(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: John Ch. 7 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv.1-10) Chapter 7 referred to the Jewish traditional festival, the Festival of Tabernacles (Booths), which was a seven-day long festival in which people would come to Jerusalem and stay in temporary sheds covered with branches, commemorating the journey of their ancestor in the wilderness and celebrating God’s provision for them in the current harvest. The first 10 verses of this Chapter recorded events that occurred prior to the festival, followed by verses 11 to 36 for what happened halfway through the festival. Lastly, verses 37 to 53 featured what happened on the last day of the festival.
On the eve of the Day of the Tabernacles, note that there was a dialogue between Jesus and his brothers who grew up together with him. However, their perception of Jesus is contradictory, knowing what Jesus has done, but clearly not understanding Jesus’ true identity and purpose. Hence, they suggested to Jesus, in a slightly sarcastic tone, to go to Jerusalem during the holidays so that He could show the world what He could do. It is only that Jesus had no interest in manifesting his reputation, otherwise he would not have emptied himself by taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2:6-7). Jesus was born into the world to glorify the Heavenly Father, to fulfill God’s will and plan. Yet, He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). To redeem us, He died on the cross. In the end, Jesus did not go to Jerusalem with them but went to the festival in secret.
The key issue was that even Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:5). From Jesus’ response, we see that His brothers are friends with the world, which was the enemy of God and hostile to Jesus, because Jesus would “testify about it that its works are evil.” As for us, we not only believe in “what he has done” but also “who he is”. Jesus is God and He has full authority over justice and judgment. He determines what is evil and what is good. If our transgressions were testified and disclosed by Jesus, will it make us fearful and trembled, in sorrows and regrets? Or would we hate Him as much as the world? Today, do you want to be friends with the world, or are you going to be the enemy of God?
(vv.11-36) This passage describes what happened in the middle of the Festival of Tabernacle. The people’ reaction and their comments toward Jesus were really divided. There were those who described Jesus as a good man and others who considered Jesus a man who could lead the people astray. After Jesus had taught people in the Temple courts, some people wanted to arrest him, but there were many others who believed in him. Jesus himself said: “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”
Here Jesus pointed out the importance of following God’s Way. We live in the generation of disbelief and are surrounded by many unbelievers in our daily lives. Some people may despise Jesus and some are indifferent to The Word of God. To strengthen our faith, we shall obey God’s commands step by step. As we obey God’s commands, we will grow our knowledge of God’s Word and deepen our relationship with Jesus. I remembered back in the time when I studied physical chemistry, I learned a lot of theories from my teacher in the class. Once I returned to my laboratory and put things into practice using my equipment, I quickly understood the theories and remembered them. Our daily walk with the Lord is to help us better remember God’s words and is also the moment to carry out God’s Word in our lives. We pray that such opportunities will come to us often in our lives!
(vv.37-53) On the last day of the feast, Jesus cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” According to the account of John, “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
As a result, the crowd was estranged over “whether Jesus was Christ” and the Pharisees were worried about the crowd “deceived” by Jesus. Nicodemus, who had run to see Jesus at night, also tried to wake up the Pharisees who had actually been “deceived” by their own hearts and asked them to act in accordance with justice!
In regards to the Holy Spirit, Jesus said:
- “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. (John 15:26)
- “ Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)
Simply by our faith in Jesus, we might receive the Holy Spirit (John 7:39, Galatians 3:14, Ephesians 1:14). It is because we have recognized our own shortcomings and found that we are “thirsty” and are willing to “go” to Jesus and “believe” in Him. Then, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are cleansed through the work of God, enabling us to live a new life. This is Jesus’ promise to everyone, and it also allows our dehydrated hearts to be nourished and satisfied in the Lord so that we begin to reflect God’s characters and bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)