The Cost of Following Jesus-John Chapter 15

You know those people on television who promise things like your best life now? The books written about how God wants us to have it all? They run counter to things Jesus said.

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In John 15, after telling the disciples he calls them friend and after talking about love for one another, Jesus gives a reality check.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

That is quite the contrast to what Jesus was talking about right before regarding love one another. Now the word hate is being used. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. That sounds ominous.

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. 

If I had been there, I would have thought-wait a minute Jesus you were just talking about love one another and how we are your friends and now this?

Being identified with Jesus does involve risk. In some places in the world, it can mean death or imprisonment. In the Western World it could mean loss of friendships and opportunities.

When Jesus talked about pick up our cross in Luke 14:27-

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

He was talking about how we may lose out on things or people in this life because of him.

In John 15 Jesus again brings up the Holy Spirit but note why

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

The Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses for Jesus, to go out and share the gospel and show the love of Jesus. We do so even though we will face rejection and at times opposition. We do so out of love for others knowing they are in eternal peril if they do not have Jesus.

This dear reader the reality check from Jesus. The good news is that he is with us no matter what happens.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Holy Spirit by Francesca Battistelli

I love this song. We sang it in church yesterday morning. Welcoming the presence of God into our lives is what this song causes me to think of. God wants to be in our lives no matter what our lives look like. We can be the biggest mess and God wants to be with us. We can be in the midst of struggle with sin and God wants to be with us. We can be in despair and doubt and God wants to be with us. We do not need to be perfect for God to be with us.

Welcome October

October is here. I love October for many reasons. It is the month that I eagerly await the first frost/freeze to kill off the weeds that cause allergies. It is the month that after the first frost/freeze I open the windows and air out my place. Many nights I sleep with the windows open.

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I also love when the trees change color. It is wonderful to walk in the park and see the red, orange and yellow leaves. It seems as if God painted the leaves with bright colors.

In October we also go back to normal time. Really we should get rid of time changes. They are so out of date.

Most of all I cherish the memory of one night in October 1989. I had visited a church because they were showing a Billy Graham film. When I came home from watching the film, the presence of Jesus was so strong in my place that I dropped to the floor to pray. As I prayed, I saw lost people needing Jesus and wounded souls in need of Jesus’s healing touch.

The next day I went to get my hair cut. While the young woman was cutting my hair, she shared with me about the trauma in her life. She finished by saying, “I don’t know why I told you all of that.” I had the opportunity to share Jesus with her.

Do you like October? What is October like where you live?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Passing Out In X-Ray

One night when I was 20 years old, I started feeling nauseous and had a lot of pain, It kind of came on suddenly. I went to the emergency room and the ER doctor called a surgeon. The surgeon wanted x-rays done before he got to the hospital.

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I weighed 200 pounds at the time having worked out with weights a lot. A small young woman came into the ER with a wheelchair to take me to x-ray. She was maybe 5’2″ and weighed maybe 100 pounds. The sight of this petite young woman with a wheelchair caused my pride to kick in. I told her I could walk.

In the x-ray room, I had to lay down for some of the x-rays. When they were finished, I sat up and then stood up to go back to the ER. Then it hit me. I passed out and fell into the arms of that poor petite woman. Somehow she managed to guide me into the wheelchair to take me back to the ER.

I had my appendix out that night. As they wheeled the hospital gurney from the ER to the OR, I apologized for waking every one up and apologized again in the OR. I was a bit loopy from the meds.

Fortunately for us, no one is too big for Jesus to catch when we falter in life. He has all power. He is more than capable of catching us and taking care of us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless

Jesus Is Our Source- John Chapter 15

Jesus often used examples from agriculture to explain spiritual truths. He did so because it was what his audience could easily relate to. For a city guy like me, not so much. I need to study a bit to understand some things. One of those things is about grapevines.

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I am a bit familiar with apple trees due to having on in our yard as a child. Trees differ from grapevines in that grapevines can spread out quite a bit. The imagery of grapevine gives the picture of the church spreading out.

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In John 15 Jesus refers to himself as the vine and us the branches. The branches need to be connected to the vine and draw from the vine everything needed for life. In verse 4 Jesus says:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

We need Jesus. We need communion with him through prayer, not only reading but pondering the bible, and fellowship with others. Jesus is our source for everything. That is why Jesus said in verse 5:

apart from me you can do nothing

Jesus also made wonderful promises if we are connected to him.

We will bear much fruit:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit

and he will answer our prayers

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 

If we remain in him includes being in his will not ours. Jesus is not some genie who grants us our every wish. If we remain in him, our wills will conform to his will. We will desire to go out and show his love as we share the gospel. In that context, he will answer our prayers.

The pruning part is not fun at times but is necessary. The Father is always at work in our lives to help us grow and change to be more like Jesus. Jesus is the vine and the Father is the gardener at work in the vineyard. The gardener prunes the branches so they will produce fruit.

That can include his kindness leading us to repent of our sins. That can include learning and growing in ministry. It can include trying new things in the process of discovering what he has called us to do.

The end result is what we should desire- the Father’s glory. The Father loves us so much he sent Jesus. Out of our love reciprocating we desire to see the Father receive credit.

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

How do you stay connected to Jesus our source?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- It Is Well by Kristene DeMarco

My first Music Mondays post three years ago was this wonderful song by Kristene DiMarco. It seems fitting during this time to share it again. I don’t know about you, but at times I need a reminder to look to God when the world has gone crazy around me. This song does that for me.

With the pandemic still going, unrest in many parts of the world, it is good to step back and remember that God is still God and somehow all of this fits into his larger overall plan.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Wakes You Up with An Idea

When it comes to my creative side, I never know when an idea will just spark for me. Friday night I went to sleep not expecting much more that to meet one student at church Saturday. But then out of the blue, came an idea.

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I had not even thought about any Christmas ideas for writing. It has not been since 2017 when I wrote a piece involving the angel Gabriel sharing thoughts at the manger scene. It was not even on my radar to do another Christmas piece.

But God had a different plan. As I woke up, the idea came to me to write one revolving around Isaiah 9:6 For Unto To Us A Song Is Given. The stories will revolve around each of the aspects Isaiah wrote- Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace.

With my evenings being freed up beginning this week, it is time to focus more on writing. The coffee shop might need to be frequented again after my afternoon class. It is time to write.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When Jesus Repeats Something Pay Attention- John Chapter 14

If Jesus says something one time, I want to pay attention. If he repeats it, I really want to pay attention. In the conversation Jesus had with the disciples in John 14, there are two things he repeats; the Holy Spirit and the phrase Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled.

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When Jesus first mentions the Holy Spirit, he refers to him as another advocate.to help us. The 2nd mention of the Holy Spirit we learn more about what the Holy Spirit does.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

How wonderful it is when a bible verse comes to mind just when it is needed. There is a connection between being filled with the Spirit and the God’s Word.

Ephesians 5 encourages us to the filled with the Spirit. We note the outflowing of being filled with the Spirit.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,  speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Then note the similarity with Colossians 3:16

 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

The more we fill our minds with God’s Word, the more the Spirit can work in our lives.

The second thing Jesus repeats is the phrase- Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled.

Before Jesus repeats it, he tells them what he will share with them.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.

The peace the world gives is temporary and conditional. The number of peace treaties signed and then violated are too numerous to count. There are also the life styles offering peace of mind which tends to go out the window as soon as trouble arrives. The peace Jesus gives is eternal peace in our spirits knowing Jesus is in control and we will be with him forever.

That is what Jesus bases the repeated phrase- Let Your Hearts Not Be Troubled- on.

He reassures them and then lets reminds them of what is coming. Satan attempt to defeat Jesus which in actually ends up being Jesus’s victory over Satan.

I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me,  but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me

The fact that Jesus reassures them before reminding them makes me think of the wonderful truth of Romans 8:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Absolutely NOTHING can separate us from Jesus. We are eternally his.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.