a hard teaching, Who can accept it?”

This is the best question they could’ve asked! It is our question today!  As a Christ follower, we can say loudly “WE CAN.” May we all acknowledge and then go and share this truth as the disciples did in verses 69-70. “Lord, you have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Let’s feast on this truth and share this truth  so others can  be satisfied by  a relationship to Jesus- the Bread of Life! Our world is malnourished and feasting on the emptiness of self-centeredness.

Celeste Kern

Questions to consider

  • What does this name of Jesus mean to you?
  • What are some ways that our society tries to find satisfaction? What is the result?
  • In what ways have you experienced the satisfaction of Jesus?

June 26 – Names of Jesus – The Door

Read John 10:8-11

I love doors. They are one of the first things I notice when I walk up to a building. They can make such a statement. I dream of the day that I buy my first house and paint my door a fun color, a welcoming color.

That is exactly what Jesus is. He is a door. He makes a statement and He is so welcoming. He desperately wants to swing open for you.

Jesus’ door is narrow, though. Only those who believe and repent get to walk through (Matthew 7:13). This is why Jesus’ last command to His disciples was to spread the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). To make it known to all people, to all nations and all religions. Jesus crossed cultural boundaries while He was living on earth to love people; He wants us to do the same. He wants everyone to get to walk through the door.

Jesus is more than just a door. He is also a sacrifice. He gave His life so that we could live the fullest life. He died on a tree so that we would not have to pay the penalty of our sin. He was alone and in pain, as His closest friends watched Him hang there.

He did that for you.

When you have that relationship with Jesus, you get to be the coolest welcome mat there is on the market. You get to be the pre-welcome before the best welcome there is. You get to introduce people to Jesus.

Doors take on a whole new meaning when we think of them in terms of Jesus’ sacrifice and love.

Throughout today, think about Jesus as a door. Thank Him for His sacrifice and love. Then think about how you can live a life that better honors Jesus’ love and sacrifice, and makes it known to people.

Chloe Boucher

Questions to consider

  • What does this name of Jesus mean to you?
  • When you think of Jesus’ sacrifice and love for you, what kind of meaning does this name take on?
  • In what ways can you be the best “door” to people in experiencing Christ?

June 23 – Names of Jesus – The King of the Jews

Read John 19:1-22

“Jesus the Nazarene. King of the Jews”

Written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek that sign above the head of our crucified Savior proclaimed His identity. Was it written tongue in cheek or did Pilate somehow write that as a personal conviction?

Good question.

People seemed to have been united around the idea that Jesus was from Nazareth. No one questioned the fact that Mary and Joseph had raised Him in that village. But “King of the Jews”? That was a title that the chief priests protested. They wanted it softened to make it clear that it was only a claim made by Jesus. “King of the Jews” had been a title that the soldiers used in jest. They dressed Him in a robe, pressed a crown of thorns on His head, and gave Him a staff to represent a scepter. They proceeded to mock Him as they knelt before Him and cried out “King of the Jews” (Matt. 27:27-31).

Still, Pilate stuck with the wording of the sign and demanded that it remain unchanged.
Is Jesus really “King of the Jews”?

The answer takes us as far back as the days of King David. David yearned to build a house for God that would later be called the temple. God responded by telling David that he was not to build it. Instead, his son, Solomon, would be the man. God did promise David, however, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever (2 Sam. 7:16).” People call this promise the David Covenant. With that promise concerning the throne, God was pointing through the corridors of time to the eventual and eternal reign of Jesus Christ. He is the King of the Jews. His reign as king will be clear when He returns at His second coming (after a period of about seven years called the Tribulation).

Jesus is the King of the Jews! But His kingdom is not just one for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is one that all believers are to pray for (Matt. 6:10). Every believer has been transferred from a domain of darkness into Christ’s kingdom (Col. 1:13).

The important question for you now is one of whether you honor and surrender to Him daily. Does your life reflect day to day submission that places the sign over Him as your king?

Steve Kern

Questions to consider

  • What does this name of Jesus mean for you in your life?
  • Would you say that Jesus is King in your life?
  • Who are people that you know who need to place the sign over Him in their lives? How are you helping them see their need for a Savior?

June 9 – Enough – brave enough?

Read John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.

In this world you will have trouble.

But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Brave = ready to face and endure danger or pain, showing courage

Bravery = courageous behavior or character

Bravery is mental or moral strength to face danger, fear or difficulty.  God encourages His people to be brave because He is with them.  The command for us to be brave is usually accompanied with an instruction from God that may seem impossible.  God knows how weak we often feel when are faced with a challenge that seems too great.  In this verse Jesus is instilling in His apostles the bravery they will need, to face great challenges.  Jesus had just finished the Passover – the Last Supper – with His apostles.  He now gives them His farewell sermon.  In this passage Jesus has given them, (and us) reasons to be brave:

I have told you these things….

What things has Jesus told them?

He comforts them with the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit.  (John 14)

He tells them that the world will hate them, but stay connected to Him.  (John 15)

He tells them that their grief will be turned into joy. (John 16)

So that in Me you may have peace.

By knowing “these things”, Jesus has given them the power to live victoriously in the world, and the ability to be at peace.  This peace is found only “in Him”.  It’s the will of Jesus that His apostles should have peace “within” whatever troubles they may experience “without” – in the world.

In this world you will have trouble.

Note the contrast between “in Him” and “in this world”.  In Jesus there is peace, but in the world, there is trouble.  Because we are “In Him” we can experience peace in the midst of trouble, persecution and tribulation.  But, in order to experience this peace, we have to be “in Him”.  This denotes a relationship.  A relationship with God through Jesus is the only way to experience true peace. “In Him” is the key, because in ourselves we have nothing, but “In Him” we have all we need! 

But take heart!

Be comforted. Be Brave. Be of good courage. All will be well.  There is hope found “in Him”!  

I have overcome the world.

The grounds for this bravery – He has overcome the world. In Scripture, Jesus will soon come face to face with evil.  He will experience the world’s hatred to the utmost.  He will endure the cross and rise from the grave.  Because Jesus overcame the world, we can look upon it as a conquered enemy.  And because He overcame the world, we as believers have nothing to do, but to be brave in the pursuit of victory. 

Do you feel brave enough to face a medical diagnosis?  Brave enough to face financial uncertainty? Brave enough to pray for God’s leading in a major decision?  Brave enough to let a child go?  Brave enough to go where Jesus is calling you?

“We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

Romans 8:37

Janene Nagel

April 29 – The God Who Comes Through – He designed that the sacrifice of a lamb would lead to the salvation of people

Read Exodus 12:1-28, John 1:29 and 1 Corinthians 5:7

In our world, appearances are everything. Vanessa Van Edwards says that, within seconds of meeting someone, we have already made an initial judgment on them. Our impressions of people, either accurate or not, stick with us for as long as we know someone.

I will distinctly remember being told in high school that I would be guarding a 6’10” out of town basketball phenom who had a full ride Division 1 scholarship. I remember him running out of the tunnel with his team and immediately pondering why I got into playing basketball in the first place. The game was about to start and, as I stood behind him, I was looking straight at the number on his back. Before the game even started, my impressions of this guy were overwhelming. In case you’re wondering, that game didn’t go so well for me.

When I was born on May 26th of 1992, I was 11 pounds and over 20 inches long. When the delivery doctor brought me to mom, his first words and the first words ever said about me were supposedly, “Oh, wow.”

When my wife, Kelly met me, I was 19 years old and straight out of high school. Let’s just say my maturity level was that of a 19-year-old and, to this day, I still ask Kelly what her first impression of me was and she insists it wasn’t all that bad. She was supposedly able to look past my immaturity because we were married 5 years later.

The imagery that God uses throughout the Bible is something which always amazes me. He constantly uses imagery that portrays Himself, not as a warrior king, but a humble servant. For example, in Matthew 21, when Jesus enters Jerusalem, He chooses to ride on the back of a donkey, a sign of peace and humility, rather than a horse which would imply a warrior or king.

Therefore, it doesn’t surprise me that God would deliver His people out of Egypt via a lamb, again, not the most triumphant of animals. God tells Moses to have the nation of Israel spread the blood of the lamb on their doorpost so the angel of death that was coming that night, would pass over them and thus deliver them from death. This is incredible foreshadowing on how we would be saved from our sin by a result of the blood of Jesus, or Lamb of God, as He was commonly referred to.

Blood was so important to God in the Old Testament because it was the lifeblood of the creature. It is only fitting that, only through the blood of Jesus, we can be forgiven of our sins and experience eternal life.

Understanding the symbolism behind God and His work through Jesus paints a much different picture. A picture that shows us His plan for the deliverance of the human race thousands of years before the cross.

Jake Lawson

April 23 – Grace – Amazing Grace

Read John 1:16 and Ephesians 2:8

What is amazing grace?

We sing about “amazing grace” in a number of worship songs. We talk about God’s grace in church. Do we really know what amazing grace is?

Amazing grace is a part of the greatest redemption story of all time. Forgiveness is possible despite the sins we commit and the soul can be made new through the mercy of God. The love story of Jesus’ sacrifice through life, death, and resurrection is amazing grace. God gave up His son for our sins, knowing we would sin against Him time and time again. He still chose us and continues to choose us.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”

Titus 2:11-12

“How precious did that grace appear…the hour I first believed.” Two powerful lines in the song, Amazing Grace. The truth is we did not deserve salvation, but the moment we first experienced God’s amazing grace was so precious. The moment is sweet and surreal. You desire to surrender every ounce of your being to Him. You sacrifice pieces of yourself to live a self-controlled and righteous life for Him. This is a beautiful moment. 

Next time you sing “Amazing Grace” in church, I challenge you to truly think about how amazing God’s grace truly is. Think about what your life might look like without God’s forgiveness and redemption. Thank and worship Him for saving you from the brokenness and emptiness you would experience without His absolutely amazing grace.

April 18 – Grace

Read John 1:14-17

Grace.

If you’ve been around church for any amount of time, you have heard the word “grace”. Growing up, my dad always told me that, simply put, grace is getting something that you don’t deserve. More often than not, it was after I did something stupid and I would be forgiven or given another chance. There are many times in my life where something good has happened to me and I think to myself, “Man, I don’t deserve this.” There are so many times where I got something that I didn’t deserve.

Now when it comes to our relationship with the Lord, Romans 3 is very clear in telling us that none of us are immune to sin and a couple of chapters later we learn that that sin brings about physical and spiritual death. God is very clear on what He calls us to do and what we are to avoid. No matter how much we may try, we will never match the standard of perfection God has for us.

“For the wages of sin is death…”

In a completely just world, we, as sinners, would be deserving of death and eternal separation from God. However, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and will forgive us of all our sins and restore us to good standing with God. In John 1, John speaks to the value of our relationship with God and the part that grace plays in it. Because of our relationship with God, we are in a position to benefit from grace.

Throughout this series, it is our prayer that, while we study different aspects of grace, you would realize the magnitude of the grace that God has for us. Seemingly all we can do is have a spirit of thanksgiving for what God did for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5).

Personally, I can agree with Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 1:15 about being the worst of sinners. To some extent, I think it is healthy for all of us to share this view that we are in no way deserving of God’s grace. As you read through this series in the coming days, allow your appreciation for the Lord to grow as you read a little more about the length that He went to in order to offer you salvation.

If you’re anything like me, all we can do in return for this great gift is to accept it and live our lives as a beacon of hope to a dark and unbelieving world.

Jake Lawson

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