Bible Reading: John 18:1-11; Matthew 26:47-50

Yesterday we saw how Satan could only work if a person gave him a legal right to do so. We see a very sad but clear example of that in the life of Judas Iscariot. There are some powerful warnings for us in the lives of Bible characters, and not least in the life of Judas.

Judas had the amazing privilege of being chosen to be a disciple of Jesus, and to live with Him and learn from Him for three years. The problem with Judas was that he had a problem with money, and yet he was chosen to be the treasurer for Jesus and His disciples. He must have had a gift in handling money, and yet it was money that was the root of his downfall. Sometimes our greatest strength can also be our greatest weaknesses.

The Bible contains a lot of teaching about money. Writing to Timothy, Paul warned that, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” [1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV]. This exactly describes what happened to Judas Iscariot.


Although we do not know a great deal about Judas Iscariot, we do know that the Bible called him a thief [John 12:6]. It was Judas who complained when Mary of Bethany poured the expensive perfume over Jesus. He sounded very upright when he said that the money could have been used to care for the poor, but actually he coveted the money for himself!

Because he condoned his sinful coveting of money Judas became a target of the enemy. Here was an entrance for the evil one. Imagine the temptation when he was offered thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus. The temptation was too much for him. Tragically, full of remorse, he returned the thirty pieces of silver, but it was too late, and not long afterwards Judas committed suicide

[Matthew 27:3-6]. If only Judas had dealt with his root problem then it would not have given an open door for Satan to enter, and destroy him.

I have seen too many instances of Christians, and of Christian leaders who began well but were destroyed because of covetousness and the desire for more and more money, and for lavish lifestyles. In many respects we would do well to simplify our lifestyle. In my own life, I discovered that if I begin to like money too much, then it has become an idol, and I was best to give it away.  For some people the root issue might not be coveting money but sexual issues, the desire for power and position, or even putting family before God. It has been well said that the three major issues that Satan uses to destroy Christians and Christian leaders are money, sex and power!


Is there an area in your own life that has not been surrendered to Jesus, and if the door is not shut, could give an entrance to the evil one? Are you prepared to let Jesus deal with that issue that could stumble you?

Read Psalm 139:23-24. Would you pray today this prayer of David?


Bible Reading: John 18:1-11

Having spent special time to prepare His disciples for His death, and having spent time alone with His Father, the time has come for Jesus to go to the cross. We know that this was the work of an enemy. John makes it clear that after taking the bread from Jesus at the supper, Satan entered Judas. Judas was under the control and direction of Satan [John 13:26-27]. Later in John, Jesus said, “the ruler of this world has come, and he has nothing in Me” [John 14:30].

It was the Father’s will that Jesus lay down His life to save lost mankind, but it is also the work of Satan. This tells us that Satan can do nothing unless God permits him to do so. Even the darkness is under God’s control. This leads to a further thought, that Satan cannot touch either God or His children unless he is permitted to do so. Satan cannot touch a child of God, unless they give him the right. Speaking about curses, the writer of Proverbs says, “A curse without a cause cannot come to rest” [Proverbs 26:2]. When Jesus sent out His disciples on a mission, He said to them, “Nothing shall by any means hurt you” [Luke 10:19]. Satan has no power over Jesus unless God gives him permission, and he has no right over us unless we give him that right! This is a vital spiritual principle in living a victorious Christian life!

Satan is the arch-legalist. He cannot function unless he is given the legal right to do so. God gave him the legal right to put Jesus on the cross, in order to totally defeat him through the cross and resurrection! Satan thought that he was on a winner, but had no idea that God was dealing with him and defeating him.

Because of the cross and resurrection we can have constant victory over Satan and his evil schemes. John wrote, “They overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to death” [Revelation 12:11]. Satan looks for opportunities to attack and harm us, but can do nothing if we give him no right! Writing to the Ephesians, Paul said, that we are to give no place to the devil [Ephesians 5:27]. Deliberate sin, unforgiveness and wrong thinking will give him a legal right to work in our lives. His attack comes primarily in the mind, where he will seek to build a stronghold and create a stranglehold that will sap and destroy our walk with God! This is why it is so important that we allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse us through God’s Word and renew our mind, so that we are continually being transformed [Romans 12:1-2]. Give the devil no room!


What does God’s Word mean to you when it commands us to “give no room to the devil”?

What can we do to protect our minds from the attacks of the enemy? Read Matthew 4:1-11. How did Jesus repel the enemy’s attack in the wilderness?

Why does unforgiveness have such a terrible impact upon a person’s life? To help you understand this read Matthew 18:21-35.


Bible Reading: John 17:1-26

Jack Heyford described the praying of Jesus in John chapter seventeen as a threefold petition – that He may be glorified [v.1-5], that the disciples may be sanctified [v.6-19], and the church may be united [v.20-26] [Spirit-Filled Life Bible]. Jesus had specifically prayed for His disciples [John 17:6,9], and now prays for all who would believe on Him through the message of His disciples. His prayer was that through them the world would believe on Him. For this to happen He specifically prayed for two things:

Firstly, those who believe would be united. This was far more than simply having one purpose, or even having a common enemy. Unity is neither uniformity nor unanimity, and transcends denominational differences. It is a unity based on our relationship with God, and His glory [His character and attributes] being upon and in us. This unity does not consider social standing or religious affiliation. This unity is being one in Christ Jesus. I once heard Billy Graham say as he preached, “If a man loves God, and loves his brother, then he is my brother!” This is the unity of the Spirit, and Paul urges people to maintain that unity [Ephesians 4:3].

Secondly, that they would love one another. One of the key ingredients of true unity is love. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” [John 13:35 NLT]. Jesus prayed that the love of the Father and the Son would be in them, and that the world would know that He loved them [John 17:23].

It is the love of the Father and Son in us. The word love is the Greek word agape. Rick Renner says of agape, “It is a love that loves so profoundly that it knows no limits of boundaries in how far, wide, high, and deep it will go to show that love to its recipient… Agape is the highest form of love – a self-sacrificial love that moves the lover to action” [“Sparkling Gems from the Greek, p.525].

It is the world recognizing that the Father and Son love us – John writes, “that the world would know that He loved them” [John 17:23]. The world needs to see that we are deeply loved by God! That is what makes the difference! Not all that looks like love is love. There is a syndrome that looks like love, but has its roots in deep insecurity. It is the meeting the needs of others because of a personal need to feel needed. It doesn’t take people long to recognize a wrong motive! Jesus commands us to “remain in His love” [John 15:9]. Jesus praised the Church in Ephesus for its perseverance, hard work, and love of the truth, but tragically had to rebuke them because they had left their first love. Let the world see that God loves you!


Read Romans 5:5. Is there a fellow Christian whom you struggle to love? Would you confess your lack of love for that person and ask God to fill you with His love for them?

Are you personally secure in God’s love for you? In what ways does that security show itself in your daily living?


Bible Reading: John 17:6-19

Having prayed for Himself, Jesus now prays specifically for His disciples. They were very special to Him. He had spent three years teaching them and preparing them to continue His ministry on earth. In John chapters thirteen to sixteen Jesus had spent time preparing them for His departure. Now He prays for them. It would be like a spiritual father praying for his children.

Because His Father had given these disciples to Him [v.6], Jesus now reports back to His Father and tells Him about them. Jesus tells His Father that He had revealed the Father to them [v7-8]. This is so special because knowing the Father’s heart and experiencing His embrace is the very heart of a person’s relationship with God. They knew that it was the Father who sent Jesus [v.8]. Jesus told the Father that He had given them His Word, and that the disciples had recognized that it was the Father’s Word and believed it [v.8, 14]. Jesus actually told the Father that He was glorified in His disciples [v.10]. His glory was now being seen in them. They were becoming just like Him!

There is an apocryphal story, that when Jesus returned to heaven the angels asked Him who would continue His work on earth. Jesus answered that He had left everything in the hands of His disciples. The Angels responded, “But what if they fail – your work would have been in vain?” Jesus replied, and said simply, “They will not fail!”

It would not have been easy for Jesus to leave these men, with whom He had such a bond, but He knew that they would not fail. When He prayed to His Father for them He made three requests.

Firstly, Jesus prayed that the Father would protect them with His Name, and keep them safe from the evil one. The Father’s Name is a strong tower of safety [Proverbs 18:10]. Just as Jesus had protected them, He now asks His Father to protect them. Like Jesus they are not of this world [v.16]. They had been set free from the spirit of this world, that anti-God world system ruled by the evil “prince of this world.” As God’s children they were being sent into the world with His Word. They were in the world, but not of the world!

Secondly, Jesus prayed that they would be united. The enemy knows that unity is very powerful. Even for unbelievers nothing would be impossible for those of one heart [Genesis 11:6]. So powerful was the unity of those builders of the Tower of Babel, that God had to scatter them. Unity is a powerful spiritual life principle! The enemy knew that an army divided against itself can never stand, and so he would do all he could to bring division.

Thirdly, Jesus prayed for His disciples that they would be made Holy by the knowledge of His Word. It is the entrance of God’s word that brings light, strength, and assurance. The Psalmist wrote, “How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed and keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to it]” [Psalm 119:9 Amp. Bible]. The Psalmist also said, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” [Psalm 119:11 NLT]. Many years ago someone wrote in the flyleaf of my Bible, “Sin will keep you from this Book, or this Book will keep you from sin!”


Read Matthew 28:19. Jesus told us to go and make disciples. Why do you think Jesus emphasized making disciples rather than making believers?

Jesus made disciples and prayed for them. How are you making disciples, and how do you pray for them?

What lessons do you learn from Jesus reporting back to His Father in this passage about making disciples?

Knowing God as Father is vital? In what way have you found Him to be your Father?


Bible Reading: John 17:1-5

Jesus said, “Father the time has come” [v.1]. It was the time for Jesus to die on the cross. This was the reason that He had come to earth in human form. He came to die, and through His death and resurrection to bring lost mankind back into fellowship with God.

As this moment approached Jesus spent time in prayer, and we have the immense privilege of knowing how He prayed. This really is the “Lord’s Prayer!” In His praying he began by reporting back to His Father about all that he had done, and about His disciples.

Jesus had done everything that His Father had asked Him to do. He had glorified His Father and completed the work that His Father had given Him to do. Jesus said that He had shown the world the glory of the Father by faithfully doing everything the Father had told him to do [17:4]. He had exercised the authority that His Father had given Him, and in doing so could give eternal life to all those whom the Father had given Him. Here in this statement is the meaning of eternal life – “to know the only true God and Jesus Christ” [John 17:3]. What a way to approach death – to embrace that moment, however awful and painful it might be, but at the same time to be able to say that He had done everything that His Father had asked of Him.

Jesus then made two requests to His Father. Firstly, He asked God to give Him glory that He might glorify His Father. His first thought was always that His Father would be glorified! God’s glory is His character, qualities and majesty, and to glorify God is to be a channel through which His beauty, character and qualities are revealed. Here is an amazing truth – Jesus is one with His Father, and yet He submits to His Father, and wants above all else that His Father be glorified! At the cross Jesus glorified His Father by revealing God’s love, grace and power. What an example for His children – that in everything God might be glorified!

Secondly, Jesus requested that He might be restored to His place next to His Father – “And now, Father, glorify Me along with Yourself and restore Me to such majesty and honour in Your presence as I had with You before the world existed” [John 17:5 Amplified Bible Classic Edition]. He requests to be restored to the Father’s right hand, where He had been before the world existed! This was His rightful place, enthroned on high! He had left this glory to become a man, taking the form of a servant, humbling Himself, even to death on a cross. Now it was time to return to where He really belonged!


Jesus’ greatest desire was to glorify His Father. What does this mean in practical terms to you personally? How can you glorify Jesus in your life?

Jesus finished the work that His Father gave Him to do. God has a work for each believer to do. What is the specific work that God has called you to do?

Read Philippians 2:9-11. How did the Father answer the prayer of Jesus?


Bible Reading: John 17:1-26

I have often heard people speak about the finished work of Christ, and that now He is sat down next to the Father, and His work is accomplished. This is true but not fully correct. The finished work of Christ upon the cross was the completion of the work of redemption. That is why Jesus came to earth, but it was not the end of Christ’s ministry. He promised never to leave us [Matthew 28:20]; He is preparing a place for us [John 14:2-3]; He is building His Church [Matthew 16:18]; He still speaks to His Church [Revelation chapters 2-3]; He welcomes faithful saints home [Acts 7:56], and continues to do all the things that He did, both before and after He purchased our redemption on the cross.

There are many types in the Old Testament that were a foreshadowing of the things to come. The High Priest of Israel was a foreshadowing of Jesus, who is the Great High Priest [Hebrews 4:14-5:11]. One of the ministries of the High Priest was to intercede, and in Hebrews we discover that Jesus intercedes for us – Jesus always lives to make intercession for those who come to God through Him [Hebrews 7:25]. Here is a remarkable picture – Jesus, our High Priest, standing before the Father and praying for us. In His first epistle, John calls Jesus our Advocate [1 John 2:1]. An advocate stands before the judge on behalf of another! Interceding for us, His children, is an on-going work of Christ. Sometimes I am overwhelmed, especially in tough times, to know that Jesus is praying for me!

Prayer was always a vital aspect of Jesus’ ministry even when He was on earth. Through prayer He lived in vital communion with His Father. Consider some of the references in the New Testament of Jesus praying. “He went up on the mountains to pray by Himself” [Matthew 14:23]. He prayed for the little children [Matthew 19:13]. As His death approached He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray” [Matthew 26:36]. When His captors arrested Jesus He spoke about prayer [Matthew 26:53]. His disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray after they had been watching Him pray [Luke 11:1]. When Jesus became popular He often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed [Luke 5:16]. It was as Jesus was praying that His countenance was changed and He was transfigured [Luke 9:29]. Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail [Luke 22:32]. When He was in agony, in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed [Luke 22:44]. However, the most we read about Jesus praying is in what is known as His High Priestly prayer in John chapter seventeen. Over the next three days we will take a close look at this prayer, as He prays for Himself, His disciples, and those who would later believe on Him.


If prayer was so important to Jesus why do you think that it is also so important for us if we are to succeed in the Christian life?

Why do you think it is that prayer comes under so much attack, and the prayer meetings are often the least attended of Christian meetings? What can you do personally to improve the quality of your prayer life?


Bible Reading: John 16:5-15

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper [Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor – Counsellor, Strengthener, Standby] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And He, when He comes, will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin [and the need for a Saviour], and about righteousness, and about judgment” [John 16:7-8 Amplified Bible]

In the last days together with His disciples Jesus had been preparing them for His imminent departure. He had talked with them about the coming of the Holy Spirit. He had told them that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, and that He would be both with them and in them. He also promised not to leave them as orphans [John 14:16-18]. Now, in John chapter sixteen Jesus speaks of three specific aspects of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to unbelievers.

Firstly, He will convict them of sin and call them to repentance. The word convict is a Greek word ‘elencho.’ It is a legal term that means to pronounce a guilty verdict. It therefore defines justice and fixes responsibility. We cannot convict sinners of guilt but the Holy Spirit can. He both works through His presence in our lives and directly into the lives of unbelievers. Billy Graham once spoke of Raymond V. Edman, President of Wheaton College, as a man who was so godly that he would find the move from earth to heaven to be an easy transition! When people met him they sensed God’s holiness and their own sinfulness. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring people to a sense of guilt because of sin.

Secondly, He will reveal God’s standard of righteousness. It was expressed in Jesus, but He would return to His Father. Though men see Him no longer, His righteous character would continue to be displayed in the Christ like lives of His children, indwelt and filled with the Holy Spirit. We should, by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, exhibit the gap between sinners and the Lord.

Thirdly, the Holy Spirit, through the lives of believers, will convince the world of judgment to come. Jesus defeated Satan through His death on the cross and His resurrection, and the reality of this should be seen in believers who live in the power of Christ’s resurrection. This will demonstrate to people that Satan and his worldly system is an empty sham. In His book, “The Daily Devotional Commentary,” Lawrence O. Richards says, “There is nothing you and I can do to convict the world we live in. It is our lives, infused by the Spirit’s power, and displaying heaven’s grace, that boldly proclaim the judgment of God.”

A Question:

Does the Holy Spirit so control my life that it convicts those I meet of sin, of God’s righteousness, and of the emptiness of this world? If this is not the case, then what is necessary for me to do, in order to more accurately portray the life of Jesus to those around me?


Bible Reading: John 15:18-16:4

Over the past two days we have considered the issue of persecution, as Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure. I would like to conclude this by sharing one of the most remarkable testimonies that I have ever heard.

I was ministering in Beijing and, after I had preached, Pastor Allen Yuan shared with me personally his experience following his arrest as an “enemy of the State in China in the 1950’s. He then gave me a nine page typed copy of his testimony.

Allen told me that he knew the People’s Security Bureau officials would one day come knocking on his door. When they came to arrest him he was forty-four years old and had a wife, six children and an aged mother. He was one of nine pastors, including Wang Ming Dao, who were tried together, and they were all sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour. He and Ming Dao were sent to the border of Siberia and worked in a chain gang. The days were long and there was only one fifteen-minute break each day. Allen thought that he would die as a martyr there. “In the labour camp it was very cold,” he wrote, “food was bad, and the work was hard, but in 22 years I never once got sick. I was thin and wore glasses, but I came back alive; many did not. I also had no Bible for the 22 years.” He told me that he also had no contact with his family through all those years.

Allen was unexpectedly released after 22 years and allowed to return to Beijing, but for a further ten years was kept under house arrest. He shared with me that those years were very tough. Many times the security officials came and beat him and his wife in order to get information about Christians. Finally, after 32 years of prison and house arrest Allen was released. With a twinkle in his eye, Allen told me that from the age of 76 to 86 God had given him the privilege of planting eight unofficial house churches in Beijing.

I asked Allen what the most difficult thing was that he experienced on his return from prison. His eyes welled up with tears, as he said, “When I went to prison my daughter was three years old, and the next time I saw her she was 25 years old. He then gathered himself together and said, “But that’s what it means to follow Jesus, isn’t it!” I asked him if he had a word for me, and he responded, “Yes, and it is a more sure word of prophecy – “Be faithful until death and I will give you a crown of life” [Revelation 2:10].

Remember the promise of Jesus to His disciples: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” [John 16:33]. Allen Yuan fully proved the truth of that promise in his life, and we can too.


What are the principle lessons that you have learned today from the testimony of Allen Yuan?

Read John 16:33. How do you put Jesus’ command to “be of good cheer” into practice when everything is going wrong in your life?


Bible Reading: John 15:18-16:4

As a young Christian I was not always wise in the way that I spoke or acted, but I was in love with Jesus. When I simply went to church there was not a major problem, but as soon as I began to talk about Jesus, and seek to share Him, the problems began. My stepfather began to oppose me with insidious remarks such as, “Don’t worry, it will soon wear off. He’s got religious mania.” Then he began to attack the Bible and try to persuade me that it was fairy tales and not trustworthy. One day he went into a trance, and under what I believe was demonic influence, began to prophesy of all the terrible things that would happen to me if I continued to follow Jesus. Finally, it was, “If you are going to continue going to church then you are no longer welcome at home. If you want to remain at home then you must stop going to church!” That was the moment when I was forced to make a choice! I told my stepfather that I would follow Jesus Christ the whole of my life – there was no turning back.

I had no idea that this and other early opposition was preparation for even more opposition as my wife and I later served in a fanatical Muslim community, where for a person to turn to Christ might mean death or at the very least some sort of deprivation. For example, a young Chinese boy came to Christ and was threatened by his teachers that that they would not put him forward for university unless he renounced Christ. He was a brilliant young student but he chose to put Christ first.

We should not be surprised when persecution and opposition come. Very early in His ministry Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:10]. Later Jesus said that we are to beware when all men speak well of us [Luke 6:26]. Persecution goes back to the beginning of time – Cain killed righteous Abel in Genesis chapter four [see also 1 John 3:12]. Much of the New Testament was written in the context of persecution. The Book of Acts speaks of persecution in the Early Church. Both James and Peter wrote their epistles against the backcloth of persecution. Heaven is full of martyrs who shed their blood for the sake of the gospel [Revelation 6:9-11].

We don’t go looking for persecution or want to have a persecution complex, but when we allow Christ to live His life through us there will be persecution and opposition. Writing to Timothy, Paul said, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” [2 Timothy 3:12]. How are we to handle this? James tells us to count it all joy when we fall into various trials [James 1:2]. Peter speaks of enduring trials that test our faith and committing our souls to God [1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:12-19]. Jesus tells us to rejoice when people persecute us [Matthew 5:11-12], and to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and to pray for those who spitefully use us [Luke 6:27-28].

A Question:

Have you ever you experienced persecution as a result of your Christian testimony? How were you able to handle it? How did it help you to grow in your Christian life?


Bible Reading: John 15:18-16:4; 1 Peter 4:12-19

John’s record of Jesus’ public ministry ended at chapter twelve. Chapters thirteen to twenty cover just a week of the life of Jesus, and in four of those chapters He is preparing His disciples for His death and departure. These were the last teachings of Jesus, specifically to His disciples before His death.

His themes are clear and can be summarised in the following way:

The importance of servanthood

                    His relationship with His Father

                    The promise of the Holy Spirit

                    Knowing continually His peace

                    Abiding in Him and bearing fruit

                    The world’s hatred and persecution

Jesus made it very clear that the disciple is not above His master, and as He would suffer so they also would suffer persecution. In the conclusion of this section of John’s Gospel, Jesus said to His disciples, “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” [John 16:32-33]. There would be battles but the ultimate victory is assured!

Persecution comes in various forms. Sometimes it is full-on physical brutality, and at other times more subtle mental or emotional rejection. It is important to understand that it is Christ in us who is hated by the world and persecuted. When He does not shine through us neither the world nor the devil care. Peter made it clear that we are reproached for the name of Christ, and that suffering because of our sin, lack of wisdom or unpleasant behaviour is not suffering for Christ [1 Peter 4:15-16].

Wang Ming Dao was one of the great leaders of the Chinese Church. After he was arrested for “crimes against the State” Ming Dao was offered freedom if he would simply renounce Jesus Christ. He did renounce Jesus under the pressure of torture and was released. As he returned to his church he began to realise the awfulness of what he had done, confessed his failure in front of his church and repented. He was rearrested and spent more than twenty years in prison. We will take a closer look at persecution and what it means in our reading tomorrow.


Why do you think it is that people who really honour and exalt Jesus Christ in their lives suffer persecution?

Based on our reading today can you give some reasons why unbelievers might persecute disciples of Jesus Christ?

Paul wrote, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” [2 Timothy 3:12]. How would you interpret that verse?