Monday, April 30, 2012

The Sheer Volume of Miracles

"If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin... If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin, but now they have seen and also hated both me and my father" (John 15:22-24).

People believed he was the Christ precisely because he did more miracles than any one ever did (John 7:31).

We are not the Messiah. We are his representatives as were the prophets in the Old Testament. God sometimes did and does miracles through his messengers, but not to the extent Jesus did.

If all believers did the same volume of miracles as Jesus, how would the world know which was the Christ?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Veiled Darkness

When sin came into the world it changed the nature of all men. God created us to be like him (Genesis 1:26). We were created to be kind, loving, just and full of grace. But when we turned away from communion with the father of lights (James 1:17), we became dark inside (2 Peter 1:19).

We know how to be polite to one another. We have even developed nice ways to put someone in their place. When we are on the giving end of veiled barbs, we feel justified. When we are on the receiving end we feel insulted and hurt.

Jesus said people will react toward us in the same manner they act toward him (John 15:20-21). If they kept his word, they will keep ours. If they reject his words they will reject ours.

Our responsibility is to make sure we are speaking his words and not our own veiled darkness.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Song

I do not know the author of this song, but I wanted to share it with you today.

"Fater if lights, friend in the night, before beginnings are you. Calm in the storm, balm to the torn, when all else fails, you are true.

"The earth breaks forth into singing, only at the mention of your name. And my spirit breaks into loving, at the nearness and the tenderness of you."

Have a blissed day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Take One for the Team

There is an old saying, "Take one for the team." It is meant to convey team camaraderie. What one team member suffers, the entire team suffers. Jesus used this universal principle to explain to the disciples that they would suffer persecution.

"Remember the word which I spoke to you, 'A servant is not above his master. If they persecuted me they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also" (John 15:20).

We may live comfortably for a long time among unbelievers without conflict. We may get so comfortable that we are taken by surprise when we are suddenly faced with persecution. Individuals whom we thought understood our positions as a Christian become angry when we refuse to go along with what is clearly sinful choices.

They take offense when they find out we belong to quite a different team.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Creeping Principles

Have you ever felt like you just wanted to stop trying? It seems like it would feel good to give in to that anger and tell someone exactly what you think. Or sometimes you tell yourself something you want to do isn't really all that bad, not really. Or you say to yourself, "I have a right to do what Iq want, say what I want, go were I want, and pretty much be what I want to be.

This is all true in the since that we have the ability to make choices within our financial and physical capabilities. But often these kinds of thoughts come during periods of frustration or anger. The basic principles of the world are gnawing at our morals. We need to remember Jesus' warning.

"You are not of this world" (John 15:19).

Do not allow the world to creep its way into your heart.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Driving Away

If any one of us four children wanted to ride with dad to the store, he would take us with him. One sunny afternoon he asked me if I would like to go with him. I hesitated because I wanted to keep playing. I finally said no. He was not out the door more than a minute when I changed my mind. I quickly ran after him, arriving at the carport just in time to see him pulling down the driveway. I ran after him calling out, "daddy, daddy". But of course he could not hear me and drove away.

All these years later I can still see the car pulling away. As illogical as it was, I felt rejected.

That emotion is something we never forget. Jesus warned us, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, the world hates you" (John 15:18).

We should not be surprised if unbelievers don't invite us to be a part of their group. Their works is based on different values which may make them uncomfortable around us.

Friday, April 20, 2012


People disappoint us. Goodness, we disappoint ourselves. Often we disagree on interpretation of how things should be. Most of these disappointments and disagreements we can easily pass over. But when our differences collide so that we are uncomfortable around the other person, that is when Jesus' command that we should love one another can seem extremely difficult.

"These things I command you that you love one another" (John 15:17).

Loving someone means we do the best for them. That may require confronting, not allowing someone to continue to violate us or others, and not pretending like nothing happened. But even after we do all the confronting, setting limits and the like, we still are commanded to love them.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fruit Trees

God chose us to go and bear fruit (John 15:16) and that our fruit should remain. This is obviously a word picture. We are like fruit trees that produce fruit. But what exactly is that fruit?

We are most familiar with the list in Galatians 5:22: " Love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control". Paul also tells us in Ephesians 5:9 that the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness and truth.

In other places scripture speaks of fruit as the outcome of our actions. I.e. Paul says to live on in the flesh means fruit for his labor (Philippians 1:18). And in Colossians iPaul speaks of the Word of God as bearing fruit throughout the world and in the believer (Colossians 1:6).

My father has a tangerine tree. The fruit tended toward bitterness. Then he fed it sugar water and the result was a fruit significantly sweeter. What we feed on regulates what fruit is produced.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Do I Belong to God?

We sometimes wonder if we really are his children. How do we know that we belong to him? The bible gives us several signpost that point the way to full assurance of our relationship with God. Jesus gives us one here in John 15:16.

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain..."

We need to always keep it in the forefront of our thoughts, that we desire to please God because he set that desire in our hearts. If he had not, we would not give two cents to know whether we pleased him or not. It would seem silly to even contemplate such a thing. Because God chose us, we can rejoice as we serve him with a thankful heart.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Prison Camp

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends (John 15:13).

I have a copy of a letter written by my great great grandfather from Andersonville prison, a confederate prison camp. There were to fences around the compound. One of the prisoners was knocking down the exterior fence during the cover of darkness. None if the ter prisoners knew who it was.

The confederate soldiers who ran the prison camp were infuriated, demanding tat someone confess. When no one would step forward p, they began starving the men. When that did not result in a confession, they told the prisoners that one man would be shot each day until the guilty party stepped forward r someone turned over the culprit.

So my great great grandfather decided the following morning he would confess to knocking down the fence though he had no idea who was really doing it. This letter was his goodby letter to his family. We do not have a record of what gaped, o we do not know if he was killed or not. We do know that he was willing to lay down his life for his friends.

Why do you suppose we are so reluctant to sacrifice for those we know when they have offended us?

Monday, April 16, 2012

What is the Father Up To ?

Let's look again at what Jesus said to the disciples in John 15:15. "...a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends for all things that I heard from the father I have made known to you". He is making a direct comparison to the activity of his father. He has told them the plan his father was accomplishing (Ephesians 1:11).

We can see a portion of that plan in Ephesians 3:8-13. The father was in the process of making a special called out people to be a holy priesthood. They would be called the church, the body of Christ, and would be instrumental in making the majesty of God obvious to principalities and powers in heavenly places (1 Peter 2:9-10).

You are one of those priests.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Closing

We moved to our new home in California while waiting for the sale of our old home in Illinois to close. I moved not having a job and my husband was retired. We needed our first home to sell or we would be in danger of loosing everything.

Every morning I packed a lunch and headed to town to the local job search center. I treated finding a job as though I was hired to search. I took a break at lunch then went back to searching and applying for jobs on the internet until 5 pm.

On my way home one night, I received a call on my cell phone from my husband. "The closing of the house fell through". I was stunned. This was the third time this had happened. I sobbed while steering the car toward home. Why? Why would God allow us to loose everything?

I was responding as God's servant. I did not know what he was doing. I was stunned to silence (John 15:15). I had a decision to make. Would I trust him regardless of what was happening, or would I become bitter and angry toward God. Peace or anxiety?


Jesus said to his disciples, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my father I have made known to you (John 15:14).

When the disciples first met Jesus, they were like servants. They had no idea what he was doing. Their thoughts were full of misconceptions and misunderstandings. With continual teachings and illustrations, the truth became clearer, but they did not want to face Christ's impending death. So we get Peter telling Jesus that he will not be crucified .(Mark 8:31-33).

Now it is slowly dawning on them that death is coming. They have been stunned to silence. But Jesus is comforting them that what they will soon suffer is not the end of the story. They will experience tears, fears and anxiety, but unending joy will soon follow.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Loving as He Loved

Jesus commanded his disciples to love one another as he loved them (John 15:12). How did he show them his love? We tend to focus on the sacrifice of his life, as well we should since it is the basis of our salvation. But how did he show his love while he lived with them?

He always told them the truth, and did not hide the negative things from them. He told Peter that he would deny him, but he also gave Peter hope of his spiritual renewal (Luke 22:31). He forgave Peter before Peter committed the act, while he still held him accountable (Luke 22:31, 61; John 21:15-17). He did not allow his friends to lead him away from God's purpose for his life (Mt 16:21-23). He served them with love and humility (John 13: 1-17).

Jesus demonstrates to us that there is much more to love than pleasing people.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Jesus said, "If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love" (John 15:10). In our culture, this sounds like a extremely demanding and abusive relationship. "I'll love you if you do exactly as I tell you". But Jesus is not an ordinary human. He is God manifest in a human body and has every right to demand obedience.

But there is more to his statement than a demand to obey him. He is making it clear that his commandments bring us life and protect us from emotional and spiritual harm. When we keep his commandments we are a bidding in his love, because they are based on his love for us.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Love Letters

Before my husband and I were married, we lived in different states. We wrote love letters to each other and spoke for hours on the phone. When I received a letter from him, I did not casually open the letter, read a line or two then toss it on the counter to read whenever I got around to it. I did not leave it in a stack of junk mail where I might accidentally throw it away.

I cherished every word, reading every letter more than once. I sometimes would not open a letter immediately, but would savor the anticipation of what he would say to me. Then making time to be alone, I would lovingly open the letter, aware that my fingers were touching the same paper he had touched. I loved him; still do.

Is that the level of emotion we hold for Jesus' words? If not, perhaps we have not yet understood deeply enough his love for us (John 14:24).

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Magnitude

There is no doubt that we are saved by God's grace (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 11:6; etc). Yet this does not change the fact that Jesus measures our love for him by works. In his own words, "if anyone loves me, he will keep my words...He who does not love me does not keep my words" (John 14:23).

Paul prayed that the believer would attain to the riches of the full assurance of understanding (Colossians 2:2). When reveals to us the riches of his grace and the magnitude of our inheritance, there is nothing we want more than to keep his words.

Friday, April 6, 2012

How Does He Do It?

The disciples thought Jesus was immediately going to set up his kingdom on earth. They had been taught since children that the Christ would come and defeat the enemies of Israel. What better time was there to deliver Israel than during the Roman occupation?

So when Jesus said to his disciples that in a little while the world would not see him, but the disciples would see him, the men were puzzled (John 14:19). And when Jesus said he would manifest himself to them, but not be seen by the world a heavy fog of confusion enveloped their thinking. Judas, not Iscariot, logically asked, "How can you manifest yourself to us and not to the world?" (John 14:22).

His kingdom is in our hearts. Yet I too sometimes marvel how it is that he has shown himself to me and yet so many others do no perceive him (John 14:21, 23-28).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Briefcase Switch

If you ever watch movies, you most likely know about the classic switch of the brief cases. Someone believes they are carrying millions of dollars, but in reality are carrying bundles of blank paper. The bad guy, or good guy depending on the story line, has switched cases while the victim was distracted.

What is in the briefcase is far more important than the briefcase.

Simply put our bodies are briefcases. What is in yours? (John 14:17, 23).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Now in Us

Before Jesus died he told his disciples that the Holy Spirit lived with them (John 14:17). So why did he say he would send the Holy Spirit, if the He was already with them (John 14:16; 16:7)?

Before Jesus died and rose again, the Holy Spirit's work was limited to certain people like Ezekiel, Daniel, David, and briefly King Saul. it has always been the Spirit of God was moving on the earth, but He was not available to everyone. After Jesus met with his Father, he sent the Spirit ,not only to live with us, but to dwell in us ( John 14:17).

As his children, we do not come to God as though he were far removed from us, but him who lives in us.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Waking up on the Wrong Side of the Bed

Sometimes our lives feel overwhelmed with difficulty. Things aren't going the way we thought they should. Sometimes our sadness comes from direct losses. At other times we wake up depressed for no appearance reason. Our circumstances have not changed overnight. We just feel sad.

In either case, we are wise to remember Jesus' promise, "I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that he may abide with you forever - the Spirit of Truth..." (John 14:16).

Meditate on the fact that the Holy Spirit is with you and allow the peace of God rule your emotions (Colossians 3:15; John 14:27).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Commandments and Words

Jesus said two things about loving him.

If you love me keep my commandments (John 14:15).
If anyone loves me he will keep my words (John 14:23).

What is the difference between his commandments and his words? Aren't
they the same?

His commandments are specific directions; i.e. Thou shalt not steal, kill, lie etc; and "Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all your with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-40).

His words are principles by which we base our decisions and our relationships; i.e. "Peace I give you. My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid?" (John 14:27).