Wednesday, June 16, 2021

"You go, We go"...

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." - John 17:20-23
In the film "Backdraft" you hear this phrase periodically, "You go, we go". The thought behind it is simple. Firefighters serve as one man, committed to die for one another if necessary. Such camaraderie is quite rare in most circles of life. The "one man" scenario seems to be reserved for firefighters, policemen and certain military units. Rarely does one find such a spirit of "one man" devotion in the church.

Should we seek this kind of oneness in the church today? Is it really important enough to make it happen? Jesus places supreme importance on the spirit of oneness in the fact that he prays for unity. He also identifies Christian unity as the great apologetic as he prayed, "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me". The Lord's Prayer is really, that we would be one as He and the Father are one. This is a lifetime commitment and a life-changing one as well.

Are you "one" with your brothers and sisters in Christ today? Does the world see a very unique camaraderie within your church? Are you willing to say, in the most pressing moments, "You go, we go"? Jesus prayed that we would.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Perhaps Today...

"A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." - John 16:21-22
A few months ago we celebrated my oldest son Jeremy's thirty-seventh birthday. We had a great meal, talked, laughed and just had a joyful time together as a family. Thirty-seven years ago it was a little different, as I sat with my dear wife during her twelve-plus hours of labor. The delivery itself was quite painful and seriously complicated for both Jayne and the little guy. And here he is today, not so little, still quite complicated, but a joy to behold.

The disciples were about to enter into a seriously complicated time of pain. Grief would overwhelm them and fear would haunt them. Questions and doubt would rob them of sleep and prevent them from experiencing any peace or joy. But Jesus promised that they would see him again, the grief would be gone and then they would rejoice.

Our lives are often filled with great sorrow and we wonder where or when we will find relief. Jesus promised in John fourteen that in him, we would have peace to carry us through the storms of life. But one day, Jesus will come from heaven for us, as he came from the tomb to meet the disciples. When that day comes, there will be no more sorrow "and no one will take away your joy". Perhaps TODAY!!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Morning will come...

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." -- John 16:12
Patience is a virtue. And so our walk with God must be a patient one. First of all, we too are not always ready for the deeper things of the Lord. There is often a need for growth and maturity before we can be entrusted with greater truth. Then there are things that we have no need to know until the time.

As the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the Disciples to guide them into all truth, so He settles into our lives as believers. When we grow impatient and yearn for greater knowledge, sooner than we should, He gives us peace and the patience to wait. And, at just the right time He will gives us understanding and truth.

Don't be in such a hurry my friend. Wait on the Lord as the watchmen wait for the morning. (Psalm 130:6) The light will dawn in your heart when you are ready, just as the sun rises in the morning hours. Remember... "But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day." (Proverbs 4:18)

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Joy Complete...

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed 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." - John 15:9-12
"Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to Him belong, They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me!" So the words begin in the familiar Sunday school song written by Anna B. Warner. Yes Jesus loves us, and in that love our joy may be complete. Yet love is a living entity and it needs to be nurtured to stay strong and not grow stagnant.

Love in the marriage, family or any relationship is only as strong as it is nurtured. We give of ourselves to others, thus showing them our love. We invest in their lives every day, not just on holidays and special occasions. As a result, we experience a lasting joy that runs deep within our hearts. Jesus gives such a love and rightfully asks of us to return the same.

To remain in the love of Jesus, one needs to obey his commands, which include loving each other as he loves us. This is the way to nurture a love relationship with the Lord. Yes, Jesus loves us, that we might love him and others to the Father's glory. And in such nurtured love, our joy may be complete.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Don't be Afraid...

"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
I don't do roller coasters. I rode one once and almost had a heart attack. The ride up is sweet and the view is often quite gorgeous, but then comes the drop. Some people like my sons think it's such a rush, but I think I'm going to die. Life is very much like a roller coaster. There are those peaceful moments that lift us up to the sky and fill our hearts with great joy. Then the bottom falls out from underneath and we're troubled and afraid. The amusement park ride may be a rush, but real life can be a fright.

Jesus speaks about a peace that is very different than what the world offers. He doesn't promise to flatten the road ahead or fill our lives with all ups and no downs. He does promise to give us a peace that doesn't slip away when the bottom falls out. The promise was made to his disciples just before their ride with him moved into an incredible downward flight. There was no rush there; it was life at its most alarming moment, but in Jesus they were promised peace.

Do you have peace today? There is peace for anyone who rests in the all-powerful grip of the Lord. The bottom may fall, but Jesus has a tight hold on you so, "Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Friday, June 11, 2021

Promises...

"Peter asked, “Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 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 13:37-38
Politicians offer you the world to get into office. They will commit themselves to almost anything and often believe they can produce. Then in the face of reality they realize that they don't have what it takes to succeed. Their promises are just too great.

Peter also spoke before thinking. His confidence was totally in the wording "I will". He was self assured that he was able to fulfill the most demanding sacrifice for Jesus. Yet, when the day arrived he found that he didn't have what it takes to succeed. Peter's promise was just too great.

Are you sure of yourself my friend? Do you really believe that you would lay down your life for Jesus? Or do you know that only by his strength can you hope to accomplish anything for him? Before you make promises to die for the Lord, why not just make a commitment to live for him today? By his grace, that's a promise that you can keep.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Be Served or... Serve?

"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." - John 13:15-17
Every generation strives to rise above the previous one with greater achievements and lifestyles. When I was younger, we talked about a future 32-hour workweek with oodles of time for fun. Some futuristic thinkers saw life with robotic servants. We looked for better, brighter and of course, easier days ahead.

The same phenomenon exists in the Christian life. My church life, my devotional life or my ministry life needs to be better, brighter and of course, easier than my predecessors. Yet, our Lord brings us back to the basics. He sets a timeless example of what ministry is, and always should be about. We are servants, and we are called to serve in the same way that our Master served. Not better, brighter or easier; just the same.

 What is your goal today? Are you looking to be served, or are you seeking to serve others, just like Jesus? The example is before you, and "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them".

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Right Choice...

"Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue;  for they loved human praise more than praise from God." -- John 12:42-43
The political world troubles me on many levels. One area that seems quite unacceptable is when someone with clear and long standing convictions changes them for the popular vote. When this happens often enough such individuals lose their credibility. These are people who love the praise of men over personal beliefs.

The above phenomenon is not reserved to the political realm. Jesus dealt with those who experienced true belief in him but were too afraid to express their faith. Their convictions were certain, but their cowardice was crippling. How sad when believers in Jesus love human praise more than praise from God.

How about you my friend? Does everyone in your world know that you are a believer in Christ? Without being obnoxious, have you made your faith known with courage and clarity? Have you been willing to suffer persecution or humiliation rather than hide your convictions? Make the right choice and love the praise of God more than the praise of men.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Seeds...

"Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." - John 12:23-26
I am not a gardener nor the son of one. Although as a young boy, I sold flower seeds in the spring to earn prizes from the Scout magazine. The seeds were neatly packed in envelopes with pictures of beautiful flowers. In each small envelope, were found seeds that produced flowers, but only if they were planted. Seeds on the shelf are nothing more than that.

So it is with life. Jesus didn't come to just live a good life. He came to intentionally die that we might eternally live. In turn he calls us to serve by following his example. Like seeds, Jesus wants us to plant ourselves in this life and not remain on the shelf. Yes, when we are planted in his service, our own agendas and selfish plans die, but the beauty of his grace and glory blossoms.

Will you step out of your little envelope, and be planted? Will you be used of the Lord to "produce many seeds"? In whose life will you plant yourself today? Seeds left on the shelf never produce anything.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Motive...

 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”- John 12:5
Every church board meeting brings out a wide variety of thoughts. There is rarely a project or ministry that doesn't lead to many ways to achieve the goal. An old joke says, for every three board members there are four opinions. But you will find, that at the heart of every proposal is motive.

In this passage of John we meet Mary and Judas. Mary is willing to expend an entire wealth of ointment to express her devotion and love. Judas suggested that a better use would be found in caring for the poor. While both ideas were commendable, only one was was pure in heart. Mary was overwhelmed with gratitude and love while Judas was bound by selfishness and greed. At the heart of each proposal was motive.

You may not be as duplicitous as Judas, but your service and stewardship for the Lord will often walk on feet of clay. Time spent evaluating our sincerity, devotion and love quotient can make all the difference in how we minister. While our ideas may certainly sound wise and solid, we would do well to always double check our motive.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

IF...

"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." - John 11:32
I recently read a book entitled, "The Collected 'WHAT IF?' - Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been". It's a long title, but a much longer book of thought-provoking content. "If" is a small word with a big "might have been." Historians may question the movements of the past, but is it right for believers to question the movements of the Lord? Would life have been better "if" God had only intervened?

Martha and Mary suffered tremendous grief, not to mention the illness and death of poor Lazarus. God was fully aware of the heartache and pain, but had plans for both grace and glory. The Lord purposed this death to bring the grace of resurrection and "God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it" (verse 4). "If" Jesus had been there, this plan would not have unfolded and history would have lost a true story of timeless consolation.

Has the painful events of your life caused you to say, "Lord, if you had been here"? My friend, never doubt the one who has promised to never leave you. Never doubt that your Lord is at work in ways beyond your understanding. There are no "ifs" in the plans of God. From one man's death Jesus sent the message across the ages... “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (Verse 25)  His question still stands... "Do you believe this?”

Saturday, June 5, 2021

He has a Plan...

“But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” -- John 11:4-6
How often have you prayed for the Lord's intervention only to be left waiting? Did you wonder, if only for a fleeting moment, if God really loved you? Were you filled with various questions concerning God's intentions? And did you struggle with God's timing, which called for patience and faith?

This event is commonly heard at funerals with the resurrection promise highlighted. But, rarely do we hear an emphasis on the Lord's waiting for two days. The situation was clear; Jesus knew the need, made His plan and loved His friends. All of the above worked together for God's glory, while at the same time demanding great patience and faith from Martha and Mary.

The end of the day brought a miraculous work of God that rocked Martha's, Mary's and Lazarus' world. The next time you find yourself waiting on God for an answer to prayer my friend, remember... He loves you, and has a serious plan for His glory and your faith. Give Him time and trust Him, because He knows what He's doing!!

Friday, June 4, 2021

Eternally Secure...

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” -- John 10:27-30
The well known insurance company slogan "You're in good hands with Allstate" has been around since 1950. The original thought originated from the company commitment to the insured individual. The safety and welfare of clients was of utmost importance to Allstate. Where else can we find such security today?

Security is a very significant word that springs from this passage. Jesus wanted to convey to his followers the thought of protection and provision for all eternity. Like sheep who rest in the ever faithful and watchful care of their shepherd, Jesus carries his flock in his powerful, yet gentle hands... hands that were pierced for them.

How is it possible for you to be fearful in the face of eternity? If you belong to the Good Shepherd, you are someone for whom he laid his life down. Since his hands were pierced for you and still took death by the throat in victory, are they not sufficient to hold you firmly forever? Be secure my friend... be eternally secure!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

By Name...

"... He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice." - John 10:3-4
If it's not bad enough that we have been reduced to mere numbers by most companies that we deal with, others can never get our names right. I get mail every day, addressed to Mr. Jimmie Sant, Mr. Sant Van, Mr. Van J. Sant and other mind-boggling mistakes. Does anyone, other my dear wife and children, really know my name?

Well, there is someone who not only knows my name, but also cares for me in a very personal way. He knows when I lay down to sleep and when I wake. He greets me in the morning, having already been there to prepare the way. "He" is Jesus, the Good Shepherd. I'm not a number to him, because I am one of his sheep, and there is no greater encouragement in life.

If Jesus is not your Shepherd today, He is calling you by name, to a brand new life. If Jesus is your Shepherd today, he is calling you by name, into a whole new day. He has gone ahead of you and simply asks that you follow him. He has laid down his life for you so "you may have life, and have it to the full" (verse 10). Jesus is calling... just listen to his voice and follow HIM.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Go to the Doc!

"Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." - John 9:39-41
When I grew up, Doctors would visit the home when you were sick, and today we visit them. When I was young, I was rarely interested in having such a visit. Little has changed over the years, because I would rather be healthy any day, than need to visit a medical professional. But when I'm hurting... I get my tired old bones up and off we go to get better. If I'm sick, I go to the Doc.

The real issue is not who makes the visit, but that the visit is made. When we are sick we need a physician. Going deeper though, is the question of whether we are willing to admit that we are sick. It's the same with our spiritual sickness. Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin". In other words, if you will admit to your blind and sin-sick condition, there is a cure. If you're sick... go to the Doc.

You may be separated from God because you're sick with sin. You may know the Lord and still be sick with sin. As long as "you claim you can see, your guilt remains". Jesus came as the Great Physician "so that the blind will see". If you're willing to admit to your illness, there is a cure in Jesus.  If you're sick... go to the Doc!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Today ...

"As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." -- John 9:4
Every morning, Monday through Friday, parkways across this land are jam packed with people headed to work. Then, as evening approaches, those same people make their way back home after a busy day. While time passes and progress leads to great change, the work day remains much the same. The majority of people work "as long as it is day".

Some have called it the "Puritan Work Ethic", but the idea of working hard was embraced by our Lord long before there were Puritan Divines. He came to do all the work given by the Father in heaven while it was day. He led a focused life of productive effort accomplishing the tasks assigned. The Lord knew that night was coming "when no one can work."

How diligent are you in the work of the Lord? Have you a clear sense of his purpose for your life? Time flies for everyone of us and the night is coming. Will you be able to say that you made the most of the "day" you were given to accomplish the task assigned to you by the Lord? Work hard my friend, because "today" is the only promise you have.