Series – 6 Decisions That Will Change Your Life
Sermon – The Decision to Persevere
Scripture Readings: John 7:25-36, John 7:37-44
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)
Monday April 8 — John 7:37-53
Not everyone who meets Jesus chooses to follow him. This is one of the themes of the Gospels. We find several different reasons for rejecting Jesus, including lack of understanding about what the Scriptures say about the Messiah and lack of belief that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. Some of the religious leaders are also jealous of his popularity. But for many people, Jesus is not going to be the kind of King and Messiah they want him to be. He follows God’s agenda, not theirs. He is not a mighty warrior in the conventional sense. Have you ever wanted to turn away from Jesus? Have you ever wished that Jesus would follow your agenda and not God’s agenda?
• Prayer: Eternal God, forgive me for the ways I resist or even reject Jesus. Help me learn to trust that you know best and that Jesus is the Messiah and Savior that I need. Amen.
Tuesday April 9 — John 8:1-59
The encounter between Jesus and the woman caught in adultery is an attempt by the scribes and Pharisees to test Jesus and get him to indict himself. (Jewish law insists that both men and women caught in adultery are to be punished by death – see Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22.) Instead, Jesus insists that only people without sin can render judgment on her. In some sense, it’s a parable of the Gospel: when we encounter Jesus, we can experience God’s grace, which has the power to change our lives. Have you received God’s grace? Has it changed your life?
• Prayer: Merciful God, I confess that I am not without sin, and yet I eagerly render judgment on others. I am a sinner who needs to encounter your love and grace for myself. Amen.
Wednesday April 10 — John 9:1-41
Each of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) include stories of Jesus healing people who are blind. These miracles demonstrate God’s power, but John’s Gospel teaches us that Jesus’ miracles are signs that point to a larger truth about God. That is: an encounter with Jesus can heal our spiritual blindness. When we trust Jesus, and grant him access to our lives, we begin to see more clearly. We begin to see ourselves the way God sees us. We begin to see the world the way God sees it. In prayer, ask God to open your eyes to see more clearly.
• Prayer: Almighty God, I am amazed at your power and your grace. I am ready to give you access to my life, so that I can see you, myself, and the world more clearly. Amen.
Thursday April 11 — John 10:1-41
As we read John’s Gospel, we discover that the entire story is pointing to Jesus’ death and resurrection. We read about conflict with the authorities. We read about Jesus’ veiled and not so veiled references to his own suffering and death. And we discover that Jesus is not only the Good Shepherd who protects and cares for us, we discover that is the kind of shepherd who will lay down his life for us. Ultimately, what we discover is that God’s love is sacrificial love. How have you experienced God’s sacrificial love? How have you shared sacrificial love with someone else?
• Prayer: Loving God, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for sending Jesus to be the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for my salvation. Thank you for loving me this way. Amen.
Friday April 12 — John 11:1-54
The story of Lazarus shows us how Jesus is at the same time fully human and fully divine. He weeps at the death of friend, but the power of God – the power to overcome death – is at work in and through his words and actions. John 11 looks forward to Jesus’ own death and resurrection. It also shows us how God works in our lives, setting us free from the power of death, so that we can live fully and abundantly. Do you have a sense of how much God loves you? How have you experienced God’s live-giving (resurrection) power in your life?
• Prayer: God of Love and Power, I hear your voice calling to me, inviting me to live a new life with you. I am ready to be set free from the power of sin and death today. Amen.
Saturday April 13 — John 11:55-12:50
By the time we get to the twelfth chapter of John’s Gospel, we are ready to accompany Jesus through the last days of his earthly life. We follow Jesus into the city, waving our own palm branches to hail him as our King. We feel the pain of discovering that Jesus will suffer and die – and we join the crowds in struggling to understand how and why he must die: how is it that God’s Messiah will be lifted up (on the cross to die)? What kind of King suffers this way? Are you ready to follow Jesus through his last week?
• Prayer: God of Life and Death, give me the courage I need to trust that you know best. Give me the courage I need to follow Jesus all the way. Amen.