December 11 – Jesus is God: Closing Argument

Over the past 15 days in this devotional, we have been reading John’s Gospel, seeing 7 miraculous signs and 7 Messianic sayings that argue that Jesus is God.  At Christmas we celebrate Jesus’ birth – His arrival on the earth as the God/Man.  That first Christmas began a 33 year exhibition, witnessed by thousands of eye witnesses in real time, and recorded for all time by four Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) so that we might know what happened.  John writes His Gospel arranging certain key facts from Jesus’ life to demonstrate that Jesus is really God.  As John 20:31 says, “ … but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”  It DOES take faith for us to believe that Jesus is God (no question) … but it is not a blind leap of faith.  Jesus provides evidence as to His identity, and based on that, invites us to believe in His name.

Jesus didn’t have to do it this way.  He was under no obligation to provide evidence to us of His divinity, but He did.  In His grace, He reaches out to us and invites us to believe in Him.  Of all His signs and sayings, though, there is one piece of evidence that stands above them all.  That is why each of the Gospels ends with this “closing argument” – the definitive evidence of His resurrection.

I was once talking with a non-Christian friend about Jesus.  The topic landed on Jesus’ resurrection.  My friend asked me, “Mark, what makes Jesus’ resurrection so special?  After all, several people have been resurrected.  That does not make THEM God?  Why is Jesus any different?”  Of course my friend was partly right.  There are several biblical accounts of resurrections.  In our study these past two weeks, we looked at the resurrection of Lazarus, but there were others … the widow’s son in Nain (Luke 7) and Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5) to name two.  Even in the Old Testament, there were resurrections’ performed by Elijah and Elisha on the widow’s son in Zarepheth (1 Kings 17) and the Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4).  Additionally there are other resurrections in the book of Acts performed by Peter and Paul (in Acts 9 and 20).  So what DOES make Jesus’ resurrection different?

Well, first of all, it is different because Jesus “called His shot” before it ever happened.  Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus saying that He would be crucified, and then would be raised again on the third day (Matthew 20:19 is a good example of this).  Unlike the other resurrections (that were surprises to those resurrected), Jesus knew what was coming and talked about it often.  This demonstrates something unique about Jesus’ resurrection and speaks to His omniscience – something only God could have.

Second, Jesus’ resurrection is different because it happened without the agency of another person.  Of course, in the case in Nain, and with Jairus’ daughter and with Lazarus, Jesus Himself is the One performing the resurrection.  But in the other cases (both Old and New Testament) God used another to be the conduit for the resurrection (Peter, Paul, Elijah, or Elisha).  In the case of Jesus, God raised Him through the work of the Spirit alone … without human intervention.  This highlights the uniqueness of this event, and draws our attention to the omnipotent power of God.

Third, Jesus’ resurrection is different because (once raised), Jesus walked about in a glorified body, and never died again.  The others that were resurrected (Lazarus, etc.) came back in a healed version of their same old body, that would continue to age and deteriorate until one day they would die again.  To say it another way, Lazarus was raised to new life in John 11, but he later had a second funeral, as he died of another cause some years later.  Jesus (on the other hand) rose to a gloried body, and ascended to heaven, never to die again!  So the KIND of resurrection experienced by Jesus is of a different quality, and reveals His identity as the First Born from the dead!

So, we have seen that Jesus is God, and have surveyed how the Apostle John details to us His divinity through miraculous signs and Messianic sayings … culminating in His resurrection from the dead.  John records these for us SO THAT we might believe in Him SO THAT we might have life in His name.  How about you?  In light of the evidence, do you believe?

Over the next two weeks, we will look at the events surrounding Jesus’ birth to see what we can learn when God came to be with us – Immanuel.


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

December 10 – Jesus is God: Saying #7

We live in a neighborhood with lots of trees.  In part, it was those trees that helped to attract us to our house.  This towering canopy of sycamores, oaks, elms, and maples keeps our back yards shaded, and our streets lined with beauty.  Over the years of living in this house, however, I have come to learn a few things about trees.

First of all, I have learned that tree branches that fail to stay connected to the trunk of the tree become a real hassle.  This never became more real than in December 2007 when an ice storm dumped a half inch of ice all over every tree branch in the neighborhood.  At first the ice was pretty; then we realized it became very destructive.  Under the heavy weight of the ice, branches all over our yard and neighborhood began snapping off and crashing to the ground.  The damage was so bad that CNN, The Weather Channel, and NBC nightly news all broadcast about the damage within a short walk from my house.  After the temperatures warmed and the ice melted, my neighbors and I began surveying the damage.  We lost thousands of pounds of branches.  Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I would drag all these branches to the curb for the city to pick up.  My neighbors would do the same.  Eventually, our entire neighborhood looked like it had a log cabin hedge lining every street.  The beauty of the branches that once hung green above the streets below now lay in lifeless, brown piles awaiting destruction in the fires of the city collection areas.  

Second of all, I have learned that trees require care if they are to remain vibrant.  Left to themselves, trees will actually overproduce branches.  We once had an apple tree.  That apple tree would produce thousands of grape sized apples if I let it.  Over time, however, I found that by trimming several branches off the tree, the tree would actually produce bigger, tastier apples.  Without the strain of those extra branches, the tree could produce better fruit.  This made pruning a priority for me, because the reason you have an apple tree is to produce apples!

These two truths that I have learned about trees are echoed in John 15:1-17 when Jesus compares His relationship with His followers with the relationship between a tree trunk (the vine) and its branches.  This parallel is true in at least a couple of ways.

First, Christians who fail to remain connected to Christ in their daily lives cease to be beautiful.  Now, I am not talking about physical beauty, but spiritual beauty.  When Christians live their lives dependent upon Christ and allowing Jesus to produce His fruit in and through them, their lives are beautiful and attractive.  People want to be around them, and they reflect God’s glory.  However, when these same Christians decide to do their own thing, rely on their own strength, and detach themselves from Christ, they quickly dry up and wither.  Their lives may have once had a spiritual vitality or beauty to them, but now they lay lifeless by the roadside of life.   As Jesus says in John 15:6, “If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers.”

Second, it can be noted that God’s purpose for Christians is to produce His fruit in our lives.  In John 15:8, Jesus tells us “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.”  In order to have a life that produces Christ’s fruit, however, we must remain dependent upon Christ AND allow the Father to prune us for maximum growth.  In Jesus’ metaphor, God the Father is the gardener who comes into our lives and cuts away “extra” things so that what is left might sustain more of the fruit He desires that we produce.  John 15:2 says, “He (the Father) cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”  This can be a scary thought to think of God pruning our lives of the “extra branches,” but it need not be.  God is always good and always right, so the things that He cuts away are things that we never needed in the first place and that were getting in the way of what we really want … to glorify God with our lives.  Pruning is a priority for the Father because the purpose of Christians is to produce Christ’s fruit!

As you have read and reflected on this passage, I want you to examine your own spiritual life for a moment.  How are things going?  Is your spiritual life alive or dead?  Are you producing Christ’s fruit, or are extra things getting in the way?  This passage reminds us that spiritual vitality comes from abiding in Christ as a branch remains in its vine.  The key to spiritual life and growth comes from living a life of dependence upon the Savior.  Further, if you find your spiritual life producing some fruit, but not “much fruit,” then think for a moment about what is in your life that might be an “extra branch” that the Father might need to prune off to allow for more growth.  Maybe your extra branches are relationships that pull you away from Him, addictions, time wasters, etc.  Whatever they are, invite the Gardener to examine your life and see if He might want to clip a branch here or there to encourage future growth.

All Christians are a collection of branches attached to one tree.  When we stay attached to Him, it becomes a beautiful sight for all to see.

Jesus’ statement “I am the vine” is the seventh revelatory statement John mentions to argue that Jesus is God.


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

December 9 – Jesus is God: Saying #6

At the top of a waterfall, high above beautiful Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Canada, sits a most peculiar tea house.  This tea house is a beautiful site:  a log cabin equipped with a wood burning stove to heat hot tea for weary hikers.  The cabin was built atop this waterfall by the Canadian Pacific Railway many years ago as a diversion for passengers to enjoy while the train was stopped in this mountain villa.  

Back in the summer of 2000, my sister-in-law, her husband, and I decided to hike the 2,000 foot ascent to get to this tea house while on vacation in the Banff area. Before we began our hike, we asked someone in the Chateau at the Lake’s edge how to get to this tea house.  They told us that you had to take the “horse trail” to the top.  This was because heavy snow still covered the ground on the high country trail and made any other route impassable to the tea house’s locale.  Upon receiving these instructions, we were faced with two options:  1. We could take their expert advice, ascend the horse trail, and enjoy the benefits of the tea house experience.  2.  We could assume that the instructions we received were an exaggeration, and we could try to find our own way to the top.

While those two options do exist, only one of the two of those options is really a valid or wise choice.  We had never been to Lake Louise before, but the people we got the advice from were employees of the park and were paid good money to help people like us get to the top of that tea house trail.  Therefore, we took their advice and hiked the “horse trail” to get to the top. 

After having our tea in those beautiful surroundings, I decided to test the advice we had been given.  Instead of heading down the horse trail like my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, I decided to blaze my own trail and follow a different path back down the mountain.  About ten minutes into my journey, I realized what a mistake that was.  I soon lost the “path” and found myself waist deep in powdery snow, trying to find a way to retreat back to the tea house and gallop back down the “horse trail.”  Some might have thought the advice we received was closed-minded and narrow, but in reality, it was just plain fact.  If we wanted to go up or down the mountain, there was really only one trail to take.

I was thinking of this story as I read John 14.  In John 14, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to heaven to prepare a place for them . . . a place He would one day come back and take them to.  After Jesus told them of this place, He also told them of the only way they could make it to heaven:  through Him.  He said in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”    In a sense, Jesus says that at the pinnacle of life is a beautiful place prepared for you.  However, in order to get to that place, there is only one trail you can take:  through Him.

Now Jesus’ exclusive claim on the way to God may sound narrow or closed-minded to our 21st century ears, but in reality, it is just plain fact.  If there were other ways, He (who knows all) would have told us about them.  However, Jesus knew that there is only one way to God, and that all other efforts to reach Him will only leave us “waist deep in snow” and helpless on the hillside of life.  The only way to a holy God is by means of someone who can make us clean and acceptable in His sight.  Since we are all sinful people, we all need cleansing, and the kind of cleansing we need can only be provided by Christ Himself.  The paths of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Secularism sound promising, but do not lead you up the mountain of God.  Only by faith in Jesus Christ can we make it to paradise.

Faced with these instructions, we are faced with two options:  1. We could take Jesus’ expert advice, place our eternity into His capable nail-scarred hands, and enjoy the unspeakable joy of an eternity in “the Father’s House.”  2.  We could assume that Jesus’ instructions are an exaggeration, and try to find our own way to the top.  While both of these options exist, only one of them is really a valid or wise choice.  There is only one path that leads to the top.  As we follow Christ, He will always keep us on the right trail.

Jesus’ statement “I am the way, the truth, and the life” is the sixth revelatory statement John mentions arguing that Jesus is God.


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.


December 8 – Jesus is God: Saying #5

As we lined up along the free throw line, we were one miss, three seconds, and ninety feet away from victory.  We were trailing our opponent by two points in the 12th Street Recreational Center Fall Church League Tournament, and one of their players was on the free throw line with a chance to clinch the game with a pair of free throws.  If he missed, we would have a chance to take the ball the length of the court for a last second desperation heave for victory.  I wanted the chance to take that heave. So, when his free throw fell short, I grabbed the ball, turned and began sprinting towards our goal.  And that is when I fell down.

Now, I don’t know how many times I have played in my mind or practiced in my driveway this very scenario (three seconds left, down two, with a chance to make the shot and win the game), but never in my fantasies has the play ever ended with me falling to the ground!  But in real life, that is exactly what happened.  I wanted to take the shot, but I ended up feeling as though I had been shot instead— a loud pop preceded intense pain as I ruptured my right Achilles tendon.  Oh yeah … and we lost the game.

The next day, I went to see an orthopedic surgeon who told me that he could stitch my leg back together and make me “just like new.”  Sure enough, one week later I had surgery, but I soon found out that becoming “just like new” was not as simple as just having surgery.  After surgery, my leg was casted, immobile and sore—it took six months of physical therapy and hard work to get the “just like new” leg I was waiting for.  The surgery brought the possibility of life and mobility back to my leg, but actual life and function would not return to my leg for quite some time.

In John 11, Jesus received word that his friend Lazarus was very ill and in need of help.  After waiting two days before beginning the journey to Lazarus’ side, Jesus arrived at Bethany (Lazarus’ hometown) to find that Lazarus had already died and had been in the tomb for four days.  

When Jesus arrived, He talked with Lazarus’ sister Martha.  Jesus said to Martha in 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”  Jesus told Martha this (and John recorded it for us) so that when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, everyone might see the larger significance of this mighty miracle.  More than just returning life to one dead man, Jesus was offering resurrection AND life to all who would believe in His name.

After making this declaration, Jesus moved to the tomb where He ordered the stone to be rolled back, opening the door for the dead man (Lazarus) to come forth.  With a loud cry, Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”—and out walked Lazarus, still bound in the clothes that they had used to bury him.  Jesus then ordered people to cut the grave clothes off of his body, freeing Lazarus to live life.  John 12:2 records for us that Lazarus’ health did return immediately, and he was seen at a feast with Christ just a short time later.

When Jesus said that He was both the resurrection and the life, He was implying something very significant.  Sometimes we may think that Jesus’ salvation is like surgery.  He, our heavenly Surgeon, goes in and creates the potential for life by stitching up our wounds and extracting sin’s ultimate consequence from our lives.  Though we understand Christ’s role as Surgeon, we often think of our spiritual lives as physical therapy … a lengthy process where we ourselves have to work very hard to restore life to an otherwise dysfunctional situation.  When we hear that Jesus is the resurrection, we sometimes think that as Christians we are like the “living dead,” saved from our sin eternally, but fully bound by its restrictive grave clothes in the present.  If this is your attitude, remember that Jesus says that He is both the resurrection AND the life.  He not only restores the potential for life, but He also provides the life itself—immediately.  Like Lazarus who was not just given breath, but was cut free from his grave clothes, so Jesus offers us not just eternal hope for tomorrow, but every help for today!

Therefore if you know Christ, remember that He has done more than just raise you from the consequences of your sin; He has offered you the abundant life here and now with Him.  Remember that He has cut off the grave clothes of your sin and invited you to a feast, living in obedience with Him today.

Jesus’ statement “I am the resurrection and the life” is the fifth revelatory statement John mentions arguing that Jesus is God.


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

December 7 – Jesus is God: Sign #7

There is a string of internet memes flowing across social media today with a common tag line, “show me you are ________ without saying that you are ___________.”  For example, show me a picture that you were a fan of the Oklahoma Sooners football team in the 1980’s without just saying you were a fan during that era … then posting a picture of you with a “Boz” haircut.  

This standard meme can be applied in any number of situations, so let’s apply it to people who lived at the time of Jesus.  One question you might ask first century friends of Jesus is this, “Show me you believe Jesus is God without just telling me that Jesus is God.”  If you were to ask this of Martha (sister of Lazarus and Mary), she might reply with the picture of John 11:17-27 … with an emphasis on John 11:21 and 11:25-27.  

In these verses, Lazarus (Martha’s brother) had died, and she is mourning his loss.  While Lazarus was still sick, Martha (and her sister Mary) had sent for Jesus and asked Him to come and help, yet Jesus delayed, and arrived after Lazarus had already passed.  In John 11:21, Martha says to Jesus, “If you had been here, Lazarus would not have died.”  Now this is a massive statement.  In it, Martha is acknowledging that Jesus had sovereign power over death and illness.  Then, (in John 11:25-27) after Jesus tells her that Lazarus will be raised to new life, Martha says that she knows this will happen “on the last day.”  Jesus responds that He is the One who makes salvation on the “last day” possible, and asks if Martha believes that to be true, and she nods her head in agreement.  So in this meme of a scene, Martha is saying that Jesus is sovereign over illness, death, salvation, and the end of the world.  Who could possibly be that powerful?  Only God Himself.  Martha’s actions indicate that she believes that Jesus is God.

How about you?  Do your actions show that you believe Jesus is God?  Do you turn to Him when things are tough, or do you look to other forms of deliverance?  Who sits in the seat of authority over your understanding of “wrong and right,” is it Jesus and His Word (the Bible) or is it your ideas or the ideas of your friends?  Whose “will” do you obey as the general pattern and direction of your life … your will or His?  

This Christmas, I want you to think about your life.  Daily ask the question … how can I show the world today that I believe Jesus is God?  Martha provides a great example for us to follow, and Jesus shows Himself worthy of her trust.  He will do the same for us.

The raising of Lazarus from the dead is the seventh miraculous sign John references to argue that Jesus is God.


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

December 6 – Jesus is God: Saying #4

OK, let’s talk about Santa Claus.  This big man with a red suit visits your house one night a year, sliding down the chimney with his big bag of gifts.  What if this guy really existed … but what if you did not know about him?  What if Santa Claus was a real guy who really did the entire “Night Before Christmas”  thing, but you had never heard the story?  Now if Santa Claus did exist, and you did not know anything about him, how would you react at midnight on December 24 if you heard a “thud” on your rooftop?  As you would spring to your feet to see what was the matter, you would find a grown man in a red suit packing (or unpacking … from your angle it is tough to say) an overgrown pillow case worth of stuff in your living room!  What would you do?  I know what you would do.  You would either call the cops or grab your shotgun!  But why would anyone do that to good old Saint Nick?

If we were unaware of the existence of Santa Claus, we would not be thinking that ANYONE breaking into our house at midnight was there to bring us stuff.  Living in this fallen world has convinced us that people come to our houses unannounced to take stuff, not give stuff.  This is why we lock our doors, install security systems, and “let the machine get it” when the phone rings at dinner time.  For the most part, this world has shown us that people come to us primarily for their benefit, and not for our own … and so we are skeptical.

With this as a backdrop, I want to remind you all of a true story of someone who comes to us to give rather than to take, and it is found in John 10:9-10.

In John 10:9-10, Jesus says this: “I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  In these verses, Jesus is saying that He has come to us not to take, but to give something wonderful:  “life … to the full.”  If Jesus came to give, why do we have the perspective that what He really wants is to take from us?

Now, you may not have thought about this before, but we really do (sometimes) have the perspective that Jesus comes to take from us, not to give.  We sometimes feel that He came to “take” the fun out of our lives.  Many of the things we think we would want to do and that we are tempted to do are things that exist on the forbidden list in God’s economy.  Don’t have sex outside of marriage.  Don’t get drunk on alcohol and don’t use drugs.  Don’t tear each other down with your words.  Don’t harbor anger towards another.  Sometimes we can think that all these commandments take more than they give.  Our experience in the world has conditioned us to think that anyone coming to us wants to take, not to give, so when we see what Christ is offering, we are waiting for the catch.  

However, as I read John 10, I am struck by this incredible reminder that a thief takes, but Jesus always gives.  In fact, He not only gives, but He gives unbelievable gifts!  Jesus comes to us offering the best life possible.  Being the creator and author of life, He knows what is best for us, and He guides us through the gates of everyday life to the green pastures of abundant living.  All the things we thought He was taking away through commandments are really just directions guiding us to the location of abundant living.  

Therefore, the next time you read the Bible and see commands from Christ, do not imagine that these are the words of someone who has come to take from us.  Do not be unaware of Jesus’ existence or be skeptical of His intentions—He has come for our benefit, to give us the abundant life!

Jesus’ statement “I am the sheep gate” is the fourth revelatory statement John mentions arguing that Jesus is God.


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

December 5 – Jesus is God: Saying #3

Who is the good leader?  The good leader is the one who is working for the good of those who are following their lead.  

Who is the bad leader?  The bad leader is one who is working only for their own personal benefit without regard for the welfare of those they are leading.

This principle is true in parenting, business, church life, and politics.  When leaders truly care for and develop those they are leading for their joy and welfare, they are leading well.  All too often, though, we see leaders who are only in it for themselves … their accolades, ego, compensation, agenda, or perks.

I think part of the reason people are so reluctant to follow leadership today is because we have seen so many leaders who are self-serving.  But good leadership?  Well, who wouldn’t want to follow a leader that is willing to sacrifice for our benefit?

Let me ask you a question … Is Jesus a leader?  Of course He is!  He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  He is the Leader of leaders.  But let me ask you another question.  Is He a good leader?

In John 10:14 Jesus makes the following assertion:  “I am the good shepherd.”  What does He mean when He says this?  He is saying that He is the perfect example of the Good Leader.  So at least Jesus thinks He is a good leader … in fact He believes He is THE BEST leader!

But what makes Jesus so certain that He is the good shepherd/leader?  He continues and provides us the reason why, “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down  His life for the sheep.”  What makes Jesus such an amazing leader is that He is willing to lay down His own life for us.

This idea is further elaborated on in Philippians 2:5-11.  Jesus (as God, the ultimate Leader) left the comfort of Heaven to come to this earth to ultimately lay down His life on the cross, paying the penalty our transgressions deserved, so that we might be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to God.  He is the good leader because He lay down His life for us.

Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was the action of the best leader.  Coming to educate us on who God is by showing us what God is like.  And His birth gave Him a human life that He would one day lay down as a sacrifice for us.  Jesus, the good shepherd, is a leader we can follow in faith and obedience as He is seeking our ultimate good.

Jesus as the good shepherd also shows the pattern and style of leadership He longs for in His followers.  Why would we want to be a bad leader/parent/boss?  Good leaders follow the example of Christ and lay down their lives for those they lead.

So, this Christmas, remember that Jesus (whose birth we remember) is a good leader, unlike so many other “leaders” in our lives.  Therefore, let’s follow Him together to the glory of God.

The statement “I am the good shepherd” is the third revelatory statement John mentions arguing that Jesus is God.


This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

God with us (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, December 4, 2022 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on John 1:1-5, 9-13.  This message was part 2 in the “God with us” sermon series.  Below you will see questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  Additionally, you will find the audio and video for the message to listen to/watch, download or share.

 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us;”   the entire Christmas Devotional here.


Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read John 1:1-5; 9-13
  3. When you tell your “story” where do you start?  What influences when you start telling your story?
  4. In John 1:1-5, there are a number of things mentioned that point to Jesus being God.  What stands out to you most about “where” John begins the biography of Jesus, the Son of God?
  5. Read this quote from Bruce Milne: “If Jesus Christ shares the nature of God, we are called to worship Him without cessation, obey Him without hesitation, love Him without reservation and serve Him without interruption.”   Where are you convicted by this quote?  What are some ways you can change the way you approach Jesus this Christmas season in light of who He is?
  6. Have you received Jesus as your God and Savior?  If so, when?  If not, what is preventing you from receiving and believing in Him today?  
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.


To listen offline, click the link:

God With Us #2 12.4.22


To listen online, use the media player below:


To watch the service, use YouTube online:


December 4 – Jesus is God: Sign #6

When I think of how God worked in my own life to draw me into a relationship with Him, I think of golf balls . . . rocks . . . and car washes.  I am sure you think of the same things.

When I was sixteen years old and pulling away (physically and emotionally) from all things “church,” the new youth pastor at East Cross United Methodist Church began to take a special interest in me.  He pursued me on my terms and in the places where I liked to hang out.  Thus, our very first spiritual conversations were on the golf course.  It was somewhere near the fourth tee at Adams Municipal Golf Course that we began talking about forgiveness, and somewhere near the 18th green where I decided to start going back to youth group to hang out with my new friend, Dwight.  Based on my experience, I am sure the golf course is where God got a hold of you as well.

On Easter Sunday, 1990, in the Fellowship Hall of East Cross, Dwight shared the Gospel with us in a unique way.  He had each person walk through ten stations where a question was asked concerning each of the Ten Commandments.  If you could answer yes to the question (thus indicating guilt), you were supposed to pick up a rock.  By the time I ended my progression through these stations, I had a bag full of rocks—and a sudden realization that I was in need of a Savior.  As Dwight spoke of the forgiveness found in Christ, I laid my “rocks” at the foot of the cross and began a relationship with the Living God.  Based on my experience, I am sure that a bag of rocks is how God showed you your need for a Savior too.

Soon after coming to Christ, Dwight asked me if I wanted to lead the planning of a fund raising car wash to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  I reluctantly agreed to do so.  This was the first time I had ever taken any leadership responsibility as a Christian.  Through this process, I began to realize some of my gifts and my desire to serve Christ with my life.  This small spark that began at the car wash was fanned into flame over the next couple of years until I felt God’s full call on my life into vocational pastoral ministry.  Based on my experience, I am sure that God used a car wash to launch you into a lifetime of serving Him as well.

Golf balls, rocks, and car washes.  These are the things that God used in my life.  No one can deny that.  It is my experience.  However, is it proper for me to imply or expect that because God used these things in my life, He will do the same in yours?  As we search for an answer to that question, let’s look at John 9:6-11 where Jesus came across a man who had been blind since birth, and He decided to show mercy on him.  The story reads, “Having said this, He (Jesus) spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.  ‘Go,’ He told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (this word means Sent).  So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.  His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, ‘Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?’  Some claimed that he was.  Others said, ‘No, he only looks like him.’  But he himself insisted, ‘I am the man.’  ‘How then were your eyes opened?’ they demanded.  He replied, ‘The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes.  He told me to go to Siloam and wash.  So I went and washed and then I could see.’”

In that story, Jesus used spit to restore the man’s eyesight.  Jesus worked in this man’s life using a very common thing coupled with some very common instructions.  As the healed man reflected on the experience of what had just happened to him, he could easily recall the simple steps and commands that led to his healing.  As we read this story, we might be tempted to think that healing blindness is a product of WWJD (what would Jesus do?).  If we simply follow the formula that Jesus did, maybe we could get the same result.  However, there is a serious problem with thinking that way:  Jesus did not heal the same way twice.  

When Jesus healed the royal official’s sick son (John 4:43-54), He did not even go see the boy.  He simply spoke a word and the boy was healed.  When Jesus healed the woman who was hemorrhaging for many years, He allowed her to simply touch the edge of His coat, and her bleeding immediately stopped (Luke 8:40-48).  Even when Jesus healed other people of their blindness, sometimes He would just touch their eyes with His bare hands (Matthew 9:27-31) or He would just have a conversation with someone that led to his healing (Mark 10:46-51).  All these varied stories and encounters should remind all of us that the only consistent thing as it pertains to the “healing method” that is demonstrated in each story is the person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus would work through many simple things to bring about healing.  Words, clothing, spit … all these things Jesus used to bring about healing, but what He used with one person, He often did not use with the next.  The one constant, however, was His presence enacting the miracle upon the person in need.

This is very significant as we consider how God has worked in our lives.  All of us who have experienced God’s love and forgiveness have at least three things that He used in our lives to draw us closer to Him. For me it was golf balls, rocks, and car washes.  For you, it might be Young Life Camp, scrapbooking, and cokes at Sonic.  These are all simple things that God can use in our lives— the saliva and dirt of our contemporary landscape.  However, before we begin to think that our salvation came through rocks, cokes, or saliva, we need to remember that whatever the methods, it is Christ alone who brings us grace.  This should free us up from demanding or expecting that everyone will be impacted just as we were (contrary to my silly implications earlier in this story).  God is a personal God who reaches out to us in many ways.  Remember that the next time your friend does not want to go to the same camp you went to or someone else thinks your “rocks” illustration is cheesy.  The same God who used saliva in one place and the edge of His garment in another can just as easily personalize the way He reaches you and me.

The healing of the blind man was the sixth miraculous sign mentioned by John arguing that Jesus was God.

This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.

December 3 – Jesus is God: Saying #2

When I was a kid, I was terribly afraid of the dark.  Each night, I would hate going to bed because I did not want to be alone in the dark.  As a result, my parents tried several compromises.  For a while, I slept in my sister’s room … being with someone helped ease the fear.  When I wore out my welcome in Debbie’s room, my parents went to “Plan B” which was leaving my lamp on when I went to bed.  After I fell asleep, my Dad would come in (on his way to bed) and turn off my lamp.  At the time, I was very appreciative of these concessions.  Companionship and light allowed me to sleep easy even if I could not see what was causing the shadow from my closet or the monsters that I was certain were hiding under my bed.

What is it about the dark that makes things so scary?  Being afraid of the dark is not just something that small children face.  As adults, every scary movie we have ever seen is set at night.  I have heard that elderly people in nursing homes often become afraid of the dark all over again.  So, what is it about the dark that makes our hearts race faster?

I believe the reason we are afraid of the dark is because in the darkness, all of our world becomes unclear, uncertain, or unknown.  In the light, we can tell that the mysterious figure in the corner of the room is a teddy bear, not a bad guy, but in the dark, we cannot be certain.  In the light, the moving shadows on our floor are branches swaying in the wind, but in the dark, everything just looks more ominous.

Because of our natural fear of the dark, Jesus’ words in John 8:12 offer incredible hope and promise.  Jesus says, “I am the Light of the World.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  Notice what Jesus says there.  The “light of the world” that He represents is the “light of life.”  In other words, the greatest piece of darkness that people are fearful of is the darkness of death.  One day, the lights of this life will come to an end for each of us, and (on our own) the darkness of death is terrifying.  

What will life after death be like?  On our own and without the revelation of God, we have no idea.  Where will I spend eternity?  Is death more of a “period” or a “comma” in the sentence of my life?  Have I lived my life “good enough” to be in a preferred spot, or could my eternity hold the unthinkable as a final destination?  These questions, like shadows on the floor of a child’s darkened room, frighten us and cause us to long for help … companionship or even light itself!

Jesus hears our cries of fear and does something amazing.  He comes to be with us and He lets us know that He is our light.  With Him, our future does not look so dark.  With Him, our journey beyond the door of death is not filled with uncertainty and judgment but is filled with promise and paradise.  Jesus says in 8:23-24, “You are from below; I am from above.  You are of this world; I am not of this world.  I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”  Jesus was saying that eternity is a scary, dark place for those who “go it alone” because their sins will lead to an undesirable future.  However, if we believe that Jesus is who He claims to be (namely the Son of God and our Savior), then our future is much different—and infinitely better!

If the darkness of death frightens you, fear not.  Belief in Jesus Christ turns on the light of life to you for all eternity!

Jesus’ statement that “I am the Light of the World” is the second revelatory statement mentioned by John arguing that Jesus is God.

This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.”  You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.