Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jesus Is the Vine—Followers Are Branches

Jesus Is the Vine—Followers Are Branches
1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.8 "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.11 "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
    John 15:1-11 (NASB)

O -  Context is always important.   It is hard to tell if Jesus is telling His disciples these words while still in the upper room during the last supper, or if he is already on his way to Jerusalem to be crucified.  Either way it is definitely intended to reach His disciples to give them words that would guide them when He is separated from them in body.   He lays out the principles of essentially being able to bare the kind of fruit Jesus did during His ministry on earth.   They would need to go on to do greater things and bare much fruit in order to reach the world with the Gospel.   In order to do that they would need to abide in Jesus, as He would live in them, and together they would bare the kind of fruit that would/does change the world.  The principles are clear - stick with Jesus and you will bare fruit;  if you bare fruit the Father will continually prune you in order rid you of the unproductive part of your life that is holding you back, so that you may produce even more fruit each season.

A -  The application for me is to follow the principle/truth of the vine.   Recognize that I must abide - (webster defines abide as - to endure without yielding ; withstand  ; to bear patiently) in Christ as He lives in me and from this relationship I can/will/do bare fruit.   I am to be aware of how the Father is pruning me of some area's of my life that are less productive so that I may bare more fruit in the the future.  

P - Dear heavenly  Father thank you for today's devotion, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you would prune from me that which is not fruitful, give me the wisdom and understanding to know to let go of the those things which you are pruning from my life.   Jesus, I abide in you, and you are in me, and I look forward to being a part of your team to reach the world.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The tools of a disciple of Christ

The tools of a disciple of Christ

S - 
7 "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him."8 Philip said* to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."9 Jesus said* to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?"        John 14:7-10 (NASB).14 "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.         John 14:13-15 (NASB)              16 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper , that He may be with you forever;17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.19 "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.20
             John 14:16-20 (NASB)
25 "These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.27 
           John 14:25-27 (NASB)

O -   These words were all spoken by Jesus while in the upper room during the last supper, after the time in which he washed the disciples feet,  declared someone would betray him, sent Judas off to to it, and then began teaching His disciples more of who He is, and would be, to include His intended provision forever for them.   The key elements for His disciples (and us) to understand is that He was present in person for a period of time and he cared for them, provided for them, interceded for them, taught them, and led them.  All of this would be the same and even more so when He joined the Father in Heaven.  Things would be different though.    He aboded with them on earth,  and now He would abide in them in Spirit, and intercede from Heaven.  He taught them in person on earth, but the Holy Spirit would come upon them and teach them from through the Spirit.    He lead them physically, and now the Holy Spirit will guide them on earth, and He will lead them from Heaven.    The promise was significant, a  promise of more to than they had already experienced.   In fact He states they will do greater acts than He had done on earth,  if they would simply ask in His name, the Father in Heaven would answer their prayers.
   I love what Mathew Henry says of this teaching in John, of what it means to be a follower of Christ   " Where sincere love to Christ is in the heart, there will be obedience. Love will be a commanding, constraining principle; and where love is, duty follows from a principle of gratitude."—Matthew Henry Concise
A -  The application for me is to understand who Jesus is, in my life, and who the Holy Spirit is in my life, and how I am blessed, privileged, and held to a higher standard because of it.    There is nothing complicated about it.   I am a disciple of Christ, He reigns in heaven and intercedes for me when I pray in His name.  The Holy Spirit lives in me, and does two things for me , reveals God's truth's, and helps me discern my current circumstances and what direction I should go (leads me).  With these gifts/tools I can with confidence serve Him that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that your spirit would guide me to be a disciple that lives up to your potential in me.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Only Godly Good Shepherd

The Only Godly Good Shepherd

S -
11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.12 "He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 "He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.14 "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.16 "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.17 "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.18 "No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."
19 A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words.20 Many of them were saying, "He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?"21 Others were saying, "These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?"
Jesus Asserts His Deity
22 At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem;23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.24 The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, "How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly."25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me.26 "But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.30 "I and the Father are one ."
31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him.32 Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?"33 The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."34 Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'?35 "If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?37 "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;38 but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father."39
John 10:11-39 (NASB)

O - I don't know if it is the Holy Spirit's revelation in me, but this scripture makes it so obvious who Jesus is. The son of God, our good shepherd, and ultimately the one we should follow. The Gospel of John, does a great job in revealing, or re-exposing Jesus' deity to the people of God. It is important to remember John was writing the Gospel so that the young Church's might not lose sight of His deity. The tendency was already occurring in the early church to reflect on Jesus as a prophet who did good works, and had good teachings and was therefore worth following. But if you (we) lose touch with his deity we will miss a critical feature of who He is. He is the "the One" , the only Saviour of the world, the only redeemer of man, the only reconciler with God, the only Shepherd we are to follow. A couple of interesting notes from this scripture is that Jesus let's us know directly He is the good shepherd, and is given that role by His Father in heaven, and that He does lay down His life for His sheep, that he has been given all authority to do so, and to take his life up again, to heaven. He foretells that he has other folds of people outside the nation of Israel that are His sheep, and that they will become a part of his flock (salvation is for all people, not just the Jews). What Jesus gives to his sheep is eternal life, and the guarantee no one will ever be able to snatch them away from Him. The last observation is that Jesus would like us to believe Him for who is says He is, but if that is not enough, His works testify directly that He is doing the works of God, and that should give us understanding that God is in Him.

A - The application for me is to be sure I am mentally placing Jesus in the position that He rightly deserves in my life, the One, the good Shepherd of my life. He does so with the authority from God, and all the power and capability of keeping His promises of eternal life without separation from Him or God ever again. So when I live, I must walk in life with the confidence of knowing I have a good shepherd, one I can completely trust and follow. What a powerful paradigm to live under. Living with a good shepherd who is God, gives confidence, hope, and unshakeableness to live a life that is confident and assured, so the only question is what am I waiting for.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart. I pray Lord that your Holy Spirit would be that reminder to me that you are my good shepherd, that I can follow you with full trust, and confidence that you are my savior, my protector, my strength, and that your direction and your ways are the direction I need to head in. I pray all this in Jesus Christ name, Amen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The goal of entering the promised land - restoration

The goal of entering the promised land - restoration
S -
1 "Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it,2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.3 "O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey
Deut 6:1-3 (NASB)


10 "Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build,11 and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied,12 then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery .13 "You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.14 "You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you,15 for the Lord your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the Lord your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.
16 "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.17 "You should diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and His testimonies and His statutes which He has commanded you.18 "You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land which the Lord swore to give your fathers,19 by driving out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has spoken
.Deut 6:10-19 (NASB)

O - So after a long period of living in the land between - freedom from slavery and Egypt, and the promised land ahead, the Israelites where finally ready to enter the Land promised to Abraham. It is important to remember it took them 40 years to be seasoned, and prepared, to be a nation of God, that trust in Him, and not themselves. They had faced many trials, seen many miracles from the time of their liberation to their arrival to the promised land. They had been given clear instructions on how to live, and commandments to guide their relationship to God and each other. They had traveled with God amongst them in the Tabernacle, and been organized as nation by tribes and by roles each would play. God had been purposefully preparing them to be His nation, a Holy nation, set apart, from which the savior of the world would ultimately come. His purpose was clear to Him, to restore his creation, into direct loving relationship, from the separation that sin had created.

A - Knowing this was God's most excellent plan, I have grown a deep appreciation for His wisdom, patience and power. Since the Adam's fall, the goal of restoration never left God's heart. The complex nature of man, precluded a God from simply making it so. He created us complex, like himself (in His image), and would take a complex solution to deal with the now fallen nature of man. So God set out to to restore man, through a man, Jesus Christ, who would bridge the gap between God and man. So it seems (though I am not trying to proclaim I completely know God's mind) that God chose to bring the Christ to earth amongst a nation that was as familiar with Him and His ways as possible. Abraham would be the father of that nation, and Israel the nation that struggles with God, all the while growing a fertile ground in which the savior of the world would be born. As we see though, the nature of man even in God's promised nation, leans toward separation, either by violating his commandments, worshiping other gods or completely ignoring God's existence. Christ ultimately was born into this "close enough" but not there nation, in which He performed the final necessary steps to restore relationship of God with man, through his sacrificial acceptance of the penalty of sin for all of us. This scripture in Deuteronomy is understandable from the context of God's plan, and even forgivable of the nation of Israel, given the the context of which God is sending them into the promised land. Seemingly God has been fair and prepared them completely for their future in the promised land, but not even the abundance of the land and protection of God is enough to keep the nation from falling away from God (ultimately being put back into exile in Babylon). So what am I to make of all of this. Bottom line: Entering the promised land is not the goal, the goal is restoration and relationship with God. For me that means God is bringing me and my family into the promised land for a purpose, and that purpose is restoration of His people. I am to use my experience and past as a building block to understanding God and His ways, so that I might be strong, and live according to His purpose for my life, to see more people come to the saving knowledge of Christ.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's power lesson , may it be sealed to my heart. I pray Lord that you would help me to enter the promised land in a way that honor's you and all that you have taught and shown me. I pray that I might face the challenges ahead with hope and confidence in who you are Lord. I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jesus, the bread of life

Jesus, the bread of life
S - John 6:57-69 (NASB)
As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.58 "This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever."
Words to the Disciples
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?"61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, "Does this cause you to stumble?62 "What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.65 And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father
Peter's Confession of Faith
66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.67 So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?"68 Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.69

O - Once again in this Chapter, John is showing us the true divinity of Christ, and should it not be surprising that He is presenting a message, not of the physical world, dominated by satan, but a message of hope, dominated by God's spirit, and things of the Kingdom of God. The message is one that challenges us to understand what Jesus is talking about with regard to the bread of life, and eating Him for eternal life. You can only imagine what that must have been like for the group of disciples (greater than just the 12) to hear this message, if they were only thinking of the physical world and not the spiritual world. In verse 58 Jesus refers to himself as the bread that came from heaven, that people eat and do not die, as opposed to the manna from heaven that came down from heaven that Israelites ate, and were sustained, but all eventually died a physical death. After making this statement that challenged some of Jesus' disciples he didn't let them off the hook but challenged them to continue to understand who he really was, and said if you see me ascending to heaven will that also cause you to stumble. And then the object lesson for us all, Jesus explains God, the spirit, gave life, and therefore it shouldn't be surprising that by partaking of spiritual bread of life, we might have eternal life, but that the flesh is only temporary, and therefore profits nothing, and Jesus explains the "words I speak to you are spirit and life". And there is the revelation confirmed, that in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word became flesh, and now the word, spoke the word of life, which is spirit, and with gives eternal life. And then finally Peter confirms, that man can get the message, understand it, receive it, and have eternal life, when he says to Jesus (paraphrased) - " I am not sure why those guys don't get it (after some of the disciples left), where else are we to go when Jesus you have the words of eternal life and that is all we need.

A - The application for me is simple, deep, and life changing. The word of life, Jesus, has granted me eternal life, through my acceptance of Him into my life. His word alone is enough to sustain, and in fact cause my life to be all that He designed me to be... for eternity. I need to embrace and fall in love with the word of life, drinking frequently from the fountain of His word, as it is the water that I drink from and will not get thirsty again, it is the bread of life from which I eat and will not get hungry again.

P - Lord thank you so much for your word, your life, your spirit, your truth. I pray Lord that you would lead me into a deeper understanding and appreciation for your word of life, and allow it to grown and transform me for your glory. I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Christ - our righteous judge

Christ - our righteous judge
S - John 5:22-30 (NASB)
22 "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
Two Resurrections
25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.26 "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.28 "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
30 "I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me

O - The book of John was written by the Apostle John, for the purpose of proclaiming the deity of Christ, to believers. At the time he wrote the accounts of Christ, the early Church had already began to fade away from the truth about Christ being the true son of God, who now reigns in heaven at the right hand of the Father. Instead they began to think of Him as a great prophet and teacher of ways to live with regards to each other and God. While it is a true statement that he was a prophet, and taught on how to live in the Kingdom of God, when you leave out his oneness with God, you are missing a vital piece of whom Christ is. Here we see John giving testimony of the miracle of healing at the pool of Bethseda. While the story is about the healing of a man who was sick for 38 years, the intent is to show another aspect of Christ as part of the Godhead, that of judge of all. The scripture shows in fact that the Father has given all judgment to the Son, for the purpose that everyone might honor the son the same as they honor God. Then in verse 24 Jesus proclaims all that is required to escape judgment and have eternal life, is hearing His word, and believing in Him. The second observation comes with regard to Christ's testimony to those already dead. Now this could mean a couple of things, dead to God , due to their sin, or actually dead in the ground. He proclaims that all (even the dead ) will hear the voice of the Son of God and all that actually "hear" or receive his workd will live (have eternal life). The last statement in verse 30 is our comfort that we have a judge and savior who does not judge for his own desire and will, but that his judgement is just because He seeks the will of the Father in Heaven.

A - The application for me is to recognize our ability to lose sight of the devinity of Christ. When we study his ways, and learn how we should live our lives, by how he lived his life, and what he teachings tell us, we are only partially understanding who He is and what He came down from heaven for. He came not only to teach and heal, but proclaim his oneness with the Father, and his role in playing judge. The application I need to consider is how is my relationship with the devine Christ, who is in heaven, who already died for my sins, is bridging the gap between me and the Father. I believe through deeper prayer time and relationship with Christ, and deeper reflection in the word, I can and am beginning to grow deeper in relationship and understanding of who Christ is.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's devotion , may it be sealed to my heart. I pray Lord that you would continue to reveal to me who you are, and allow me to grow in deeper relationship and understanding of the completeness of who you are in my life. I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen