Friday, March 30, 2012

Talking Points

I knew a young women who was dating a man from a different culture than her own. He told her that he loved her and the two often enjoyed making out by their favorite lake. However, the young man would only see her when it was convenient for him.

A another man was told by his girlfriend that she loved him, but she rarely did anything he enjoyed doing. Her conversations with him were full of criticism and complaining. Still another man insisted that he loved his wife, telling her he only beat her when she deserved it.

What do these people have in common? They speak of love, but none of them live in love. Jesus made a direct connection between obeying his commandments and loving him (John 14:15, 23).

Do your actions speak at the same volume as your words?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guidelines for Requests

We have been examining Jesus' promise that we will receive whatever we ask. We saw our requests in the light of his sacrifice. We talked about asking only for those things for which Jesus would ask. We discussed the relationship between our prayers and bringing God glory. Finally we thought about the relationship between our prayers and bearing fruit.

Does all this mean we should never ask for something material like a new car, a job or some luxury? No, there are times when it is appropriate to ask for such things. There are two guidelines I can think of. 1) It is appropriate if the item meets the criteria above, I.e furthers the kingdom of God or brings him glory. 2) We are his children and he enjoys blessing us. It is appropriate to express our desires to our Father.

Ultimately God decides the outcome based on his love for us and his knowledge of all things. Trust him with you unanswered requests.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Jesus repeated the importance of bearing fruit in John 15:16. "You did not choose me, but I chose you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you."

Our focus is not on this world or the things of this world. Our focus is on heavenly things (Colossians 3:1-3). If our requests are directly related to spiritual things, things that God has ordained, we will receive what we ask. And the results will remain, not only in this life but forever.

How glorious is this promise! How empty are the things of this world. They are momentary while our inheritance is eternal.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Jesus likens our relationship with him as a vine and branches. In this discourse he tells the disciples, "If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done unto you. By this is my father glorified, that you bear much fruit;so you will be my disciples" (John 15:7-8).

Heard in context we understand this promise refers to bearing fruit. The fruit in our lives demonstrates to the world that we are disciples of Christ. Do you lack wisdom? Ask God for it (James 1:1-3). Do you lack faith hope love? Ask God for it (1 Corinthians 13; Romans 10:17; Ephesians 2:8). Do you lack love, joy, peace, self control? Ask God for it (Galatians 5:22).

Let's examine our request to see if they are inline with Christ's intent.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Making Requests

There are several places in these chapters where Jesus tells the disciples to ask for things. Each instance gives us clues concerning what should be the topic of our request.

Yesterday we read the first instance in John 14:13. We are to ask for things that Jesus would ask for. He also limits our requests to things that will glorify God. "that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it."

Some say that means we will receive anything we ask for in Jesus name regardless of what we ask. That God is glorified in the sheer fact that he gives us what we pray for, I.e. any object or circumstance. Yet I feel confident they would not say we should ask or that we would receive what we asked if we asked for someone to be murdered.

They would undoubtedly reply, "That is ridiculous." They would say that the request would be against God's word and God's nature. And that, my friend, is the point. Our requests need to be aligned with God's purposes and intents. Prayer is not a wishing well. It is communion with God.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Praying in Jesus' Name

Jesus said, " Whatever you ask in my name, that I will do,that the father may be glorified in the son." (John 14:13; 15:7, 15).

What exactly does it mean to ask in Jesus name? Does it mean we will receive whatever we ask for as long as we attach Jesus' name to the end of our prayer? Does it mean God does not hear our prayer if we do not speak Jesus name in our prayer? Is this a formula that is guaranteed to work, much like a magic potion?

To pray in Jesus' name infers at least two things. 1) when we pray in Jesus name, we are praying or asking for something Jesus would as for. To know that we need to study his prayers and use them as a pattern for our prayers. 2) It infers remembering all that he suffered on our behalf and making sure our requests are made with the value of that sacrifice in mind.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Dangerous World

How many of us have thought how wonderful it would have been to live when Jesus walked the earth, to have known him in the flesh? But I wonder how great that would really have been? The crowds were so large that we would most likely never have had the opportunity to speak with him directly. Then there were the religious leaders who would have sought to kill us, not to mention the Roman soldiers, the forced slavery and innumerable dangers of that culture.

Jesus told his disciples, "...I will pray to the Father and he will give you another helper, that he may abide with you forever-- the Spirit of Truth" (John 14:16).

We also live in a dangerous time in history. recently an Iranian pastor was hung in Pakistan because of his faith in Jesus Christ. many more murders of Christians have happened around the world that we do not hear about in America. But we have not been left alone when Jesus went to be with his Father. We have the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Words and Works

Jesus told Philip, "He who has seen the father has seen me...The words which speak to you,I do not speak on my own authority;but the father who dwells in me does the work" (John 14:9-10).

His sentence does not follow our cultural norms. He begins by talking about words and ends by talking about works. This puzzled me for a long time. Then it dawned on me. Every thing came into existence by God speaking it into existence. So when God speaks, has words cause things to come to pass.

Understanding this can bring great joy. We know that God loves us because Jesus does. We know that whatever Jesus said will come to pass because God finishes what he has started (Philippians 1:6).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Jesus told Philip, “If you had known me you would have known my father also; and from now on you know him and have seen him” (John 14:7).

Philip answered the way most of us would have answered. “Lord show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us” (John 14:80).

From our distance, we understand that Jesus and the Father act as one. What the Father does, the Son does. The Son says and does only what the Father tells him. Therefore if we have seen the Son, we have seen the Father.

But before our spiritual heads get too big, how many of us have said we would believe if only we could see a miracle or an angel? Have we ever doubted our salvation or God because we did not experience what we thought should happen?

God’s ways are a mystery and we harm ourselves when we demand to comprehend all he chooses to do in our lives (Isaiah 55:8-11; Romans 11:34-36).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Where Are You going?

Jesus told the disciples, “…where I go you know and the way you know” (John 14:4). Thomas was puzzled. “Lord, we do not know where you are going and how can we know the way?”

As far as they knew he was telling them he was going on a trip. It would be like your spouse telling you, “Hey, I’m going to be gone for a while, you can come later and be with me.” The only problem is he or she is not telling you the destination.

Jesus still does not answer Thomas’ question directly. Instead he simply states, “I am the way the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Those words are so familiar to us that we sometimes skim over them, only using them when we want to make a point in a religious argument. But to the disciples this was still a mystery.

None of us truly understand what God says except the Holy Spirit reveals it to us (John 14:26).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jesus Appears in the Yard

I knew a pastor whose mother lived with him and his wife. His mother had a small apartment in the basement so she could have privacy when she wanted it.

One weekend to of their grandsons came to visit. As is common with five and six year olds the boys were having a difficult time going to sleep. After being sent to bed they had to be warned several times to stop playing. The last time their mother went into their room the two small boys were staring out the window. When the door opened and they turned to see their mother in the doorway, both boys pointed outside excitedly saying, “Jesus is waiting in the yard. She told them to stop fooling around and to get into bed.

The next morning they discovered the pastor’s mother had gone home to be with her Lord. Maybe the boys had seen Jesus (John 14:3).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Call to be Holy

Jesus is encouraging all of his disciples who were about to betray him that he was still preparing a place for them. God wants us to rest in his ability to forgive us, not in our ability to be perfect.

There can be no doubt that he has called us to holiness, “As he who as called you is holy, be holy in all of your conduct; Be Yea Holy for I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). But our focus must be on him and his ability to purify us as we yield to him and use the strength he has provided us (Ephesians 3:14-15; Colossians 1:9-14).

When we attempt to follow him by our own strength and fail, his forgiveness is greater than our failure (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9; 1 John 3:20).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Thin Thread

Jesus’ prophecy concerning Peter’s upcoming denial was filled with amazing things. It is difficult to grasp the full significance of all the pieces.

Immediately after telling Peter he would deny him, he tells Peter and the rest of the Disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:1-3).

Then he proceeds to indicate that they will have a ministry after his death (Luke 22:35-36; John 14:12-21). We do not live in the kingdom of God by a thin thread that can be broken in a moment of weakness. We are kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5, 23-25). God’s life force in you is far greater than you give him credit.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Using Our Failure

We read in Luke 22:34 that Satan had to ask permission to sift Peter through temptation. Notice that Jesus not only said Peter would return, but that he would also encourage others.

Peter was not the only disciple who forsook Jesus. They all did (John 16:31-32). Peter was not meant to wallow in regret the rest of his life. He was instructed to use the good news of his restoration to encourage others who had failed.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sifting Wheat

Luke gives us an insight into Peter’s denial that John does not address. Just before Jesus told Peter that he would deny the Lord, he said to him, “…indeed, Satan has asked for you that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, hat your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32).

In other words Jesus not only knew Peter would deny him, but that he would also return to his faith. Yet again we see that God uses our failures to sift us. Sifting is a process of getting rid of the empty husks of wheat. When we fail the things that are empty in our life become obvious. We then cry out to God to remove them and he takes us another step toward being like him.

Notice also that Jesus said he was praying for Peter. God answers every request that Jesus makes to his Father. Did you know that scripture says Jesus is praying for you? (Romans 8:34).

Friday, March 9, 2012

Life Style vs Failure

Jesus was very specific about the timing of Peter’s denial. “…Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied me three times” (John 13:38: Luke 22:34).

God knew before you failed him exactly when and how you would fail. Yet, knowing this he still called you to himself. If he called you when you were his enemy, is he going to stop loving you now that you are his child and you failed? (Romans 5:6-11).

We cannot choose to continue to live in sin and expect to inherit the kingdom of God. But remember, a failure is not a life style (Galatians 5:19-21; Proverbs 28:13)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Gifts and Calling

One of the most important lessons we can learn from Peter’s failure is that God does not give up on us when we fail. God did not withdraw his call from Peter because he denied him. He used Peter’s failure to strengthen the call on his life (John 21:15-19; Romans 12:28-29).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Strange Teaching Technique

We said yesterday that God will always give us the strength to resist Satan’s temptations, yet Peter failed. Why?

We said his experience teaches us that we cannot resist temptation without relying on God. That is true, but I think there is more to learn here. Scripture tells us God had the Children of Israel go by way of the Red Sea lest when they saw war they might change their minds and go back to Egypt (Exodus 13:17). Which begs the question, if God protected Israel from facing a temptation that would cause them to fail why did God allow Peter and the rest of the disciples face a temptation that caused them to fail?

One answer is that God uses even our failures to teach us our need for him (Romans 8:28-29; I John 3:19-20; I John 1:9).

Secondly, God did not promise we would not fail, but that he would provide what we need not to fail. It is up to us to use it

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Three Truths

Peter sincerely thought he was ready to give his life up for Christ when he said to Jesus, “Why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for your sake” (John 13:37). In a matter of hours he denied even knowing Jesus (John 18). Yet we know from history that Peter did indeed give his life for the gospel.

Peter’s experience tells us at least three basic truths.

1. We can never remain true to God by our own self determined will

2. We must always rely on God to supply the strength to resist Satan’s temptations (James 4:7)

3. God makes sure we have what we need to resist sin (I Corinthians 10:13).

Monday, March 5, 2012

See Him Now

When Jesus was about to leave he told his disciples that they would not see him for a short while (John 13:33). Peter could not understand why he couldn’t come with Jesus. He did not wish to wait for Jesus to return (John 13:36).

There have been many times in my life when I could not spiritually see Jesus. It felt like he had gone away. I too did not wish to wait to see him. I wanted to see what he was doing in my circumstance.

The truth is waiting increases our character (James 1:1-4).

Friday, March 2, 2012

Now is the Time

Jesus is facing an excruciating death. Being fully man, feeling everything we would feel (Heb 5:7-9) he knew the kind of physical pain he was about to suffer. He had seen crucifixions before. Yet he told his disciples, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and glorify him quickly” (John 13:31-32).

If I were facing such a death, I would be in a panic trying my best to find a way out of it. How could Jesus be so calm about his death? Actually he dreaded what was about to happen. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus agonized over his coming death (Hebrews 5:7).

He could speak of God glorifying him because he knew what would come afterward. He knew because of what he was about to go through we would become his children (Hebrews 12:2).

If you are facing something you fear will destroy you, focus on God being in control of the outcomes in your life (Hebrews 12:2; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11-12). He will not abandon you (John 14:18; Mt 28:20). God will be glorified.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Value of Silver

The disciples were so caught up with their own self doubt that they missed Jesus’ plain declaration that Judas was the betrayer (John 13:26). They assumed Judas was going out to buy supplies or give money to the poor (John 13:29).

Judas had already been to the high priest to initiate a deal, money for delivering Jesus into their hands (Mt 26:14). Seems appalling, doesn’t it? Riches had so consumed Judas that he had lost all sight of who Jesus was and of eternal values.

Is that not what we do when we take moral short cuts? We forget his pain to free us from bondage to the values of this world.