Monday, October 21, 2019

Remaining relevant

John 15:1-17…

There are many profound and yet perplexing things about this text. The wonderful things Jesus says have to be matched by wondering what He means. Can we really get what we ask for? Can we really be full of joy? Can a real branch be cut off? The truth is that we can get real twisted by this text, and the depths of this text are an ongoing treasure to be discovered. We can be sure that abiding in Christ is the point, and to abide means to remain.

These words of Jesus are proof that we cannot simply rely on a few moments of inspiration and devotional reading here and there if we are to really grow as God wants us to. We cannot simply skim the surface, we have to stay with it; we have to dive into the depths if we want to reach the heights. Keeping His commandments, loving one another, and bearing fruit to the glory of God as real disciples and friends of Jesus, this means that we have to have a real attachment to Him.

There are so many great promises in the Word of God to get a hold of, but in grabbing hold we need to be aware of something. These things are not so much about having a tool as it is about becoming a tool. The Bible is a tool, yes, but it is a tool designed to make us a tool in God’s hands much more so than it is a tool in our hands. And again, to abide means to remain, that is, we become the tool over time.

Jesus gives us the characteristics of authentic branches. They bear the fruit of Christ’s character, living through God’s Word and prayer. They want to obey God’s commandments and they love other Christians.  The idea is not about imperatives, but indicatives. In other words, it is not that if we stay in touch with Him we can use these promises like a tool. No, it is that abiding in Him turns you into His tool, and these promises become our experience. 

There is a difference between abiding and appearing. People can seem real, sound real, and simulate the real. The test is that when they are pruned back, do they grow back? 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

I AM with you

John 14:15-31…

Sometimes we may feel as if we have been left alone, abandoned, and we’re afraid. The comforts we have relied on have come crashing down. Chaos abounds, and confusion sets in. Where will we turn? Who can understand? Who can help? What shall we do? All seems lost.

The disciples knew this feeling exactly. Jesus, this wonderful teacher, miracle worker, God manifest in the flesh, was going away. Think about how that must have hit them like a ton of bricks. How in the world would things ever come together again? Life was shattered.

Their answer is our answer, too. Jesus was not leaving the disciples alone. God would be with them by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The world cannot recognize or receive the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14), but Christians do (1 Corinthians 12:13).  He’s the answer.

The Spirit’s power is indispensable. The evidence of our love for Jesus is that we obey His teaching, which is most manifest by our love for other believers. The power to do that comes from God; we are given the Holy Spirit as a gift, and the Spirit helps us to trust and obey God.

The Spirit’s presence is everlasting. He comes from the Father to stay forever within the believer. The Spirit makes Jesus real. He mediates the life of Christ to the believer. He is our comforter, and teacher, reminding us of biblical truth and the things concerning Christ.  He pours out God’s love to us (Romans 5:1-5), and makes us a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19).

Jesus did what He had to do, and after He had defeated Satan on the cross (Colossians 2:13-15), the Holy Spirit would come. He would make real the presence of Jesus, explain the words of Jesus, and give us the peace of Jesus. We are not alone, we will not be abandoned, and we do not have to be afraid.  The “I AM” is always with us (Hebrews 13:5-6). 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Truth over troubles

John 14:1-14…

Jesus had been speaking of many trying and troubling things on the immediate horizon. He now speaks these comforting words to their anxious hearts. In our day to day lives, we can be so inundated with concerns that our faith is out of focus in the right now. The big picture is that Jesus is God, so He can be trusted when we are tested.

I go to prepare a place for you. Jesus is not talking about finishing the job up in heaven. He is simply saying that through His death, resurrection, and ascension the way to heaven will be prepared completely for us. He is not making the room itself; He is making the way to it. The rooms are already completed, and He is making room for us. I will come again and will take you to myself. Our destiny involves both a place and a person.

How can we know the way? Jesus was going to the cross, and He was giving them assurance that His journey into death was all part of the plan. They still didn’t understand it. But He clarifies it. I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Jesus is the only way a person can have a relationship with God and spend eternity with Him (Acts 4:12 / 1 Timothy 2:5). He is our means of access (Hebrews 4:14-16). Still, they didn’t understand. They wanted to experience the reality of a revelation of God. Jesus clarifies further. He IS God, and to know Him is to know God (Hebrews 1:1-3).

He goes on to tell them that while His words and His works testify to His truth, they will personally be a testimony to the Truth also. Pentecost was the beginning of the greater works Jesus was speaking of. They were not greater in power (both raised the dead), but greater in extent. He was referring to the spiritual miracle of salvation. Jesus never preached outside of Palestine, yet His followers would spread the gospel throughout the world. The number of believers in Christ grew far beyond those that were numbered during His lifetime.

Jesus then promises His disciples that their prayers concerning fruit bearing would be answered because this would bring glory to God. Fruitful ministry by following Christ’s kingdom agenda is a means of comfort when we are struggling with heart trouble. When troubling times come it is time to take the mission of God out of our back pocket and put it onto the front burner. If we believe on the One who IS the Truth, then we will see the way and live the life (Galatians 2:20).