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.

Burgers with Friends

We have a burger place in my city called Honest Abes. Last Sunday after church, some friends took me there for lunch. I have noticed food tastes better when friends buy lunch for me. 🙂

I love the signs they have on the walls especially this one because I have a beard. 🙂

It was so good to talk with people who I consider co-laborers in sharing the love of Jesus with people from other countries. My friends moved here three years ago to help with an Arabic speaking church. They had lived in Lyon France for ten years reaching out to people from North Africa living there.

I enjoy lunch with any friend, but lunch with people who are in similar ministry as mine is meaningful. We can encourage each other, listen to each other, and share concerns and vision for miistry.

Honest Abes has some interesting combinations for burgers. I enjoy the one they call Hammer of Thor. It comes with chipotle cream cheese, griddled brussels sprouts, bacon mayonnaise, and pepper jack cheese. I can get it with a gluten free bun.

Here’s hoping another friend takes me for burgers soon. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Our Friend- John Chapter 15

Last week looked at how Jesus is our source and our need to stay connected with him. He empowers us to live for him. Jesus used the word remain-remain in him. He is the vine and we are the branches. A branch depends on the vine for everything.

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Jesus expands on that in John 15:9:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”

Remaining in Jesus is based on love. First there is the love between God the Father and Jesus. Out of that comes Jesus’s love for us. He calls us to remain in his love. He does not call us to remain in him out of fear of punishment if we don’t. He calls us to remain in his love.

He then equates loving him with obeying his commands. If we love Jesus, we will follow through with what he teaches us to do. But what exactly does he command us to do?

In John 15:12 we read:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

He then goes on to explain what kind of love he is talking about.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

Jesus is talking about the self sacrificing love that he himself showed for us. The kind of love that compels a person to lay down their life for a friend. That is what Jesus did for us. Self sacrificing love is expressed in many ways. Perhaps it is taking time to listen to someone having trouble. It can mean giving to someone in need instead of having a meal in a restaurant. There are many ways to show sacrificial love. When Jesus says greater love has no one than this, he is giving the ultimate example of sacrificial love.

Notice Jesus used the word friends. He goes on to say:

You are my friends if you do what I command.

If we love one another with the love of Jesus, we are his friends. No one does that perfectly. As John wrote in his letter 1st John in 1 John 4:19:

We love because he first loved us.

First we experience the love of Jesus, Then we can show his love.

Even though Jesus is the creator, our savior, and is deserving of us being his servants, Jesus said:

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 

He calls us friend not servant. Notice what he says about friendship. He makes known to use what the Father showed him. He lets us in on his business. He includes us in his work.

He concludes this section by repeating his command- Love each other.

What a privilege that Jesus calls us friend. Anyone who believes in Jesus he calls friend. His command is to love one another with sacrificial love.

How does that make you feel to know Jesus says- FRIEND?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- You Know My Name by Tasha Cobbs

I shared this song some time ago. but felt led to share it again. Do you ever feel lost in the shuffle of life? Does life seem overwhelming during this time?

I take comfort in knowing the creator of the universe knows my name. That means Jesus knows me, sees me, and wants relationship with me. No one is insignificant to Jesus.

He has his eye on us at all times. He is always with us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Blogging Anniversary

My blogging journey has certainly not been one of overnight success and is a path most others would not want to undertake. Normally when wordpress sends its congrats on my blogging anniversary, I do not share it. But today I thought I would because it is part of my testimony of God helping me overcome chronic illness in my life and of a seed of thought growing later.

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!You registered on WordPress.com 12 years ago.

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

12 Year Anniversary Achievement

I first started my blog to do bible studies for friends who went back to their countries. I only posted a few times a month. Then foggy brain of chronic illness became an issue and I barely posted at all.

In the spring of 2018, after becoming gluten free, the foggy brain cleared up. That was when I really began blogging. At the time I had 37 followers. My blog has grown since then. God has shown me ideas to try out.

While my blogging journey is definitely not a quick success story, it is one of do not give up. One can always come and try again.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Sunday Mornings

I love Sunday mornings because I love going to my church. It is the one morning that I actually interact with other Americans. Most of the week I am with refugees/immigrants which is my calling and passion, but it is nice to interact with others.

It is my habit to arrive a little early, so I can talk with people in the lobby. The teens I joke with about how fun homework is and if they need more to let me know. The police officer who provides security is fun to joke with. I am always mindful of those who are struggling to offer a word of encouragement or to pray for them.

The coffee area is a place that I visit every Sunday morning. I like to eat some fruit and have a cup of coffee and yes always black.

Then it is on to my classroom to meet with my friends from other countries. Currently it is small due to COVID, but it is fun nevertheless. I have friends from El Salvador and Venezuela who come. Sometimes we speak a bit of Spanish too. We end each class with praying for their friends and family back home.

Then it is time to be in the 2nd service. I love the music. Sometimes I just listen and pray. The pastor and I have a good rapport which makes listening to his teaching more meaningful to me.

After second service I go back to my empty classroom and get out my Chromebook. By spending some time online, it allows for the traffic to clear out before I head home and enjoy a Sunday afternoon nap. By nap I mean power nap.

I love Sundays. It is my favorite day of the week.

Do you have a favorite day?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Perceptions Vary

The looks on their faces said it all that October morning many years ago. My young Vietnamese students were shocked to see how their teacher was dressed. It was a typical mid October morning where I live. It was 35F/1.6C but would warm up to 65f/18c in the afternoon.

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My young friends were wearing coats and gloves. One even had a scarf and winter hat. They saw me walking in shorts and a sweatshirt. They could not believe their eyes. They were worried and asked, “teacher aren’t you cold?”

A similar scenario occurred in July 2015 in Brazil. When it is summer in the USA, it is ‘winter’ in Brazil. I found their winter to be quite comfortable and nothing like a Midwest USA winter. One afternoon I walked into the university I was teaching at wearing pants and a short sleeve shirt. It was a nice afternoon for me of 65f/18c. I walked past the office for the young women working in the media/internet department. They waved for me to come in the office. They were wearing coats. They asked me, “voce nao esta frio?” Aren’t you cold?

Perceptions vary. One person’s nice day is another person’s cold day.

Perception is why I need to spend time reading God’s word. At times my perception of my circumstances is that they are too difficult. I need the reminder that nothing is difficult for God. Then I can look to him in prayer to ask for help.

Do you like cool days? What would you think if on a morning of 35f/1.6c, you saw me walking outside wearing shorts and a sweatshirt?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

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.