New Testament

Introducing Known: A Study on John

I've spent the past several weeks in a new Bible study with a wonderfully beautiful and diverse group of women here in Brandon. Known is a chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse study on the Gospel of John, and it's been so sweet to open up the Word with these women each week.

John (along with Matthew, Mark, and Luke) is all about the person and work of Jesus Christ, so there's really no better way to prepare our hearts and minds for Easter than to spend the weeks leading up to it meditating on his life and studying his words.

We're about halfway through the study, and a beautifully honest picture of Jesus is emerging. He works wonders and wields words with the power and authority that belongs to God alone. He is unapologetically truthful, using truth both as a sword to cut through false assumptions and as a balm to soothe weary souls. For those who would look past his human exterior and behold the glory peeking through, he offers grace, truth, and a wellspring of eternal life.

My prayer for this study is that God would make himself known to us—that by gazing upon the Word that became flesh, we would see his glory with wonder anew. That is, after all, why he came. That we may know him, and that we may spend our lives making him known.

If that sounds like something you're interested in, you don't have to be local to take part. That's the beauty of the internet, friends! You can find everything you need to get started, including the learner workbook and weekly podcasts, on the Known Bible study page.

I hope you'll join us! We'd love to have you. Until next time, grace and peace.

Love Came Down (Advent Week Four)

Love Came Down. An Advent devotion from Leslie Ann Jones.

What a whirlwind this season of Advent has been. It's been wild, y'all. I don't know what went wrong, but despite my intentions to have a calm and collected season, it hasn't happened. I've felt more frazzled than ever. I suppose some years are just like that.

Even now, I feel rushed. In just a few minutes, I need to start getting ready for the Christmas Eve service at church. I still have presents to wrap, and there are still at least 37 things on my to-do list before I can fall into bed tonight.

But I need to stop for a minute to breathe. To consider the magnitude of God's love for us. Jeremiah 31:3 says that God's love is of the everlasting variety. It goes on and on and on into eternity. It has no beginning, and it has no end. It's vaster than our wildest imaginations. 

And it's for us.

Sometimes I look at my children and think my heart can hardly contain all the love I feel for them. Can you imagine how God feels when he considers his children?

He loves us. And because he loves us, he came down. He loved us when we were at our most unlovely, and he loves us still. He didn't wait for us to get our acts together or get our ducks in a row before coming. No. He showed up. He stepped right into the crazy alongside us. He showed us what love looks like.

It looks like God bending down low and tucking in tight to put on the flesh of a tiny human baby. So that we might know that he is not so far above us that he cannot hear our cries for help. So that we may see his love on full display. So that we may know him and experience the fullness of his grace, mercy, and love.

He has loved us with an everlasting love. My prayer for you tonight, sweet friends, on this last day of this last week of Advent, is that you would lean into that love and let it wash over you. Sink into it, feel the comfort of his embrace, and be filled with wonder.

Until next time, grace and peace.

Joy for the Broken (Advent Week Three)

Good News of Great Joy. An Advent Devotion by Leslie Ann Jones. #Verses #Scripture #Quotes #LAJQuotes #LAJScripture #Advent #Christmas

Truth: I'm having a hard time with joy today. I've got a cold (again), it's a dreary day outside, and every time I login to facebook, I see a prayer request for another bad situation. 

Lives lost too soon.

Families left behind.

Wildfires running rampant.

Inoperable brain tumors.

Brilliant minds falling to dementia.

Marriages torn by divorce.

Children left fatherless.

Friends losing jobs.

And that's just what's happening in the lives of people that I know personally. In the rest of the world, things are far worse. War. Churches being bombed. Children buried under rubble. Civilians being executed.

The bad news is relentless. And in the face of such an overwhelming flood, it's nearly impossible to keep your head above water. Another wave is bound to come crashing down soon.

But it's into this fray that Christmas comes. And that, dear friends, is where our hope and joy are found. The promise of the gospel is not that we would never know suffering or feel pain but that he has seen our suffering and known our pain, and he has entered into it with us. The wonder of Christmas is that God Almighty came down. When we cried out for help, he came running.

Jesus is the joy of our salvation. He's our rescuer sent from heaven. He's our help in times of deepest need. He's the promise of aid on the horizon. When your current circumstances obscure joy, remember this: Christ has come. Christ has risen. And Christ will come again. 

When that time comes, he will wipe away every tear from every eye. There will be no more sorrow, no more grief, no more pain. No more sickness or death. We will be with God, and in his presence, no darkness can dwell.

Though the sorrow may last for a night, joy comes in the morning. Morning is coming, sweet friends. And that's good news of great joy, indeed.

Until next time, grace and peace.


(Verse  Four)

O holy child of Bethlehem!
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today!
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Immanuel.

— Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)