Everyone else was doing it

Who never used the excuse that “everyone else was doing it” when you were a kid? It was a pretty simple go-to reason for why you did something your parents explicitly told you not to to. But did it ever work? If you tried it, you may have received “if they all went and jumped off a bridge, would you jump off, too?” as a response. Of course you wouldn’t. You’re smarter than that. Yet you did do something for which your only reason for doing it was because everyone else was.

John warns against following evil influence. The influence he’s talking about has far greater repercussions than getting your bicycle taken away or being grounded from the internet for a week. It’s your eternal soul at stake.

Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.

3 John 1:11 (NLT)

The evil influence John is talking about here is that a man, Diotrephes, is going around telling the church that they don’t need to welcome or care for travelling ministers—a teaching that is completely contrary to the example Jesus set. But we can take this word of advice and apply it to far more than just travelling ministers. It is advice for life.

Influence comes at us from all directions—all day, every day. It’s unavoidable. It comes from Christians as well as unbelievers. It is up to us as individuals to determine how we let it affect us. In this passage, John gives us a pretty simple answer—know God. When we know and love God, good deeds will be the visible byproduct. If we don’t know God, evil deeds will be the byproduct. And we cannot assume that everyone who calls himself a Christian knows God (John’s warning here was against someone in the church).

It’s all so confusing! How am I supposed to know what’s what?

It’s a good thing that God doesn’t expect us to know it all. And it’s a good thing that He does know it all. And it’s an even better thing that He gave us His Holy Spirit to guide us in that regard. The closer we are to God, the more in tune we will be with His Spirit and can allow ourselves to be influenced by Him rather than those around us. And the stronger God’s influence is in our lives, the more of a good influence we will be on those around us.

If you need an influence to follow, Jesus is your prime example. Get to know him. Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it (even Christians), do it because Jesus did it.

Daily Bible reading: Daniel 11-12, 3 John 1

Hail to the King!

The next day, news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A huge crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted,

“Praise God!
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hail to the King of Israel!”

John 12:12-13 (NLT)

All of these people had gathered because they had heard Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. That was great. They heard a great story and got in the moment and publicly praised Jesus. I wonder, though, how many of those same people, several days later, shouted, “Crucify!” Was their praise simply the effects of a mob mentality? Is ours?

When we, as a church, get together on Sundays to praise and worship, God is glorified. We are all encouraged. We get together and great things happen in the presence of God. But how much of that carries over into Monday, Tuesday, and the rest of the week?

God is most certainly interested in our corporate worship. It is an important part of our relationship with Him. But He is also interested in our private devotion—what we do outside of Sunday.

Is our public worship a reflection of our private moments with Him or are we merely going with the flow—affected by the mob, first praising Jesus then accusing him?

Our public worship should not be directed by the crowd around us, but should rather be an extension of our private devotion.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 1-3, John 12:1-19

Attitude

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

John 11:21-22 (NLT)

This is the same Martha who had been whining to Jesus about Mary who would sit at his feet rather than help in the kitchen. She’s come a long way since then and has obviously taken the time not just to work, but to listen to Jesus as well.

“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”

John 11:27 (NLT)

Martha, not Mary, was the first to greet Jesus when he finally arrived after hearing of Lazarus’ illness. Martha had to go get Mary so Jesus could speak with her. Martha, the more practical of the two believed that Jesus could do whatever God wanted him to do in the situation and told Jesus so. Mary, the more emotional of the two almost seemed to blame Jesus for their brother’s death.

When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell down at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

John 11:32 (NLT)

Both women told Jesus the same thing, but with completely different attitudes. There is a time to be like Mary—breaking open a jar of expensive perfume to pour over Jesus’ feet. To sit and listen to the Son of God and drink in all he has to say. And there is a time to be like Martha—more practical. Able to think clearly in times of turmoil and crisis.

Jesus didn’t scorn either woman, but praised them both for their attitudes and faith.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 26-27, John 11:18-46

Shine a light

Have you ever been camping in a place where there are no lights? Have you been so far away from the city that the lights can no longer be seen on the horizon? On nights when the moon is just a sliver and clouds obstruct the stars, it’s dark. Really dark. Just one flashlight can go a long way on a night light that. One light can prevent an entire group of people from stumbling. With every light that’s added, more people can safely traverse an area.

Now imagine your campground away from the city is the world. Christians are the light. If there are no Christians—those who reflect the light of Christ—people are left to stumble. But the more people there are who reflect Jesus, the brighter the path becomes.

Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. As long as it is light, people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. Only at night is there danger of stumbling because there is no light.”

John 11:9-10 (NLT)

Instead of complaining about how dark the world is, why not do something about it? Why not go out there and shine a light for those whom you see stumbling along in the darkness. The more the Church pulls back from the world, not wanting to associate with it, the darker it becomes. The more we get out there into the world, the brighter it will be.

If you’re the one in the dark with a flashlight, you aren’t going to keep it hidden and let your friends trip and fall. Let’s all shine a light and remove the danger of stumbling.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 23-25, John 11:1-17

Without measure

How much of God’s Spirit did He put in you? What limits did He put on your heavenly authority? What can’t you do with the power of His name?

These are all questions we should never be asking.

When Jesus was giving his disciples their last pep talk, he never even approached the topic of what they couldn’t do. But he spent several verses discussing all that they could do.

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick and heal them.

Mark 16:15-18 (NLT)

They will… they will… they will… I don’t see anything there about they won’t.

So if we can do all these things through the name of Jesus, what kind of power is backing that name?

For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God’s Spirit is upon him without measure or limit.

John 3: 34 (NLT)

Without measure or limit. That is the kind of power that backs the name of Jesus.

We Christians need to stop acting as though we got dealt the short end of salvation. God didn’t give us just enough of His Spirit to squeak into Heaven. He hasn’t withheld from us. He’s given us all of His Spirit and it’s time that we started acting like it.

Keeping in mind that we have access to the Spirit without measure or limit, the only question that remains is this: what can God do through you?

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 1-3. John 3:22-36I 

Look!

It’s nice to have people around (if you’re a people person, anyway). It can make you feel important or somehow special to not only have people around, but to have people follow you. Once you get used to having people following you, hanging on your every word, it can be difficult to let that go. But that is exactly what John the Baptist did.

John, Jesus’ cousin, was only a few months older than Jesus. God commissioned him to go ahead of Jesus to proclaim the Messiah, the new King of the Jews, the Son of God. In doing this, John amassed followers—people who believed in his message and allowed John to baptise them in water. These people would follow him around and would help to collect even more followers.

Then Jesus’ time came.

John had a choice to make. He could cling to his followers and continue preparing the way for the Lord or he could do as he did and let go.

The following day, John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and then declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!”

John 1:35-36 (NLT)

John knew that it wasn’t up to him to keep collecting disciples for himself, but rather to make disciples for Christ. He carried no animosity whatsoever toward his cousin and he willinging allowed his followers to go.

Then John’s two disciples turned and followed Jesus.

John 1:37 (NLT)

Just like that. John lost two followers and Jesus gained two.

Our Commission is the same a John’s—prepare the way for the Son of God and point Him out to any who will listen. But then the difficult part comes, when they’ve met Jesus, we need to let them go. I don’t mean to say that we introduce people to Jesus and then walk away, leaving them to struggle in their newfound faith. New believers need to be taught the Word of God. They need to learn how to be followers of Jesus. But once they have an understanding of the new life they have gained, we don’t get to “keep” them. They are no longer our followers, but Jesus’ followers.

Like John, we need to be able to point and say, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” And then we need to allow those people to follow Christ, not us. It can be difficult sometimes when those people choose a direction we may not have chosen for them. John had probably grown close to Andrew and Peter as they followed him. It is quite possible that they were both followers and friends. Yet, when the time came, he did not hold them back, but pointed at Jesus. Look! John had done his work well because, without question, Andrew and Peter stepped away from John and into step with Jesus.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 16-18, John 1:29-51