Friday, July 31, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
1 -3"I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
4"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
5 -8"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
9 -10"I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done—kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love.
11 -15"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father.
16"You didn't choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won't spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
17"But remember the root command: Love one another.
for the past few days i've been kind of stressed out and overwhelmed with a lot of stuff. how do we run a youth ministry? how do we make things interesting? how do we make it exciting? how do we encourage unity? how do we break down the walls that we've built up for so long? how do we do this, and that, and all of it?? once again, i've been trying to figure out all these things on my own instead of asking for help. and there it is, once again, my pride grins its ugly teeth. if i would just ask the other leaders to help me out, we could accomplish so much. if i just ask my mentors and the people i look up to, i could learn so much more. but i don't. it's sad, really. that i would let whatever i'm responsible for suffer because of my pride. c.s. lewis said, "for pride is spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love, contentment, or even common sense." i fall into the latter category. lacking common sense because of my pride is a reoccurring theme in my life. i know for certain that it's not making me fruitful in any way, shape, or form. i skipped to being hated by the world last time but this time, these verses really stood out to me and God spoke to me.
i can't expect to have "fruitful" results by trying to figure things out on my own. sure, i can have "good" results. everyone can have a good time at friday night, they have fun and laugh the night away, which is all good and well, but is it "fruitful"? is it advancing the Gospel? is Jesus' message of love and redemption being carried across this way? or is it sometimes just lost in the mix? i've been trying to do things without being connected to my vine, my lifeforce, my Jesus. and what happened? i started getting burned out again! i lost sight of why i was doing what i was doing! thuy had to put me in my place and ask me that simple question once again. "who are you doing this for?" i'm doing this for.........God. i need to ground myself in His Word. i need to spend time with my Father. He's my source of strength. how can i expect to share the Gospel if i don't spend time in the Gospel?? how can i ask for help and break down my pride if i'm not connected to my pride destroyer?? i want to be humble like Jesus. i want to love like Jesus. i want to move people like Jesus. this can only happen when He is working through me. when i let go and let Him do the work. it suddenly becomes not "i" who moves people but "Jesus" moving people. that's the way it should be. people shouldn't see me. people should see Jesus.
i'm letting Him take it all. take my pride, to give me humility. take my unfruitfulness, to give me fruitfulness. nothing works without Him. without Him, it all crumbles in the end. now the next question here is related to the second part of this passage. "who am i not loving the way that Jesus loves me?" i think that's a question all of us should ask.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Hated by the World
20"When that happens, remember this: Servants don't get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them.
21 -25"They are going to do all these things to you because of the way they treated me, because they don't know the One who sent me. If I hadn't come and told them all this in plain language, it wouldn't be so bad. As it is, they have no excuse. Hate me, hate my Father—it's all the same. If I hadn't done what I have done among them, works no one has ever done, they wouldn't be to blame. But they saw the God-signs and hated anyway, both me and my Father. Interesting—they have verified the truth of their own Scriptures where it is written, 'They hated me for no good reason.'
26 -27"When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes—the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father—he will confirm everything about me. You, too, from your side must give your confirming evidence, since you are in this with me from the start."
being a Christian isn't easy. yes, Jesus' burden is light and God is always here but the world and satan are still trying to bring us down. this is why the armor of God is so important. satan knows that we're weakest when we're not with God, when we're not spending time with God, when we don't spend time in the Word. he knows this full well and will do everything in his power to pull us away from God. when the world starts looking down on us, when they start making fun of us, when they start ridiculing and hating us, we have to know that this is what we get ourselves into when we accept Jesus Christ. we will be the last in this world. everyone will look at us and say that we're ignorant, that we're weak, that we're crazy to believe in such things. but as Christ followers, we know that this man named Jesus Christ was real, is real. we know that He died on the cross for us. He took all our sins from us onto His own body so that we could be saved. we put faith in God knowing that we will see Him in heaven when our bodies fade away on this earth. we have a hope that's stronger and nothing compares. we have God. we have to know that the world hated God first and to anyone who follows Him, they will hate just the same. when we stop being "of" the world and just start being "in" the world, not following in everything that it says we should do, i.e. get a job, get a career, start a family, be successful, make lots of money, be beautiful, retire, etc., they start calling us "failures," "losers," and "hopeless." but we know better, we know ourselves as, "blessed," "loved," and "full of His hope." we know this because the Bible tells us so. God's Word tells us so. His Truth to us tells us so. you see, if we don't live in the Truth and the Truth doesn't live in us, in our hearts, we're left right out in the open with no guard. we need to remember that God is good. God is with us and will never ever leave or abandon us. we just have to acknowledge that He's here.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
18 -20"I will not leave you orphaned. I'm coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you're going to see me because I am alive and you're about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I'm in my Father, and you're in me, and I'm in you.
21"The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that's who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him."
22Judas (not Iscariot) said, "Master, why is it that you are about to make yourself plain to us but not to the world?"
23 -24"Because a loveless world," said Jesus, "is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him—we'll move right into the neighborhood! Not loving me means not keeping my words. The message you are hearing isn't mine. It's the message of the Father who sent me.
25 -27"I'm telling you these things while I'm still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I'm leaving you well and whole. That's my parting gift to you. Peace. I don't leave you the way you're used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don't be upset. Don't be distraught.
28"You've heard me tell you, 'I'm going away, and I'm coming back.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I'm on my way to the Father because the Father is the goal and purpose of my life.
29 -31"I've told you this ahead of time, before it happens, so that when it does happen, the confirmation will deepen your belief in me. I'll not be talking with you much more like this because the chief of this godless world is about to attack. But don't worry—he has nothing on me, no claim on me. But so the world might know how thoroughly I love the Father, I am carrying out my Father's instructions right down to the last detail.
"Get up. Let's go. It's time to leave here."
the Holy Spirit is revealed to us because we know who we are looking for. when we are looking towards God, we will find the Holy Spirit made plain and clear to us. Jesus explains that a loveless world is a sightless world. we know love as God, God is love. a loveless world, then, would be a Godless world. so how can they see Jesus, or even, why would Jesus make Himself plain to them if the world doesn't even want to acknowledge His existence? to love Jesus means to keep everything that He's told us, but how can we possibly remember everything that Jesus has taught us? it's not easy, that's for sure! and that's why God sends the Holy Spirit down to help us remember, to help us see Jesus in our lives every day! we heard this at the cma conference this past weekend that the relationship between the the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is like a dance. the Holy Spirit is clearing the way for us to see through all the muck and distraction in this world so that we can remember Jesus' words in our lives and so that we can actually see Jesus! when we see Jesus, we see Him pointing up to the Father! the Father then sends us the Holy Spirit to help us see Jesus! and it just goes around and around and around. it's actually really beautiful to think about. i think we really need to ask the Holy Spirit as well when we're in prayer to just help us see Jesus. we need to see Jesus every day of our lives.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
1 -4"Don't let this throw you. You trust God, don't you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father's home. If that weren't so, would I have told you that I'm on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I'm on my way to get your room ready, I'll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I'm taking."
5Thomas said, "Master, we have no idea where you're going. How do you expect us to know the road?"
6 -7Jesus said, "I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You've even seen him!"
8Philip said, "Master, show us the Father; then we'll be content."
9 -10"You've been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don't understand? To see me is to see the Father. So how can you ask, 'Where is the Father?' Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you aren't mere words. I don't just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act.
11 -14"Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can't believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I'm doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I've been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I'll do it. That's how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I'll do.
Jesus is the only way. He is the Truth and the Life. we learned a little bit about this this past sunday at rock harbor. we learned that Jesus knew He was the only way. we also learned that whenever He spoke, preached, or performed miracles, He never ever begged or pleaded anyone to follow Him. He knew He was the way to life but He never bribed or coerced people to follow Him, in fact, He made it harder for people to follow Him! when people came up to Him and asked how to follow Him, He asked them to give up what they valued more than Him, for one man it was his father's business and for another it was all of his possessions! Jesus wanted people who were desperate for Him! He wanted the leper, the hemorrhaging woman, the man who knew that Jesus could heal his daughter! Jesus wanted people who had no other options! He wanted the purity of desperation! these people had no other option but Jesus, no other hope but Jesus, and Jesus healed them or their loved ones because of their faith! He doesn't want half-heartedness. He wants all of us, and if there's anything that gets in the way of that, He's going to ask us to give that up. the thing is, we're lucky to have Him, not the other way around. He doesn't need us! we need Him! He says that if there's something that we think is better than Him, He says to go ahead and pursue it because He knows that it won't satisfy and people will come running back to Him in the end. also, jumping down to verses 11 to 14, we see Jesus giving this very popular quote that if we ask anything in His name, He will do it. people use this verse all the time to say that if i ask to Jesus to do something in His name, He'll do it for me! nope! we have to ask for anything that is lined up with who He is and what He is doing, not just for a promotion or a girl! it has to be related to the kingdom of God! if we ask for strength in fighting off the Devil, He will provide. if we ask for humility in relationships, He will provide. if it furthers the kingdom of God, He provides. let's remember that we need Jesus desperately. and let's remember that God isn't some sort of genie. He gives and He takes away but ask for strength to love Him and He will give it to you. ask for faith and He will show you His power.