John

What is in man

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Prior verses, 23 and 24, subtly reveal the true nature of belief from a biblical standpoint.  Because of what observers knew of Jesus from His miraculous signs, many came to believe in Him.  However, Jesus made it His habit not to wholeheartedly “entrust” or “commit” Himself to them because He knew their hearts.  Verse 24 indicates that Jesus looked for genuine conversion rather than enthusiasm for the spectacular.  “Belief into His name” involves much more than intellectual assent.  It calls for whole-hearted commitment of one’s life to Jesus.

Commentary from the MacArthur study Bible, notes for John 2:23,24.

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The Work of the Holy Spirit

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The wind blows where it wishes,

and you hear the sound of it,

but cannot tell where it comes from

and where it goes.

John 3:8

Jesus’ point was that just as the wind cannot be controlled or understood by human beings but its effects can be witnessed, so also it is with the Holy Spirit.  He cannot be controlled or understood, but the proof of His work is apparent.  Where the Spirit works, there is undeniable and unmistakable evidence.

Commentary from the MacArthur study Bible, notes for John 3:8.

Requirements for Answered Prayer

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Jesus taught many things about prayer and its central role in a believer’s life.  He also promised that our petitions will be answered when we meet certain requirements.

One condition is mentioned in John 14:14:  After receiving Christ as our personal Savior, we have the right to present requests in Jesus’ name, which means praying something that the Lord Himself might pray.  To exercise this privilege, we must come to the Father, depending not on our own good works or character but on the merits of Christ alone.  Jesus’ atoning death on the cross is the only basis for approaching God and being assured of receiving an answer to our petitions.

A second requirement is separation from all known sin.  Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”  This refers to ungodly behaviors and thought patterns that we know are wrong but refuse to give up.  Remember, God looks at our heart attitude.  If we struggle against our sinful ways, grieve over them, and ask for forgiveness, He will hear our cries and respond.  But when He sees a hard heart, He is not obligated to listen.

Next time you pray, start with words of praise to God for His sacrificial love and gratitude to Jesus for dying in your place (1 John 4:10).  Express that you understand why your prayers are heard – because you have a relationship with the Father through Christ, and not because of anything you have done.  Confess all known sin and ask for forgiveness.  Then present your requests to God with anticipation, and trust His answers.

(More on Friday this week.)

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, December 14, 2017.

The Spirit of God’s Law

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The Pharisees spent their lives trying to appear holy by keeping the meticulous rules they had added to God’s law.  Jesus’ accusation (see John 7:14-36) that they didn’t keep Moses’ laws stung them deeply.  In spite of their pompous pride in themselves and their rules, they did not even fulfill a legalistic religion, for they were living far below what the law of Moses required.  

Jesus’ followers should do more than the moral law requires, going beyond and beneath the mere do’s and don’ts of the Law to the spirit of the Law.  The spirit of God’s Law is captured in love for God and one’s neighbor.  We must never allow rules to keep us from following the true intent of God’s Law.  Obedience to God must be from the heart.

Commentary from The One Year NIV Devotional New Testament, August 27.  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 2003

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His Strong Hand

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The scene is usually a cliff, a waterfall, a window ledge, or some other precipice – a fall from which would result in certain death.  One person is over the precipice, kept from falling only by holding to the outstretched hand of another.  Three things can happen to the one hanging over the edge; the grip is unintentionally broken due to a failure in strength, the grip is released intentionally due to malevolence, or the person is pulled to safety due to the strength of the rescuer.

One of the strongest images of the believer’s eternal security in Christ was painted by the Savior’s own words: “Neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”  Too often, Christian’s feel that eternal security depends on their strength, their faithfulness, their perseverance – their ability to hold on to the Savior’s hand.  The opposite is actually the truth:  It is Christ’s strength, Christ’s faithfulness, Christ’s perseverance – Christ’s ability to hold on to the believer’s hand – that keeps the Christian eternally secure.

When you wonder if you have been faithful enough, hold out your hand – and picture it enveloped in the strong hand of Christ.

“Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?”  C. S. Lewis

Commentary from the Pathways devotional, by David Jeremiah, June 6.

Each Step

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And His sheep follow Him

because they know His voice.

John 10:4

When God speaks to you in a still small voice, listen carefully.  He is unfolding a plan for your life; and if you trust Him each step of the way, you will ultimately find peace and fulfillment as you follow Him.

Noah heard the same kind of voice when he was instructed to build the ark; and each step of the way, he trusted that God had a purpose for it.

Commentary from David Jeremiah’s Pathways Devotional, March 4.