John 1:19-51

As we start to look at the beginning of what is referred to as Jesus' "ministry" - the time that He spent travelling around the country in which He was born, teaching people about the "kingdom of God" and demonstrating its power and authority in the miracles that He performed, there are some questions, which we look at in this section, that are worth asking today and deserve our thoughtful, prayerful response.

Who are you?

As born-again believers, we can know who we are in Jesus Christ and this gives us a deep confidence that, whatever life may throw against us, we are right in the centre of God's will. This can fill our hearts with rejoicing. For encouragement, look up the list, "Who I am in Christ" and also, "How does God see me?" If you have done "The Joyful Woman", you will find it helpful to review the second module, "How much are you worth?" After working through these notes, you will certainly be able to answer the question: "Who do you think you are?" (John 1:22)

What do you say?

Out of the abundance of your heart, your mouth speaks. This means that all your family and friends will know what is in your heart - in abundance! Every day, moment-by-moment, we can choose what to say - in every situation. However, this is talking about what we say specifically about ourselves. We often curse ourselves with what comes out of our mouths. The only way to change this is to make a decision to "think before we speak" and then only to repeat what God's word says about us or our situation.

When we say silly things, we are agreeing with what God's enemy says about us and it certainly doesn't make us feel any better. So make a decision today to speak only what God's word says. You may be quiet for a while until your knowledge of His word increases. Start with the list of things mentioned in, "Who I am in Christ" and ask God to take control of your tongue.

Prayers for help with our speech

"Father, in the name of Jesus, I make the decision to take control of my tongue. I get rid of and repent of every word I have spoken against You and Your operation in my life. I cancel the power of those words and dedicate my mouth to speaking Your word. Out of the abundance of my heart my mouth will speak; so I set myself to fill my heart with Your word. Put a watch, Lord, over my lips. I set myself to speak in line with Your word. I recognise that You are my healer and my provider. I am filled with Your mighty Holy Spirit. I am in a good relationship with You because of Your son, Jesus Christ. I am victorious in every area of my life because You have set me free."

"Father, I thank You that I will no longer be double-minded in the words of my mouth. I shall let the word of Christ dwell in me richly with all wisdom. Everything I do, whether in word or deed, I do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to You, Amen." (Compare Colossians 3:16-17.)

Put this into your own words and write it down on paper for your pocket or wall.

What do you want?

"The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, 'Look! There is the Lamb of God!' When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus. Jesus looked around and saw them following. 'What do you want?' he asked them." (John 1:35-38)

Jesus asked this question on many occasions. He really wanted those who were going to follow Him seriously to consider what they were doing. He knew what lay ahead and He needed them to be strong, in order to fulfil their destinies. To follow Christ for our own personal needs brings Him down to our level and expects Him to advance our purposes. The best motive for following Christ is a desire to see His kingdom come and His will being done on this earth - and to be willing to do anything to bring these things about.

What do you see?

"Jesus asked [Nathaniel]: 'Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.'” (John 1:50)

As we follow the living Christ (through the power of the Holy Spirit), we have to allow God to plant the seeds of a vision in the womb of our spirits. We must then feed this vision on God's word and prayer, using challenging books and teaching materials. We need to do all we can to feed our baby vision as it grows and we start to see ourselves being used by God. He will meet us in an amazing, supernatural way, always changing us to become more and more like Jesus. God needs each one of us to do a big job on the earth: to get the good news preached to every nation. Then His Son will come back and claim His rightful possession of the earth for which He paid a ransom by His death on the Roman cross. We need to see this earth from God's perspective. We need to see people as very precious to Him and, therefore, to us also. Then we shall see amazing things happen before our own eyes. Our faith will rise and, what we think of as amazing today, will be an everyday occurrence. As each day goes past, greater things will happen. (John 14:12)

God has given each of us a purpose for living and we can trust Him to guide us. John focused his life on the truth, which he knew from the "Old Testament" scriptures. Likewise, we can discover in God’s word the truths He wants us to know. As these truths work in and through us, other people will be drawn to Him. God can use you, unlike any other person because He has made you unique. Let Him know your willingness to follow Him wholeheartedly today!

What are you about?

John the Baptist was also unique and famously so. He wore odd clothes, ate strange food and preached an unusual message to the Judeans who went into the wastelands (where he lived) to see him. But John did not try to be different just for its own sake. Instead, he aimed at obedience. He knew he had a specific role to play in the world - announcing the coming of the Saviour - and he put all his energies into this task. Luke tells us that John was in the desert when God's word of direction came to him. John was ready and waiting. The angel who had announced John's birth to Zacharias had made it clear that this child was to be a "Nazirite" - one set apart for God's service. John remained faithful to that description.

This wild-looking man had no power or position in the Jewish political system, but he spoke with irresistible authority. He spoke the truth, challenging people to turn from their sins and baptising them as a symbol of their repentance. They responded in their hundreds but, even as people crowded to him, he pointed beyond himself, never forgetting that his main role was to announce the coming of the Saviour.

The words of truth that moved many to repentance goaded others to resistance and resentment. This is a response that all of us can expect at some time. John even challenged King Herod to admit his sin. Herodias, the woman whom Herod had married illegally, decided to get rid of this desert preacher. However, although she was able to have him killed, she was not able to stop his message. The One that John had announced was already on the move. John had accomplished his mission. He was primarily a witness to the salvation offered by God through repentance from sin.

First and foremost, we have to be witnesses like John. This comes easiest from a heart full to overflowing with love towards God, which automatically gives us love for other human beings. (1 John 5:1) The important way to share this love is in a relaxed way - not forced - because all that we are asked to do is to:

Share Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. We can leave the results to God.

He saves - we don't!

"For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me and, at the last day, I will raise them up. As it is written in the scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.)" (John 6:44-47)

'Return home and tell how much God has done for you.' So the man went away and told all over the town how much Jesus had done for him.” (Luke 8:39) As we share our faith in Jesus Christ, we will find that our salvation becomes more secure. (Romans 10:9; 1 Timothy 6:12)

  • We become more and more like Jesus as we share and obey Jesus’ instructions. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:5-8)
  • We have been chosen in Christ Jesus to be fruitful. (John 15:16)
  • God’s word tells us that each and every believer should be a witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Our goal should be to win a soul for Jesus.

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life and he who wins souls is wise." (Proverbs 11:30)

How do we share?

  1. Gossip the gospel (the good news about Jesus)! For example, this might include sharing the latest answer to prayer that God has provided for you or a friend. We may be tempted to exaggerate such stories, but that can cut off the power of the Holy Spirit and put the focus on you, which will never help anyone.
  2. Always be ready. Look for opportunities as God provides them, often in unexpected ways or at unexpected times.
  3. Tell your experience with boldness. No one can argue against that!
  4. Always show how happy you are to be with other Christians. Remember the world will know that Jesus is alive by the way we love one another. (John 17:23)
  5. Live the life. You are a living testimony to the grace and mercy of God. (2 Corinthians 3:2)
  6. If unsure of how to lead someone to Christ, get hold of a tract that you feel happy with. Practise with a Christian friend and then go! Never forget that you are filled with the Holy Spirit to help you do just that. Let Him work through you and enjoy the thrill of seeing others come to Christ. There is nothing like it!

Lessons from the life of John the Baptist

  • God does not guarantee an easy or safe life to those who serve Him.
  • Doing what God desires is the greatest possible life-investment.
  • Standing for the truth is more important than life itself.
  • John spent thirty years preparing for six months of "ministry"!

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