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Day 8 – John 8
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
John 8 begins and ends with stones. The chapter starts with a woman caught in the act of adultery being brought before Jesus. They confront Jesus with the law saying the woman should be stoned, and ask him what he would say. The goal was to trap Jesus, to prove he was breaking the law. Instead, Jesus in his infinite wisdom tells the crowd ‘he who is without sin, cast the first stone.’ The crowd leaves, the woman is free. Jesus sends her on her way to go and live her life, and sin no more. This chapter is quite long. There is a lot of talking between Jesus and people who don’t understand who he is. They question him at every turn. Finally, in the last few moments of the chapter he says with finality, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this statement the people picked up stones to stone him, but he slipped away. It wasn’t time. There are days we feel like the stones are headed our way. It can feel like all of our failures and mistakes have caught up with us and we are cornered by our sin, doomed to be pummeled under its weight. There are days we carry the stones, so unaware of our own humanity that we are ready to fire against the man or woman next to us. But here’s the thing about those stones, thanks to Jesus, they don’t have any power to destroy us. If your soul is cowering in shame today because of all you have done, stand up, look around. Jesus is surrounding you. His death and resurrection bought your freedom. If your hand is clenched around a stone today, ready to tear down someone for whatever reason. Let it go. It’s not your place, and it will steal your peace. Stones beat down in darkness. But Jesus is the light of the world. Those people didn’t stone Jesus that day, but not long after, they did crucify him. He accepted that death so that you and I could be saved, so that we could follow him into the light. Start this week by dropping the stones in your hands. Stand up tall, Jesus has surrounded you and freed you!
Pray this prayer today: Jesus thank you for surrounding me with your forgiveness. Thank you for giving me the strength to forgive others. Thank you for being the light of my life, thank you that darkness has no place when you are here. Amen.
Day 9 – John 9
“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam.” So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. John 9:7
Jesus loved to heal people on the Sabbath. It always upset the religious people. The Pharisees were always trying to trap Jesus. They would call him a demon, but be conflicted because he was healing people and how could someone not from God heal people. They just could not get Jesus to fit in their box. But that was okay, He didn’t come to fit in a box, he came to bust open a tomb.
In John 9 Jesus comes across a man blind from birth. Everyone assumed he was blind because he or his parents had sinned. But Jesus corrected them all. This blindness happened so that the works of God might be displayed. Jesus made a spit and mud mix and put it on his eyes and sent him to wash. As soon as he washed, he could see. His vision so changed him that some people didn’t even believe it was him. That’s the thing about Jesus, when he gets in your business he really changes things. You can leave blind and come back seeing. You can be walking along lost and broken, and get turned right around healed and on the right path. It doesn’t matter how you started or how long you’ve been blind. Jesus is here to meet you today. He’s ready to get right in there and turn things around. He’s not scared of mud and he’s not scared of your sin. If you’ll let him in, he will change your life so drastically that people may not recognize you. When you see clearly, you look different.
Pray this prayer today: Jesus come into my heart today and clean me up. Forgive me, heal me, help me to see you clearly. Change me from the inside out. Amen.
Day 10 – John 10
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” John 10:9
Jesus is the good shepherd and we are his sheep. The verse that follows this one tells us about that thief who comes to steal and kill and destroy. That thief knows that if he can disrupt our lives and sneak in then he can destroy. But we have a good shepherd who has laid down his life for us. He has given us his word so that we can know his voice. He walks ahead of us and leads us. He gives us pasture. Some days I feel like I have been running up hill both ways with the enemy hot on my heels. Not only is life busy and overwhelming, but heartache and loss, pain and hardship can clasp on to our hearts and weigh us down. Before we know it we are so weighed down that we’ve lost sight of the shepherd and his voiced is muffled. Oh, but we have a good shepherd. We can look around and feel like we’ve lost him, but we haven’t. He is right there and he never leaves us behind. In fact we are always safe inside his pasture of peace. Once you enter him and invite him to enter you, there is no separation. Take a deep breath and settle your heart today. He has not left you to be devoured. What has been stolen, he will restore. What has been destroyed, he will rebuild. What was dead, he will raise to life. You live in his pasture now, and he is the good shepherd.
Pray this prayer today: God I need your peace to quiet my soul. I lay my burdens at your feet. Help me to rest in you today. Thank you for delivering me from the thief. Thank you for saving me. Amen.
Day 11 – John 11
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
The shortest verse in the Bible. One of the most impactful. Jesus knew Lazarus was sick. He knew he had died. He knew he was going to raise him from the dead and that it was all for God’s glory. He knew the good thing was coming and yet when he saw the sorrow of Mary and Martha and their friends, he wept. He felt the depth of their sorrow. There is nothing we go through that Jesus doesn’t understand. Here are some verses to remind you of that truth: Jesus knew temptation: “He was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:13). Jesus knew frustration: “He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.… ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’” (John 2:15-16). Jesus knew weariness: “Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well” (John 4:6). Jesus knew rejection: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66). Jesus knew sorrow: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). Jesus knew ridicule: “Again and again they struck him…and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid [mocking] homage to him” (Mark 15:19). Jesus knew loneliness: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). When you are faced with the challenges of this life, take comfort in knowing that you have a Savior who understands. Not only does he understand, but he knows that the good will come because he is good.
Pray this prayer today: Jesus I know that you understand everything that I face. I trust you with my circumstances, with my heart, with my life. I know that you are good, help me to see your goodness in every situation. Amen.
*excerpt taken from Joanna Weaver’s blog “9 verses to remind you – Jesus understands”
Day 12 – John 12
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” John 12:27
In the chapters leading up to this one we see some of the biggest miracles imaginable: a man blind from birth given sight, a woman caught in adultery spared death, and Lazarus being raised from the dead. Here, Jesus is in Bethany with Lazarus, his disciples, Mary and Martha, and others. Mary anoints his feet with oil, crowds gather to see him, the triumphal entry happens, and then Jesus tells his followers about his coming death. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Jesus’ soul is troubled. He knows what is coming, the pain, the separation, the death, all of it. BUT “for this very reason He came to this hour.” As we are taking time to pray and fast over these few days to start this year, let’s remember the reason Jesus came. He came for you and for me, for all of us.
Pray this prayer today: Jesus help me to never forget the reason you came. Thank you for saving me. Amen.
Day 13 – John 13
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
During football season people make their allegiances known. There are hats and sweatshirts, jerseys and coffee cups, car magnets and yard flags. People walk down the street and see a complete stranger wearing a jersey from their favorite team and strike up conversation. You can easily recognize who they are supporting. When it comes to being a follower of Christ it’s our love that is supposed to make us recognizable. It’s not as simple as wearing matching shirts. In fact, not much may match on the outside. We all look different, we live all across the world, we have different politics, and different preferences. And that’s ok, because what lets this world know we are on the same team is our love for one another. Our love for this world around us. “For God so loved the world…” He loved, so we love. Man, that is hard sometimes. It may just be me, but I’m fairly sure I’m not alone. Loving people is hard some days. People hurt us. Injustice and disagreements are plentiful. Our differences are amplified and frustration rises quickly to the surface. Disregarding each other and assuming the worst becomes a common practice. But we have to fight against the urge to lean away from those around us who we sometimes don’t understand. We are his disciples, and as different as one of us may be from the other, difference does not negate the call to love. I want to be recognized as his disciple. I want to be known as his. My mom used to sing a little chorus over me as a kid: “Love is a flag flown high from the castle of my heart, for the king is in residence there. So let it fly in the sky let the whole world know, that the king is in residence there.” Let love be the flag that waves over you, let the world know you are his by your love for one another.
Pray this prayer today: Lord, thank you for loving me. Help me to love others as you have loved them. I want to be known for my love for others. I want to be your disciple. Lead me in love. Amen.
Day 14 – John 14
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1
If you have been following along with us, then today is Sunday! Week 2 of our 21 days of prayer and fasting is over. Through this week we have read through the stories of amazing miracles Jesus performed during his time on earth. We have read of his hardships and seen a Savior who understands us. We have been reminded to love above all. It always comes back to love. The miracles were born out of his love. The willingness to face the hard things was born out of his love. In chapter 14, out of his love for his, he tells us about the coming Holy Spirit. “But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” As you end this week and prepare to start the next, don’t let your heart be troubled. God who sent his son Jesus, has also sent his Holy Spirit to be with you always. What a beautiful gift.
Pray this prayer today: God, thank you for all the ways you love me. Thank you today especially for the Holy Spirit. Do not let my heart be troubled. I believe in you! Amen.