We’ve created an acrostic to help us remember some key points to turn this time of study into a time of spiritual growth and personal healing.
Digging deeper into these books will reveal truths that will change the way you view healing, and most important draw you closer to our Heavenly Father. May God bless you as you commit your time and heart to study His word.
Introduction: Meeting John
Today’s tech savvy folks frequently employ initials to express a commonly-used phrase. One of the favorites used by those who share a bond of love is “B.F.F.” (ie. Best Friend Forever). John was indeed Jesus’ B.F.F.! And he proved himself faithful to His Lord, Savior, and divine Friend by fulfilling His mandate to “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) It was in this spirit of love that he always addressed the recipients of his writings. John understood that the relationship between the divine Lord and those He calls to be His believers and followers was to be one of sacred friendship.
We glimpse a hint that our Lord well-knew what that was like in John’s account of Jesus’ final discussion with all of His disciples — those he had chosen to be with Him, learn from Him, and carry on the work of His father’s kingdom here on earth. Jesus said to them, without a hint of embarrassment: “until now, I have called you servants, but now I call you my friends.” (John 15:15) Under the stress of anticipating what the coming days would bring, the Creator and Lord of mankind reached out to those closest to Him in this world for friendship.
Notice that it is only in the account of Jesus by John that we find this heartfelt need recorded. John got it! The bond of love forged between himself and his Lord was so solid that later, in his own Gospel, rather than referring to himself by names, John simply recounts that it was “the disciple whom He loved” that Jesus entrusted the keeping of His own mother, as He felt His life ebbing away on the cross.
Read John 1: 1-14
TMI – Too Much Information
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of information presented to you when you’re going through an illness? Technology has made information much more accessible to us, but that doesn’t necessarily make us more knowledgeable. The more information we gather, oftentimes we discover that much of it contradicts itself and we end up more confused and frustrated than when we first began. The first verse in the book of John (John 1:1) lets us know how to narrow the field; that is, where to find the most valuable information. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God.” (See also Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning…”). The tangible Bible we can hold in our hands, the one lying on our nightstand, or one of the several translations we may have on our favorite tech device, contain the words that provide a way for us to know THE WORD and THE WORD is GOD HIMSELF! Since He is the creator of our bodies, along with everything else that exists, it makes sense to consult Him when something goes awry. It’s a good thing He’s so available AND all in one book!
Hold on, it gets more amazing! In verse 14 of the same chapter, we learn that The Word, as God, became flesh and dwelt among us—John is referring to Jesus! Jesus is God in flesh form. He is the very WORD of God. Let that sink in today. Today’s passage can be described visually as:
So, the Bible teaches us that the way to obtain information from the One who created our bodies, and the One who loves us more than we can comprehend, is to spend time with The Word. The enemy, however, wants to prevent us from knowing God, so he often tries to make us believe we can’t understand The Word. That, my friend, is a lie! Why would God reveal Himself in the written word, yet make it so that we could not comprehend? Until the end of time, He will make sure that His Word is made available, to all who will pursue Him, in a language they can understand. Since the original texts were written thousands of years ago, we need to find a translation (e.g. NIV, ESV, NLT, etc.) we can understand, and get going. Similar to an earthly relationship between friends, the more time we spend with the Word, the more familiar we will become.
Read John 1: 15-34
Avoid the “it’s all about me” attitude
There’s no person who better exemplifies selflessness than John the Baptist. His whole ministry, even though short-lived, was to point people to someone else, Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah. Clearly, we see in the scriptures that John the Baptist never focused on himself. He wasn’t concerned with his appearance (unshaven, unkempt), his clothing (animal skins), or his provisions (locusts). He was driven solely by his passion to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah.
While on a healing journey, sometimes we may find ourselves being able to focus on nothing but ourselves, our health, our pain, our condition, etc. (Sometimes my “thought life” reminds me of an opera singer warming up his voice before going on stage….”me Me ME ME Me me me.”) Our whole lives can become dominated by “our condition.” As a child of God, we are encouraged by Jesus Himself to bring our concerns to Him, and He will lead and guide us along the way. Our purpose is similar to that of John the Baptist: to prepare others for the coming of the Messiah. If we bring our concerns to Him, He’ll provide for us so that we can passionately pursue our purpose, too. Let’s take time to look up from the circumstances that surround us and see what areas and opportunities Jesus is calling us to today.
Read John 1:35-42
Come and See
In this passage, we find Jesus spending an afternoon with His disciples, perhaps along the banks of the Jordan River where He recently had been baptized. John recorded for us the first two things Jesus said to the group in this particular “teaching” session. In fact, these are the first words of Jesus (the “red letters” in some translations) in the book of John. Let’s eavesdrop. Jesus first asked those with Him, “What do you want”? That’s a profound question. There’s no record of the various responses the group may have given, but John tells us that Jesus responded to them, regardless of their specific “wants,” with a beautiful invitation to “come and see.”
Is He asking us the same question today—what are we really seeking/wanting? Often times, our focus shifts from the journey of walking alongside Jesus to pursuing potential benefits we could gain from the relationship with Him, that is, pursuing Jesus with an agenda. Let’s honestly ask ourselves if we are solely pursuing Him to be healed physically. Healing shouldn’t be the central focus of our accepting His invitation to “come and see.” The Word teaches us that the ultimate “want” for a Christ-follower is: more intimacy with Him, to seek Him and His righteousness, and to share Him with others. Is that what we’re doing? If so, then the next step is simply to look into the face of the One who loves us most and accept His invitation to “come and see.” Who knows, maybe physical healing will manifest itself in the “come and see.”
Read John 1:43-51
Read also Psalm 23
We’re introduced to two more disciples in today’s passage, Philip and Nathaniel. The scripture says Jesus found Philip, then Philip found Nathaniel. Jesus suggested both “follow Him.” This sounds like joining a “small group.”
Creating community is always important, but particularly during a healing journey. The Word teaches us: a cord of three strands is not easily broken, together we are much stronger against the lies of the enemy, and we’re safer from the wolf when gathered in a herd. In a very famous passage, Psalm 23, we learn that if we stay in the herd, focused on the Shepherd, He will make us lie down in green pastures, lead us beside still waters, and restore our souls! Simply put, we’re better together. While traveling this healing journey, let’s find ourselves some like-minded believers who will encourage us as we encourage them. For example, reminding each other of the thousands of promises God has made to us in His Word can be the most helpful medicine.
Often times, illnesses can bring us together in community; however, it’s important that the focus of that community should be on pursuit of wholeness, not glorifying the disease. Are you in a community that is helping you pursue spiritual and physical wholeness and wellness by knowing more of Him?
Read John 2:1-12
Crisis Advice and Servant’s Response
Mary, the mother of Jesus, doesn’t “say” much in the scriptures, but when she does, we should certainly listen. Today’s reading describes the first miracle Jesus performed during a wedding celebration in Cana – turning water into exceptionally good wine! When the news is whispered among those close to the host that the wine is gone, panic ensues. How did Mary, being a close friend of the host, respond to this “crisis”? She went to Jesus, had a conversation, then turned to those nearby and said, “Do whatever HE says to do.” Good advice, Mary!
Obviously, suffering and sickness are far more serious that running out of wine, but Mary’s sound advice applies to all occasions. Jesus has promised to be available to us 24/7 so that we can consult Him about everything in our lives. Certainly, we want His advice during times of crisis. Let’s take advantage of that offer by spending time with Him (in the Word) so that we can hear His instruction, then takes steps to follow His advice.