ay 24 - Love, The Royal Law | February Devotional in the Gospel of John



John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Everyone knew about the Ten Commandments. Israel’s culture and religion was based on the Law that was delivered by Moses. To the Jew there was nothing greater. 

Here comes Jesus saying, “It's time for something new and better!”  The Ten Commandments was based on the performance of Jews trying to do the “do’s” and avoid doing the “don’ts.” It was a constant frustration dealing with failure and remorse. 

The New Commandment was all about loving one another. Anyone who loves will naturally keep the spirit of the commandments and properly relate to God and people. To His disciples, Jesus made it clear that living through love would best represent Himself. Looking back, we know that Jesus fulfilled the law and made it obsolete. Love made striving to keep the law unnecessary. 

James call this new commandment the Royal Law, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,‘ you do well” (James 2:8) Love is the language of the Kingdom of God.

Reflection Question: What are a couple of examples of living by the "Royal Law?"

Action Item.

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James 2:14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things [do nothing] which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!  20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

   Faith in God produces a change in the heart, one’s life, and one’s lifestyle.
  
   Habit Defined: A settled or regular tendency or practice. Now there are good and bad habits.
   
   Anyone who would boast about believing in God should be reminded that demons believe in God too. However, the devil and demons are not in the habit of obeying and following God.
     
   Faith is not a mysterious force. Faith is habit. Faith is believing and acting on God’s word all the time. Faith speaks and believes. It also provides what is needed.
    
   Saving faith pledges allegiance to God and is not ashamed of him.
John 12:42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
        
   Practices of the Faith Habit:
1 Tim. 6:11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
       
   “Pursue” is a faith-filled word in relation to the things of God.
What are the things that you are pursuing in relation to what God wants you to do? Paul instructed Timothy to pursue “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.
      
   1. Faith looks like a Spirit empowered pursuit of the Grace of God.
  
   2. Walking in faith is full of Grace.
Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.
       
   3. The habit of faith requires focus and excellence
Romans 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.
“Magnify” means “render it excellent”
        
   5. Nothing is impossible with faith, but faith is not possible without the habit of believing and acting on God's Word according to grace.
   
   6. Faith always requires sowing a seed...taking a action.
Your seed is an action, something you do to show faith. Again, “faith without works is dead.”
    
   For salvation, the faith action or seed is confession.
Romans 10:10, For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
     
   7. For believers in Christ, being a doer of the word keeps us authentic and genuine in our witness. Being a doer also keeps us out of self-deception.
   
    James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Day 23 - Do You Have Belief or True Faith? | February Devotional in the Gospel of John




John 12:42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

It is very interesting that many people believed in Jesus, but were too afraid to confess Him. They feared being put out of the synagogue. They also loved the praise of people that they gained from their status. 

Question: Were the rulers who only believed in Jesus saved? Answer: No. 

Believing only is not the means to salvation. This is the same mistake that many people make today. Believing is also called “mental assent,” which is simply accepting a fact in one's mind. Believing only is not faith. James wrote, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19) Satan and the demons believe in God. They also tremble in fear--which is something a lot of people don't do!

James went on to explain that “faith without works [corresponding action] is dead.” (James 2:17) Belief accepts. True faith acts in obedience to God and His word. Saving faith involves the corresponding action of public confession. “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10)

Reflection Question: Have you been operating in belief or genuine faith? What are some examples of faith (belief) without works?

Action Item:

Day 22 - Lose to Find | February Devotional in the Gospel of John



John 12:25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

Jesus said many things that were opposite to culture. In the world, loving yourself, doing for yourself, and putting self over others is the way of the world. Jesus, who came for the specific purpose of giving His life, introduced a new standard. Loving one's life leads to losing it. This does not mean death, it is “losing” one's life in terms of missing something greater. The term "hates his life" has to do with living, not with selfish intent, but to discover higher meaning in life.

As the Psalmist wrote: “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11). Jesus said, “If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” There is honor in following Jesus' example of service.

Reflection Question: What do you need to "lose" in order to find the greater?

Action Item:

Day 21 - Why We Read the Bible | February Devotional in the Gospel of John




John 12:14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written*: 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
(*Zechariah 9:9)

There are many examples in the Gospels where Jesus fulfilled prophecies. One of the unique features of the Living God is that He knows the end from the beginning. He did not orchestrate every single event in history and life, but He laid the foundation to the most important circumstances, such as the coming of Christ.

Many things Jesus did were accomplished with full knowledge of the Scriptures. He often acted specifically on the Old Testament Scriptures such as the passage from Zechariah 9:9 cited above.  Notice that the disciples could make sense of this event only after they reflected on the Scriptures. If they had not read the Scriptures, there would be no way of understanding the event. 

Our Bible reading is not just a religious exercise or passing of time. We are laying foundation in our hearts and minds to understand future purpose and events. It is possible to miss parts of God’s plan and timing because we lack knowledge of the Scriptures at the time when it is needed.

Reflection Question: How has this devotional helped you appreciate the importance of reading Scripture?

Action Item: