John 20


I am fascinated with surgery! I’m a hairdresser by trade, but any chance I get to watch a surgery on tv…I am in!! I can’t get enough of seeing the inner workings of our bodies or the repairs needed to help them continue to function. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I like watching Dr Pimple Popper, My Feet Are Killing Me and anything else that contains surgery. I also like to “practice” as much “medicine” as I can. I have removed sutures for people, given shots to friends who’s husbands couldn’t stomach the job, steri-stripped my daughter’s incision back together when it opened after staples were removed and a few other “procedures” that might make some of you queasy to read about so I’ll stop here. When friends or family have a procedure, I am always interested to hear about their experience and what their incision or affected area looks like. If they live far away and I know I won’t get to see them during the healing process I ask them to send pictures. I know I can’t really get my mind around their experience or how they are feeling unless I can see their wound. I want to understand what happened and I don’t feel like I can really grasp what they went through unless I can get my eyes on them and see for myself. In our reading for today, Jesus’ friends struggled to believe what was before them until they were able to see the physical proof they needed to see with their own eyes.

John 20 tells us about Jesus resurrection after his crucifixion. When we talk about and read about the end of Jesus’ life, I feel like we are mostly looking at the events through Jesus’ experience. After he dies, we all know what is coming next because we know who he is. We know he raises from the dead…it’s the best part of the story and we long for that part to come. But we didn’t live the events like Jesus’ family and friends did. For them His death was the end…just like death is the end of life on earth when we lose someone we love. They were devastated, broken, sad beyond belief and probably at great loss because their ministry felt over. When his body went missing, those who loved him could only think that someone had stolen him. They were frantic to find his body and get him back in his proper final resting spot. The horrible circumstances just kept piling on for them!

And then he appeared… first to Mary, then to his friends and then again about a week after the first time to his friends again. Can you put yourself in their shoes? Can you imagine the person you just watched die, sat through funeral services for and buried or placed in a tomb appearing in a room with you without using the door to enter? Do you have the “no way” thoughts, the fear, the skittishness in believing that this is really your friend? I have only had one experience in my life that comes close to this kind unbelievableness. There was a car accident and several students were killed. My uncle is a pastor and the youth pastor he worked with lost his daughter Whitney in that accident. Whitney’s family planned her funeral and my uncle officiated the services while grieving with his close friends. It was devastating for all. About three weeks after her funeral, it was finally soaking in for me that she was actually gone. My dad called me one afternoon and simply said, “Whitney is alive”. I literally had no words. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. I couldn’t grasp the truth until he explained that Whitney’s body had gotten confused at the accident scene with another girl’s. Until “the girl” in the hospital woke from her coma and started to speak, no one knew that it was actually Whitney instead of Laura. In this case, Whitney was never dead, but every time I read the events of Jesus’ resurrection I think of my dad’s voice over the phone telling me “Whitney is alive”.

Jesus’ friends had trouble believing and processing the events they were living through. They needed to see with their eyes and touch with their hands the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side. Those wounds were the proof they needed to make sense of what was happening. They needed to see to believe that their friend and leader was actually killed, buried and now alive. It was too strange and different from what they knew to accept without seeing. God knew they would need to see Jesus. He knew that witnessing Jesus’ death would make it too hard to believe that he was alive without seeing him for themselves.


John 20:29-30 “Jesus told them, You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me. 30-The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.”

Who Do You Blame?

John 19

What has been your reaction to 2020?  Resentment?  Rage?    Do you want revenge?  Those feelings are the result of the anger and chaos that lives inside of us.  When we harbor them, we become something that we don’t want to be.  Victims.  It often sounds like blame.  If you are like me, you’ve blamed problems on the virus, the lock-down, the governor, even the president.  It’s crazy!  We can’t wait until 2021, right?

Do we really know what we are asking for?  Consider this.  What if Jesus made our choices?  Instead of instructing Pilate “you would have no authority over me at all unless it was given to you from above,” he relented to emotion, cowering from the suffering that lay ahead of him?  What if, instead of saying “forgive them, father,” Jesus took our approach and condemned them all to hell?  Honestly?  I don’t even want to imagine it.  In fact, its easier to believe it’s not possible.

Sometimes, I try to justify Jesus’ choices.  “He had it easier,” I think.  I mean, he’s God.  He’s a deity.  Of course, he will make the right choices.  But no. the Truth is, he was human, just like you and me.  He was confronted with temptation and the allures of life.  He could have chosen the easier path devoid of pain and suffering.  Just like me.  But, he didn’t.  How did he prevail?

There is one simple truth about Jesus.  He wasn’t conflicted.  When his plans were disrupted, he doesn’t try to regain control.  He didn’t have to, because he never lost it.  For him, it’s simply a matter of understanding that the way to achieve the goal has changed.  And he will stop at nothing to accomplish it.  Even death on a cross.

Dear God, help us see where our faith is misplaced.  I know that you are moving, right now, amidst the chaos and crisis that are ruling our lives.  Show us where.  Also, give us courage.  Courage to come into your presence and take it out into the world so that everyone can see who you are.

Forgiveness or Revenge?

When was the last time you were hurt by someone?  What is the worst thing that ever happened to you, related to a family or friend situation, and are you over it?

Anger can be a ruthless and debilitating emotion.   Anger can ruin a person’s life if they harbor resentment and bad feelings that persists from a life event.  Anger can ruin their outlook on their daily life and can impact future friendships and relationships. The weight of anger is too heavy for any of us to bare over a long period of time as it can impact generations of families.

John 18 speaks of Jesus’ arrest that ultimately led to his trial, conviction, and crucifixion.  The most amazing thing about the story of Jesus, to me, is that he knew of His fate all along and still suffered and died a horrific death for us.   Chapter 18 speaks of Judas, who led the guards to capture Jesus.  Jesus predicted Judas’ betrayal.  Four disciples recorded Jesus’ knowledge of this betrayal in Matthew 26:24-25, Mark 14:18-21, Luke 22:21-23, and John 13:21-30.  Judas continued to travel and be close to our Savior up until the end, and Jesus knew he would betray him, and Jesus still loved him.

Simon Peter, arguably one of Jesus’ closest confidants, denied knowing or associating with Jesus three times after His capture. Jesus predicted Peter’s denial at the Last Supper as was chronicled by the same four disciples, in Matthew 26:33-35, Mark 14:29-31, Luke 22:33-34, and John 13:36-38.  How do you think Jesus felt knowing that one of closest friends would deny knowing Him?

The most perfect and sinless person ever to walk the earth was hurt by His friends.  He was a perfect person who hated no one, never said an ill word, and in fact, healed people who were suffering.  And yet, he still had friends that turned on Him.

Sometimes forgiveness may not make sense.  You were hurt badly.  Some reading his have endured situations and heartache that I cannot imagine. How could someone do that to you? Perhaps others around us encourage us to seek revenge and prolong the negativity.

I am reminded of a profound act of forgiveness related to a terrible tragedy when a police officer shot and killed a man in his own apartment, incorrectly thinking he was an intruder.  Brandt Jean is the victim’s brother and he publicly stated his forgiveness of the officer, Amber Guyger.  Watch Mr. Jean’s statement here.

Forgiveness is freeing. Forgiveness might not make sense or be supported by those around you.  True forgiveness releases the burden of anger, resentment, and ultimately the desire for revenge.  What may seem like the impossible act of forgiveness will release your burden and free you of the long-term resentment and despair.

Jesus modeled true forgiveness.  He willingly ministered to mankind, to save all of us, knowing he would ultimately be resented and killed for the mission God gave Him.

Heavenly Father, Free us from our burdens and open our hearts to forgiveness.  We know you, Jesus, were the most forgiving and selfless person to ever walk the Earth.  Help us to know you, praise you, and live like you did.  Freeing ourselves from the burden and weight of anger and resentment is how you showed us how to live.  Thank you for showing us the way to live a better life.  Amen.

Make You Known

The words of John are so deep. I’ve been mediating on chapter seventeen for weeks and each time I read it something new stands out to me. So many levels and layers to what he brings forward from Jesus. And its no wonder, as he is called the beloved, described as such a close companion to the Lord.

In my last review of this chapter, what really grabbed my heart was at the very end in verse twenty-six:

I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.

On this earth, there are so many things we can do, be recognized for, or accomplish. And of course we all have personal goals in different areas. Where this scripture challenges me, is how many of my own plans get right back to the heart of making God, our creator, known. K N O W N. Truly known.

Jesus, right before his arrest, spends his time praying and with the aim that the world will know his Father. His consistency and faithfulness is unmatched.

I’m not sure why this hit me so hard.

Maybe its because in the middle of a pandemic, when so many things are cancelled and shut down, I still don’t have my time with the Lord prioritized how I’d lik.

Maybe it’s because I wonder how many things have my name tied to them, instead of the Lord’s. Am I shouting from the rooftops that it’s truly ONLY BECAUSE OF HIS GRACE that I am able to do the things I do?

Maybe it’s because I find myself doing so many things, things that may even be deemed by the world as good, and yet I feel the Lord calling me saying I don’t want more actions from you, I just want more of you.  

Maybe it’s because this quote showed up in my timehop of something I posted seven years ago, and still struck me today. Ouch. All the good deeds are just that – good. But holy habits of obedience, prayer, worship… wow. That’s how we know him and in turn, make him known.

John 17 is so beautiful. As you read through this last prayer before Jesus is arrested, what stands out to you?

Trusting the Trustworthy

This week I had a confidential and important problem, and needed a friend to talk to. I didn’t need someone to SOLVE the problem, I needed to talk to someone with whom I TRUSTED completely. Bringing the problem to fruition didn’t need the smartest or most talented, or even my “favorite” person, it was purely a matter of trust.

Consider today:

  1. Who do you trust the most and why? Consider telling this person, it will build more trust and will lift their spirit!
  2. Is there a relationship where you could improve the level of trust? Consider some of the trust-builders: Being more trustworthy yourself, becoming more vulnerable, building the relationship with openness and taking a leap of faith to entrust the other person more.

In John 16 Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure. It was time for him to go but he wasn’t going to leave them empty handed. He left them (and us) with the Holy Spirit, also known as the Friend (MSG), Helper (ESV), the Advocate (NLT), the Spirit of truth, among other names.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13)

Who can we trust more than our God who sent his son Jesus, and then after the Holy Spirit was sent? In our troubles we don’t need someone to just make us feel good. As humans we crave meaningful relationships based on trust and truth. Unfortunately these relationships in this life are often few and far between, susceptible to failure due to our sinful nature in a broken world.

What is our sin? How do we respond?

The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. (John 16:9)

What good is a doctor who says you are healthy when you’re dying? The Holy Spirit tells us we are dying (of our sin). The Spirit convicts and points to God the father and Jesus as savior. It is up to us to choose to believe (and follow) or to deny (and disobey) Him.

The world is full of scary stuff; pain, sorrow, confusion, lies and trouble. Do not rely on the world’s cures. The next vaccine may thankfully solve one problem but the next problem is right around the corner. The only vaccine for our real problem (sin) is repentance and forgiveness, and trusting in the name of Jesus Christ. He’s the vaccine. He’s the cure. He’s the only one worthy of all trust, the victor, undefeated, and champion of all time.

 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Where are your trials and tribulations today, and where is your trust? Don’t let these words from Jesus pass you by. They were written for you and me, for all situations. Give them over to the one who died with you in mind. He loves you and he seeks a relationship right now in this very moment.


Today’s reading:  John 15

Last weekend, B.J. and I spent Saturday and Sunday at a (virtual) goal setting retreat.  The sessions were designed to lead us through a framework that helps to create clarity and alignment for couples’ shared goals (the course was designed for marriages, business partners, etc.).  While I was tired and ready to be done by the end of day two, the experience was beneficial.  I’m really glad we went.  In fact, I’ve already put the retreat on my calendar for November, 2021.

One of the exercises early on day one was to have each person identify their top three values.  Believe me, this was a lot more difficult than I expected.  Do you know how hard it is to reduce a page of 140 different values down to your top three?  Now imagine trying to do that in 15 minutes or less!  Needless to say, I didn’t get it whittled down to my top three until about midway through day two.  But when I finally finished the exercise and compared my results to B.J.’s results, I discovered that our #2 value is the same – Impact.  Having a positive, measurable impact on people is very important to both of us.

As a I was studying John 15 and preparing for this post, I kept coming back to the notion of positively impacting others.  I think the apostle John would consider positively impacting others to be part of what Jesus refers to as “bearing fruit”.  We positively impact others when we encourage them, pray for them, love them, and point them to Jesus.

A little more than half of John chapter 15 is focused on Jesus as the vine, his followers as the branches, and God as the gardener.  Just like any other gardner, God’s objective is for his crops to produce much fruit, as this brings him glory (verse 8).

Depending on the type of fruit, vines (or trees) are its life source.  If you cut fruit off from the life source, it dies.  In the same way, we as followers of Jesus Christ will not bear fruit if we are cut off from Jesus, our life source.  How do we do stay connected to him?  We read his word, talk to him, seek counsel from and connection with other Christfollowers.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in meI am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

If I want to live out my core value of positively impacting those around me, the recipe is pretty simple.  I must stay close to Jesus Christ and let him guide my paths.  A life apart from him yields nothing.


Preparing for You

Every year we go to Florida. We have spent every Christmas and every Spring Break with my family for as long a I can remember. Our group has grown by marriage and babies over the last 25 years and we currently boast a whopping 18 members. There are so many memories.  In the early days we would walk through the doors with dirty, tired babies. Gabo and Papa would whisk them off for a bath while we sat and ate the food they had waiting for us. We would spend the first days thawing by the pool from our Illinois winter while they cared for those babies and gave us a break from the diapering, napping, and feeding. We could leave our troubles behind for a few days and relax.  It’s one of those places that my kids talk about often. They talk about the sounds that come from the kitchen in the morning. Muffled voices and the clanking of coffee cups. It makes them smile to know everyone is together. Sometimes they stop and say, “it smells like the condo” or “it smells like the beach” and they close their eyes and go to a happy place in their mind.

Over the years, the dynamics have changed with older kids but there is the one constant that remains – my parents preparation for us. They head down to Florida after Thanksgiving and they get ready for us to come to them. My Dad is always planning boat trips or special time with the kids while my mom is cleaning, planning special dinners, and preparing for Christmas. They make it so easy for us to show up and relax because they have taken care of all the details. We pack very little and know that there is shampoo and soap ready for us. My kids even know where Papa keeps his extra toothbrushes when we arrive without any. The bedrooms are immaculate, the sheets are crisp and clean, and the bathrooms are sparkly and fresh. We arrive tired and cold and are met with sunshine and open arms. Our troubles fade for about 10-14 days.

After returning home refreshed, our life quickly returns to “normal”. School, sports, work, church. Looking back on our time with my parents, I always marvel at the way they prepare for us. They spend so much time thinking of us and getting things ready because they want us to be with them. They love us. What an amazing feeling – to be loved and cared for! I realize this is just a glimpse of how God prepares for us. Out of His love for us, He has prepared a place for us, with Him, in eternity. If I get excited about fresh sheets and clean bathrooms, I cannot begin to imagine the things God has prepared in eternity for me.  In John 14, Jesus is preparing the disciples for his departure. He is encouraging them not to despair, because He is preparing a place for them. There is a place for each of us and He promises to come back for us.

John 14:1 “Don’t be troubled. You trust in God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know where I am going and how to get there”.

We have hope beyond the things of this world!





Assurance : The acknowledgment or confirmation of anticipated items or events

The 12 chapter of John has several recurring themes: the theme of light and the theme of glory. In this chapter, this is the week before the crucifixion.  This is the last week of Jesus’ life.  These are the last actions of Christ earthly ministry before the resurrection.   

In the beginning of the chapter John recounts the gathering at the house of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.  At this particular gathering we given a setting tasty is very familiar throughout Christian theology and tradition: The preparation of Jesus’ death.  Mary uses  the perfume that is equal to a year’s salary.  Mary uses her hair to wipe the Jesus’s feet.  She is using all of her being to glorify and bring light to the dark times coming ahead.  This is a type of light and glory Mary is preparing Jesus body for his ultimate sacrifice and the glorification of his time earth.

While at Lazarus’ house, people are coming to see and experience the man that has been brought back to life.  This was one of the most profound miracles that Christ had performed.  Lazarus was not only dead, but he had been in the tomb for several days.  We have gotten accustomed to going to funerals and having the benefits of modern medicine to help assuage the true morbidity of death , but this was not the custom in the times of Jesus.  In the manner of hours the body begins to decompose and the natural process starts.  By the time Jesus got to the town of Lazarus, he was in full decomposition.  But now several weeks to months later, Jesus is eating with Lazarus and people want to come and see the miracle.   This is shows not only show that Jesus is capable of miracles, but he is Lord over life and death of others and God will do the same for him.  This this act is glorifying God‘s domain over life and death.

Each piece of the gospel is there for an intentional purpose,  here John mentions the group of Greeks. This is very poignant in this section because the Greeks deal with life, death, and gods in different ways. He uses examples of the wheat and how to death of the wheat to springing back to life for new plant to the Greeks. He also uses the other metaphors here with the Greeks of light and glorification. 

He uses light and glory several times in this chapter. He shows how light overcomes darkness how he is the light that overcomes the darkness of the enemy. He shows how the anticipation of his death and resurrection would normally receive as the final blow but he uses it as a catalyst to show the light and the glory of God.

One of the most profound portions in this entire chapter is the force of God. I’ve read this chapter many times in my lifetime but the most our inspiring section is when God the father acknowledges and glorifies the person of Christ in actual audible and meaningful terms. God completes his qualification and assures us that Christ is the one who is glorifying God and fulfilling the Scriptures.

John 12: 27- 30 

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.

There are not many times in the Old Testament or in the New testament in which God’s true voice is heard. In this verse God‘s force is not only audible but it is heard by the entire multitude. This gives us the assurance that God‘s plan and words are true. Many during this time in Christ life, many did not believe that God‘s word and actions were true. Many today do not believe that God‘s words and actions are true. But this brief, yet powerful moment gives us assurance, that undeniable realization that all things are working in God‘s favor.

I know that in today’s society it is hard to grasp that God plan is still valid. A year ago so many things in my life changed. My family members were passing away at young ages. My son was diagnosed with different things. And close friends we’re passing away day by day.  In the current situation there are thousands of people passing away daily. In these times it can seem as if we are in a mess of darkness. But we have to understand that God‘s light and glory will be shown and glorified, if we believe in Him. 

May God reveal Himself to us as he did to the multitude and give us Assurance: Allow us to hear him in thunder of the storm or in the whisper on a breeze.

The Unexpected

18 years ago I was sitting at a water park chatting with a friend while watching my 3 and 5 year old daughters play in the baby pool.  It was a beautiful, warm summer day.  My 7 year old son and his friend were just beyond us enjoying the water slides.  I distinctly remember hearing my name over the loud speaker, “Stephanie Wolfe, please come to the lifeguard station immediately.”  I knew that it had to be urgent for them to stop the music and page me directly.  All eyes were on me as I looked to my friend for help.  She took my girls and I dashed off to find my boy, covered in blood.  Turns out he hit a pole on his way down the slide and cut his head.  It required quite a few stitches and we learned that a cut to the head bleeds profusely.  It looked way worse than it actually was.  My point is, I raced to my boy when I heard the call.  When someone we love needs help we react and are there by their side as fast as humanly possible.

John 11 tells a different approach to rushing to help a loved one.  Word reaches Jesus from the town of Bethany that Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, was sick.  These three siblings were close friends of Jesus, in fact, they may have been three of Jesus’ closest friends.  The sisters even called Lazarus “the one you love” when they called for Jesus to help.

So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

John 11:3

Just as I ran to my son when I heard he needed me, I would expect Jesus to run to his friend who was deathly sick.  But, we are surprised when we read how Jesus responds.  

So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,

John 11:6

What?!???!!  Was Jesus so busy that He could not get away?  No, we then read that he intentionally chose to wait for two more days.  

It is that small word (underlined by me) above in verse 6 that is important as to why Jesus waited.  So!  This little word presents a cause and effect to us.  What follows the “so” is the effect and what precedes it is the cause.

The cause before the “so” is found in verse 5:

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

John 11:5

Jesus’ love caused Him to wait for his friend to die instead of rushing to his side.  It is hard to comprehend why Jesus would wait instead of rushing to his side when time was of the essence!  But when we take a look back at verse 4 we see that Jesus had a plan.  He knew that his friend’s illness would result in death, but not end in it.

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

John 11:4

Jesus knew that he would shout “Lazarus, come out!” and life would fill his friend once again.  This is why he waited!  He wanted Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and His disciples to experience something that would completely change them from that day forward.

Mary and Martha called for Jesus because they had seen Jesus heal many people.  They knew He could heal Lazarus before he died.  But, Jesus wanted them to experience something more.  He wanted them to see that He has power over death because that is what they would need to know about Him.  Because, soon they would see His lifeless body in a tomb.

Had Jesus rushed to Lazarus when he was sick and healed him we would have missed so much more than Jesus actually intends for us.  Jesus gave His friends (and us through the reading of His Word) the gift of deepening their faith.

The resurrection of Lazarus is an incredible demonstration of the power of Jesus.  It is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ resurrection and a picture of our new life in Jesus. 

Jesus did not do what Mary and Martha were expecting.  He did something better.  This is the same we experience in our lives.  God does not always do what I expect or think He should do.  However, He can and will bring greater glory to Himself.  If He doesn’t do what I think He should, it is very probable that God has something better in mind.  

Following the Good Shepherd

There is incredible power in good leadership. A parent firmly adhering to God-centered parenting can make an enormous difference in their child’s growth. A caring manager who listens and acts according to the strengths and best interests of their teams can skyrocket workplace productivity and morale. A politician who listens carefully to all constituents and works tirelessly to compromise on effective policy for all citizens can make any place much more harmonious and prosperous. So what happens when those who try to lead do so selfishly, with what serves them instead of what serves God and His people?

In John 10, when confronted about healing the blind man at the temple, Jesus uses an analogy about sheep listening and following their shepherd by the sound of his voice, and how the sheep safely enter and exit their pasture through the shepherd’s will. Others who seek to deceive and steal these sheep may sneak in, but the sheep will run from those they don’t recognize. He uses this to demonstrate what He has come to do: to be the rightful leader of God’s people how no one else could, in a way the thieves of God’s kingdom could never impede.

The context in which Jesus tells this story of people trying to falsely lead God’s people to destruction makes it a powerfully defiant move. The Pharisees have all gathered here together after Jesus restored the sight of a blind man, solely to judge the work of a man who has done this on the Sabbath in violation of the law. No celebration of this miracle, no thanking God for healing this man of his affliction. Just doubling down on demanding to know his sins and questioning Jesus for invalidating their authority. Then Jesus responds by telling how the sheep will flee from the voice of a stranger, how we may enter heaven only through Him, and those who came before were thieves and robbers.

This declaration that the Pharisees have failed in leading God’s flock is full of tough truth. They used their power and authority simply to enforce their rulings of the written law, rather than listening and obeying God’s commands and leading the people to Him. Unfortunately, Satan finds footing in the hearts and acts of even incredibly intelligent and apparently God-centered men like the Pharisees when they only act according to their own strength and knowledge.

It’s as written in 2 Corinthians 11: 13-14: “Such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Or 2 Peter 2: “False prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” We are warned constantly in Scripture of those who would lead people seeking truth in the direction of destruction instead. And for good reason: 1 Peter 5:8 warned us, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” It only makes sense that the Devil would twist truth as an easy means to get into the hearts of men.

Instead, we must listen to Jesus’s words in verse 3: “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” We must first and foremost seek out Christ: for He is the Good Shepherd who has laid down His life for us, and only He has conquered death in the process. Only He can grant us passage into the Kingdom of Heaven, and only in Him can we never be separated from God. So we must look for wisdom and truth from Him; finding answers in Scripture and guiding each other to God’s word for the answers to our questions, rather than not looking past our flesh and feelings for guidance. We must be wary for sin in our own hearts, and search for support in fighting and defeating our sin only in Him who knew no sin, alongside those who mirror our same pursuit in both word and action.

Finally, I’d be remiss in not concluding this with a statement of thanks; it is that time of year to reflect on what we’re thankful for, after all. God gave us leaders in our families and communities for a purpose, but only He can lead us to everlasting life. Only Jesus Christ our savior can open the gate into the pastures of eternity, where we will never be snatched out of His hand. I am thankful today for our Good Shepherd, who would lay down His life for us so that we may reside with Him forever. I pray for renewal in our minds and hearts, that we would seek and follow only Christ’s voice now, that we may ignore the voices of all others who seek our demise, and steadfastness until our eternal reward with Christ has arrived.