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Thursday, February 19, 2015

John 15 -- Staying Connected

I woke up this a.m. and read John 15 -- BEAUTIFUL!  

Jesus' imagery of  a vine really pops out at me!  Matter of fact, I wrote a newspaper article about this verse. I'll share it with you below.

First, however, take a moment to pray for God to reveal His personal TRUTH to you.  

Then, read John 15: 5-8 below.

These verses tell us about staying connected to the source of our strength.

When I read this, I realize I need to focus, stick with Jesus and....LOVE.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." -- John 15:5-8

My vine was getting to be a nuisance.  It snaked its way up our brick wall and covered the water spout.  I tried pulling it off and gave up in a huff.  This vine had to go.

I pulled my trusty clippers out and systematically cut each tendril at the base.  Then I got distracted. Weeds called my name and I walked around the corner to the garden.

It did not take long.  Next time I turned the corner, I was shocked to see a mass of wilting vine leaves.  The rootless branches were limp and weak.  They had been disconnected from the life source.  I yanked the vine down with no problem.

Hmmmm.  This vine reminded me of my life sometimes.  I let myself get cut off from Christ.  Then I wilt and wonder why. 

Enter: Jesus. In John 15:5-8,  Jesus tells me HE is the vine and I am His branches.  If I run away to my projects, my schemes, my plans and try tackling my frustrating  problems on my own, apart from my Savior, I wilt.  

It's pretty easy to pull me down on those days.  I lose my color and I'm all dried out on the inside.

John 15 tells me Jesus is my life-giving Savior.  I need to stay connected through prayer, quiet time and Bible study.  Truth be told, if I've cut myself off from Jesus, I'm really not accomplishing much.  

You can't get much fruit from a shrinking vine.

Lest I get discouraged, however, God told me "the rest of the story" in John 15:9-17.  I am forgiven and refueled when I run back to Jesus and experience His love.

What little kid does not want to be loved?  Suddenly, I feel revived. Check out the book of John:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.  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.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  This is my command: Love each other. -- John 15:9-17

The vine by my house is gone now, but the stump remains - a reminder of what was once there.  When I hooked up the hose this spring, I noticed something interesting.  

At the base of the vine, tiny leaves appeared. This was not the end of  the vine. New branches were starting. 

God makes it clear: When we stay connected to the One who loves us, new life appears.

I need to fall into the arms of a loving Savior, ask for forgiveness and soak up some love.  Only then will I get the truly important things done.  

Only then will my branches reach out in love.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

John 14 - A Promise of Peace

Man oh man! This Chapter is SOOOO comforting and SOOOO clear!

How can anyone read this chapter and not understand Jesus is God and the only way to get to Heaven, which is a super place??????!!!!

Oh, how I love this Chapter and how clearly Jesus tells the TRUTH!

Setting the stage -- Peter (I always think I am just like impetuous Peter!) has just said he wants to die for Jesus in John 13:37

Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” - John 13:37

Jesus' answer is so sharp and penetrating:

Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! - John 13:38

Well, I would think Peter is feeling AWFUL about this. So Jesus gives him some reassurance as we start

John Chapter 14: 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled." You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”  
                                                                                                                - John 14:1-4

These verses remind me of walking up the hill with my daughter Brynn when she was 5 or 6. She was looking up.

"What you looking at, Brynn?"

"Heaven. God's sweepin out my room up der."

Haha! Love it!

Again, I LOVE how John captures the sheer humanity (and human frailty) of the people around Jesus.
It makes me feel so much better to know those folks did not always understand Jesus! Just listen to how confused the disciples were:

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 
 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” 

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. - John 14:5-9

WOW -- People still don't get this. Jesus says He is the Father -- How can we be confused????

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.  Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it - John 14:11-14

Zowee! Can I really do great things? Jesus says so, as long as I am doing "the works Jesus has been doing"

Also -- interesting -- Read verses 13-14 -- THIS is why we pray in Jesus name!

Does this mean He will always give us what we pray for?

Hmmmm I think sometimes He answers prayer in a different way. This is not always immediate.  We just have to figure out what Jesus is doing...and join Him.

“If you love me, keep my commands." -John14:15

You are pretty clear here, Lord, but how can I do this? I'm pretty weak.  I need HELP!

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and He will be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. - John 14:16,17

Oh....this must be that still, small voice that tells me..."Something is wrong here" or "You should do this..."

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." --John 14:18

I'm so glad I am NOT alone EVER!  I've got a Daddy.  I am NOT and orphan, even when my parents have left this earth!

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them - John 14:19-21

Judas does not understand why Jesus would not reveal himself to everyone. Remember -- Judas wanted to follow the SPLASHY - POWERFUL leader. He really is disappointed in this humble servant with poor Public Relations skills!

Again, I love the conversations John captures! Remember: HE was there!

Jesus is such a wonderful communicator -- He reassures his followers before all the craziness happens. Did you notice how He tells them he is going?

All this I have spoken while still with you.  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. - John 14:25-26

Thank you, Jesus, for the Holy Spirit! ALSO thank you for the following statement which helps me in so many circumstances:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. - John 14:27

Don't look to the world for peace.

Run into the loving arms of the one who understands you and loves you the most: Jesus.

See you next week in John 15!  Read and be ready!