The founder of Jesus' Economy, John D. Barry, is an author and editor. And now you can buy his books right on JesusEconomy.org! By purchasing John's books on JesusEconomy.org, you will help fuel the movement of Jesus' Economy. You will also get free shipping on every book! In addition, all of John's books are 10 percent off right now, for one week only!
This series of studies works through books of the Bible verse by verse, even phrase by phrase, with practical prayer suggestions and guided reflection questions for individual or group study. For this series, John has authored studies on the books of Malachi, Colossians, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter and Jude.
This 365-day devotional, which John co-authored with Rebecca Van Noord, covers the full span of the Bible in one year. The included reading plan curates readings each day from the Old Testament, New Testament, and poetic literature. John and Rebecca’s devotionals will help you grasp how the entire Bible is connected to reveal and exalt Jesus Christ. Practical questions at the end of each section help you reflect on what it looks like to live out the love of Jesus in everyday life.
In this study of 2 Corinthians, John uses Paul’s relationship with the church he established in Corinth to explore how Christians should deal with broken relationships. This study will equip you with godly wisdom to help you discern when to reconcile in relationships and when to walk away, by cutting ties with darkness.
These studies by John are perfect for your small group, Sunday school class, or small group. If you want to order several books for your group, we can offer you a bulk discount on John's books. Contact us at 1-855-355-3266 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
John D. Barry is the CEO and founder of Jesus' Economy. As such, he has dedicated his life to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. He also serves as a missionary with Resurrect Church Movement, the domestic division of Jesus' Economy dedicated to equipping U.S. churches to alleviate poverty and plant churches. John is the General Editor of Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary. He has authored or edited over 30 books, including Resurrected Servant in Isaiah, Cutting Ties with Darkness, and the daily devotional Connect the Testaments. John formerly served as founding Publisher of Lexham Press for Faithlife Corporation (the makers of Logos Bible Software) and is the former Editor-in-Chief of Bible Study Magazine, a product he launched. John speaks internationally on engaging the Bible, poverty, and spreading the gospel.
We hope that these books will help you gain understanding of the heart of our organization and, most importantly, the heart of Christ. Each and every purchase goes to support operations to fuel the movement of Jesus' Economy. Now that’s a win-win.
At times, justice becomes a bit of a catch phrase, sadly even a cliché. Yet it’s one of the most important concepts we can understand and live. I have seen injustice with my own eyes, and each day the news tells each of us of acts of injustice. But rather than feel defeat, let’s stand up, take action, and do something about it. Here are four ways justice should be the cry of today’s Christian.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see Jesus taking on our pain and anguish—and on the cross, we see him taking on our sin. Think about these four things Jesus says and prays in the Garden:
“Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
“My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.”
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
“My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will must be done” (Matthew 26:36–46 LEB).
It is here that we see the man—Jesus. It is here that we find one who walks alongside the downtrodden, the hurting, the poor, the outsider, the refugee, the sinner—all the way to the cross. Here we find the one who walks alongside all of us, all the way to the cross. Here we see God enfolding, through Jesus, all people into his kingdom. Jesus does God’s will, so that we can have life.
In the garden, Jesus asks if the cup can be removed from him; but not his will, but God the Father’s be done. Jesus realizes the burden he is about to carry. This burden is described in Isaiah (over 500 years before Jesus) as:
“By a restraint of justice, [the servant] was taken away and with his generation.
Who could have mused that [the servant] would be cut off from the land of the living? Marked for the transgression of my people.
And [Yahweh] set his grave with the wicked, and [the servant] was with the rich in his death, although [the servant] had done no wrong, and there was no deceit in his mouth
Yet Yahweh was pleased to crush [the servant]; he afflicted him (with sickness). If [Zion] places [the servant’s] life a guilt offering, [the servant] will see offspring, [the servant] will prolong days. And the will of Yahweh is in [the servant’s] hand, it will succeed. Out of trouble of his life [the servant] will see; [the servant] will be satisfied by his knowledge.
[Yahweh says,] ‘My righteous servant will bring justice to many and he will bear their iniquities’ ” (Isaiah 53:8–11, my translation).
As painful as it is, it pleased Yahweh that Jesus should go to the cross, for it is in this that God found not just ultimate obedience, but also the bridging of humanity with himself. The judgment of God for our wrongdoings was satisfied. Once again, we were put into right relationship with God.
It is in Jesus that we find the refugee on the cross. Here we find the guilt offering for all of our wrongs. Here we find one who carries our sin, bears our iniquities, and intercedes for transgressors. Here we find a restraint of justice bringing justice to those who do not deserve it.
But what will we do with this justice, with this freedom?
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. in his work from Birmingham Jail. And it is injustice that we see today—all over our planet.
Near the end of his life, Martin Luther King, Jr. was working to bring equality by creating jobs. And yet, so much of the world still lacks jobs, because we haven’t completed the task. This is injustice.
We look around the world and we also see those who are oppressed—who lack spiritual and religious freedom, who lack knowledge of Jesus. This too is an injustice.
We must stand up, lift up, and rise up—to fight these injustices, boldly proclaiming that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We can read Jesus’ call to care for the “least of these” in Matthew 25:37–40 as a direct preface and parallel to what he will do on the cross. Jesus went to the cross to make us who do not deserve to be right before God, made right. And just before doing so, he calls us to live this message—noting for us that whether or not we did will be a primary question when he one day returns to earth.
So when we look around our world, and see a lack of access to basic healthcare, clean water, and jobs—like I have seen in the impoverished region of Bihar, India—we know that we must take action.
Jesus cries out for this. This is the Christian cry. And it is my personal cry, as I am personally broken for the hurting that I know in Bihar—for those who have placed their hands in my hands and cried out to God with me for justice.
We can also read the final words of Matthew’s Gospel, spoken by Jesus, as a commission based on his ministry in life, on the cross, and in his resurrection. And it’s a commission of action. Jesus says:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20 LEB).
Yet, there are still millions of people who have not heard Jesus’ name—again, this is the case in Bihar, India. In Bihar, there are 101 Million people who have never heard the name of Jesus. This again, is an injustice. All people deserve the chance to have access to the gospel.
The question becomes for each of us: What will we do about it? Why are we content with the knowledge of God, but not the actions of God? When will justice become part of the gospel? Because in actuality it is—we’re just not living it.
Do not walk away with guilt; walk away inspired to take action. Let’s continue the work of Jesus, the apostles, the early church fathers, and people like Martin Luther King, Jr. Let’s mark this season as the one everything changed, and we began to renew our world again with Christ, by his power and grace.
Gospel work is a process. And there are days when it feels like the road ahead feels not just rocky, but downright treacherous. We’ve all been here. It is in these moments that it can feel difficult to go on with Christ’s work. When all feels hopeless, here are some ideas of what you can do.
We often forget just how holistic God’s work is. And God can manage the concerns of his creation, surely he can manage our concerns. Jesus once said:
“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you will eat, and not for your body, what you will wear. Is your life not more than food and your body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky, that they do not sow or reap or gather produce into barns, and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are? And who among you, by being anxious, is able to add one hour to his life span?” (Matthew 6:25–27 LEB).
Anxiety and worry is easy. Faith is hard. But if we lack faith, we need to look no further than the birds of the air to realize God’s faithfulness. And this isn’t some sort of “easy way out” theology. I am advocating that we actually stop and observe—contemplate, pray, and then act. Notice the order: stop, observe, contemplate, pray, and then act.
Once we visibly observe God’s work, trust in him becomes much easier. In the midst of hopelessness, we must realize that we serve a God who shows us everyday that we can indeed have hope (Hebrews 11:1).
It can seem a bit cliché at times, but it’s an important reminder: God’s creation is beautifully clothed, so why would he not also care for you? In the same passage we have already looked at, Jesus goes on to say:
“And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe the lilies of the field, how they grow: they do not toil or spin, but I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was dressed like one of these. But if God dresses the grass of the field in this way, although it is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not do so much more for you, you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28–30 LEB).
We struggle over our concerns of today, but how often do they merely fade into the background when tomorrow comes. At times, we wonder where God’s provision will come from while we forget what he did yesterday. Think of what God did yesterday—that may change everything about today.
Anxiety brings no real value to our lives. Instead, it concerns our mind and occupies our time. It’s meant to distract us from what is real and important—what matters, which is our loving God and the work he wants to do through our hands. Jesus concludes his remarks about worry and anxiety by saying:
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?,’ for the pagans seek after all these things. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow, because tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31–34 LEB).
If we seek first God’s kingdom, everything else fades into the background. As we turn our focus from ourselves to Jesus, we see that our concerns about ourselves were really not that important at all. When we mentally place our fate in God’s hands—which it literally is anyways—our perspective shifts and we realize what’s most important: knowing God and accomplishing his purposes by loving others.
It’s so easy to toil from one day to the next without acknowledging what God has done the day before. I make that mistake, and I’m sure you have made that mistake before too. And lest we think this is a small matter, let’s take a moment and contemplate why changing our perspective is so important.
When we change our perspective from our worries and concerns—from food, clothing, materialism, and even our personal goals—and turn our focus towards God’s goals, we have an opportunity to truly change the world. Around our globe there are people who are suffering in poverty, and people who have never had the opportunity to hear the name of Jesus. If our perspective is skewed, we will never find the strength we need to address these issues. We will lack the courage necessary to do God’s work, because we will be paralyzed by fear. But if we have courage, imagine what could happen.
God has incredible things in store for this world. Joining him means partnering with him, and partnering with him means setting our eyes on Jesus.
Join us in providing access to the gospel in Bihar, India, where 101 million people have never heard the name of Jesus. Together, we can renew hope.
It's always surreal to review your past year. There is part of you that feels good about your accomplishments and part of you that wishes more goodness would have occured. I recently experienced these emotions when launching the 2014 Annual Report for Jesus' Economy. Here are some spiritual lessons I learned through my reflections.
Hindsight offers so much clarity that the process does not. When I look at some of the bigger decisions Jesus' Economy made in 2014, I only wish we had made those shifts earlier. I have to remind myself that I can only have that emotion in hindsight. In realtime, ideas come together slowly: We need input and discussion to draw wise conclusions, and much prayer. Rather than wishing for changes sooner, we should be glad that we were open to changes when we were.
This makes me think of James' words: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him ... let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak" (James 1:5, 19).
I always want to do more and be more, and in the process, I easily forget to thank God for what he has done. Near the end of assembling our annual report, I began going back through it and emphasizing the work of God. What happened through Jesus' Economy in 2014 is nothing short of a miracle, and I need to give God credit for it. It was God who came through for us, to make his work happen. We are merely stewards of this effort. When you see all the work put together in one picture, like an annual report, this becomes obvious. Thus, I wonder if this is a process we should apply to our lives in general. If we were to review regularly, would we more easily see God at work and be grateful for it?
Simply put: There is no value in wishing for more in retrospect. There is only value in being grateful for our "portion" and what God has done with it. This is the lesson of the book of Ecclesiastes. We should be grateful for growth, but also grateful for sustainability. Another way to put it: Growth too fast makes the heart grow weary. We should be grateful for sustainability, not longing after growth that is overly ambitious. For that type of growth will not last.
Reflecting on this past year has made me dream about all the great things that could be, and all the incredible work that I want to see God do. Our dreams must fold into God's dreams (the lesson of Ecclesiastes 5:1-7), but once we're certain of God's dreams, we should pray and work to make those dreams real (Matt 7:7-11).
Once again, simply put: We should celebrate the victories of God and then act on what we believe he wants to do next. And along the way, we should pray, pray, and then pray again.
I am thankful for these lessons. They profoundly remind me that all of us merely steward God's work in the world. We are all instruments that God is using to play his beautiful song. Let's dream with him and sing with him.
In Bihar, India church planters are facing a great challenge. There are millions of people who have never even heard the name of Jesus. I met over a dozen church planters when in Bihar—they changed my life. They were like meeting Saint Paul, over and over again.
One church planter said: “I lead six churches in five villages and three small groups. I also oversee five Bible studies.” He then went on to list half a dozen community development programs he leads, all of which empower people in rural villages. I was flabbergasted.
Another said: “We’re reaching out to villages who have never heard the name of Jesus” and “The message is empowering people—they’re being healed and finding a new life.”
“There are women who are finding hope again for themselves and their children in the gospel of Jesus,” said yet another church planter. “They’re seeing that Jesus can change their lives for the better and embracing the gospel.”
The good news of Jesus is renewing lives in Bihar, India. Stories like these are just a few of hundreds. But these questions don’t just motivate me; they convict me.
When you meet a church planter who has given up everything to provide others access to the gospel, you suddenly realize that you can spend your entire life studying the Bible and not understand Jesus. Am I willing to give what these church planters give? Am I willing to live as Saint Paul lived, like they are?
What does the process of making a complete commitment to providing access to the gospel look like? For Paul, it was his direct experience with Jesus (Acts 9), but it was also more. Acts tells this story:
"Now there were prophets and teachers in Antioch in the church that was there: Barnabas, and Simeon (who was called Niger), and Lucius the Cyrenian, and Manaen (a close friend of Herod the tetrarch), and Saul. And while they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart now for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then, after they had fasted and prayed and placed their hands on them, they sent them away" (Acts 13:1-3).
For Paul, his decision to provide others with access to the gospel began with a personal experience, but then moved to a group decision. It also, most importantly, involved the direct words of the Holy Spirit. Paul knew he was called, but he waits for this moment to commit all of his time to it. God was working in Paul's life the entire time, but this moment marked his full-time commitment.
Being around church planters in Bihar made me admit to myself that I am not as hardworking for Jesus as I thought I was, and furthermore that I actually know very little about what it means to follow Jesus. I don’t say this to be self-depreciating—in some kind of false humility; I actually mean it. Meeting church planters in Bihar, India is like meeting people who lived like Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy. And meeting those kinds of people will change you.
My time in Bihar made me realize, as we all should—that no matter what our calling is—that we have a long ways to go. And that Jesus wants to work on our hearts to get us where we need to be. No matter what our specific calling, he will use it for his glory, but we must first be willing to admit our weaknesses and be used by him (Phil 4:12-14). We must also wait on God's precise timing, as Paul and Barnabas did.
When Paul decided to pursue a global ministry, he was giving up other parts of life for Jesus. Nonetheless, Paul—and likewise the church planters in Bihar—made the decision to share about Jesus and the incredible life he offers. They committed their lives to providing access to the gospel and alleviating poverty.
No matter what your precise calling is, Christ wants to renew your life, for the better. And along the way, during the discernment process, he will be with you.
We are actively working to renew Bihar, India through church planting: Please join us. For just $226, you can support a church planter for a month. You can help people hear the name of Jesus for the first time.
Imagine experiencing intense tragedy and then having to journey into the unknown with a family member you really don't know very well. How would you handle it? The biblical character Ruth provides us with an example of what it means to follow God even in the most dire circumstances. In this video, Chief Projects Officer Kalene Barry shares why she has always admired Ruth.
Read the biblical story of Ruth on Biblia.com.
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What if all this time we have been missing something about Mary the mother of Jesus? What if she has much more to teach us than we realize?
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Here at Jesus' Economy, we love to take you on adventures. During the last few weeks of June, we have taken you around the world, talking about God's global perspective along the way. Here's a round-up of our fun together:
For our "Living for Jesus" Wednesday post, I offered you an essay about God's global perspective, showing you what it means for God to love the entire world, not just one nation, culture, or people group. This has the power to change the way we view our place in the world.
Kalene Barry imagined life in Zambia, taking you on a journey from Manhatten to the Village of Hope, a beautiful sanctuary created by our partner The Zambia Project.
Charlotte Van Werven surveyed summer, water fun and discussed the problems with people getting access to clean water, taking you across the planet in the process.
For "Living for Jesus" Wednesday, Charlotte asked the most major existential question: "Why am I here, really?" Charlotte's answer came from reframing the question as "What does God want from me?"
Seasons and fashion seem to go together. Charlotte's research into summer fashion trends takes you on a journey around the world and results in a surprising answer to the question: "What's in?"
As Christians, we're called to bring the gospel to the very ends of the earth, providing access to all people. But how are we doing at hitting that goal? Utilizing statistics from Issachar Initiative, Charlotte tells you.
Why am I on earth? It’s the most major existential question we ask. But perhaps it’s better framed as: What does God want from me?
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17 NIV).
These may be some of the most misinterpreted verses in the Bible. I’ve seen people read these verses and then completely shun the world. They think that this passage is telling them to live secluded lives and to ignore the people who ignore Christ—to simply reject the world.
But that’s not what God tells us to do. God loves the world, for he sent his son to die for it (John 3:16–17). Thus, God is not saying to shun the world; he is telling us to not love what the world loves. We should not love the world’s desires and passions.
In 1 John, the world is a metaphor here for evil desires. And the evil of this world will pass away, but “whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
God doesn’t want us to hate the world; he simply wants us to fulfill His good and perfect will.
God’s will is for us to love him, and to glorify him in all that we do. Part of loving God is loving the people he created. If we truly love him, love for his creation follows (Matthew 22:37–39).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16–17 NIV).
Here in John’s Gospel the metaphor of the world is representative of all of humanity—God loving humanity in spite of humanity’s evil acts.
It is not our job to shun the world; it is our joy to love the people in the world, as God loved them first—that all of humanity might be saved through Christ.
Sometimes, loving the people around us can be incredibly hard.
A few days ago, I passed a group of kids who were smoking and way too young to be doing so. They were dressed very inappropriately and disrespecting the people around them. As a do-gooder, my natural response was to shake my head. I then simply looked at them, took pity on them for their ignorance, and kept walking. Then, a feeling of pride rose in my heart as I considered myself as someone who knows better. But that’s not what’s supposed to happen, nor what did.
As I walked by, my first thought was, yes, one of judgment. But as I kept walking, God reminded me that he wants something more of me: I am not supposed to judge nor just simply walk by.
We are supposed to take it a step further. We are called to love them.
Instead of just walking by, maybe I should have smiled at the kids, said hello, or tried to show them that I cared. I don’t want to be the scoffer that walks by. I also don’t want to be the person who “proclaims God’s Word” and then walks the other direction. I want to live out my beliefs—I want to glorify God. I want to truly show love.
If we are to glorify God, we must truly love the people around us—all of them. We must love the rich and the impoverished, the mean and the nice, the whole and the broken. Whether we like it or not, this is what we are called to do.
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys” (Luke 12:33 NIV).
The needy are not just the people who live on the streets. The needy are also those who don’t have Christ. The needy are the ones who are alone.
And we can be here for them. We can ask them what they need, and we can do our best to empower them—thus shining the light of God.
When we are able to see what really matters in life—when we see what God’s will truly is—we provide for the impoverished and needy, and we store up our treasures in heaven instead of on earth. We see what it means to live out of God’s desires instead of the desires of the world.
I am here to glorify God. I am here to satisfy God’s will. I am here to love the whole world. I am here to love all of the people in the world.
How can I show them love best? I can show them I love them by empowering them. I can be here for them. I can walk up to them and have a conversation. I don’t need to push my love. I need to let it flow from me—just as God’s love flows into me.
We are here to love the world.