God’s Daily Word

John 7:10-13 – Lesson #74

Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to travel from Galilee to Jerusalem and make a grand entry at the start of the Feast of Tabernacles. They encouraged Him (some say sarcastically) to “show Yourself to the world” (John 7:4). But there was a growing number of Jews who “sought to kill Him” (v.1), so Jesus declined the invitation because “My time has not yet come” (v.6).

John 7:10-13
“But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, ‘Where is He?’ And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, ‘He is good’; others said, ‘No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.’ However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.”

The time had not yet come to make a grand entrance into Jerusalem, but Jesus had no intention of ignoring one of the required feasts; “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles” (Deuteronomy 16:16). Jesus perfectly fulfilled all the requirements of the law and also the perfect timing of His Father. Jesus went to the feast in a manner which would not draw attention to Himself.

Recall that when John refers to “the Jews” he usually means the group of Jews who were opposed to Jesus and His ministry. Most people in Jerusalem were Jews, as were His disciples. These contentious Jews assumed He would make His entry in a way that He could be arrested or captured and killed.

The word “complaining” is also translated as grumbling or whispering and denotes low level discussions or arguments. From the beginning Jesus preached a message which called for a decision. His message did not allow for neutral indifference. But though most had formed an opinion, both opinions were wrong. He was neither a deceiver nor simply a good man. Jesus was the Son of God who came to give eternal life.

But as is the case in every generation, the opposition instills fear in those who seek to follow Christ. Those who disagree with Jesus feel He is a threat which must be illuminated, and His followers become a threat by association.

Sadly, we live in an indifferent generation where everything has become acceptable, including a “whatever” religion which keeps Christ on the shelf. But for those who follow Jesus as the only way to eternal life there remains an opposition which causes fear. If they cannot control through physical persecution they pound away through ridicule and rejection. Do we voice our belief or have we become controlled by the fear inducing minority? Let’s become more bold in our allegiance to Christ. Let’s speak openly and without fear about our Savior, the true Son of God.

Have a Great Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries

Intentional Discipleship

In the last two messages, we’ve seen how Barnabas was an encouragement in the lives of Paul and Mark. We considered how Barnabas must have seen the “Christ-potential” in others and discipled them at critical seasons of their life.

Discipleship involves prayer, teaching, compassion, commitment, and the ability to lead by a Godly example; but there is also an element of discipleship which is extremely active and intentional. When Barnabas saw how Paul was being rejected in Jerusalem, he “took him and brought him to the apostles” (Acts 9:27). When he may have been concerned that Paul was discouraged; “Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Paul” (Acts 11:25). And when Mark was facing rejection and almost certain discouragement for future ministry; “Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus” (Acts 15:39).

Each of these events involved much more than a kind word as Barnabas continued on his own path; they involved evaluating the need, and then making the necessary changes in his own path to help meet the need – they involved being intentional.

There was certainly no better example of how to disciple others than Jesus. During His ministry on earth He was an example to all who saw or heard of Him. He taught large groups and ministered to individuals at every opportunity. But with a specific group of twelve, Jesus gave an extra measure of His time and energy to help them grow closer to God and equip them for future ministry.

Luke 6:12-13
“Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also designated apostles.”

We ought to do more than encourage when it’s convenient; more than live a Godly life and hope others will follow. In Jesus, we are given a wonderful example of choosing, through prayer, individuals whom we intentionally lead closer to God. This is clearly His command when Jesus says, “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

I wish I could say it’s easy to “go and make disciples,” but it’s not. Getting schedules and desires to match up seems to get harder all the time, and can often become discouraging. And yet, we must not give up. Jesus showed us the way and commanded us to follow – this is the only true plan for discipleship!

Let’s continue to lead through the example of a devoted and holy life and encourage those in need at every opportunity. But let’s now take the next step and prayerfully identify those who will receive our special attention for an extended period of time. Let’s pour ourself into others and help them grow closer to Jesus through intentional discipleship.

Have a Great Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries

John 6:67-71 – Lesson #72

What a difference a day can make! After witnessing Jesus feed over 5000 people, many wanted to “take Him by force and make Him king” (John 6:15). But the next day when Jesus talked about being the bread from heaven and said, “He who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:58), many who had followed Him across the sea and listened to Him speak “went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). An honest evaluation of Jesus will either lead to a complete embrace or a total rejection.

John 6:67-71
“Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.”

Jesus had watched many who evaluated the cost of following Him decide to walk away. And now He turned to the select group of twelve and asked for a decision – a difficult decision of commitment: Knowing what you now know, do you still want to follow? Of course, Jesus knew the answer! But He often brings us to a place of decision for the wonderful benefit of strengthening our faith.

Peter, as he so often did, spoke up first – and as usual he spoke his mind, “To whom shall we go?” Peter had heard the words of eternal life and concluded Jesus was the One he would follow. Peter’s words reflected what the Psalmist wrote: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You” (Psalm 73:25). Peter did not yet understand the full gospel message, but he had heard the words of Jesus and believed they were the words of truth.

Peter would continue to wrestle with how the words of Jesus should impact his life, and as more of the gospel message was revealed he would continue to grow in his belief. In fact, even after Jesus died on the cross and rose from the tomb Peter was continuing to learn and grow; “For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9). Peter’s journey of faith would last a lifetime, but it had its beginning in the simple belief of Jesus’ word.

No one suspected Judas to be a betrayer. He was a member of the select group and acted like a true disciple – he walked and talked like a disciple – but it was clear he never believed the words of Jesus. It can be a dangerous mistake to assume that those who sit every week in church believe or even understand the gospel message. We must continually encourage and challenge one another to believe and apply all His revealed truth. Let’s never settle for just the appearance of belief. Rather, let’s believe the truth of His word and continue to study and grow in our belief until we know the eternal truth His word reveals.

Have a Great Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries

Be Prepared To Follow

We are often reminded of our need to pray and study God’s Word. These essential disciplines allow us to abide in the presence of God and “hear” when He calls; they are also necessary for strengthening our faith in order to obediently follow where He leads.

God’s Word encourages us that when He calls, He also provides the tools to accomplish our assigned task; “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). We are also comforted that as we respond, we will never be alone; “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). But God’s call also carries responsibility; His call says He has made His choice – He has chosen us to take part in His wonderful plan, and, in faith, we must respond.

After delivering many of God’s messages to the people of Israel – calling them to repent and return to the worship of the One True God – the prophet Jeremiah became impatient with God’s timing: “I would speak with You about Your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?” (Jeremiah 12:1). Jeremiah complained about how long he had to wait for the wicked to be punished. He was following God and calling others to do the same, but the ungodly seemed to continue living the “good” life – sounds like our complaints today. But God’s response wasn’t what Jeremiah was hoping to receive.

Jeremiah 12:5
“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”

God told Jeremiah that the situation in Israel was going to get worse in the coming days; He asked Jeremiah if he was truly ready for the challenge. Jeremiah had been called to be God’s messenger and now was not the time to complain – this was the time to be a soldier and trust with ALL his heart; it was a time to renew his strength, and push toward the assigned goal.

Our Heavenly Father dearly loves us and desires an eternity of intimate fellowship. He is a God of great comfort, but He is also our Commanding Officer who challenges us to prepare for the Spiritual battles ahead. This world often appears corrupt and unjust, but the conditions of today are preparing us to fight in the trenches of tomorrow. We must trust now more than ever that God chose the right person when He gave us our assignments; He has made His call and promised to provide all the necessary tools at the proper time.

Let’s spend more time worshipping at His feet and loving Him with all our heart. Let’s rely on His strength and trust His understanding – let’s draw closer to His side and always be prepared to follow.

Have a Great Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries

Free In The Fire

King Nebuchadnezzar had made a large statue of gold and commanded that everyone must worship the statue whenever they heard the sound of music – they must worship the statue, or face terrible consequences! “Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace” (Daniel 3:6).

Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were determined to live with an uncompromising faith. They believed God’s Word and obeyed His commands: “You shall have no other gods before Me…you shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Exodus 20:3,5). These three young Jewish men took a stand and refused to worship the golden statue. Their devotion to God was greater than their fear of the fire; “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it…But even if He does not, we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

Nebuchadnezzar was furious and followed through on his threat: “He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace” (Daniel 3:19-20). But when Nebuchadnezzar looked inside the furnace, he was amazed by what he saw.

Daniel 3:25
“Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

As they were facing the fire, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego saw no chance of escape, but they placed their complete trust in God – a trust which would not falter even if they were burned. But rather than being burned by the fire, these three men were freed from their binding ropes and walked with “a son of the gods,” who many believe is an Old Testament reference to Jesus Christ! (The KJV renders this verse “…like the Son of God.”) In their time of greatest need, God comforted these young men and set them free.

The fires in our life WILL come. The heat will seem intense, but we must not fear or abandon what we know to be true. Our faith is ALWAYS refined and made stronger by fire; “the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:3). Fire will always teach us to trust more deeply and worship more sincerely. When we really believe this truth, it will become possible to actually rejoice in the face of fire. We can rejoice because we KNOW He is in complete and absolute control of every area of our life – this is true freedom! Let’s walk with a bold faith, knowing our Father is there to comfort and protect us, knowing He will strengthen us and set us free in the fire.

Have a Great Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries

How To Guard His Deposit

In the message “Guard The Good Deposit” we saw the importance of protecting what God places on our heart. He often gives us moments of Divine intimacy as a taste of the life He desires for us – a life of continual passion for God; a life where all our thoughts, words, and deeds become an act of worship.

As these moments fade, we either take definite steps to follow God’s call, or we allow our heart to slowly drift away. The nature of this world is to pull us from what God desires and cause us to forget He has even called. So how do we really “guard” what God has given and truly accept His invitation to draw near?

Deuteronomy 11:17-20
“Fix these words of Mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gate.”

When God called the children of Israel, He knew they would face the same difficulties we face today: “Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them” (Deuteronomy 11:16). He said the values of the world must never distract from our primary duty to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

God told His chosen people that the best way to remain near to Him was to remain near to His Word through disciplined reading, teaching, discussing, and applying. When our lives are completely immersed in His Word, the “enticements” of the world lose their power and no longer pull us from God’s path.

But His desire was never for us to stop with outward disciplines. While they are somewhat useful in themselves, the desired end is always for His Word to be written on our heart and for our thoughts to remain with Him all through our day! Only as He is allowed to truly live through us will our lives become a complete sacrifice of worship.

If this is the life we desire, then we must begin with a disciplined approach to God’s Word. I suggest we set aside a specific time and place each day which we can completely devote to prayer and the quiet study of ALL His Word. He will soon reward us with a more intimate relationship as His Word becomes written on our heart. As we continue to grow, our thoughts will turn more and more to Christ. What began as great effort will soon become as natural as breathing. The world will still try to pull us away, but it will no longer succeed; for we will be walking in His Presence and will have learned how to guard His deposit.

Have a Great Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries

Guard The Good Deposit

In the messages “Covenant of Worship” and “A Broken Covenant” we were encouraged to make a covenant – which we resolve not to break – to worship God with all our heart for the rest of our days. I pray we accept this challenge and make a decision to commit our lives to Him without any reservation.

When God brings us to this point of greater commitment and surrender, we have a wonderful reason to rejoice; but we also have an obligation to protect and nurture what He has planted in our heart. He has called us to draw closer and spend more time in His presence – to join Him in a more intimate and loving relationship – but the enemy is hard at work trying to destroy the change which has begun.

2 Timothy 1:13-14
“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

Every so often on our Christian walk, there comes a time of special closeness with God. This closeness may come as the result of a new understanding of His Word where we see His character like never before. It may come during a solitary time of prayer or while worshiping with many other believers, through a powerful speaker or inspirational writing. Each time this occurs, God is depositing a little truth into our life which says: I am the way, draw nearer and follow Me more.

We know when God calls us in this manner. We know His truth; we know He is lighting the only true way, and we honestly desire to follow. But then we’re back at work with deadlines to meet, people to see, or kids to feed. Soon, the busyness of our everyday “normal” life has consumed our thoughts, and God’s deposit has begun to fade – this should not be!

We must establish disciplines which enable us to hear God’s message and then help us keep His message at the forefront of our thoughts all through the day. These disciplines will vary for different people. Some may need to wake up earlier to have a time which is quiet; others may need to change their work habits or the condition of their work environment. But we all, regardless of our hectic pace, need to simply talk with God more and worship more at His feet. This must become our highest priority.

We cannot allow His gifts to be destroyed or forgotten. We should never allow the frustrations of the past, the pulls of the present or the desires of the future, to steal the gifts entrusted to us today. Let’s make the necessary changes and boldly draw near without hesitation. Let’s praise Him for His gifts, and, “with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us,” guard the good deposit.

Have a Great Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries

John 6:60-66 – Lesson #71

Jesus continued to press the point that He was the only source of life; “whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” (John 6:54). Many had followed Jesus and listened to His teaching. After He fed the 5000, many believed He was the promised King sent to deliver Israel from Roman oppression. They listened to His claim to be greater than Moses and were patient with His numerous references to being bread from Heaven; but this talk about needing to eat His flesh and drink His blood had gone too far!

John 6:60-66
“Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?’ When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, ‘Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.’ From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”

The word disciple is used for those who made an initial commitment to follow Jesus and listen to His teaching, but it does not imply a saving faith. Jesus later defined a true disciple; “If you abide in My word, you are My disciple indeed” (John 8:31). A true disciple is one who continues to follow the words of Jesus – even when His words are hard. Jesus spoke of a deep love and desire for Him and His word much the same as the prophet Jeremiah; “Your words were found, and I ate them” (Jeremiah 15:16). The words which were hard to accept were those that told them to let go and trust something outside of their own effort.

Jesus proclaimed a message of eternal life given to those who truly believe. This was in direct opposition to the Jewish system which had turned the Law into a self-righteous method of working their way to God. Jesus said this method – done in the flesh – counts for nothing. We cannot work our way one step closer to eternal life. We can’t do it on our own! It is the Spirit given by God who draws us near and gives life.

All we can ever accomplish in our flesh is an existence of flesh which will perish; but when we place our trust in Jesus, the Spirit gives birth to eternal life (John 3:6). And notice how Jesus immediately says His words are spirit and life. His word teaches us all truth leading to life. What an awesome gift!

But there will always be those who think His word is too hard and will “walk with Him no more.” If God had not provided a way through faith in Jesus, we NEVER would have worked our way to His side. But God has granted that we should have the words of Christ which are used by the Spirit to draw us near and give us true life. Let’s consume His word and determine to walk with Him ALL of our days.

Have a Great Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries

Continue To Seek

As Jesus was speaking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus, He said, “no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). He then explained being “born again” as a Spiritual birth which occurs when we believe; “whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). EVERYONE who will spend eternity in the Presence of God must be born of the Spirit – it is impossible to be a Child of God without being “born again.”

This Spiritual birth is part of the New Covenant through faith in Jesus and was revealed over 500 years before Christ through the prophet Ezekiel; “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Paul refers to the Spiritual birth as becoming “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), but it is most often referred to simply as being saved; “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

The process of Spiritual birth is relatively easy to explain – God reaches down and transforms our heart by the power of His Spirit. However, the exact events which lead to the Spiritual birth (and when the birth actually occurs) remain somewhat a mystery. On one hand, God’s Word is very simple and clear; “Whoever believes will be saved.” But understanding what it means to really believe can be difficult. We can talk about submission, obedience, sacrifice, love, or the basic faith of a child, but these will always fall short of an adequate definition of belief.

Only God can save; only He is fit to judge; and He alone can look into the innermost part of our heart and determine true belief. All we can do is seek Him with all our heart – and trust He will be found.

Matthew 7:7-8
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Our Salvation was initiated by God when Jesus came to earth and died as a perfect sacrifice for our sin. He chose us for an intimate and eternal relationship when His Holy Spirit began to call us near. And, if we will but answer the call and begin to seek His face, He will be found. In an instant, which He alone determines according to His perfect timing, He will transform our heart and adopt us as His Child.

We may not be able to explain or even fully understand true belief, but if there is any call of God on our heart we CAN ask, seek, and knock. God never hides nor runs away; “He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27). He is waiting for us to reach out and call on His Name. Today, let’s trust He will be found as we give Him all our heart and continue to seek.

Have a Great Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries

A Broken Covenant

In the message “A Covenant of Worship” we were encouraged to make a covenant to love the Lord and worship Him with all our heart. This covenant must be viewed as a pledge or binding agreement which directs all our actions. God gives many examples of covenants in His Word, and no where does He allow for a covenant with half-hearted commitment.

When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He made a covenant with them at Mount Sinai. He promised special blessings if they would set themselves apart and worship Him with all their heart. But the people failed to honor their commitment – they worshiped other gods and disregarded His Commands.

After several hundred years of willful disobedience, God sent the prophet Hosea to remind them of the pledge they once made and to reveal their unfaithfulness.

Hosea 6:6-7
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Like Adam, they have broken the covenant – they were unfaithful to Me.”

Hosea was able to deliver this message with great passion because he understood the pain of unfaithfulness. God had called him to marry a woman who, though she made a covenant of marriage, left him to live as an adulteress with another man. He could literally cry to his Israelite Brothers of the hurt they were causing God with their Spiritual adultery; he fully knew how it felt when the one you love turns away to love another.

The covenant we make with our Heavenly Father must not be taken lightly. He loves us dearly and gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sin. And to those who believe He has given His Spirit, “with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). God is committed to this covenant; and though He forgives us when we fall short, He expects and deserves commitment in return.

When we turn from sin and believe Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, He promises forgiveness – we promise to trust and follow where He leads. He promises a clean heart, we promise our heart will always be His. He promises eternity in His presence, we promise to worship Him with every breath!

Have we truly entered into a covenant relationship with the Living God? And if so, are we being faithful to this covenant? Are we seeking His direction, or are we following our own path and our own desires? We must commit to love, honor, cherish…and follow, until the end of this life brings us fully into His presence. Let’s remain faithful and true to our promises. Let’s renew our commitment to obedience and worship, and refuse to come to the end of this journey with a broken covenant.

Have a Great Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries