How Much Do You Love Me, Part 2

Grace For The Journey


13Aug  Today we are looking at John 21:18-19.  We continue today to look at the question, “How Much Do We Love Jesus?”  This passage gives us an opportunity to look closely at the meaning of the relationship we have with Christ and the power Jesus gives us to live for Him.  This passage also shows us how Peter’s particular circumstances are so closely related to ours.

Yesterday we saw three powerful truths that this question brings out regarding our living for and loving Jesus . . .

1) A Question To Bring A Realization.

2) A Question That Reveals The Power Of Peter’s New Life.

3) A Question Of Responsibility.

Today, we will see . . .

4) A Question Of Restoration.

At the Last Supper Jesus had predicted Peter’s denials after Peter had said he was willing to die with Him (John 13:37-38).  Jesus told him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later” (John 13:36).  In the verses we will look at today is Christ’s call to follow.  After Peter professes his obedient love, Jesus spells out the cost of that love.

Peter is publicly restored to the position he had before he betrayed Jesus, and he is given additional responsibility as well.  I believe William Hendriksen puts it very well when he says: “It is as if the Master says to Peter: ‘Simon, you were weak like a lamb, wandering like a sheep, yet, throughout it all, you, like a dear (“little”) sheep, were the object of my tender and loving solicitude.  Now, having profited by your experiences (because of your sincere sorrow), consider the members of my Church to be your lambs, and feed them; your sheep, and shepherd them; yes, your dear sheep, and in feeding them love them!  Do not neglect the work among the flock, Simon. That is your real assignment!  Go back to it!  Thus was Peter fully and publicly restored.”

We will now go on to John 21:18-19 which says, “Verily, Verily, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.  Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.  And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’”

Jesus provided Peter a glimpse into his future.  Peter had boasted to Jesus that he was willing to die for Him (John 13:37) and that is just what he was going to be required to do.  Jesus continued, “When you were young, Peter, you went your own way, but when you get old you are going to be bound with chains and taken to prison and put to death for Me.”  This is just what happened about the year A.D. 68, for Peter was in prison for Christ’s sake and he was taken out and put to death.  Church tradition records that Peter suffered martyrdom under Nero (around 67-68 A.D.).

At the time of the crucifixion, Peter, along with the majority of the disciples, had fled the scene.  Jesus had to bear the penalty of sin on the cross alone.  Now that the penalty had been paid in full, Jesus informed Peter of his own eventual martyrdom.  Peter would be a prisoner, forced to walk a path that he did not want to walk.  He would stretch out his hands, even as Jesus had done.

William Hendriksen comments, “When they were going to nail him to a cross, Peter said, ‘No, no! My Lord died like that.  I am not worthy to die as He did.’  And he said, ‘Hang me on that cross head downward.’”  Petter loved Christ, and he really intended to be true to Him, but he forgot that the spirit can be willing when the flesh is weak.  But in later years he was given grace to do as he had promised.  That grace was provided by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

From this point on, Peter’s life would glorify his Lord, and his death would bring glory to the Savior who had bought Him and paid the penalty for His sin.  M.R. DeHaan tells the following story: “Years ago I was called to the home of a widow whose daughter was the apple of her eye.  When the child was 3 years old, she became very ill, and the doctors said that she would die.  We can all understand the shock of this news, but we cannot justify the mother’s reaction.  She rebelled violently and accused God of cruelty – like the Israelites in Exodus 17:3.  She demanded that the Lord spare her daughter and told Him she could never trust Him again if He did not do so.  Well, God granted the request, in spite of the doctors’ predictions.  The child grew up and lived a normal life for 13 years, but then joined with bad companions.  Finally, the girl broke her mother’s heart when at the age of 17 she fell into real trouble.  The tragic end of the story was told me by the weeping woman when I arrived at her home that morning, and she relayed to me, “My Janie is dead – a suicide.  Last night she hung herself in her room!”  After minutes of convulsive sobbing she concluded, “O Doctor, how I wish God had taken her when she was 3 years old.”

We must submit ourselves to God’s will, not try to change it.  This is a tragic story, but perhaps it answers those who ask the question, “How could God let little children die?” God knows the future and often He protects the little ones from later tragedy by taking them home to Heaven at a very early age.  When this girl reached the age of 17 she was on her own, and if she had not accepted Christ as her Savior, then she is now in Hell.  But if a child dies before reaching the age of maturity, God takes that little one to Heaven even if he or she has not yet come to faith in Christ.  How do we know that? Because David made it clear when he was speaking of his infant son who had died (2 Samuel 12:23).

Peter’s life would demonstrate a complete reversal of the man he was in his youth. Strong-headed, strong-willed, impetuous Peter would become the submissive servant of his Lord, enduring ridicule and crucifixion. Only this time, Peter would not run. He would not hide.  He would never again deny Jesus.  He was crucified upside down, because he refused to be crucified like Jesus.

Christians sometimes worry about how they might respond under religious persecution. We may be confident that the Holy Spirit within us has the power to prevent us from caving into what would be a betrayal and renunciation of the Lord God, Jesus Christ.

Peter became a changed man and servant of the Lord.  Listen to the instructions he gave others in 1 Peter 5:1-5, “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.  You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Such change can come to all who submit their lives to the Holy Spirit of God.  Listen to what the psalmist says in Psalm 103:11-14, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.   Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.  For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”

Jesus had asked Peter twice if his love for Him was all consuming.  With his recent denials still fresh in his own mind, Peter refused to make such a declaration again.  He now knew his own weakness.  He knew the hollowness of such empty boasts that could be shattered to pieces when circumstances placed him in situations that he had thus far not been able to handle.

5) A Question Of Reliance.

Finally, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him even though he could fall into sin at any time and fail the Lord again.  In an emotional outburst, born of guilt and shame, Peter told Jesus that He was now well aware of his human frailties that limited him from being what He knew Jesus wanted of him.  In spite of those frailties, He loved Jesus and was ready to serve Him and obey Him.  Immediately Jesus told Peter to “Tend my sheep.”

With all of the frailty of Peter’s human devotion, Jesus did not hesitate to trust Him with a valuable role in His kingdom.

Each one of us can identify here with Peter.  How many times in our own lives, have we boasted about something and then been humiliated because we could not accomplish what we said we could?  How many times have we said, “Please Lord, if you get me out of this mess, I will never do it again?”  Just like Peter, our claims about what we will do in any given situation evaporate before our eyes.  In such situations, Jesus comes to us and says, “Do you love Me?”  So, we know exactly how Peter felt.  We feel the same way.  We answer, “Yes, Lord, I love You!”

But in the corner of our minds we know from experience that we will very likely again FALL SHORT OF His expectations, and Jesus knows that.  Nevertheless, in spite of that likely possibility, Jesus still invites us to take a responsible role in His kingdom.  He tells us, “Come! Follow Me!  Feed My sheep!  Join Me in the work of My kingdom!”  

How wonderful it is

To experience the love,

Grace, and mercy of our Lord.

He knows that we are but dust, yet He stretches forth His hand and invites us to come.  There is work to be done.  He then sends us out to share the message of salvation that our Savior is offering to others.

Now in no way do we want to suggest that Jesus picks leaders to shepherd his flock knowing that they will probably fall into sin again and again.  That is not the way it is at all.  Jesus makes it clear to all that when they are saved and have the Holy Spirit residing within them, they have the capability of overcoming “the sin that so easily besets them” if they allow the Holy Spirit to control and lead them. That is what Jesus wants, and each of us should make every effort to attain that high standard.  If we do fail, however, we need to be armed with the knowledge that we will be forgiven if we take that sin to Him and ask for that forgiveness.

We have seen in this passage . . .

What the Resurrection meant for Peter:

Forgiveness, a change of character,

And empowerment for ministry

In the power of the Holy Spirit.

So then, I call you to consider . . .

What does the Resurrection

Mean for you personally today?

Has it purchased your salvation

And secured a place in Heaven for you?

Has it changed your character,

Transforming you from the old person

To a brand new person with

A different set of values

And a different lifestyle?

Instead of being weak and sinful,

Has resurrection power given you

Strength to do the right thing?

Have you found your identity

In Christ as a result of the Resurrection?

Does the Holy Spirit fill you, guide you,

Teach you, and give you the

Peace of Christ each day?

If not, I invite you to make today the best Resurrection Day of your life by receiving Christ as your personal Savior.  Or, if you have received Christ but feel you are faltering and falling short, then renew your commitment to Him and let yourself be filled totally with the Holy Spirit.  In Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:10-11, “So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen.  Do these things, and you will never fall away.  Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

 This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


How Much Do You Love Jesus? Part 1

Grace For The Journey

13Aug  Today we are looking at John 21:15-17.  This passage gives us an opportunity to look closely at the meaning of the relationship we have with Christ and the power Jesus gives us to live for Him.  This passage also shows us how Peter’s particular circumstances are so closely related to ours.

It is said that the young son of Bishop Berkeley once asked him the question, “Papa, what do the words, ‘Cherubim and Seraphim’ mean?”  The bishop took time to tell the little questioner that “Cherubim” was a Hebrew word meaning “knowledge,” and the word “Seraphin” means “zeal” or “love.”  The wise dad explained that it is commonly supposed the Cherubim are angels that excel in knowledge and the Seraphim are those who excel in love for God.  The body replied, “Then I hope that when I die, I will be a Seraphim.  I’d a lot rather love God than to know everything.

How much do you love God and Jesus?  That is the question Jesus asked Peter shortly after Peter had denied the Lord when He was arrested.  Peter’s answer and Jesus’ response provides one of the greatest examples of love in all history.  Let us listen in on the beginning of their conversation as it is shared in John 11:15-17, “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’  He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’  He said to him, “tend My lambs.”  He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’  He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’  He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.’  He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”’  Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’  And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘tend My sheep.’”

Think about what was going on here.  Here is the God of the universe serving breakfast to His apostles.  It was kind of like a cookout with Jesus cooking on the grill.  Jesus never considered any kind of service to others to be humiliating.  In fact, He thoroughly enjoyed serving.  Anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ should also enjoy serving others.  Some commentators maintain that after breakfast Jesus probably took Peter aside away from the others to talk privately with him, or perhaps took him for a talk along the beach.  But I do not see that.  I have checked a number of Bible translations and there is not a hint in any of them that Jesus took Peter away from the group to speak with him privately.  We must take the Bible for what it says and never try to add anything to it.  There are occasions, however, when we need to look at everything the Bible has to say about a specific subject or event, and then come to a conclusion based on all the evidence within the context in which it was presented.

You may recall that at the Last Supper Jesus and Peter had the following conversation that the Bible gives us in Luke 22:31-34, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.  But he said to Him, ‘Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!’  And He said, ‘I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.’”  It would certainly seem that Jesus knew that Satan was going to be allowed to tempt Peter into betraying Jesus, and that Peter would actually give into that temptation because Jesus had been praying for Peter that after such a cowardly failure, Peter would come back stronger than ever to strengthen his brothers, Jesus’ followers.

And this is exactly what is about to happen at this very moment.  Jesus was simply about to prove to the other apostles that Peter was now well-qualified to lead them. What a marvelous story.  Something only God is capable of coming up with.  That is yet another reason we believe Jesus addressed Peter in the presence of the others, just as He had done at the Last Supper.

All of these men would benefit

To see the transformation of the man

Who would now lead them

When Jesus had returned to Heaven.

Peter very likely was still feeling some guilt about betraying the Lord when Jesus was arrested and tried.  Add to that the fact that Christ must have been recognizably different and perhaps even somewhat intimidating to Peter because of Jesus’ resurrected appearance.  How would you feel if Jesus came along and sat down with you and your friends and began questioning you about the worst sin you ever committed?  I would be a wreck thinking having to go through that knowing that it I did something to displease Him; while also thinking about the boatload of sins I have committed that I know He knows about.  Then there would be the shame I would feel in front of my friends thinking that perhaps Jesus would humiliate and punish me for my cowardice and betrayal of Him.  However . . .

Remember that Peter and the others

Had not been given the Holy Spirit as yet,

And without the power of the Holy Spirit

At work in any believer,

We are defenseless against

A frontal assault by Satan.

Let’s notice several truths that are brought out in the verses we are looking at today . . .

1) A Question To Bring A Realization.

What, then, does Jesus do?  Verses 31-34 tell us.

1) A Realization Of Peter’s Problem. 

They were all sitting around the fire after breakfast, when Jesus said to Peter, “Simon.” (This was the name that Peter had before Jesus made him an apostle.)  It seems that Jesus was reminding him in a not too subtle way that his behavior the night Jesus was arrested was very much like that of a person who is not a follower of Jesus.  Jesus goes on to say, “Simon, do you love me more than these?”  What does Jesus mean here by “these?”  Is He referring to the boat, the net, and everything that is connected with Peter’s love for fishing?  Is Jesus referring to whether Peter loves Him more than he loves the other apostles?  Or could He mean, “Do you love me more than these other men love me?”  I believe it is the latter, that Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Him more than the others do.

Jesus is setting the stage here for Peter’s forgiveness and for him to be entrusted with caring for the others after Jesus ascends to Heaven.  Someone has said, “the old Peter who claimed not to know Christ the night Jesus was arrested was somewhat of a boastful controller who liked to write his own press releases.  He often boasted of his faith and the things he would do if ever placed in various kinds of situations.  He was what some might call a braggart.”  

Jesus wanted to see if

Peter’s experience and failures

Had changed him

And I believe

He wanted the others

To see it as well.

Pride like Peter’s has often gotten in the way of what all Christ followers are expected to develop, and that is . . .

A sense of humility.

This humility was to include

A dependence and trust in Christ

In order to accomplish His purposes

Rather than their depending

On their own ability to

Do things on their own.

Do you remember what Peter said to Jesus just before Jesus’ arrest?  He had affirmed that he would lay down his life for Christ (John 13:36-38).

At the Last Supper Peter volunteered that he loved Jesus so much that he would die for Him, but he had not been able to keep that promise when the chips were down.  It was time for Peter to prove he was ready to be the kind of servant Christ wanted him to be.  It was not that Peter needed to prove this to Jesus because Jesus knew what Peter would do.  Jesus knew that Peter had to prove this to himself and to the other apostles.

When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Peter answered Jesus’ question in John 21:15 by telling Him that he did love Him.  Jesus responded by saying, “Feed My lambs.”  However, there is something quite interesting and worth noting in John 21:15. There are two different Greek words used for “love” in this verse . . .

  • One is the strongest word for love that we have in the Bible, “agapao.”

It is the word for a love that is absolutely unselfish and is used throughout the New Testament for God Himself (1 John 4:8).  This word is used for the love God has for this world, and for the kind of love we should have to God and for other people.  It is used even for the love which people sometimes put in the place of God, such as for money, and power.  Unfortunately, you can give such things the love that should go to God.

  • The other Greek word is “phileo.”

It means affection refers the love that exists between good friends.  It is used for the love of one friend to another and for family affection.  It suggests a lower quality of love than agapao.  Let us look at the verse again, this time using the Greek for the words meaning love, “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love (agapao) Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love (phileo) You.”  Jesus used the word for the strongest kind of love when He asked Peter if Peter loved Him.  Peter responded with a word that meant a somewhat lesser kind of love.

Jesus then told Peter: “Feed My lambs.”  Then Jesus asked Peter the same question a second time, using the same word for love that He had used the first time.  Peter responded using the same word he had used for love the first time. Jesus then told Peter to shepherd His sheep.

This leads us to a second truth  . . .

2) A Question That Reveals The Power Of Peter’s New Life.

Now, why has Peter responded to Jesus’ question about his love for Jesus by using a different word for love than Jesus was using?  It seems that . . .

Peter had finally realized that

He had been incapable

Of the highest form of love

To which Jesus was referring.

He was now telling Jesus

That he definitely loved Him

But he was not about to make

The mistake of boasting about

Capabilities that he was

Not sure he could fulfill.

Then Jesus asked Peter a third time if he loved Him, but this time Jesus used the same word Peter had used the two previous times, and Peter answered by using the same word he had used the two previous times.  He also confessed to Jesus “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”  Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

Peter was most likely disturbed that Jesus would ask him three times if he loved Him. But how many times had Peter denied Jesus after His arrest?  And when Jesus made His point the third time, He used the word for love that recognized Peter’s honesty and humility.  In effect . . .

Jesus was telling Peter that

He was pleased that Peter

Loved Him in the way he did,

And that Jesus was also pleased

That Peter knew he had limitations

If he did not rely on the help of Jesus.

It was Jesus’ way to show Peter that he was forgiven and restored to his former position.

The presence and power of Jesus

Is an absolute necessity

For serving Christ

In this sinful world.

And in His mercy Jesus is willing to award this great privilege to a person who has a very short résumé, listing only that he has a very humble kind of love to offer to his Lord.”

Peter admitted that Jesus knew everything about him including all of his failures and his denial. He could have been implying that he was not worthy of Jesus’ trust. Yet in spite of his failures, Jesus gave him the responsibility to look after the other apostles.

That leads us to . . .

3) A Question Of Responsibility.

The key qualification for this responsibility is . . .

A love for Jesus

That is characterized

By humility,


And obedience.

Up until this present time, Peter had loved Jesus, but he was still full of himself and he kept placing himself at the head of the pack, often trying to control what the others did, and even what Jesus did.  Peter thought of himself as being number one, or at least certainly wanting to be number one.  Such pride in a leader would spell disaster for the community of believers, as had already been evident in Israel’s history right up to those who had just had Jesus crucified.

Sadly, the same thing has been just as evident in the history of the Church.  But Peter himself learned his lesson, as is clear from his first letter.  When he addresses the elders of the communities he does so as a “fellow elder” and encourages them to “be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers” . . . “not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:1-4).

Here we see Peter exercising authority with a sense of humility, and He is further conscious of the supreme authority of the Chief Shepherd.  Such are marks of a true shepherd in the service of Jesus Christ.

Rodney Whitacre asks, “Have you ever thought of it, that only the smaller birds sing? You never hear a note from the eagle in all your life, nor from the turkey, nor from the ostrich.  But you have heard from the canary, the wren, and the lark.  The sweetest music comes from those Christians who are small in their own estimation and small before the Lord.”

This is the attitude

Jesus was looking

For in Peter,

And it is the attitude

He is looking for in us.

Let us think about that amazing concept for a minute.  In the world today, the “big birds” strut, crow, and draw attention to themselves: the rich, the famous, the movie stars, athletes, politicians, and financial gurus.  Yet, who gives you comfort, encouragement, and inspiration?  In our congregation it is the “little birds” who lift our spirits.  How? Because . . .

  • They are the ones who praise God, no matter what their circumstances.
  • They are the ones we can count on to pray for you in difficult times.
  • They are the ones with beautiful, inspiring songs which lift their hearts, and also ours, in worship to our great Lord God.

I daresay God’s ears are tuned to hear those songs rather than all the crowing of the so-called “big birds” in the world.

We will finish our study of verses 18-19 in tomorrow’s blog.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”





Who Do You Seek?

Grace For The Journey


12AugMary Magdalene had the unique privilege of being the first person to see Jesus following His resurrection.  She was the first person to whom our Lord spoke after He had overcome death.  We read in John 20:1, “Now  on the first day of the Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”  Mary discovered the empty tomb, but it had a very different effect upon her than the thought of it has upon us today.  John says in verse 11, “But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she weipt she stooped down and looked into the tomb.”  When the Lord appears to Mary, He asks her two questions, “Woman, why are you weeping, Whom are you seeking?” (verse 15).  Mary Magdalene’s experience by the garden tomb speaks to us about how we deal with the grief and crises of our lives.  She points us to the fact that . . .

What we see as a tragedy

May prove to be

The scene of the greatest victory.

Note these three things that Mary says to us today.  First she says that . . .


In our text, Mary Magdalene was standing just outside the newly vacated tomb of the Lord, and the Bible says that she was “weeping.”  The word “weeping” literally means “to wail.”  It speaks of a visible brokenness.  While her emotion is touching, it is out of place.  The angels seated inside the tomb asked her, “Why are you weeping? (verse 13).”  Jesus repeated the same question just a few moments later.  (verse 15).

She cried because she

Could not find His body,

But if she had found His body,

Then she would have really

Had a reason to weep.

Mary reminds us that there are times we sorrow over the wrong things.  We stand looking at what we believe is a tragic loss and we sorrow when we should perhaps be rejoicing instead.

Notice a couple of reasons for Mary’s meaningless sorrow.  First of all . . .

She Was Worried About An Artificial Burden.

In verse 13, the angels asked Mary, “Why are you weeping?”  Mary answered, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”  Mary wept outside the tomb because she feared that someone had stolen the body of the Lord, and moved it somewhere else.  For Mary . . .

The Lord’s death had been traumatic enough,

But now it was just an added tragedy

To have to locate His missing body.

In reality, Mary was crying over a burden and problem that didn’t actually exist.  The body of Jesus had not been stolen.  It had been raised to life.  She had created an artificial burden over which she sorrowed.

How often is it that we spend time worrying and sorrowing over things that have not even happened?  We say things like, “What if…,” or “Maybe…,” and we create artificial burdens that consume our attention and weigh down our spirits.  In Matthew 6:34 the Lord said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Notice another reason for Mary’s meaningless sorrow. Notice not only that she was worried about an artificial burden, but notice also that . . .

She Was weeping Over an Actual Blessing.

Mary saw the empty tomb, and blinded by her grief, she began to weep.  What Mary could not see through her tears is that . . .

The thing she was weeping about

– The empty tomb –

Was actually the most blessed

Sight she had ever seen.

Could it be that there are times in our lives when we weep over things that we should be celebrating?  Could it be that there is something in your life right now that you view as a tragedy, but it may actually prove to be a blessing?

The British hymn writer, William Cowper, struggled with depression and mental illness throughout much of his life.  Through the darkness of his struggle, however, he was inspired to write these lines of eternal truth . . .

God moves in mysterious ways,

His wonders to perform,

He plants His footsteps on the sea,

And rides upon the storm

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,

The clouds ye so much dread,

Are big with mercy and shall break,

In blessings on your head,

Judge not the Lord from feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace,

Behind a frowning providence,

He hides a smiling face

No matter what we are facing, may we learn from Mary not to weep too quickly, for our sorrow may be meaningless.

Notice a second truth we learn from Mary.


When Mary saw the empty tomb early that Sunday morning, she instantly jumped to a conclusion regarding its meaning.  She told the angels in verse 13, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”  Mary looked at her situation, and she speculated about what was going on, and it turned out that her speculation could not have been further from the truth.

Likewise, there are times we look at the things going on in our lives, and we interpret them according to our limited understanding.  When that happens, very often we find out later that we were mistaken.

Notice a couple of things that led to Mary’s mistaken speculation.  First of all, notice . . .

How She Assessed the Situation.

Mary looked at the slab of stone upon which the Lord’s body had been laid.  Now only the grave clothes remained, and Mary could only think of one explanation.  In Mary’s mind, the only possible explanation for a missing dead body is that someone had come and moved it to another location.

The reason Mary’s speculation was wrong

Was because she had assessed her situation

From a purely human perspective.

She was looking through tears of discouraged doubt,

And she could only think within the limits of a fallen, human world.

Very often, we view the challenges and struggles of our life the same way.  We will look at a problem, and we will say, “It looks bad.”  We speculate about the outcome, leaving the possibility of divine intervention, and miraculous resurrection completely off the table.

Notice not only how Mary assessed the situation, but notice also their mistaken speculation came from . . .

How She Approached the Situation.

Verse 15 says, “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?’  She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’”  Still, Mary believes that the empty tomb is an indication that someone has taken the body of Jesus.  Notice what she plans to do about this supposed problem. She says, “Tell me where thou hast laid him and I’ll take him away.”

Do you see Mary’s problem?

She has misjudged the whole situation,

And to compound her error,

She approaches the situation as if

It is something she can fix.

So often, like Mary, we are completely mistaken about what we are facing, and we are equally mistaken about what needs to happen.  We say, “If I could just do this,” or “I wish I had this…”  When we come to what we speculate to be a tragedy, and a crisis, it would do us all good to remember what Moses said to the Children of Israel as they stood cramped between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea.  The Bible says in Exodus 14:13, “…Do not be afraid.  Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today.  For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.”

Notice a third and final truth that we draw from Mary . . .


Verse 14 says, “Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.”  The very One for whom Mary was searching, and the very One for whom Mary was sobbing, was the very One who stood just feet from her, and yet, the Bible says that didn’t know it was Jesus.  In the midst of her crisis Mary missed the Savior.  In her overwhelming sorrow, she overlooked His presence.

You know; it is possible that as we scramble to deal with our supposed problems, we can completely miss the nearness and presence of Jesus.

We are so absorbed in sorrow

That we do not see Him

Who comes to soothe it.

We often think He is

The farthest when He is nearest.

Notice first of all the Savior can be missed . . .

If You’re Not Looking For His Victory.

Mary was looking for His corpse, not the risen Savior.  It is possible that we look at the crises of our lives and we miss what God is doing because we only see gloom, despair, pain, and loss.  We are not expecting God to do a miracle, and to raise that which was dead, and bring life to our loss.

Years ago, to make room for a new hydro-electric plant, a small town in Maine was slated to be flooded when the new dam was built.  The people in the town were told many months in advance in order to give them time to arrange their relocation.  During those months, all work in the town ceased.  No painting was done, no repairs were made on the buildings, roads, or sidewalks.  With each day, the town got shabbier, dirtier, and uglier.  Before the water ever hit the town, it looked abandoned and ruined. One resident in the town explained,

“Where there is no faith in the future,

There is no power in the present.”

When we face the situations of our lives without hope, and without faith that God can intervene and turn the situation for His glory, we set ourselves up to completely miss the presence of the Lord in our lives.

Notice not only that your Savior may be missed if you’re not looking for His victory, but notice also further that your Savior may be missed . . .

If You’re Not Listening For His Voice or Words.

Verse 16 states, “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’  She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!” (which is to say, Master).’”  She did eventually recognize Him, after He called her name.

It is a wonderful moment, but the truth is, He had spoken to her already.  In verse 15, He had asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?”  Had Mary gone to the garden tomb, listening for His voice, perhaps she would have immediately recognized Him the moment He first spoke to her.

Mary reminds us that in all our situations of life, it is critical that we listen carefully for the voice of the Lord.

Whenever you find yourself facing

What appears to be a tragedy,

Open His Word, and look for Him.

As you do, listen closely

To what He says to you.

The hymns of Fanny Crosby are one the treasures of the church.  In her lifetime, Crosby gave to us over 8,000 songs.  When Fanny was only 6 weeks old, she developed a minor eye inflammation. The doctor treating her was careless, and as a result of his malpractice, Fanny became completely and permanently blind.  Rather than being bitter at the doctor who had caused the loss of her sight, Crosby once said, “If I could meet him now, I would say, ‘Thank you’ over and over again.”  Fanny felt that her blindness was actually a blessing from God that enabled her to write the songs that she did.

There are times when we assume that what we are facing is a burden, when in actuality it is a blessing.  Like Mary Magdalene, who wept outside the empty tomb, we need to be reminded that not everything is what it seems.  It could be that your sorrow is meaningless, your speculation is mistaken, and through all of your worry and despair, the Savior has been missed.  It could be that if you would just turn to Him, you would find that He is closer than you believed, and that He is doing a work in your life that is quite opposite of the tragedy you suspected.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



Will You Lay Down Your Life For My Sake?

Grace For The Journey

11Aug The United States has the highest occurrence of tornadoes of any other nation in the world.  In an average year, over 1,000 tornadoes will occur across the continental U.S.

Along with the damage they cause, tornadoes are dangerous because they can be somewhat unpredictable.  Chad Myers, a former meteorologist from Oklahoma City, in an interview with, once said this about forecasting tornadoes, “There is certainly an art to tornado forecasting.  It is both an art and a science, like medicine [it] isn’t an exact science.  There are many more parameters in weather that we can’t forecast.”  Later on in that interview, Myers indicated that presently, meteorologist can know approximately 19 minutes before a tornado will strike in a specific place.

At the close of John chapter 13, the Lord Jesus makes a very somber forecast for the life of Simon Peter.  In verse 37, Peter had boldly and brashly proclaimed that he would lay down his life for Jesus.  In verse 38, Jesus repeated that claim, this time in the form of a question. Then He pronounced a forecast of failure in Peter’s life.  He said, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?  Verily, verily, I say unto you, the rooster shall not crow, till you have denied me three times.”

Within a few hours of that forecast, Peter’s boldness would be replaced by brokenness. The Bible says that Peter “wept bitterly” because he had cursed and denied that even knew the Lord Jesus.

From this passage at the close of John 13, we learn that this type of failure is not without its predictors.  There are certain traits and signs that we can see in Peter that point to the failure for which he was headed.  By studying Peter’s words in this text, perhaps the Holy Spirit can point someone to the fact that they may be headed for a similar failure in their own Christian life.  Perhaps, by learning from the failure in Peter’s life, someone can spare themselves from the bitter tears of regret.

There are three things I want you to notice about Peter that reveal why failure was forecasted for His life.  Notice first of all . . .


John 13 is a chapter full of instruction.  It records the final evening that the Lord shared with His disciples prior to His arrest and crucifixion, and it is full of parting words and directions from the Savior.  Trying to prepare His disciples for His coming death, the Lord says to them in verse 33, “little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come …’”  Not content with the information he was given, Peter asks in verse 36, “Lord, where are You going?  Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.’”  As usual, Peter’s mouth is not easily closed, and in verse 37 he protests and asks, “Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You now?  I will lay down my life for Your sake.’”

There are times when, like Peter, we are resistant and even rebellious against the work of the Lord in our lives.  The problem is that our stubbornness often leads to our sinfulness.  Notice what was going on with Peter and his futile argument . . .

The Message He Disregarded.

In verse 33, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to be leaving them.  He then moved from that announcement to the instructions He wanted to leave with them before His death.  In verse 34, Jesus said to them, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that  also love one another.’”  In verse 35, He goes on to tell them, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

In the context of this conversation, this is the main point the Lord was trying to convey to His disciples.  Yet, Peter completely misses this point, and goes back to the statement the Lord had made about leaving.  In verse 36 we read, “Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord where are You going?’  Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.’”  Peter essentially ignored all the teaching about love, and missed the primary truth Jesus was trying to convey.

There are some people who resist

The work of Christ in their life

Because they have missed

The larger point of what

He is trying to do in them.

For instance, there are people who will not tithe because they don’t like to part with their money, but they have missed the fact that the Bible teaches that it is not really their money in the first place.  There are those who won’t attend church faithfully because they don’t feel like they have to.  All the while, they have missed the message that attending church is not something we have to do; it is something we should want to do.

Peter argues with the Lord because he had disregarded the primary message that the Lord was trying to convey.

Notice something else that is going on in this futile argument. Notice not only the message he disregarded, but notice also further:

The Message He Disliked.

The real reason why Peter argued with the Lord in this text is that he did not like what he had heard.  The Lord told the disciples that He was going to be leaving, and that they would not be able to accompany Him.  In verse 37 Peter protested, “Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You now?  I will lay down my life for Your sake.’”  Even though the Lord had said it, it didn’t sit well with Peter, and he disliked the message Christ had given him.

Many people are resistant and stubborn about the Lord’s work in their lives simply because of what He has said to them, and what He has asked of them is not easy or enjoyable.  While they may not come out and admit as vocally as Peter did, there are many who simply do not like what the Lord is trying to do in their life.

The reality is that Peter’s argument was a futile one.  When Jesus said that Peter could not go with Him; that should have been the final word!  Though Peter may not have liked it, he should have listened to it and lived with it regardless.

Notice something else about Peter response . . .


Peter was the Apostle with the foot shaped mouth.  He was eager, aggressive, bold, and outspoken – with a habit of running his mouth while his brain was in neutral.  I would say that most of us relate more easily to Peter, than to any of the other apostles. His flaws and his failures are imperfections we see in our own lives.  While we connect with Peter’s weaknesses, we must learn from them as well.  In this text, his self-confidence, and arrogance are foolish.  They are traits that had to be amputated from his life through a bitter failure.

The Bible clearly warns us

That pride is

The predecessor to a fall.

(Proverbs 16:18)

Notice with me a couple of things about Peter’s pride in this text. Notice first of all . . .

His Misplaced Confidence.

The Lord said to Peter, “You cannot follow Me now.”  In verse 36, Simon Peter asks the Lord why he cannot go where He is going.  When Jesus responds to Peter’s boastful response, He is revealing something that Peter has not come to realize yet.

Peter believed that his devotion and faith

Were strong enough that if it came to it,

Not even death would part him from his Master.

It turned out, however . . .

The interrogation of a little girl was enough

To send the once arrogant disciple

Into a foul-mouthed, full-fledged denial of His Lord.

The message to us – Be careful about foretelling your own faithfulness.  Don’t say arrogant things like, “Well, I’ll never do what he did,” or “I’ll never fall into that sin.”

The truth is. . .

If it is not for the grace of God,

There is no telling the sin you might commit,

And the depravity you might reach.

Without God, the only potential you have

Is for sinfulness and self-destruction.

Note what Paul confessed in Romans 7:14-18, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.  For what I am doing, I do not understand.  For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.  If, then, I do what I will not to do.  I agree with the law that is is good.  But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin tat dwells in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”

Peter was confident in himself, and self-confidence, according to the Word of God, is always misplaced confidence.

Notice something else about Peter’s foolish arrogance . . .

His Misguided Commitment.

The Lord had been telling His disciples about His coming death.  He was preparing them for the crises through which they were about to go.

The Lord was committed to the cross.

Peter, on the other hand,

Talked as if he was committed

To doing anything to keep Christ from dying.

He said in verse 37, “… Lord, why can I not follow You now?  I will lay down my life for Your sake.”  That sounded noble enough, but it was not the plan of God.  Peter was committed, but not to the work that God was doing.  Peter was committed to his own agenda.

What Peter failed to understand was that . . .

Christ must first die for Peter

Before Peter

Could die for Christ!”

I wonder, are those who are reading my blog today misguided commitments?

Are you resisting the work of the Lord in your life,

Because like Peter, deep down you feel like

You know better than He does what needs to happen?

In July of 2005, Eric Rudolph was sentenced to life in prison for setting off a remote-controlled bomb at an abortion clinic in Birmingham in 1998.  At his sentencing, Rudolph delivered a fiery speech in which he said that abortion must be fought with “deadly force.”  While I too feel that the murder of innocent, unborn babies is a travesty, and a shame upon our nation, I disagree with Mr. Rudolph that the way to combat those murders is with more murder.  Eric Rudolph is tragically misguided in his fight against abortion.

In this text . . .

Peter’s intentions were sincere,


They were contrary to the will of God.

He was foolishly arrogant to think that his plan was somehow better than God’s.  He warns us against stubbornly and arrogantly resisting God’s will in our lives.

There is a third predictor of Peter’s failure that we find in this text.  Notice not only Peter’s futile argument, and Peter’s foolish arrogance, but notice also thirdly . . .


Confidently Peter proclaims in verse 37, “I will lay down my life for thy sake.”  The Lord had said that He would be delivered up to the Jewish authorities, and that He would be put death, but Peter said, “Not if I have anything to do with it.”  Peter felt as if he was able to stand for Christ, regardless of the dangers it would bring.  The Lord revealed the truth about Peter’s abilities when He said in verse 38, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?  Verily, verily, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.”

Though Peter promised

A big stand for Christ,

The reality is that he was not ready

To be the man he claimed to be.

His failure was due to the feebleness of his abilities.  Notice a couple of things about Peter’s feeble abilities. Notice first of all . . .

He Wasn’t Bold Enough.

Peter sounds so valiant and courageous when he says, “I will lay down my life for thy sake.”  The only problem is that . . .

Not only was Peter

Not bold enough

To die for the Lord,

He was not even

Bold enough

To defend the Lord.

He stayed back behind the crowd, watching as the Lord was unjustly taken and tried.

When the little girl by the fire said, “You are one of His followers, aren’t you,” Peter’s courage wasn’t even sufficient to claim Jesus, much less rescue Him.

Poor Peter had projected courage, but he was a practical coward.  Though he thought he was bold, he wasn’t bold enough.  The reality is that Peter had the wrong kind of boldness.  His boldness on Passover night was a courage bolstered by his own arrogance.

However, in Acts 2, Passover gives way to Pentecost and we find the same Peter, filled with a boldness that can only come from the Spirit of God.  Standing before thousands and preaching a pointed and powerful sermon, calling all men to repent and come to the Christ in whom He believed.

Before his failure, Peter wasn’t bold enough . . .

His confidence before his failure

Was a self-confidence,

And it was never enough

To stand in a spiritual battle.

Peter’s insufficient boldness warns us about having the wrong kind of courage.  Yes . . .

The believer can say,

“I can do all things …,”

But only if they understand

That it is “through Christ”

Which gives them their strength.

Notice something further about Peter’s feeble abilities.  Notice not only that he was not bold enough, but notice also further that . . .

He Wasn’t Broken Enough.

Now by human standards,

Brokenness is not an ability;

It is a disability.

But in God’s economy,

A broken man is a useable man.

To use the words of the Apostle Paul, “when we are weak, then we are strong.”

As long as Peter thought

He was able to do

Something for Christ,

He would never be able

To do anything for Christ.

Peter had not come to the point of brokenness, where he realized that he was totally dependent upon the Lord.

Matthew Henry made this statement: “It is good for us to shame ourselves out of our presumptuous confidence in ourselves.  Shall a bruised reed set up for a pillar, or a sickly child undertake to be a champion?  What a fool I am to talk so big.”  Peter reminds us that as long as we are “talking big” about ourselves, we are not broken enough to do anything big for the Lord.  God must break us with the hammer of trials in order to show us our inability, and draw us to His sufficiency.

God uses broken things.

  • Job eased his bodily pain with broken pieces of pottery.
  • Mary broke her alabaster box, and used its contents to minister to Christ.
  • Paul and his companions escaped from the sea on the broken pieces of a ship.

Peter was eventually used by God in a mighty way, but only after his self-confident, over-bearing will had been broken by the shame and regret of his sinful failure.  Peter reminds us that our abilities are feeble, and that as long as we depend upon them, we are headed for a certain failure.

The same Peter whose pride and arrogance led him to such a devastating fall, would one day be led by God to write these words in 1 Peter 5:5-6, “Likewise you younger people submit yourselves to your elders.  Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, be clothed with humility, ‘for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”  Those are the words of a man speaking from experience.  Peter learned the hard way that if we do not submit ourselves completely to God, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

The Lord predicted Peter’s denial, but the reality is that you didn’t have to be the Son of God to see the forecast of failure that was coming for the prideful and self-reliant disciple.  Here is the question for you . . .

What is the forecast in your life?

Are you headed for failure?

Are you submitted to the will of God,

Dependent upon the Spirit of God,

And obedient to the Word of God?

May the story of Peter’s failure cause us all to examine ourselves, and to beg God to keep us from falling!

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



Will You Also Go Away?

Grace For The Journey

11Aug  Toward the close of John chapter 6, there is a sad and arresting verse.  Verse 66 says, “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked with Him no more.”

The Lord turned to His disciples and asks them “Do you also want to go away?”  By studying the events that transpire in this chapter, we learn why these people walked away from the Lord, and you will be able to see if you might be headed in the same deserting direction.

There are three questions I want to draw from this text and pose to each of our own lives.  How we answer these questions could mean the difference in whether or not we will be a disciple or become a deserter.  This first question is this . . .


Verse 66 says, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked with Him no more.”  In order to understand what led to this mass retreat, we need to identify who these “many…disciples” were, and what it was that initially drew them to follow Jesus.

Very often . . .

Those who abandon

The faith in the end

Do so because they approached

The faith in the beginning

For all of the wrong reasons.

There are those who come to Jesus as an experiment.  They are interested in Him to some degree, and they choose to pursue Him on a sort of “trial basis,” curious as to what He might do for them.

I think we find an example of this in the chapter before us.  Notice a couple of things about those who experiment with Jesus.  Notice first of all, there are those who come to Christ who are . . .

Curious About His Power.

The “many” in verse 66 can be traced back to the earlier parts of John 6.  For instance, look back at verse 2, where it says, “Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw his signs (miracles) which He performed did on those who were diseased.”  The gospels reveal that Jesus was a miracle maker, and for that reason, great crowds followed Him wherever He went, hoping to see one of His signs and wonders.  No doubt, some of those who deserted the Lord in verse 66 were first drawn to Him out of a curiosity about His power.

I am sure that there are some in the church today who appear to be followers of Christ, who are there simply to see if Jesus really has the power that has been attributed to Him.  These are the sign seekers.  They want a little flash and excitement to accompany their religion.  As long as something interesting is going on, and they are entertained, then they will keep coming around.

Jesus confronted this type of experimental disciple in His day.  In Luke 11:29 the Bible says, “And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, ‘This is an evil generation.  It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.’”  Jesus is not a Vegas magician, and the Christian life is not about amusement.  Therefore, if you are following Christ only because you are curious about His power, then your discipleship could be headed for desertion.

Notice not only that this experimental Christianity involves those that are curious about His power, but notice also we find in this chapter those that are . . .

Curious About His Provisions.

As we move through chapter 6, we find the story of Jesus feeding the multitude with the small lunch of a little boy.  After this miracle, Jesus escaped from the crowds, only to be pursued by them again.  In verse 26 the Bible says, “Jesus answered them and said, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled.’”  Here is another group following Jesus.

This group was looking

Not so much for

Miracles, as for meals.

They sought Jesus not

Ao much for wonders,

But for a sort of religious welfare

In which Jesus filled their

Stomachs and eased their hungers.

This group represents those who follow Jesus for purely selfish reasons.  They try Him out to see what He can offer them.  As long as their bellies are full, and they feel good, they will hang around.  However, it is likely that when Jesus begins to call them to a life of surrender and selflessness, they will turn their backs and walk away.

These types of experimental disciples

Want to follow a Jesus that

Only blesses, and never breaks,

Only delights, and never demands.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that . . .

Jesus is a Savior to be embraced,

Not a product to be tested.

If Jesus is experimental in your life, you are likely headed for desertion.

Notice a second question we draw from this text . . .


John chapter 6 is an unusually long chapter.  Part of the reason for this is because it records a sermon that Jesus preached in the synagogue at Capernaum.  The sermon deals with the fact that Jesus is bread of life sent down from heaven to save those who could not save themselves.

In the sermon, Jesus is very direct, and says in verse 53, “. . . Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless  you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”  This message wasn’t quite as popular as His miracles, and some did not enjoy the things that Jesus had said.  Those who walked away in verse 66, did so because Jesus’ message had become difficult and demanding in their lives, and they no longer enjoyed His company.

What about you?  Do you enjoy Jesus?  Notice a couple of things that are involved in enjoying Jesus.  First of all, to enjoy Jesus is to enjoy . . .

His Word.

Look back at the text, and notice verse 60. “Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?’  The word “hard” in verse 60 comes from a Greek word that describes “something that is rough, harsh, and stern.”  Notice what verse 61 says, “When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, ‘Does this offend you?’”  The word translated “complained” means “to murmured and grumble.”  It indicates a great dislike and distain for what is being taught.  Jesus had proclaimed a rough, stern, and harsh truth, and many in the crowd grumbled and complained because they didn’t like what they heard.

What about you?  Does the Word of God cheer you or chaff you?   When the Bible is preached, is it like a harp to your ears, or a hammer to your heart?  Psalm 119:140 says, “Your word is very pure: therefore Your servant loves it.”  Is this how you feel about Christ’s Word to you?

To enjoy Jesus in your life is not only to enjoy His word to you, but also, it means that you enjoy . . .

His Work in You.

In verse 63 Jesus says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.  The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”  In verse 65 Jesus concludes, “. . . Therefore I have said to you that no man can come unto Me, unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”  Immediately following these statements, we read that many walked away, and stopped following after Jesus.  After He explained His work in the lives of His people, many were less than enthused.  Jesus explained that what He does in the life of a person is a work of grace, and has nothing to do with the efforts of man.  In other words, Jesus was saying that His work is to make His people more and more dependent upon Him.

As you follow Jesus . . .

You will find that He will work in you

To take from you anything

You depend upon apart from Him.

Jesus works to take everything

From us that keeps us from Him.

This is never an easy work, but for some it is a work they appreciate because they know it is necessary in order to make them into the person God has saved them and called them to be.

Do you enjoy the work that Jesus tries to do in your heart?  When He asks you to give up certain things, and when He kicks out your crutches and makes you dependent upon Him, are you grateful, or do you grumble?

Someone once said, “When you look at the word ‘JOY’ the “J” stands for ‘Jesus,’ the “Y” stands for ‘you,’ and the “O” stands for ‘zero,’ nothing; because where there is nothing between Jesus and you, then there is joy.”

The work of Jesus in your life is to remove everything that comes between you and Him. For some people, that brings joy.  For others, that is the very reason they walk away.

There is one more question I want to pose from this text . . .


In verse 67, Jesus looks sorrowfully at the backs of those who were walking away, and He turns to His disciples and asks, ‘Do you also want to go away?”  To this Peter responds for the group.  Usually, Peer sticks his foot in his mouth.  However, on this occasion, Peter’s words were right on target.  Notice what verses 68 and 69 say, “But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.’”  For Peter, and the other disciples that remained, walking away from Jesus was simply not an option.  He was essential to their lives.

Is that the case with your life?  If you didn’t have a relationship with Christ, would your life change?

Notice a couple of things that make Jesus essential. First of all . . .

He Is the Only Source of Truth.

For many in our day, truth is as flexible as silly putty, and about as useless.  Absolutes are being replaced by what every man thinks is right in his own eyes.  Man’s shifting views of what is true and what is right does not change the fact that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me.” 

The difference in a disciple and a deserter

Is that the disciple believes that

There is no truth apart from Christ!

His Word is the final word for their lives.

Peter would not walk away from Jesus, because everything apart from Jesus was not the truth.  His words were essential to Peter’s life.

But notice not only that Jesus is essential because He is the only source of truth, but also further that Jesus is essential because . . .

He is the Only Savior to Trust.

Verse 69 says, ‘Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  For Peter and those that remained, walking away from Christ meant turning their backs on the Son of God, and the only hope for their salvation.  Those that walked away had been interested in Jesus to some degree.  However, they walked away from Him because they felt like they could do without Him.  What about you?  Could you live without Jesus?  If you no longer followed Him, would it change anything about your life now, or your future?

The Word of God makes it clear that

Knowing and following Jesus

Are not optional, they are essential.

Essentially Peter is saying, “You are our only hope. You are essential to our lives both now and forever. We cannot walk away, no matter what you require of us.”

In 1970, as NASA’s Apollo 13 mission approached a critical decision, one that placed the lives of the crew in even more jeopardy.  Gene Kranz, the lead flight director for mission control uttered a now famous statement to the ground crew in Houston.  He said, “Failure is not an option.”

The difference in a disciple and

A deserter lies in that very mindset.

For the true disciple, walking away

Is simply not an option,

Because for the true disciple,

Jesus is the only source of truth,

And the only Savior to trust.

No doubt, all of us would like to think that 20 years from now, if we are not in heaven with the Lord, we will at least still be following Him here on earth.  However, chances are that some will at some point turn their back on their relationship with Christ.  It is all but certain, that some among us will “go out from us” as John put it.  How do you prevent desertion from happening in your life?  The answer is simple, follow Jesus, not because of any peripheral or temporal thing, but simply because He is the only hope for your life and your soul.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


What Do You Seek?

Grace For The Journey


7Aug  In 1996, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two graduate students at Stanford University, were working on a research project that eventually made them multi-millionaires, and internet technology icons.  Page and Brin created a website whose name is recognized by computer geeks and grandmas alike.  Their research project was a new search engine that they named Google.

For the technically challenged and internet illiterate, Google is a site that helps you find what you are looking for on the internet.  You simply type in a word or a phrase and Google gives you a list of web sites that match your search.

What words or phrases would best describe what you are searching for in life?  If you could use Google for your life’s pursuits, what would you type into the search engine?  No doubt, some of you would type in the phrase, “more money.”  Some would search for “true love.”  Others would enter the word, “happiness,” because the search of their life is to find something that brings them true happiness.

Long before Google, the internet, and computers, the Lord Jesus asked a very relevant and important question.  In John 1:38, Jesus turned to His first two disciples and asked them, “What do you seek?”  That’s a good question.  In reality, all of life is spent in the pursuit and search of something.  Unfortunately, most people are seeking for all the wrong things.

In this story, we find that there are three things we should seek for in our journey with the Lord.  No matter who you are, or where you are in your relationship with Christ, all three of these things should be something you pursue.


There are a couple of reasons to seek His cleansing . . .

Because We Are Sinners.

Because He Is the Savior.

Verse 36 John the Baptist proclaims, “And looking at Jesus as He walked, he saith, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’”


When these first two disciples approached Jesus, they were seeking more than just forgiveness.  Yes, they wanted cleansing, but they wanted more from the Messiah than just atonement.  Verse 38 says, “Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, ‘What do you seek?’  They said unto him, ‘Rabbi, (which is to say, when translated, Master,) where are you staying?’”  Notice how they addressed Him – Rabbi or Master.  In calling Him “Rabbi,” these disciples indicated that they wanted to listen to Him and learn from Him.  They wanted to hear His commands for their lives.

Notice a couple of things we must do in seeking His command.  First of all, we must . . .

Recognize Him as Lord

Request His Leadership

While Jesus is Lord, He will not force Himself upon anyone.  These two disciples sought Him and pursued Him before He began to teach them and instruct them.


Verse 38 says, “Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following Him, said to them, ‘What do you seek?’  They said unto Him, ‘Rabbi, (which is to say, being translated, Master,) where are you staying?’”  The Lord had asked them already what they were seeking. They them ask the Lord where He dwelt.  Certainly, there were a lot of things these men wanted, but mainly, they just wanted to be with the Lord.

Notice a couple of truths we draw from this verse that speak to us about seeking His company in our lives . . .

The Difference in this Request.

They did not invite Jesus back to their home.  They wanted to go to His.

It was not so much that

They wanted Him to be

A part of their lives,

As they were interested

In being a part of His.

Most people want Jesus

To come into their lives,

And to work around their schedule,

And their needs, and their situation.

Oh, that we would reach the point in our Christian lives where . . .

We simply want to be wherever He is!

How different our prayers would be if we wanted to go with Him, rather than Him going with us.

No longer would we say, “Lord, I want to do this,” but rather, “Lord, what do you want me to do.”  We will stop praying, “Lord, bless what I’m doing,” and we will start praying, “Lord, help me to do what You are blessing.”

In seeking His company, notice not only the difference in this request, but notice also further . . .

The Desire of this Request.

They didn’t ask Him for any miracles.  They didn’t want Him to meet any specific need. Their hearts desire was simply to be in His presence and share His company.

Of all the things you are pursuing in life, could anything be more important than the seeking to live in the presence of Jesus?  That should be the utmost desire of our heart.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Do You Want To Be Made Whole?

Grace For The Journey

10Aug It was the time of the Jews annual Feast of the Passover, one of the three great religious feasts celebrated during the year.  Jesus was in Jerusalem to observe the feast.  But on this particular day, instead of finding Jesus in the Temple, we find Him instead in the area know as Bethesda.  There was a pool of water in this area called the Pool of Bethesda.  This was beside the sheep market, or near the sheep gate.

We see here . . .

The multitude,

The man,

The Master


A miracle.

We are not given his name, and, according to John 5:5 and 7, John calls him “a certain man who had an infirmity thirty-eight years and “the sick man.”   His days were spent lying by the Pool of Bethesda, wishing that by some miracle his body could be healed and his life could be changed.

The impotent man had believed

That his miracle would

Take place in the pool.

However . . .

When Jesus came to where he was,

A pool-side miracle occurred,

And the man was healed

Without even getting wet.

This story reminds us that Jesus . . .

Has the ability to meet us

At the point of our need,

And overcome that

Which is overcoming us.

Before the Lord intervened for this man, He asked him an interesting question.  In verse six, Jesus said, “Do you want to be made whole?”  This is a good question for each of us today?  Do you want to be whole?  We all have things in our lives that hinder us and keep us from the life God wants us to live.

I want us to follow our Lord in this story, and watch Him as He changes the life of this man.  There are three things we observe about Him in this text.  Notice first of all . . .


The opening verse of John chapter five says that, “Jesus went up to Jerusalem.”  In the next two verses we are told specifically where the Lord went in the great city.  You can learn a lot about Jesus by simply studying the places He went.

  • He went to the well in Samaria to witness to a lost woman.
  • He went to Zacchaeus’ house to change a crooked man.
  • He went into the Temple to run out those that were abusing God’s house.
  • He went to the tomb of Lazarus to raise the dead.

In our text, as well, we learn about the character of Christ by observing where He went. Notice first of all, Jesus went . . .

To the Hurting People.

When Jesus came into Jerusalem, He did not first go to the Temple where He could rub elbows with the Jewish leaders.  He didn’t go to Herod’s palace so that He could meet the king.  Nor did He go to the Roman governor’s house in order to “get in good” with the local politicians and power players.  When Jesus came into the city, He went to the place where the hurting people had assembled.

He went to those whose lives were

Difficult and whose hearts were broken.

Contrary to what many believe . . .

The Lord Jesus is not looking for perfect people.

He is seeking for those who are hurting.

The Bible says in Matthew 9:12, “But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, ‘They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.’”

Notice not only that Jesus went to the hurting people, but notice also that He went . . .

To the Helpless People.

Look in the text, and notice again verse three.  John describes the crowd gathered around the pool as being “sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed . . .”  The word translated “sick” literally means “without strength.”  It describes someone who is powerless.

The Lord Jesus came to minister to those who could not help themselves. He came to those who were powerless against their disability and disease.


Among the sick and lame bodies littering the pool side, one man in particular caught the Lord’s eye.  Looking at him, Jesus knew the long and painful story that had been this man’s life.  Jesus knew everything, and yet He wondered about something regarding this man.  He asked him the question, “Do you want to be made whole?”  Literally, the question is, “Do you want to be well; complete again?”  

At first glance this seems like a stupid question.  What sick person doesn’t want to be well?  However, as we meditate on this question, we realize this is actually a very good question.

Notice a couple of things Jesus wondered about this man. Notice first of all, Jesus wondered . . .

Was He Ready For A Change.

Though it would seem obvious that this man would be eager to be healed, in reality, not everyone is ready for a change.  Some, after years of battling their condition will give up, and will grow accustomed to their handicaps and hindrances.  After thirty-eight years, it could be that this man no longer wanted to be made well.  It could be that he was not ready for a change.

Unfortunately, Christ cannot help everybody.  That is because not everybody is ready for the change Christ will bring.  Some people are comfortable with their hang-ups and hardships.  They wear them like badges, and lean on them like crutches.

What about you?  Do you want to be made whole?  Do you want your marriage to be better?  Do you want to overcome your doubts and worries?  Do you want Christ to break that addiction in your life, or are you comfortable with your condition.

Jesus will not force Himself or His help on anyone.  If you are not ready to change, He will not help you.  Jesus wondered if this man was ready for a change.

Notice also, Jesus wondered . . .

Would He Respond to a Command.

Verse 8 says, “Jesus saith unto him, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.’”  Jesus commanded the man to do what he had been unable to do for 38 years.  When Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to be made whole,” He was not only questioning the man’s readiness to change, but his willingness to comply as well.  Some will never be whole, and never experience a healthy Christian life because they will not obey the commands of Christ.

There is one more thing I want us to observe about our Lord in this text. Notice not only where Jesus went, and what Jesus wondered, but notice also finally:


Verse 9 declares, “And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.”  Verses 14-15 say, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said unto him, ‘Behold, you art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you.’  The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.”

Notice first of all, Jesus works . . .

So That We Will Praise God.

The Lord found this man in the Temple.  He who had been for 38 years by the pool, now that he is able we find him in the Temple.  Clearly, the man wanted to give God thanks, and glorify Him for the miracle that had occurred in his life.  Christ had healed him, and he wanted to give praise to God.

If the Lord Jesus does something in your life, and works a miracle on your behalf, He does so in order that you might give praise to God, and glorify Him with your life.  The Lord Jesus works in our lives, not only so that we will praise God, but notice further that He works . . .

So That We Will Practice Godliness.

Verse 14 states, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said unto him, ‘Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.’”

Jesus healed this man

To change not just his physical life,

But his spiritual life as well.

He worked in Him so that

He might begin to live for God.

Too many Christians today want a Christianity that demands nothing from them, and allows them to live in any manner they please.  The Lord Jesus does not work in our lives just so that we will continue in the path we have been traveling.  He works in us to change the practice of our lives.

The old, fiery evangelist from western North Carolina, Vance Havner, once said, “God saved us to make us holy, not happy. Some experiences may not contribute to our happiness, but all can be made to contribute to our holiness.”

Jesus met this man at the point of his need.  That happened to be beside a pool.  If Jesus could make a man whole beside a pool, is it not completely possible that He could do the same for you right where you are right now?  What is it you need Him to do for you?  If He does it, are you willing to give God praise, and live for Him?  If so, you could be made whole today.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”




Where Are Your Accusers

Grace For The Journey


6Aug  The story The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne centers on a woman named Hester Prynne, living in 17th century Boston.  Prynne is forced to live everyday under a cloud of disgrace and shame, after giving birth to an illegitimate child.  The laws of the Puritan society in which she lived required her to wear a scarlet-colored “A” upon all her garments as a constant reminder that she was an adulterous.

The sin of adultery is certainly not a new one, and in John chapter 8, the Scribes and the Pharisees, in an effort to trap Jesus with His words, brought to Him a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.

Those self-righteous religious leaders did not care about this woman, and had no real concern for what would happen to her.  To them she was only a pawn; a weapon they could use against Jesus of Nazareth.  Little did they know, however, that by bringing this sin-wrecked and shame-ridden woman to Christ, they were actually doing her a favor.

There are three things I want you to notice with me from the story of this woman, and her encounter with Christ.  Notice first of all . . .


We know nothing about this woman and what had led her to this terrible day that is recorded in John chapter eight.  Somewhere in her unrevealed past, she began losing her grip upon everything decent.  We don’t know the circumstances that led her into the arms of a strange man, nor how she was discovered and exposed.  But when we meet her in John 8, she is the humiliated subject after being arrested by the Jewish authorities.

The roads to sin’s ruin may be many, but they all channel into the same dead end. Notice with me a couple of things about the sin that tainted this woman’s life . . .

1) The Seriousness of Her Sin.

John 8:4 says, “They say unto Him, ‘Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.’”  This woman was taken in adultery, “in the very act.”  The first thing we learn from this passage is . . .

The Shame of Her Sin.

In your mind, try to picture this woman as she is pushed in front of this crowd, and her crime is publicly and loudly announced.  Can you see her in your mind?  Her head is down, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment, and her eyes blurred with hot tears of anger and shame.  One moment she had been experiencing the rush of sinful pleasure; the next she was weakened by the nauseous feeling of being exposed.

The Bible reveals that one of the basic side-effects of sin is the sting of shame.  After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, one of their first reactions was that of shame.  The Bible says in Genesis 3:7, And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”  Sin had turned innocence into shame.

There is a second truth we see about this woman in this story. Think with me not only about the sin that tainted her life, but notice also further . . .


As you read on in John 8, you find that public humiliation was not the only problem that this woman faced as a result of her sin.  This woman’s sin was a matter of life and death.  The Scribes and the Pharisees brought this woman to Jesus with a question of what her sentence and punishment should be.  It is important that we understand a couple of things about the sentence that threatened her life . . .

What Was Demanded.

John 8:5, says, “Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what do You say?”  These men were referring to the law of God that was given through Moses in Leviticus.  Leviticus 20:10 declares, “And the man that commits adultery with another man’s wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

While these men’s

Motives were corrupt,

Their claim was correct.

If you will notice, Jesus does not dispute what the Law of God says.

As we look at the sentence that threatened this woman’s life, notice not only what the law demanded, but notice further . . .

What Was Deserved.

It is very easy to view this woman in this story as a sympathetic figure, especially against the backdrop of the arrogant and conniving Jewish religious leaders.  However, you must not forget that she was “caught in the act.”  Before she was publicly humiliated, she was privately sleeping with someone other than her husband.  Nowhere in this text does Jesus indicate that this woman’s sin was “no big deal,” or that it was not worthy of punishment.

Though in the end

He did not condemn her,

He in no way condoned her either.

This woman stood in front of her accusers under the sentence of death.  The law demanded it, and her sin deserved it.  Thankfully, that is not where the story ends.

Notice not only the sin that tainted her life, and the sentence that threatened her life, but notice also lastly . . .


In the text, Jesus dealt wisely with the accusing Scribes and Pharisees.  Verse 7 says, “So when they continued asking Him, he raised Himself up, and said unto them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”  One by one they each realized that they too were in some degree guilty.

Rather than an execution,

There was only an exit.

All the plaintiff’s left, as the Bible says in verse 9, “Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.  And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”

 The accusers walked away,

But the accused remained

In the presence of Jesus.

She could have slipped off as well,

As the last of the men walked away,

But she chose to stay with Jesus.

Notice a couple of things that I believe happened.  Notice first of all:

What She Recognized About Him.

Instead of carrying this adulteress to the authorities to judge her, these religious leaders had brought her to Jesus.  In reality, He had no legal authority to pronounce any sort of judgment on this woman.  Although He was the Judge of the universe, while He was upon the earth, He was a preacher and a teacher, not a civil judge.

Yet, after the Scribes and Pharisees walked away, this woman waited to see what Jesus would do with her.  It was as if she had recognized Him as some sort of authority and she was waiting for His judgment.

Notice carefully how she addressed Jesus in verse 11, “She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  And Jesus said unto her, ‘Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.’”  She called him “Lord.”  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.’

While the convicting power of God

Drove the accusers away,

It drew the woman came closer.

Standing before the one man who had no sin, and could have justifiably thrown that first stone, this woman stood still, “and there by faith, she received her sight”, and . . .

Saw in Jesus someone who could

Do something about

Her sin and her sentence.

In this transforming meeting with the Savior, notice not only what she recognized about Him, but notice also . . .

What She Received From Him.

Verses 10-11 tell us, “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?’  She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’”  This woman had been . . .

Thrust before Jesus as a guilty,

Condemned adulteress.

She walked away from Jesus

Forgiven and freed

From her condemnation.

Jesus gave her two life-changing things – a pardon, and a plan.  Notice, He said to her, “Neither do I condemn you …”  Though He could have justifiably called for her death, and as the sinless Son of God, could have taken her life Himself, Jesus spared her from punishment.

Jesus had already told Nicodemus in John 3:17, “For God did not end His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Now, He not only declares that she can be pardoned, but that He reveals God’s plan that God wanted her to live by.  He said, “…go, and sin no more.”

Jesus offered her

A new life,


A new road.

He gave her

A plan for holiness.

There are some who live their life in the shadows of guilt and shame.  They feel as if the sunshine of God’s love hides itself from them because of the marks of their sin.  For those people, this story in John 8 serves as an encouragement.  Jesus is not interested in condemning you any further.  If you feel the burning shame and guilt of your sin, then He is ready to forgive you if you will just look to Him.  The old accuser may say you are guilty, and you are.  But Jesus knows how to answer the accuser.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Why Do You Worry?

Grace For The Journey


4Aug  In Luke chapter 12, beginning in verse 22, Jesus warns us against worrying about the necessities of life.  He says, “Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat; neither for the body, what you shall put on.”  In order to curb our worries about these day-to-day essentials, like food and clothing, the Lord points us to the ravens and the lilies.  In verse 24, He says, “Consider the ravens…”  Then in verse 27, He says, “Consider the lilies…”   Through this simple yet powerful lesson, the Lord Jesus shows us what the birds and blossoms have to do with our cupboards and closets.

As we study this passage, there are three things our Lord gives us. First of all, notice with me:


Verse 22 says, “And He said unto His disciples, ‘Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat; neither for the body, what you shall put on.’” 

In verse 22, the Lord mentions two of the most simple and basic needs of human life.

While the Lord addresses the simple needs of food and clothes, the point of this text is something much more significant than dinner and dress.  The Lord is dealing with issue of worry.

The primary principle behind this passage is that . . .

We should not worry about the

Necessities and requirements of life.

Notice a couple of things about this principle our Lord gives us.  First, He says to us:

Don’t Be Disturbed About The Supply Of Life’s Needs.

The word “thought” is an interesting choice that the Lord uses.

It speaks of being divided or distracted.

Jesus is not saying that

We should never think about

Necessities like food and clothes.

What He is saying is that

These sorts of needs should not

Worry us to the point of distracting us

Or dividing or tearing us apart.

Most of us know the feeling of staring at a stack of bills and not having a stack of money to match it.  Most of us can relate to the strain that can often come, even from life’s most basic demands.  In those moments, when our supply doesn’t meet the demand, the Lord says that we should not let that deficit tear us apart.  We should not be disturbed about the question of how our needs are going to be supplied.

Notice something else we draw from this principle our Lord gives us in this text.  He not only tells us, don’t be disturbed about the supply of life’s needs, but also . . .

Don’t Be Deceived About The Significance Of Life’s Needs.

Verse 23 says, “The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.”  In other words . . .

A man’s life is not defined

By what he eats

And what he wears.

You cannot judge

The character and quality

Of a man’s life by looking

In his cupboard and his closet.

Even though we live in a materialistic society, where wealth and success are often glorified, surely you understand the point Jesus is making.  Just because a man eats in the finest restaurants, and wears the most expensive, designer clothes, that does not mean that his life is good, or that his life is more valuable than that of the man who eats Hamburger Helper, and wears clothes from Wal-Mart.

The principle our lord sets forth in this text is absolutely correct, because . . .

It is possible for a man

To have a full stomach,


Still have an empty heart.

You can put a thousand dollar suit on a dead man, and he will still be dead.

Notice not only the principle our Lord gives us, but notice also secondly:


As Jesus walked the ancient roads of Palestine . . .

He saw more than mountains and

Meadows, creeks and creatures.

He saw in nature object

Lessons about His Father.

To Him, all creation

Pointed to the Creator.

In our text, twice our Lord points us to spiritual pictures that are to be found in the most common points of nature.  In verse 24, Jesus said, “Consider the ravens…” Then in verse 27, He said, “Consider the lilies…”  The word “consider” literally means “to contemplate something, or to study and observe something in order to learn from it.”

Jesus uses the picture of birds and blossoms

In order teach us a lesson about God’s care.

Notice a couple of truths we draw from these pictures. Notice first of all . . .

God’s Care For The Birds.

In verse 24 Jesus says, “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them: how much more are you better than the fowls?”  The Lord says, “Observe the birds. They don’t plant crops.  They don’t harvest wheat or corn.  They don’t have granaries and silos full of food, and yet your heavenly Father sees to it that they find the sustenance they need to live.”  You will never hear a bird sing about is a grocery bill.  Birds never chirp about where they are going to find worms and insects.

The Lord points us to God’s care for the birds

In order to encourage us about His care for us.

If He is big enough to feed all the birds,

Then He is certainly able

To supply our most basic needs.

Notice not only that the Lord gives us a picture of God’s care for the birds, but notice also further, He points us to:

God’s Care For The Blossoms.

Verse 27 states, “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”  No doubt, as the Lord taught His disciples that day, He pointed down to some of the many wildflowers that grew throughout that region.

There were several different types of lilies that grew throughout the year in Palestine, and they varied in color from white, to gold, to red.  Someone has described them as being “indescribably lovely.”  Jesus pointed to these flowers and said, “Look at these plants, wearing these beautiful, colorful petals.  They didn’t spin and sew these garments.  They didn’t work to create their own clothes.  Yet, your heavenly Father has outfitted them with robes more glorious than King Solomon’s finest royal attire.”

The point the Lord was making was

That if God takes the initiative to clothe

The flowers of the field,

Why should you and I worry about

Having something to put on our bodies.

Notice a final thing our Lord gives us in this text.  Notice not only the principle our Lord gives us, and the picture our Lord gives us, but notice also thirdly:


In this text, our Lord asks two rhetorical questions that point us to the promise that comes with our relationship to God.  In verse 24 He asks, “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them: how much more are you better than the fowls?”  In verse 28 He asks, “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?”

When a person receives Christ, and is saved by grace, they are adopted into the family of God.  The God of Heaven becomes their Father, and with that relationship, there comes certain promises.

The Lord Jesus reminds us of a couple of truths regarding God’s promise to us.  Notice first of all that . . .

We Are Important To Our Father.

After Jesus described how God feeds the birds, He asked this question, “…how much more are you better than the fowls?”  The implication is that while God does care about the birds, and so much so that He sees to it that they are fed, His care for us is even greater than that of the birds.

We often talk about the importance of God in our lives.

Have you ever considered your importance to God?

Have you ever thought about how much you mean to Him?

Do you want to know how important you are to your Father?

Look at the cross!  There God’s surpassing love for man

Was demonstrated as He gave up His own Son.

In this passage, the Lord reminds us of God’s love for us, and promises us that we are important to Him.  Notice also, the Lord promises us that . . .

We Are Insured By Our Father.

Verse 28 says, “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Look again at verse 28, and notice the truth our Lord lays out.  He says, “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?”

The point is that . . .

If God will care for the flowers,

Then surely, as our Father,

He will care for us as well.

We are insured by the fact

That we belong to the Father.

Why should you worry about necessities of this life?  Why should be anxious over the things you must have in order to make it?  If you belong to God, then your Heavenly Father has promised to take care of you.  You are guaranteed and insured by your relationship to God.

Jennifer Katherine Gates is a twelve year-old girl currently living in Medina, Washington. Jennifer is not your typical little girl, however, because her dad happens to be Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, and a man who was estimated at one time to be worth over $100 billion.  Can you ever imagine young Jennifer worrying over her lunch money, or how she would get a new dress?

Do you realize that it is just as ridiculous for a Christian to worry about the necessities of life?  Our heavenly Father is richer than Bill Gates could ever imagine.  The Lord reminds us that our relationship to God insures that we will never be without the things we need.  Our Father will care for us!

The issue the Lord is tackling in this text is the sin of worry.  Someone once said . . .

“Worry is not a trivial sin,

 Because it strikes a blow at both

 God’s love and at God’s integrity.

 Worry declares our heavenly Father

 To be untrustworthy in

 His Word and His promises.”

The Lord points us to the birds and blossoms in order to comfort us about our cupboards and closets.  We can trust in the provision of a good God.  Those that know Christ, and have been born again into the family of God need not worry about life’s demands.  The Father knows you have need of these things, and He promises to provide.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Why Do We Seek Jesus?

Grace For The Journey

3Aug  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 797,500 children were reported missing in a single year.  Some 200,000 of those were abducted by someone within their family. 58,000 of them were abducted by someone outside of their family.

In our text today, in Luke 2:49, the Jesus raised the question we will look at today, “Why did you seek Me?  Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”  As we look at Luke chapter two today, we find a story involving a missing child.  The child in question was not just any child, however. This missing child was none other than the young child Jesus.

As you read this interesting story, you realize that even though Mary and Joseph could not find Him, the Lord Jesus wasn’t really lost at all.  He was safe and secure in His Father’s house.  This particular passage is one of the most intriguing and important texts in the New Testament.  It is significant for a couple of reasons.

  • In this text, we have the first recorded words from the mouth of the Lord Jesus.
  • This story gives us our only glimpse into the life of our Lord prior to the beginning of His ministry at 30 years of age.

The story itself has in it some wonderful lessons for those, who like Mary and Joseph find the Lord Jesus missing from their lives.  There are times when we assume we are near the Lord, only to find that we have left Him at some point in our journey.

As we examine this story, there are three truths we draw from it that help us to find Him when we find Him missing.  First of all, there is a truth here that deals with the issue of:


I read a story once about a couple that were standing in line at the airport getting ready to fly out on vacation, when the husband said, “I wish I had brought the piano.” The wife said, “The piano? Why do we need the piano?” The husband said, “We don’t. But our tickets are on the piano.”  As we go through life, there are times that we set out on our path and forget the most important thing.  That was certainly the case with Mary and Joseph in Luke 2.  The whole family had visited the great city of Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Luke tells us in verse 43, “When they had finished the days, as they returned; the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem.  And Joseph and His mother did not know it.”

Joseph and Mary left without their son.  In so doing, they remind us of those who venture out in life without the presence of the Lord going with them.  Notice a couple of things we learn from Mary and Joseph about leaving without the Lord Jesus . . .

Their Supposition.

Verse 44 says, “But supposing Him to have been in the company . . .”  It is likely that the family had traveled in a large caravan of people from Nazareth, and Mary and Joseph just assumed that their Son was somewhere with the group.

Mary and Joseph remind us of the danger of supposition and assumption when it comes to the Christian life.  It is dangerous to assume and suppose things about the Lord Jesus.

The Christian life is not lived

Based upon suppositions,

But rather upon convictions.

We live for the Lord,

And walk with Him

Based upon what

We know to be true;

Not what we assume.

There are many that assume and suppose that because they attend church regularly, the Lord is therefore with them.  Others assume and suppose that because their morality is a step above their neighbor’s, it is somehow an evidence of a right relationship with God.  Don’t just suppose He is in the company of your home, simply because you call yourself a Christian.  You can attend church, and still raise a pagan family.  Don’t assume Christ is present and active in your life.

Notice something else we draw from Mary and Joseph, and their leaving without the Lord Jesus. Notice not only their supposition, but notice also further:

Their Separation.

Because Mary and Joseph did not make sure their Son was with them, they traveled an entire day’s journey, separated from the presence of the Lord.  There is a very interesting principle illustrated in this scene. What we have here is . . .

A picture of the difference


Relationship and fellowship.

Though they were separated by distance, Jesus was still Mary’s Son.  The relationship was intact.  However, she could not speak to Him.  She could not hear His voice.  She could not touch Him.  Was there a relationship?  Yes.  Was there fellowship?  No.

In much the same way, we as believers can set out in the journey of life, assuming the Lord Jesus is with us, only to find out that somewhere we have left Him.  He is still our Savior.  We are still Christians.  The relationship has not changed.  However, we cannot communicate with Him as we once did.  We do not hear His voice or sense His touch as we had when we were close to Him.

Was there a time when you walked with the Lord every day?  You read His Word and talked with Him in prayer.  Now, it has been weeks, months, or even years since you were truly close to Him.  There is a separation.  You have a relationship with Christ; but no fellowship.

I don’t think that most Christians intend to leave without the Lord Jesus.  However, like Mary and Joseph, through negligence and supposition they find themselves separated from Him, and though they still have a relationship with Him, they are far from having fellowship with Him.

Notice another truth we see in this story.  There is not only something here dealing with the issue of leaving without the Lord Jesus, but we find also secondly, something about . . .


The later part of verse 44 says, “… they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances.”  Mary and Joseph still assumed Jesus was somewhere in the group, but when they hadn’t seen or heard from him in a while, they began to look for Him.

Perhaps like Mary and Joseph, you have been traveling along in life, assuming everything is alright between you and the Lord, but right now you realize that you haven’t heard His voice in a while.  You haven’t sensed His presence for some time. Perhaps, like Mary and Joseph, you are beginning to wonder where He is.

From this passage, we learn that looking for the Lord Jesus involves a couple of things. First of all . . .

It Involves a Review.

Mary and Joseph had assumed that their Son was somewhere in the group with which they were traveling.  When they begin to wonder about Him, they immediately checked among their fellow travelers to find out if what they had assumed was true.

May I say to you, if it has been a while since you felt the presence of the Lord in your life, perhaps like Mary and Joseph, you need to review your situation, and see if everything is right with your Lord.  There is wisdom in frequently and honestly evaluating the condition of your spiritual life.  Taking account of your spiritual condition and the health of your relationship to the Lord is critical.

You may assume and suppose that you are where you need to be in your relationship with Christ, but like Mary and Joseph, as you begin to look for Him, you may find that you are farther away than you had ever imagined.

Notice something else we find here about looking for the Lord.  Not only does looking for Jesus involve a review, but also . . .

It Involves a Return.

Verse 45 states, “So when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.”  What sad words!  They searched for Him, but He was not where they had supposed him to be.

What do you do when you can’t find Jesus  in your life?  What do you do when you realize that somewhere you have left the Lord Jesus?  The answer is found in that same verse.  The Bible says, “So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.”  There it is.  You will find Him where you left Him; where you lost Him.  He will be in the last place in which you communed with Him and had contact with Him.

When you find Him missing, go back to the last place He spoke to you, and you will likely find Him there.  Recall and return to the place where you last felt His touch, and sensed His presence, and there you will doubtless find Him.  Maybe it was an altar where you made a commitment to Him. Maybe it was the chair in your home where you used to sit down with His Word and commune with Him.  Mary and Joseph had left Him in Jerusalem. When they realized where they had left Him, they returned to that place.

The Bible says in Revelation 2:5, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent”

Notice another truth we draw from this story.  We learn something not only about leaving without the Lord Jesus, and looking for the Lord Jesus, but notice with me also something about . . .


Luke tells us in verse 48 that when Mary and Joseph found the son they had left behind, Mary said to Him, “So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us?  Look Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”  In her panicked state, Mary tried to correct her Son, but instead of teaching Him, she got a lesson herself.  The Lord Jesus looked at her and said, “Why have you been searching for me?  Didn’t you know that I would be involved in the things of my Father?”

In the Lord’s subtle rebuke, we find a couple of lessons for our own lives. First of all, there is a lesson to be found in . . .

Where He Is Discovered.

Verse 46 says, “Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”  If you are looking for the Lord Jesus, where are you more likely to find Him than in the House of God?  You are certainly more likely to find the Lord Jesus in church than you are on the lake, at the ball field, or beside your bed.

I don’t want to over-stress this particular point, but those who are searching for the Lord Jesus, and trying to restore fellowship with Him ought to attend the services where He is worshiped, and therefore is likely to be present.  We live in a day in which church attendance is in rapid decline, and increasingly people put less importance upon being faithful to church.

If you are looking for the Lord Jesus, get your Bible and go to church.  The house of God is always a good place to find the Son of God.  He is more likely to be found among His people than in any other place.

Notice another lesson we learn from the Lord Jesus and His answer to Mary.  We learn something not only from where he was discovered, but we also learn a lesson from . . .

What He Was Doing.

We read in verse 49 that the adolescent Jesus, no less divine than when He hung on the cross, looked at His mother and said, “… Why did you seek Me?  Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”  Obviously, Jesus wasn’t referring to Joseph, and the work of carpentry.  The Lord Jesus was referring to His heavenly Father, and the business of spiritual things.

When they found the Lord Jesus, He was not only in the Temple, but He was involved in the work of His Father.  If you want to get close to the Lord Jesus, and stay in His presence, then spend your life involved in His work.

Those who love the Lord Jesus,

Will love what He loves as well.

To be with Him, is to be about

The business of His Father.

A little girl who lost her doll.  Her dad didn’t care about the doll, but loved the one who did.  We may not love everyone like we should, but we should love them because we love the One who does.  In Psalm 51, David records the heartfelt confession of his sin.  He admits his rebellion and failure, and in verse 12 of that Psalm, David says, “Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation …”  David did not ask that his salvation be restored, but that the “joy” of his salvation be returned.  Mary and Joseph had not lost their role as parents, but for those few moments when they were separated from their son, the joy of being parents was replaced by the agony of finding their only Son missing.

There are times when Christians realize that somewhere, and some point, they have let something come between them and their Lord.  They have left without their Savior, and now as they look for Him in their lives, they find Him missing.  For those souls, Mary and Joseph offer a wonderful example.

Go back to where you left Him.  Return to that place of closeness and communion and you will surely find Him again.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”