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Archive for July, 2009

  

John 15, 16

 

When Jesus finished the things He talked about in John 15, He concluded with this, “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.”  After everything He said in John 16, He concluded this way, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.”  

 

In the combination of the two things He told them and in light of the fact that He was getting ready to go away, He gives them the key to the life He lived while He was with them, so that they would be able to live the same after He was gone.  

 

In 15, it is all about abiding, remaining, or staying connected to Him.  This staying connected is the key to our not going astray.  The going astray is not so much the dark paths of sin, but subtle deception that will lead us away from the truth.  As we stay connected, we are maintaining the channel through which truth can flow.

 

So important for them to live the life He lived is this connection to the truth.  So important to Him that they have it, in 16 He tells them of the Counselor—the Spirit of truth—that He will send to guide them in it. 

 

Critical that we stay connected to establish that steady flow of truth.  If we do, we will have peace.  If we don’t, “In the world you will have trouble.”  “But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  As our enemy tries to sway us with lies, the truth overcomes it.

 

Paul puts it this way; “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

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1 Kings 17, 18  Elijah

 

It is natural to read of faith’s heroes and be inspired by them to do the things they did.  In our zeal for God, we, like Elijah, want to establish the fact, for others to see, that God is God.  We, like Elijah, would like to do something that would settle the issue, so that people would no longer be of ‘two opinions’.  It is natural to want to jump to this point in the timeline of Elijah’s life and say with him, “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God”.

 

As we are given a glimpse into 3 or 4 glorious years of his life, it is easy to miss the many obscure ones that came before it.  The obscure years, the winter years, the years when there is little sign of life, are the years that we prepare and position ourselves for the summer ones when God finally speaks life and purpose into our lives.  Even at the beginning of these glorious years when Elijah first heard God speak in 17:1, it says in 18:1, “After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah”.

 

Elijah had 3 more years of intense faith training to build on the faith he already had.  He would need it to do what God had for him to do.  It is with all this behind him that Elijah comes to this point to settle the issue that God is God.  Had he made his move even one day earlier, he would have fallen flat.  But because he had developed a history of waiting on God in his obscure years, he again waits during these 3 until God said it was time. 

 

Now knowing that God has initiated this move, he can ask with complete confidence when he says, “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God”.  And then, when God answered, he again did not let go of believing for the rest of what God told him would happen.  He would not let go until it rained.

 

Whether with Elijah, ourselves, or even with Jesus Himself, all we can do at any point in the timeline of our lives, is to follow today where God leads, knowing that if He is leading, it is to position us for what He has in store for our tomorrow.

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Is It Any Wonder

 

Is it any wonder that He knows

the steps that I should take?

He goes ahead to clear the way,

a path for me to make.

 

He alone knows where I’m bound

and how to get me there;

to follow close and listen well,

this my only care.

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Building Docks

 

It’s the middle of the summer—a time that many, including myself, enjoy time at their favorite lake.  My favorite is Kentucky Lake.  Some friends of ours own a lake house there and occasionally we go over for the weekend. 

 

This particular weekend, we had gone over with another couple.  While sitting on the porch one morning, my friend had an observation about docks that I thought was pretty cool. 

 

Docks are built in the winter months.  There aren’t many people around in the winter months—not much activity.  The signs of life are few and far between.  Yet we know that just around the corner are the summer months when people will come to enjoy the life the lake offers.  Docks are access points which make that a little easier.

 

In the winter period when there is no one around—when there is little sign of life—we need to build docks.  When the summer months come, when people come looking for life, will we have a good dock that will make it easier for them to find it?

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John 15

 

At the end of all that Jesus says in chapter 15, He concludes with “all this I have told you that you will not go astray”.  If you could know something that would keep you from ‘going astray’, wouldn’t you want to know it?  

 

In the first 10 verses of John 15, 10 times Jesus uses the word ‘remain’ (‘abide’ in some translations).  I usually perk up when He says something twice, but 10 times; it must be pretty important.

 

Verse 4 makes the general point that a branch cannot bear fruit unless it remains on the vine.  That makes sense.  It has to remain connected to its source for nutrients or it will wither and die.  If the branch remains connected, it will naturally bear fruit.  Separated, it can’t bear fruit no matter how hard it tries.    

 

 John 15:4 says “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me”. 

 

John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”.

 

It is frustrating to try to bear fruit.  It is easy to read these verses and focus on the bearing fruit part to prove to ourselves and others that we are remaining.  It is just simply backwards.  We must first learn to remain, the fruit will then come.

 

It is interesting to realize this is probably hours before Peter’s denial.  So, though he heard ‘all this’, still, it did not keep him from ‘going astray’.  It is one thing to hear it, but when Peter did it, it transformed his life.  When Peter and others were told to go to Jerusalem and wait, while they waited they were remaining.  His life was never the same afterwards.

 

There is no substitute for remaining; taking the time to learn from Him.  It is where His life flows into ours.  It is the thing that will keep us from ‘going astray’.

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John 14

 

The greatest truth in all the Bible is that God loves us.  Is it any wonder that the greatest lie would be Satan’s attempt to convince us that He doesn’t? 

 

John 14:21 says, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”  Satan is a master of twisting truth.  He can heap so many commands on us (twisted versions of God’s commands) that there is no way we can obey them all.  As hard as we may try, we can’t do it and he knows it.

 

It is the perfect setup to use against us to convince us that God does not love us.  That is the way he works.  He will take truth and twist it.  As he feeds us his twisted version of the truth, his goal of course is to get us to go for it instead of what is really true.  If he can get us to focus our efforts on the importance of obeying, knowing he will feed us more than we can obey, we’re done.

 

From personal experience, I believe to focus first on obeying is getting the cart before the horse.  John 15 will get into this more, but for now I will say that we must first know Him, and then we must learn to abide in Him.  As we take the time to abide, we learn to distinguish the difference between His truth and Satan’s lies. 

 

All too fitting is Matthew 11:28, 29 which says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  We must come to Him that we might learn from Him what He requires.  If we do not, we will hear Satan’s version of what God requires.  The greatest truth will meet the greatest lie.

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Levels of Belief

John 12, 13

 

 

Some believe but fear what others will think.

John 12:42

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue;

 

Some believe but sell out for personal gain.

John 13:30

30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

 

Some believe but fold under pressure.

John 13:38

38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

 

Some believe but are distracted by duties.

John 12:2

2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served. . .

 

Some believe but are content to just be in the vicinity of Jesus.

John 12:2

2 Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.

 

And then there are some who are not afraid, who will not sell out, who will not fold, who are not distracted, who are not content; some press through all the way to God Himself.

John 12:3

3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

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