Wednesday, February 22, 2017

John 15

John 15:1-8 – Relationship to Jesus

Here again Jesus calls Himself “I am”.  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”John 15:1.  Jesus teaches about the vine and the branches.  Jesus is the perfect vine and God is the gardener.  God owns the vineyard and takes care of the vines.  We are like the branches of the vine.  Anyone who believes in Him belongs to God.  He expects fruit from His vineyard.  If we don’t bear fruit, He will cut us off.  Just as a vine with branches that bear no fruit, the gardener cuts off those dead branches.  Jesus tells us that branches that bear fruit are pruned so they will bear more fruit. 

We need God to remove everything that is wrong in our lives so we can produce fruit.  God prunes our lives so we will grow and become more like Him and bear more fruit.  Pruning may be painful, but we need to submit to this pruning process and trust God for the outcome.  When we are going through hard times, it seems that God is nowhere to be found.  Actually that’s when He is closer than ever.  He is pruning us because He loves us.  Parents discipline their children because they love them, don’t they?

Where do you need pruning?

What is fruit?  Doing good works is not the fruit He’s talking about. To bear fruit is to see God produce Christlikeness in us.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal. 5:22-23.  These are the kinds of fruit we are to bear.  Fruit is Christlike character and conduct.   1 Peter 1:5 tells of more fruit we are to bear, “… make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”  Notice it says nothing about happiness.  Fruitful Christians lead a godly life and the doing will follow later.

Jesus said He was the “true vine” suggesting there are other vines.  Many people get their source in life from many other things like money, stuff, relationships, status, financial matters, and their own plans.  He is the True Vine and without Him we can do nothing.

Where are you relying too much on other vines in your life?
Where are you rooted?

Do all Christians bear fruit?  Yes, if they are truly Christians.  However, it takes time to grow your fruit, but you should see growth as you mature in your faith.  If you are not growing, ask yourself why?  If you are not producing fruit, then maybe you are a counterfeit Christian.  Maybe you should examine yourself and ask God to show you where you are failing.  Judas Iscariot professed to believe and followed Jesus, but his real god was greed.  He was a counterfeit Christian.  Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5b.

There is a key to bearing fruit.  Jesus said to remain or abide in Him.  How can we abide in Him?  It means to continually reside in and not depart from.  We stay in His Word and in prayer.  We need to keep His commandments.  If you are not experiencing the peace and joy in your Christian walk, maybe you aren’t walking in obedience.  If you are abiding in Christ, you will be producing fruit in your life.

What areas in your life do you lack bearing fruit?

Principle:  Every true follower of Jesus bears fruit.

John 15:9-17 – Relationship to One Another

Jesus said there is only 1 way to be really happy and that is to remain in a close relationship with Jesus.  He said we must obey His commands and then we will remain in His love.  He commands us to love one another as He loves us.  He loves us completely.  He loves us so much that He died to save us.  He said there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. 

Jesus called His disciples His friends.  He gives us a choice to obey Him or not.  He wants us to obey Him because we love Him.  He chose them and appointed them to bear fruit that will last.  He has chosen us, too to do work for Him and to bring glory to God by what we do.  “This is my command:  Love each other.”John 15:17.  It is important for Christians to encourage each other and love each other at all times even if we don’t always agree.

How will you show love to someone this week?

Principle:  Jesus commands all believers to lay down their lives for one another.

John 15:18-27 – Relationship to Unbelieving World

Jesus knew after He left the disciples to return to heaven they would face difficult opposition from the world.  They didn’t listen to Jesus so they won’t listen to them.  He wanted them to know exactly what to expect and how they should respond.  He told the disciples that the world hated them and that He was hated first.  He wanted them to be able to endure the hostility.  Their response to the hostile world was to bear witness of Christ. 

The world wants nothing to do with Jesus.  The closer you are to Jesus, the more you should expect some form of persecution.  It may be mockery.  It may be your work, school, or sports team that meet at the same time as Sunday services.  You may lose a promotion because you refuse to do dishonest practices.  It may be persecution from your family who are critical and don’t understand.  Persecution is all around even in small things.
There are some countries where Christians are severely persecuted.  They are imprisoned and even put to death.  The only reason for this is that they believe in Jesus.  When they reject Jesus, they are rejecting God.  Much of Europe is turning away from Christianity and many in our own country are watering down the basic teachings of Christianity.

The “world” refers to the organized system under Satan’s domain which is opposed to God and all He stands for.  Most unbelievers don’t really hate Jesus, but they don’t follow Him either.  By not following Jesus they are following the devil, even though they don’t realize it.  They ignore God and live with godless values.  “He who is not with me is against me ….”Matt. 12:30.  Either you love Jesus and the Father or you hate them.  There is no gray line.

The world hates what Christians stand for.  The battle lines are being drawn between God’s people and Satan’s people.  Every person will have to make a decision which side to be on before it’s too late.  They must choose eternal life in heaven or in hell.

There is immorality that surrounds us.  I am embarrassed by it.  We should not buy into the movies and videos with adultery and profanity and the promotion of homosexual lifestyle.  Enjoying this immoral garbage as entertainment is wrong and I know God doesn’t like it. 

There are thousands of unborn children killed daily in their mother’s wombs.  The ACLU is supposed to be our ally and protect our rights, but is files ridiculous lawsuits trying to stop free expression of our faith.  We have a highly secular media and liberal anti-Christian colleges with atheistic views.  What is really going on is the reality of the coming on the prophesied Antichrist who will rule the world the last 7 years before the end of the world. 

Which side are you on, Satan’s or God’s?

Why does the world hate Jesus?  It’s because they don’t know Him and because He exposes their sin.  “The light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were ever.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” John 3:19-20.  The people that heard Jesus and saw His miracles, but still they rejected Him because He exposed their sin.  There is evidence today to believe in Jesus, but people reject Him.  They enjoy their sin too much.

Christians should not retreat from the world.   The unbelieving world needs to see Jesus’ love and you need to be able to witness to them.  You can’t do that if you are not in the world.  We are to be in the world, but not imitate the world.  We need to pray for divine appointments – opportunities to speak about Jesus.  Pray for the ability to speak boldly without fear. 

Jesus didn’t leave them without hope.  He promised the Holy Spirit would come.  Jesus said when He comes, He will testify about Him.  He will continue to be a witness to Christ.  He can do that through the Word and through believers.  Jesus told them they should all testify to others because they were with Him from the beginning.  They saw His miracles and heard His teachings.  As Christians we have the Holy Spirit in us.  He will help us to understand who Jesus is, help us as we study His Word, and help us to pray.

Does the world hate you?  If not, maybe it’s because the world can’t tell the difference between you and them.  “Woe to you when all men speak well of you …”Luke 6:26.

How do you respond to the world’s hatred?
Do you retreat?
Should you live in a Christian bubble?
Is there no persecution in your life?  If not, maybe you are not bearing fruit.

Principle:  The people who choose to reject Christ also reject His followers.

Next week we will study John 16.  Have a blessed day and thanks for visiting my site.  Hope to see you here next time.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

John 14

John 14:1-4 – Jesus Comforts

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  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.”John 14:1-3.

“Let not your heart be troubled” – We are the one who lets our heart be troubled.  We control it.  We get anxious and fearful.  Life will happen and we will find ourselves in situations we don’t like.  God gives us the strength and hope to prevent troubled hearts.  We are to believe in God and in Jesus.  We are to commit, believe and trust Him and He will guard our hearts.  God is in control and aware of our situation.  He wants us to be thankful in every situation.  Remember this and you will have peace which will keep your heart trouble free.

What situation is troubling you?

“In my Father’s house are many rooms …” - Jesus tells us that there is life after death.  He promises heaven for us.  There is room for everyone who believes in Him.  We need not fear death.  He will come back for us one day.  Until then we are to stand firm and trust Him.  He keeps His promises.

John 14:5-14 – Jesus, the Only Way

Thomas asked where Jesus was going.  He thought Jesus was just going on a trip and didn’t understand that He was going to leave this earth and go to heaven.  Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”John 14:6.  These words are VERY important.  Jesus didn’t say He knows the way to heaven.  He said He IS the way.  Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven. 

In the book of John Jesus told us 14 times who He is.  He left no doubt. 
“I am the bread of life.”John 6:35, 48 
“I am the light of the world.”John 8:12, 9:5 
“… before Abraham was born, I am!”John 8:58 
“I am the gate.” – John 10:9
“I am the good shepherd.”John 10:11, 14
“I and the Father are one.”John 10:30
“I am the resurrection and the life.”John 11:25
“I am the way and the truth and the life.”John 14:6
“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me ...”John 14:11
“I am the true vine” – John 15:1

There is no other way to the Father than through Jesus.  He is the only way to God.  Salvation is found in no one else.  This is absolute truth.  He is the exclusive way to God.  He alone can give eternal life.  This eliminates all other ways to God.  So Jesus is either right or He is wrong and a liar.

Who do you say Jesus is?

Sinners will spend eternity in hell away from God.  “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23.  You cannot get to heaven by doing good works.  The only way is Jesus.  He is the way.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Rom. 6:23.  Jesus gave us the gift of grace and died in our place.

Philip wanted Jesus to show him the Father.  Jesus tells him that He and God are the same.  He saw the evidence of the miracles.  If they see Jesus, they have seen God.  Many people want to know and see God. We cannot see God in this life, but Jesus shows us what God is like.  He shows us God’s character.  Jesus’ words and actions were God’s words and actions.  If we want to know God, we need to just look at Jesus then we will know God.  (John 14:5-12).

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”John 14:13-14.  Jesus said He will do anything we ask in His name.  Just because you ask God for something and pray in Jesus’ name doesn’t mean you will get it.  We need to look at this in context.  This is tied to doing Jesus’ works.  He is telling the disciples that they too can do great things.  When we pray we are to submit to God’s will.  To pray in Jesus’ Name refers to all that He is and all He has done for us on the cross.  It should be our desire to see God glorified through Jesus.  That should be our objective when we pray.

John 14:15-31 – Jesus’ Promised Holy Spirit

Jesus told the disciple that they should obey His commands.  He said He would ask the Father to give them another Counselor to be with them forever.  Jesus would not be with them much longer and they needed someone to guide them.  The Counselor is the Holy Spirit.  He lives in each Christian heart today. 

The Holy Spirits does many things:
He convicts the world of sin.
He guides us to all truth.
He glorifies and testifies of Christ.
He reveals Christ to us.
He leads us.
He empowers us.
He fills us.
He gives us spiritual gifts.
He renews us.
He strengthens us.
He prays for us.
He helps us to obey.
He seals us for the day of redemption.
He sets us free from the law of sin and death.
He reveals things of God to us.
He dwells in us.
He speaks to us and through us.
He teaches us.
He comforts us.
He reveals God’s will to us.

Jesus said “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me and I am in you.”John 14:20.  On that day is the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would descend upon all believers.  Some say it’s the day of Jesus resurrection.  Whichever it is, it’s when the disciples would understand what Jesus meant.  You are in me and I am in you means that Christians are united with Jesus and so united with the Father along with the Holy Spirit.  This is a wonderful mystery and is hard to understand, but it’s true.  If you are saved, Christ is in you. 

Jesus goes on to say that if we love Him we will keep His commands and obey Him.   We obey Him because we love Him.  As we continually confess sin and grow in our knowledge of God, our love for Him naturally increases. 

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will teach them many things and remind them of everything He had said to them.  “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.  His peace is different from the peace that comes from the world. To have peace doesn’t mean we will not have trouble.  It’s a peace that comforts us when bad things happen.  The peace of Jesus is a calm and freedom from anxiety that comes from trusting our sovereign God.  We know that God is in control and is always looking out for us.  We have peace knowing that He paid the price for our sins on the cross.

Jesus told them He would soon leave this world, but would come back and that they would be glad He is going.  Why would they be glad?  If they truly understood that He would be resurrected, restored to His glory with the Father, then seated on the right hand of God, have authority over all the universe, and that He would send the Holy Spirit to dwell in them, they would have rejoiced over His return to the Father.

To come back could refer to His resurrection, His appearances after His resurrection, the coming to us as the Holy Spirit or to His 2nd coming at the end the world.  Whichever He really meant, they should rejoice.

Jesus said the prince of this world (Satan) has authority over the world, but not over Jesus.  Satan has no authority over Christians, because Jesus has made us right with God.  Still Satan will try to make us do wrong things and will attack us in different ways.  We are to reject his temptations and look to God for the strength to resist.

Jesus is the eternal Son of God and is now sitting on the right hand of the Father.  He is sovereign over all in the world and in your life.  He has promised to work all these together for good for those who love Him. (Rom. 8:28).  He makes it very clear that He is sovereign over Satan and His own death.

Do you have anxiety or peace in times of trouble?

Wow!  This chapter of John is jammed packed.  Take time to read and study over it more than once.  There are many truths to ponder.

Next week we will study John 15.  Have a blessed day and thanks for visiting my site.  Hope to see you here next time.

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