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Day 15 – John 15
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
I love fruit; apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, and on and on. Fruit not only fills us, but it tastes good. Over and over again the Bible uses fruit and fruit trees as a representation of good things that come from our lives. I’m sure we’ve all heard about the ‘Fruits of the Spirit.’ These qualities that we should all desire, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Why liken them to fruit instead of bread or even meat or vegetables? Those things are good too, right? In this passage from John 15, Jesus explains to us how to stay connected to him. He is the vine, we are the branches. Branches don’t produce on their own. They need the vine to feed them, water them, hold them, and support them. The same way we need Jesus. And just like Jesus lays out in this excerpt, we sometimes also need pruning, even good things can pull us down and away from our life source. But if we ‘remain’ in him and he in us – we will bear much fruit. Fruit is good. It is sweet, and filling, and full of nutrients and it is good for us. The truth is, this world is desperate for fruit. It desperately needs to taste the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control that can only be found on his branches. We are those branches. As we draw this fast to a close, let’s pray that our connection to the vine stays strong, and that we produce the sweet fruit of our Savior for the world around us. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Pray this prayer today: Lord, help me to remain in you. Strengthen me, feed me, prune me, bind me always to you. Let my life produce the good fruit of your Spirit. Amen.
Day 16 – John 16
“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.” John 16:33
Jesus is trying to prepare his disciples for what is coming soon. He knows the hour is almost at hand, and he will be crucified. In chapter 16 he shares again about the coming Counselor, the Holy Spirit. He assures them that grief will come, but joy will come again too. Remember, Jesus knows the pain of grief. He knows how their hearts will be broken. He is laying a foundation of hope for them to stand on in the coming days. In verse 33 that foundation is explained in such a clear way. “In this world you WILL have trouble.” It’s a fact. The difference is facing that trouble in him or outside of him. Now I know a lot of people love to stand on their front porch and watch the storm roll in, but the truth is no one wants to be out there in the middle of it with no protection. Once that siren starts, that wind picks up – we move like lightning to our safest spot. And here it is with Jesus. The storm is going to come. Somedays with such fierceness that it can sound like sirens are ringing in our ears. But, we aren’t meant to stand out there on our own. You see we have a savior who has overcome the world. Take heart! In him “you may have peace.” He is our safest spot.
Pray this prayer today: Jesus, thank you for your peace. As the storms come this year help me to find that peace in you. I know you have overcome the world. Help me to always turn to you. Amen.
Day 17 – John 17
“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
Jesus prays. The whole of chapter 17 is a prayer from Jesus to his Father in heaven. He prays for himself, for his disciples, and for all believers. It is a time of prayer in preparation for what is next. He knows the next moment, and still his heart is for those he loves, even those who haven’t yet been born. In verse four he says, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” He finished it. He made God known. He made himself known. The plan of salvation, reconciliation between God and his people was set in motion. And so he prayed to return to “the glory I had with you before the world began (v.5).” And he prayed for his disciples that would go and continue to make him known. And he prayed for you and for me, and for every one of us who would believe, that we would know the love he had for us. In these last few days of our fast we will read about Jesus’ final days and the days after the resurrection. As we read this familiar story be reminded of what Jesus prayed right before he entered these days. His thoughts were focused on everyone knowing God and his love. You are loved by God. He sent his son to be a Savior to us all in order that the love he had for us would be IN us.
Pray this prayer today: God thank you for loving me before I even was. Thank you making yourself known to us and for being willing to love us and live in us. Help me to never doubt your unfailing love for me. Amen.
Day 18 – John 18
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37
‘Testify,” some translations say ‘bear witness,” means to affirm or give evidence. In John 1:7 we are told that John the Baptist “came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.” Variations of this phrase are used 47 times in the book of John. One of the major themes in John is Jesus’ identity. Over and over again Jesus reveals himself as ‘I am.’ John takes the time to testify, to give a solid account of this truth. The miracles of Jesus, the prayers of Jesus, the signs both big and small, the words of Jesus – the confident and sure response from his own mouth of who he is. John lays it all out and pulls the thread through from start to finish. He has no doubt. Jesus is who he SAYS he is, and here he tells us that he is King. All of these things we have learned about him are truth, and if we believe in him we are on the side of truth. He is the Word in flesh, the Messiah prophesied about, the healer, the compassionate friend, the miracle worker, the Savior of the world, and he is our King.
Pray this prayer today: King Jesus, I believe you are who you say you are. I believe the testimony of your word is truth. Help me to always listen to your truth and trust who you are. Amen.
Day 19 – John 19
“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30
He ‘gave up his spirit.’ In both Matthew and Mark’s account of the crucifixion they record Jesus’ last expression came with a loud crying out. These accounts do not contradict each other. Simply the significant aspects of the moment to each individual author is what is shared in their Gospel. So often the phrase ‘gave up’ has a negative connotation. It is seen as giving in or relinquishing control. Do not mistake the words of John in this verse as being in line with that meaning. Jesus never lacked the power to step down off that cross and no one had the power to force him to be there. It was the will of God, the will of Jesus to be there to complete the path between God and his people. At no time did Jesus give in or hand over his authority. He finished what had to be done. Every prophecy about his time on Earth was complete. Every prophecy about his crucifixion was complete. The phrase ‘gave up’ means to deliver or commit. Jesus’ delivered his Sprit back to his father and it was finished. This choice was made by a Savior with all the power in the world to avoid suffering, he chose to suffer for us. When Jesus stood before the conflicted Pilate he said, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” I believe the accounts of Matthew and Mark – he cried out. I believe the account of John – he made the choice to finish it for you and for me. And thank God that he did.
Pray this prayer today: Jesus, I thank you for going to the cross for me and for us all. Thank you for bearing the weight of our sins in the suffering of your body. Thank you, there will never be enough words to convey our thanks for salvation through you. Amen.
Day 20 – John 20
“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.” John 20:31
An empty tomb. A returned Savior. Doubts answered. Miraculous signs. All written so that you may believe. Remember, throughout these devotionals we have talked about John revealing to us the truth of who Jesus is. Not only does he want us to know who Jesus was and is, he wants us to believe and have life in his name. Knowing and believing are almost the same, but not quite. To know something is to perceive it as fact. To believe something is to have confidence or faith in its truth. I know lots of things. I don’t have confidence in everything that I know. Somethings that I know, can change. Jesus isn’t something that can change. And so I don’t just know, I believe. Belief is what gives life. “that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Knowing is good. It is fact, and the Gospel of Jesus is fact. Believing is confidence, it’s faith. An empty tomb, a returned Savior – that takes more than knowledge to hold onto, that takes believing!
Pray this prayer today: Jesus, I believe in you. I believe that in you I have life. I take your word to heart and trust in its truth. Thank you for giving me life in your name. Amen.
Day 21 – John 21
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16
Peter who defended Jesus in the garden by cutting of a guard’s ear, and then later denied knowing Jesus, was here with Jesus again. This time Jesus was giving him instruction. “Take care of my sheep.” “Feed my lambs.” This disciple who loved the Lord but could become easily overtaken by anger and doubt, Jesus was entrusting him to care for his sheep. Today, we break our fast. We break bread together and celebrate what God has done and will do. Today all of us who like Peter have been ruled by our emotions more than once, and ruled by our doubts just as often, are reminded that we have also been entrusted with caring for God’s people. So as we go into this year let’s be confident in our belief in who Jesus is. Let’s be encouraged by the miracles both big and small that we see in His Word and in our lives. Let’s care for each other and let’s care for those around us. “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world not have room for the books that would be written.” John 21:25 You carry His story in your life. Share it. Sharing is caring after all.
Pray this prayer today: Thank you Jesus for writing your story in my life. Help me to share your love with those around me. Help me to feed and care for your sheep. Amen.