In the presence of the Son of Man, Satan is driven out.
John 12:20-33 is an interesting passage with a lot going on. The Father speaks from heaven. Jesus predicts the kind of death He would die. Jesus declares that the world will be judged and its ruler, Satan, will be cast out. As believers in Jesus, this supernatural understanding of power and coercion is vital. Jesus’ authority over Satan is what allows for us to experience freedom and extend that o er to others. This victory holds true both in the here and now, and in the future for eternity.
Jesus addresses Satan in a way that shows he is real, but we should fear not for He has overcome and we are not enslaved to evil or sin any longer. 1 Peter 5:8-9 addresses how we are to deal with encounters with Satan, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing rm in your faith.” The way to resist Satan is by standing rm in our faith in a community. Peter uses this predatory language to make us think about how animals respond to lions; they stick together and watch out for one another. This is the type of alertness and attentiveness we should be paying to the evil that is around us seeking to divide and destroy the body of Christ. Isn’t it comforting to know that we have a God and a community that is looking out for us and has our best interests at heart?
Practically speaking, Christ’s authority over Satan means that followers of Jesus are free from the snares of sin and eternal separation from God. While this freedom may not always be immediate, our sancti cation is a process that is to be lived out in community. John 12:20-33 is an interesting passage with a lot going on. The Father speaks from heaven, Jesus predicts the kind of death He would die, and He says the world will be judged and it’s ruler (Satan) will be cast out. As believers in Jesus, this supernatural understanding of power and coercion is vital. Jesus’ authority over Satan is what allows for us to experience freedom and extend that o er to others. This victory holds true both in the here and now, and in the future for eternity.
- How have you seen Christ’s freedom evidenced in your own life?
- What are some areas in which Satan seeks to ensnare you? How are you seeking community to help protect you and hold you accountable?
- How have you been able to encourage someone in their own sancti cation?
- How does Christ’s victory over Satan, sin and the grave impact the way you engage with your family? With your church community? With your neighbors and co-workers?
God of compassion,
you know our faults and yet you promised to forgive. Keep us in your presence and give us your wisdom. Open our hearts to gladness,
call dry bones to dance,
and restore to us the joy of your salvation. Amen.
This week, rid yourself of distractions. Fast from social media to free up space for God to work and give you clarity.
Is there someone you know who you can encourage this week? Write them a note, ask them to meet up and pray with them.
Write out ways in which you feel Satan working against you. Write out a prayer and ask the Lord to ght on your behalf.
Practice Lectio Divina on 1 Peter 5:8-9. Read the passage through. Read it again slowly and meditate on a word that stands out to you. Then read it again and re ect on why that word would stand out to you. Then pray on whatever God reveals to you.
Lectionary readings for this week: Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalm 51:1-12, Hebrews 5:5-10, John 12:20-33.
In his article, “The Fall of Satan and the Victory of Christ,” John Piper writes to encourage us in God’s victory over Satan. Assuredly, he writes “In the end, Satan serves to magnify the power, wisdom, love, grace, mercy, patience and wrath of Jesus Christ.”
In the presence of the Son of Man, Nicodemus questions.
The tales and accounts of Jesus must have made their way back to Nicodemus. He is interested, curious. Maybe he chooses to visit Jesus at night because he was too busy during the day. Perhaps he didn’t want people to see. In the darkness, he makes his way to where Jesus was and says (in my words), “You’re doing miracles and such, so maybe you’re sent by God like you say. Maybe even God is with you.” That is the truth, as far as Nicodemus can see.
Jesus responds, “Yes, and no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and Spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
Nicodemus was born of a pure Jewish lineage. His heritage was, no doubt, part of his importance. How could he be born again? How is this not good enough for God?
Jesus responds, “I’ve told you earthly things and you don’t understand them. How could you ever comprehend heavenly things?” Jesus doesn’t leave the conversation there. He tells Nicodemus of God’s love for the world and the plan for redemption. After doing so, he and the disciples leave.
We meet Nicodemus again in John 7. He hasn’t left the Pharisees; he’s still a powerful gure in their circles. But when Jesus is cruci ed and buried, Nicodemus brings spices and oils to embalm Jesus’ body. It is thought that he spent quite a bit of money to give Jesus a royal burial.
Nicodemus’ story ends in ambiguity. He acknowledges that Jesus is important, maybe even God-adjacent. He knows his teachings, but does he understand? He has seen his works, but does he believe?
I think many of us spend a lot of our life here in the wondering and the ambiguity. We know Jesus is God, but is he our God? How would Nicodemus’ story end if he heard and believed? How would ours?
- Can you relate to Nicodemus? Are there parts of your spiritual life that you keep in the darkness?
- What does it mean to you to be born again? Recount that story to your missional community.
- Jesus could have scolded Nicodemus for not understanding. Instead, he speaks tenderly and shares his plan for redemption. When has God spoken tenderly to you in the face of uncertainty or doubt?
- For Nicodemus, his stature came from his lineage and his job. Where do you find yourself seeking your own importance?
you reach out to us in mercy
even when we rebel against your holy call
and prefer to walk in disobedience
rather than in the way of your divine truth. soften our hearts with the warmth of your love, that we may know your Son alive within us, redeeming us and raising us up into
your eternal presence. Amen.
This week, forsake the things you think give you importance. Maybe that’s your appearance; limit your wardrobe to two out ts. Maybe it’s work; unplug from work when you get home at night.
This week, practice Lectio Divina on John 3:10-21. Read the passage through. Read it again slowly and meditate on a word that stands out to you. Then read it again and re ect on why that word would stand out to you. Then pray on whatever God reveals to you.
Is there some theological question you have? Look into taking a class like Veritas or auditing a class at Oblate School of Theology. Find a practical way to turn your questions into a wondrous faith.
Lectionary readings for this week: Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21.
In this story, Nicodemus has doubts and questions, none of which are uncommon to us. However, in his story, he never moves past that stage.
In his book, The Curious Christian, Barnabas Piper looks at doubt and questions as an opportunity for God to be magni ed in our lives. Subtitled “How Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life,” Barnabas Piper challenges us to move out of our questions and into adoration of a wondrous God.
In the presence of the Son of Man,
the high priest is rebuked.
The word zeal means to have great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. You can always tell what a person loves by how much energy, passion, and focus they give towards something. The opposite is in most cases also true; we can see what truly doesn’t matter to someone by the lack of passion they show. It becomes especially sad when our zeal gets misapplied to the wrong things and we grow numb to this fact. There is nothing more frustrating than spending all your time and energy on the wrong thing!
In John 2, we see Jesus enter the temple and drive out the money changers. He makes a whip and turns over tables. Zeal for the house of his Father consumed him which harkened back to Psalm 69:9. This is an action of Jesus unlike most others of his ministry. The Jews had turned the temple into an open-air market by selling items and animals for use in the temple. It was never meant to be this way. They were taking all their time and energy and putting it toward the wrong thing.
Jesus’ objective that day with the Jews was to bring them back to their calling as a missional people. It was very much an indictment of the Jewish leaders who had allowed this to happen. In a deep sense, this is Jesus calling the priesthood to account for the mismanagement of the worship of God in the temple. Leadership is temporary and we are all accountable.
- What does zeal for God in the church look like today?
- What has God given you to lead and in what ways is He calling you to that leadership?
- Who can you be accountable to in the things God has you stewarding in His kingdom?
- Have you seen your missional community encourage you in your missional calling? Has anyone ever called you out for not living into your missional calling?
Holy One, creator of the stars and seas,
your steadfast love is shown to every living thing: your word calls forth countless worlds and souls; your law revives and refreshes.
Forgive our misuse of your gifts,
that we may be transformed by your wisdom
to manifest for others
the mercy of our cruci ed and risen Lord. Amen
Have you sinned against someone by using your power or position over them? Apologize to them and ask for their forgiveness.
Pray for the health of all the churches that profess the gospel all around the world.
Take some time to fast this week without telling anyone about it. Reclaim your personal time with the Lord as private and intimate.
Is there someone you know who has been hurt by unrighteous behavior in the church? How can you reach out to them and minister to them? How can you apologize to them on behalf of the church?
Lectionary readings for this week: Exodus 20:1-7, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, John 2:13-22
Sometimes, we get ahead of ourselves when we start to do work, even the work of God. Tim Keller writes in his book, Every Good Endeavor, to encourage us to nd ways to connect our work to the work God is already doing in our world.
In the presence of the
Son of Man,
the rich young ruler chooses incorrectly.
The story of the rich young ruler leaves me feeling sad because I know people like him, and if I’m being honest, I have his heart a lot of the time. The wealthy man had it all, yet he wondered how to inherit eternal life. There is something wrong with his approach. He desired to do something to inherit this life eternal, but that isn’t how an inheritance works. An inheritance is given. Receiving that gift requires a humbling of our hearts in order to receive Christ’s gift of eternal salvation.
An encouraging story of the opposite response to this specific call of Christ is that of James Barnett. James was born into a Christian home, graduated from college and started a job making six-figures. Sounds like the dream, right? Not to James; he felt like something was missing.
The turning point for James was a mission trip to Nicaragua where he encountered the world’s “least of these” and shared the gospel with them. When James came back to the States, he felt God call him to sell everything and to care for the poor and needy. So he did. He has devoted his life to caring for those who most people ignore or look down upon.
Just like James, the rich, young ruler had a choice: submit to Christ as Lord and sell everything to follow Him, or to continue his lifestyle. Coming to the conclusion that surrendering would cost him too much, the ruler chose his worldly wealth and comfort over the cruciform lifestyle. While this may seem extreme, this begs the question of us: What would we do in that situation?
- What is God calling you to surrender in order to follow Him?
- Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? Have you determined the cost is too great to follow Jesus wholly, or do you have a surrendered, opened handed posture?
- Is there something getting in the way of following Jesus, loving your neighbor, and proclaiming the truth of who God is? Is there something missing in your life that would enable you to do those things?
- Have you seen any examples of others living sacrificially? How has this impacted your life?
God of all power,
you call us to forsake all else to follow you.
Fill us with a desire to see your kingdom come
that surpasses any promise wealth can make,
that exceeds anything else we idolize,
that your glory might reach the ends of the earth
in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This week, fast one day from sun up to sun down. As you abstain from eating, replace your meals with prayer. Ask God what comforts you place ahead of faithfulness.
Surrender your comforts this week and start up a conversation with someone you never talk to. This could be a co-worker, a neighbor, your barista, the checker at the grocery store. As you talk to them, pray for God’s presence in your conversation.
This week, practice Lectio Divina on Ecclesiastes 3. Read the passage through. Read it again slowly and meditate on a word that stands out to you. Then read it again and reflect on why that word would stand out to you. Then pray on whatever God reveals to you.
Lectionary readings for this week: Genesis 17:1-16, Psalm 22:23-31, Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-38
Following Jesus requires obedience to give up our own comforts to follow Jesus. John Cortines and Gregory Baumer are two Harvard Business School graduates who were experiencing great success and wealth until God told them to give the majority of their money away to those in need. Their book, God and Money, is a practical guide filled with case studies and research that offers an honest look at what the Bible says about generous giving.
- Routinely confess your sin to God (Luke 18:9-14). All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God. However, too few of us have a routine practice of rigorous self-honesty examination. Weekly, even daily, review of our hearts and behaviors, coupled with confession to God, is an essential practice of humility.
- Acknowledge your sin to others (James 3:2, James 5:16). Humility before God is not complete unless there is also humility before man. A true test of our willingness to humble ourselves is willingness to share with others the weaknesses we confess to God. Wisdom, however, dictates that we do so with others that we trust.
- Take wrong patiently (1 Peter 3:8-17). When something is unjust we want to react and rectify it. However, patiently responding to the unjust accusations and actions of others demonstrates our strength of godly character and provides an opportunity to put on humility.
- Actively submit to authority…the good and the bad (1 Peter 2:18). Our culture does not value submission; rather it promotes individualism. How purposely and actively do you work on submission to those whom God has placed as authorities in your life? Doing so is a good way to humble yourself.
- Receive correction and feedback from others graciously (Proverbs 10:17, 12:1). In the Phoenix area, a local East valley pastor was noted for graciously receiving any negative feedback or correction offered. He would simply say “thank you for caring enough to share that with me, I will pray about it and get back to you.” Look for the kernel of truth in what people offer you, even if it comes from a dubious source. Always pray, “Lord, what are you trying to show me through this?”
- Accept a lowly place (Proverbs 25:6,7). If you find yourself wanting to sit at the head table, wanting others to recognize your contribution or become offended when others are honored or chosen, then pride is present. Purpose to support others being recognized, rather than you. Accept and look for the lowly place; it is the place of humility.
- Purposely associate with people of lower state than you (Luke 7:36-39). Jesus was derided by the Pharisees for socializing with the poor and those of lowly state. Our culture is very status conscious and people naturally want to socialize upward. Resist the temptation of being partial to those with status or wealth.
- Choose to serve others (Philippians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 4:5, Matthew 23:11). When we serve others, we are serving God’s purposes in their lives. Doing so reduces our focus on ourselves and builds the Kingdom of God. When serving another costs us nothing, we should question whether it is really servanthood
- Be quick to forgive (Matthew 18: 21-35). Forgiveness is possibly one of the greatest acts of humility we can do. To forgive is to acknowledge a wrong that has been done us and also to further release our right of repayment for the wrong. Forgiveness is denial of self. Forgiveness is not insisting on our way and our justice.
- Cultivate a grateful heart (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The more we develop an attitude of gratitude for the gift of salvation and life He has given us, the more true our perspective of self. A grateful heart is a humble heart.
- Purpose to speak well of others (Ephesians 4:31-32). Saying negative things about others puts them “one down” and us “one up.” Speaking well of others edifies them and builds them up. Make sure, however, that what you say is not intended as flattery.
- Treat pride as a condition that always necessitates embracing the cross (Luke 9:23). It is our nature to be proud and it is God’s nature in us that brings humility. Committing to a lifestyle of daily dying to ourselves and living through Him is the foundation for true humility.
In the presence of the
Son of Man,
John the Baptist humbles himself.
At the close of the American Revolutionary War, King George III said that if George Washington lays down his power as the Commander and General and establishes a real Democracy, “he will be the greatest man in the world.” King George was playing off what he knows to be true, deep in the heart of all men and women, they seek recognition and power.
As we read Mark 1:9-15, we should not pass quickly over the moment where Jesus approaches John the Baptist and asks to be Baptized. John was well established as a prophet, he had many followers, and so his response, kneeling down, is against his flesh and against his need to be in power. John kneels down and humbles himself before the Son of Man.
Submission is an invitation to leadership, and it is a significant theme running throughout the scriptures. We see it in David repenting before God for his sins, in the Prophets willingness to give up their reputation to proclaim God’s word, and of course here in John’s actions. The desire to submit yourself to another is born of humility.
When we resist submission, it is out of stubbornness and pride. The New Testament paints a beautiful picture of a church where each member is submitted to the other under the headship of Christ. The question we ask as a follower of Jesus is not what is my way, or my opinion, but we submit ourselves to the father and discern together, what is His desire?
- How have you seen someone be like John the Baptist, preparing the way for Jesus’ ministry?
- How have you been like the Pharisees, pretending to do the work of God but really commanding attention to yourself?
- What does this passage teach you about God?
- What does it teach you about yourself?
- How can your Missional Community prepare the way for the work and ministry of Jesus?
God of grace and glory,
you call us with your voice of flame
to be your people, faithful and courageous.
As your beloved Son
embraced his mission in the waters of baptism,
inspire us with the fire of your Spirit
to join in his transforming work.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
Spend some time this week praying for God to soften your heart towards his work in your life this Lenten season. Write ways in which you want to grow in your relationship with God during Lent in your journal.
Wake up an hour earlier than you normally do every day this week. Spend that hour praying and meditating on Scripture, preparing the way for the work of Jesus in your day.
Is there a way you could serve the least of these in our church or in our city? How can you invite accountability in as you humble yourself in service to others?
Lectionary readings for this week: Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25:1-10, 1 Peter 3:18-22
Often, we sin against others and against God because of an inability to or an unwillingness to humble ourselves. In his book, Enemies of the Heart, Andy Stanley takes a look at how this destructive force can make its way into our lives and how the gospel of Jesus Christ can free us from it.
The season of Lent finds its roots in the early 2nd-century church. The Lenten season is 40 days in which the church reflects on the life and death of Jesus. The 40 days of Lent reflect the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13).
As the Park Community Church, we are walking through the Lectionary, reflecting on how the world was changed by the presence of Jesus. Jesus healed people, cast out demons and performed miracles. He also pointed out the sin and the idols in people’s lives. He is doing the same even today.
While we walk through this season of Lent, let us be quick to confess our sins and our shortcomings. Let us pray more. Let us read the Word of God more. Let us mourn our brokenness and sinful nature, for which Jesus died on a cross. But let us hold fast to the truth that He has defeated death through his resurrection.
All of Lent points toward Easter Sunday, in which we celebrate Jesus’ victory over death. This Lenten journey is one of sacrifice and sober-mindedness, but it is also one of certainty and joy. We worship a God who is victorious.
As we meditate on the things of God, we practice cruciform living in the context of a church that is family. We forgo our own personal comforts to seek the love and edification of the church. In this guide and its online components, you will find devotionals, prayers, practices, challenges, and supplements for your personal time with the Lord.
We pray this season draws us into a closer walk with the Father. We pray that the Spirit moves to grow us in our passion for God, in compassion for others and in our wisdom in everyday decisions. We pray that we can experience the presence of the Son. We pray that the kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.