December 3 – In Jesus’ Name

Read: Acts 3:1-10

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. (Acts 3:6, 7 ESV)

Three little words. “In Jesus’ name.” Where I’m from they are almost the token ending to every prayer I have ever heard, and quite a few that I have prayed. But there is power in Jesus’ name. It is a special name.

Peter knew there was authority in the name of Jesus. He had experiential knowledge of the power of Jesus. Also, he had faith—and was emboldened by the Holy Spirit—to proclaim healing for the crippled man at the gate.

The name of Jesus gets thrown around a lot by people who assume that its a magic set of syllables. Too often people wrongly assume that they can declare something supernatural will happen, sprinkle the name of Jesus around—and then POOF, that thing has to happen. That’s not how it works. It has never worked like that.

Peter rightly understood that authority rested with Jesus. The power was from the Holy Spirit. And that the combined faith of the parties involved activated the work that God was looking to do in the life of the crippled man. Peter knew that in Jesus’ name he had access to God, he had access to power, but he did not have control.

July 1 – Where Are The Nine?

Read: Luke 17:11-19

Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17 ESV)

While traveling ten lepers heard Jesus was passing their way. They went to meet him so that they might be healed. Jesus healed them and told them to go to a priest to reveal their healing to him. As they went and were healed only one of the ten thought to turn back to Christ and offer him thanksgiving for the miraculous healing.

Sometimes it is all too easy to take something great God does in our lives for granted. I know I seem to do it often. It is only well after the fact that I usually realize what I have done, if I even notice at all. What is it about us that makes us do that? In those moments I would have to count myself among one of the company of nine that was cleansed by Jesus and failed to say thanks.

Any time we willingly sin in spite of the grace God has extended to us through Jesus we are becoming like one of the nine. Any time we have a prayer answered and then write it off as a coincidence. Any time we chock our good fortune up to luck, or even worse, self-reliance we are becoming like one of the nine lepers.

It is crucial to our spiritual well-being that we keep the truth of Jesus’ affect on our lives at the forefront of our thinking. Let us not neglect to offer praise and thanksgiving. Let us not take him for granted. Let us not be like the nine.

June 20 – Do You Believe

Read: John 9:35-41

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (John 9:35 ESV)

Jesus healed a man that been blind his entire life. It caused such a ruckus that the religious leaders began questioning the man. His parents were brought in. He was questioned multiple times. Threats were made. Eventually, he was rejected and tossed away by the religious people because his story did line up with their arrogantly blind version of truth.

After being rejected by the synagogue leaders the former blind man was found again by Jesus. He asked him a simple question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He was asking him if he believed in the promised messiah the Old Testament prophets and leaders often wrote about. The man did believe. He declared his belief in the Christ, and made Jesus the center of his affectionate worship.

Do you believe in the Son of Man? Do you believe in Jesus? If so, you will face some kind of persecution from someone. You will face some kind of rejection. Especially if you choose to freely embrace a life that seeks to extend grace toward those others have written off.

June 19 – Better Than

Read: John 9: 28-34

They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. (John 9:34 ESV)

Have you ever thought that you were better than someone? What did you base that idea on? What was your standard of measurement that incorrectly lead you to assume that you held some kind of superior position over others.

The Pharisees held prestigious religious positions within their corrupted bureaucracy. This, coupled with their lust for money and notoriety, caused them to look down on pretty much everyone—including Jesus. They were so blinded by their inflated opinion of themselves that they completely rejected the notion that someone might have gained a revelation about God that was greater than their own.

In their eyes the blind man was blind all of his life because of a sin issue. Grace, mercy, and redemption were lost to them within a religious framework of merit, knowledge, and works. They were unable to see Jesus in truth. Thus they were unable to see the beauty of his many miracles in truth. This was caused by a considerable hardening of their hearts, which itself resulted from pride and greed.

As followers of Jesus we would do well to remember that we are not better than anyone. We are to put others first. We are to serve. My prayer today is that we would see no standard by which we would ascertain any kind of superiority. All people have an inherent dignity, value, and worth.

June 18 – I Do Know

Read: John 9: 24-27

He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25 ESV)

The Pharisees were constantly questioning the integrity of Jesus because of the company he kept. In their inflated opinions he was a sinner because he didn’t follow all of their silly rules. As they grilled the former blind man about his miraculous healing they approached the questioning with a different tactic surrounding his holiness.

The once blind guy’s response is great. He stated flat out that he didn’t know the spiritual condition of Christ, but that he did know for certain that he used to be blind and was now able to see. For too long I feel Christians have made bold claims about things we don’t really know much (or anything) about. The testimony of Jesus is firmly rooted in the truth of what we do know.

Where do we find ourselves in this story? If it were a reselling of our experience with Jesus who would we be? Are we the blind man who’s life was irrevocably altered for the good? Or, are we the Pharisees staring at an obvious work of God, but not seeing it for the truth because it didn’t happen according to our religious superstitions?

There are a lot of things that I don’t know about Jesus. I do know that since I pledged my life to serve him in active vocational ministry it has been an awesome experience.

June 17 – Fear No Man

Read: John 9: 18-23

(His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) (John 9:22 ESV)

When Jesus healed the blind man it caused quite the uproar. Religious elitists felt threatened. Someone had come along that demonstrated real authority. Jesus was able to do things they couldn’t do. He was able to bring about the miraculous. And he did it all without cowing to their ridiculous rules, politics, or bureaucracy.

In an attempt to reassert control, the established religious leaders defaulted to fear and intimidation. Intimidation and fear are cowardly ploys, but when people’s comfort, power, and security are threatened they will do nearly anything to keep it within their grasp. So the threat was voiced that should anyone declare Jesus to be the Messiah they would be barred from the Jewish Synagogues.

At some point in your walk with Christ you will face an unavoidable moment when you must choose. You will face the encumbering ridiculousness of religiosity, with its many rules and politics. You must choose either to be a part of it, or to not be a part of it.

Jesus is the Christ. He is the One and Only Son of God. To embrace the fullness of that truth. To live life on those terms. Loving your neighbor, loving God, serving others before yourself. That is a life that throws off religious manipulation. It is a life that avoids the stifling busyness of religious distraction. Fear no one. Love Christ. Serve him.

June 16 – It Was a Sabbath

Read: John 9: 13-17

Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. (John 9:14 ESV)

Jesus had healed the man born blind. It caused an uproar in his community because everyone knew him to be the man who used to be a blind beggar. Some wanted to know if the man had actually been healed. Others just wanted to know if the Sabbath Day had been violated.

Jesus is The Lord of the Sabbath. Men had corrupted it, but Christ restored it to meaning. For the blind man the Sabbath took on an incredibly special significance. It was the day that he saw the world for the first time. It was the day that darkness became light. Blackness became color. Hopelessness found hope.

We are all born into darkness. We enter this world blind. Only Christ can open our eyes. Only Christ can restore our world to light. Only in Jesus can we rise above the silly inconsistencies of bad religion.

That day was a good day. It was a day of hope. It was a Sabbath.