God’s perfect love

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The whole of God’s love is summed in the cross. Though love drove the Savior from His home, through an unforgiving and arduous life; though His love healed many, and gave life to others, it is the cross at Calvary where we see God’s love on complete display.

In John 15:9-17 Jesus is still giving His final encouragements and instructions to the disciples before His crucifixion. He has just a few minutes, the short trek to Gethsemane, to encapsulate His entire ministry on earth and loving faith to the Father. Jesus chooses a number of metaphoric examples beginning with grape vines. But no earthly metaphor can exactly describe God. Therefore, Jesus breaks from a life giving example to one based in pure, perfect heavenly compassion.

There is one prominent theme in the Bible concerning the relationship God wants with all of His creation, love. Love is the reason, the beginning impetus, the motivation that drove God to send the Son on His atoning mission.

Exemplifying perfect love began on a dark night in Bethlehem were God chose to leave His home in Heaven and come to earth as a babe born to a destitute family, a simple carpenter and his wife. Love is manifest in Christ as He ministered to the least of all the saints, women with debilitating feminine issues. Love is on display as Jesus great compassion reached out to Zacchaeus and called him down from the tree. Love is projected as Jesus ministered to lepers, healed the lame gave the blind sight. There are many other examples. However, love is perfected in the events immediately before and especially at the cross.

All of this truth comes to bare upon the disciples in the final hours of the Savior’s ministry on earth. We find that they are certainly not completely cognizant of the entirety of His words, but we certainly find in retrospect that we recognize the totality of this message. Jesus displayed perfect love both as He stayed dedicated to the Father and perfectly carried out His ministry on earth, and as He ministered to the world through His benevolence.

Jesus points back further in this passage to Abraham and the Father where Abraham was called a friend of God (Jhn 15:15; Jas 2:23).  His love extends to press the disciples, and all those that follow in faith into a new relationship, a new friendship.

Are you a friend of Jesus. Do you believe in His loving atonement, His death, burial and resurrection. Do you trust Him with your whole life, your life on earth, your life eternal. There is no other life for us except that which glorifies God. Jesus was the pattern for that dedicated life on earth. Follow Jesus loving pattern, become a friend of God through the salvation in Christ Jesus.

Our Vine

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John 15:5 – I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

In John 15:1-8 we find Jesus moving to the garden where His final night on earth begins. On the way, Jesus shares some final thoughts with His disciples. We find his encouragement of the vine and branches. As we look at this metaphoric example of life in Christ and as a disciple of Christ, we should appreciate what Jesus is using as His example.

A vibrant vineyard, in the first century, represented a successful home, a prosperous endeavor and a studious husbandman. When one established a vine and maintained it well they were sure to produce a succulent fruit.

We might ask why Jesus did not say He was the root, but the vine. The vine  grown in the middle east is a hardy one and long lived. It’s roots extend deep into the ground. The roots deliver water and nutrients to the vine. Why wouldn’t Jesus, being the giver of life, identify more with the root. There are two reasons, first, in his position as man, purposefully humbling himself to our limitations, He stated many times in His ministry that He was dependent upon the Father. (Jhn 5:19) The Father is more the root, Jesus is the conduit to all the branches.

There is a second reason. The grape vine we suspect most likely referenced is a very hardy vine. To trim the vine, not the branches, but the vine itself, one should cut it off at the ground just above the root. In a season, that vine will return to production. This is very much a picture of the Lord being cut off at the crucifixion and in a very short time, three days, He returns to full productivity and even more. The vines He produces are also more hardy.

We find the Savior again encouraging His disciples that He must depart, but He will come back stronger. In his position now, He is weakened, disciples are challenged to follow Him. Even the 12 core disciples do not wholly believe in His resurrection, His atoning sacrifice, His whole ministry. They do not understand either. Jesus is saying that just as the husbandman must take drastic action to excise a weak vine, the Father will take the exact same action to excise Jesus in His weakened human condition. In return in three days the vine will grow back to produce abundant fruit.

This is also a testimony to the branches. They do not see it now, but they are weak and producing very little fruit. The branches attached to this human vine are not worthy of the appellation “disciple of Christ.” Once the vine is restored from the eternal root of the Father, the branches produced will also be greatly strengthened.

Christian, draw from your faith in the resurrected Jesus just as the disciples did in that first week. Pull from that vine the nourishment of faith and spiritual growth, liberty and eternal life. Trust the Messiah. Abide in the vine.

I Pray you have listened

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In John 14:29-31 Jesus tells His disciples that He will be departing very soon. He says there will be very few times for Him to be with them any more. Those few times are very poignant. In Chapter 15 we have the vine and branches exhortation, the very striking “the world hates you” rhetoric and another introduction to the Comforter. In Chapter 16 Jesus opens explaining He means no offense, but there will be many fraudulent ministers and ministries  that claim to know God, but ostracize those who truly do understand and worship God. Jesus shares the Spirit of Truth with His disciples. He continued to warn them concerning the challenges in their future. He encourages them about their access to Him that what they may ask, they shall receive. He directly challenges their faith. In chapter 17 we have His prayer for the disciples and for all believers.

Through all this, Jesus stays on task, true to the Father, is steadfast to the passion in His heart to give himself for the salvation of all mankind. Through all this Jesus exemplifies perfect patience, meekness, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith and temperance. We see our Lord living out the fruits of the Spirit as the Spirit lives in and through Him.

Through all these efforts and His teaching, Jesus honors not only the Father, but the Spirit of God as well. Through these passages Jesus teaches what the Father is doing for mankind by guiding Jesus through these extremely difficult periods of time. We find the Comforter being promised and supportive with our Lord. We find all three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together carefully and closely coordinating their ministries all focused on one event, the crucifixion. They are all focused upon providing salvation for mankind.

The crucifixion is not only a passion of the Son, but is equally a passion of the Father and Spirit. Jesus prays for His disciples to see the Father’s plan and understand the Son’s part. He prays for those who will be given to Him in the future. He prays for those He has talked to and that the words He has spoken will be heard and understood.

Jesus has worked hard to prepare His disciples. He has spoken not only words of comfort and love, He has not only chosen to send the perfect Comforter; Jesus has spoken in very difficult and tough terms directly to His disciples. He is calling for a dedication to faith in the real, true and only God of Heaven, His Son and the Holy Spirit that will scare all of mankind. When unbelievers are fearful, their father the devil encourages their hearts to more aggression, persecution and destruction. Jesus knows this.

The Savior puts the tools in place. He teaches His disciples how to use them. He takes the action to show how they are to be used. He is the perfect prophet, priest and teacher. Trust Him; He has accomplished a great work for you.

A Picture of Heaven

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When we consider the tome of the scriptures, we see a picture of Heaven and the inhabitants there that concerns itself with the souls on earth. It is amazing the amount of attention we on earth receive from angelic beings, messages by them, singing from them, rejoicing with them and from them. We see pictures of their attentiveness to our lives as angels even marvel at our devotion and activity to glorify our God in Heaven. (1 Pet 1:12)

In John 14:25-28, we find another picture of this. Jesus, after the last supper, after the betrayal of Judas, after Peters foot is deeply planted in his mouth. As Jesus contemplates the fact that within 12 hours His body on this earth would endure three trials filled with false accusations, conviction out of populace calls for His murder and  the most horrid torture man could perpetrate. All of this is clearly on His mind, yet His concern is the comfort and reassurance of the disciples. (vv26-27)

When I see this picture, I see the great peace and grace projected from the Godman to His people. I see a Savior projecting peace under the most strenuous conditions. I see a Savior encouraging us to move past the present stresses and discomforts and look to the eternal things. Further, Jesus is providing tools and people to promote our tranquility, again regardless the challenges we face day to day.

Christian, upon your acceptance of the gift of salvation, the very moment you bow your spirit to God’s Son and accept the Savior you have God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit living in you. Accepting the Savior provides for the peace and comfort of God’s eternal life. Jesus is again encouraging the disciples to look past the horrid life they will endure on earth and be at peace with their heavenly future.

You too can live in this peace, rest in this comfort. It is not just a perspective, it is literally an existence born from the heart and soul within an individual that is being changed into the image of God from the glory of salvation to the glory of glorification by the spirit of the living God. (2 Cor 3:18)

Let God change you, turn over your life to Him. It is not easy, but the act will result in the ultimate of rewards

Love makes the Father manifest

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When God appeared to Moses He appeared as a pillar of smoke in the day and a pillar of fire at night.

God is opposite the world. Everything you see in the world, every comparison you make, every way you might try to understand God through the world falls short of His magnificent and supernatural glory. It is hard to understand at times when we see even animals giving themselves for those they love. there are great examples of altruism in the animal kingdom. Man has no explanation for this.

In 2008, a bottlenose dolphin rescued two beached whales in New Zealand by leding them out to deeper water. The whales surely would have died had it not been for the dolphin. In New Zealand, a group of swimmers were surprised when dolphins began circling around them, tighter and tighter, splashing in the water. The swimmers initially thought the dolphins were displaying aggressive behavior. It turned out that they were warding off sharks.

When you consider the lessons in John 14:22-24, we see Jesus talking We want to better understand God through these natural acts of selflessness. However, if we use the things of the world to make God manifest, they will always fall short of His supernatural reality. This is why only Jesus’ love, and our love for Him, can make the Father manifest.

God’s love given to us through His Son Jesus activates the reality of the Father and Holy Spirit in your life. Your eyes are opened. You can see Him in His word, through your prayer time, in your life’s activity, through your times of meditation and devotion. Your ability to see God is expanded through true heartfelt worship, the penitent heart of a believer. God is more visible to us as our hearts are shattered under the pressure of our sin such that Jesus can pick up the pieces and glue it back together through His act of salvation.

Activate the Father’s love in your life simply by growing in love for Jesus. As your love for Jesus grows, your love for the Father grows. As this divine love grows in you, the world sees Him in you. This makes God manifest through you.

Let God be visible in your life. Love Him. He already loves you. Let that perfect selfless love shine through you.

My life for yours

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This death provided the capability for mankind to live real, complete whole life. Not only temporal existence, but a spiritual life never before experienced by man. Jesus lives.

In John 14:19-21 we find the Lord promising the disciples life is not over for them. In fact, His promise is that they will be fully and completely alive, they will live in a way that they cannot presently envision. In their lives, right then, that moment, that night, they saw life as honoring God and honoring their commitments before mankind through the heartbeat in their chest. Though the second part of that would not change, the first principle would change dramatically. From this night forward, the view of honoring God would transform from a physical building as a temple, to a personal bodily temple. Jesus is talking about an entirely new existence for mankind.
Jesus lived before man. Jesus is God. Jesus is love. Jesus is good. Jesus is righteousness. From this day forward, Jesus would instill the capability of these attributes in man by the indwelling Father, Son and Holy Spirit. My book, Knowing You Are Saved, discusses this on pages 228-230:

Those whom you see practicing righteousness must be of Christ. The word we see translated here [1 John 2:29] “doeth” does not give the actual use in this sentence justice. This phrase is constructed in such a way that the “doing” is the adjective. … indicates a continuing practice – a habit; something that marks the individual’s normal activity in life. We could say, everyone that is doing, or practicing. … John is saying, “If ye know (oida, in your heart, in your soul knowledge) that He (Jesus Christ) is righteous, ye know (ginōskō – in your mind, through experience, through learning) that every one that doeth (practices) righteousness is born of Him. (emphasis added) …This statement almost has a commonsensical flavor to it. You experience Christ’s righteousness in Christians because they are Christians. Those who have been born of Jesus Christ in faith practice or do this righteousness. In his commentary, Hiebert makes the point that the grammar here indicates a life-long effort. … Those who practice a lifetime of righteousness give others an understanding of Christ Jesus. … The overall characteristic of a life without God is still godlessness, even if there is a smattering or even a predominance of moral aptitudes, attitudes and activities.

Jesus gave His life so we could live our’s with Him, for Him, through Him, in Him. Not just Him, but the humility of Jesus also invites the Holy Spirit and ultimately does all things for the Father in Heaven by inviting Him as well. All three indwell the believer whose life then changes exponentially, dynamically, personally and experientially. Now, there is no longer just life, but a life fully alive in Christ! Our life with God indwelling us changes from a binary life, living in this body, serving in this body, to a multifaceted life to include serving from, to and through our body, our soul, our spirit, God’s spirit, God the Father and God the Son. Further, God provides all the strength, instruction, encouragement and power to accomplish His will in us. Go, live out the life Jesus died to provide you.

Spirit of Truth – John 14:17

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Thank you for your sacrifice. We all suffer loss fighting for freedom. None more than the friend in the foxhole or family at home. It is an honor and a privilege to call you brothers in arms.

Do you know PFC Ross A. McGinnis? You should. He was attached to 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment. PFC McGinnis made a decision on December 4th 2006 that saved the lives of four fellow soldiers. While patrolling in the Adhamiyah area of Baghdad, an insurgent lobbed a grenade perfectly past his gunner’s seat, down into the Humvee. As the gunner, he is to immediately evacuate out the top of the vehicle, saving his life. He had trained repeatedly for that event, always getting up and out of his position as directed. On that fated day in December, PFC McGinnis made a different decision; he chose the life of his four comrades over his own. He went down into the vehicle and laid on the grenade.

Like our Savior Jesus, PFC McGinnis lived out John 15:13 as he gave his life for his

The Holy Spirit with the Son comforts, exhorts, encourages, strengthens and loves us. What a glorious God we serve!

friends. When we think of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, consider PFC McGinnis. His choice to give his life to save his friends parallels our Lord. Consider an illustration where PFC McGinnis’ father, could somewhat parallel our heavenly Father and his mother could somewhat parallel the Holy Spirit. Father being the leader and organizer and mother being a moral guide imparting civility and compassion upon PFC McGinnis, being his moral compass. Consider a twist to this story.

How would Mr. and Mrs McGinnis’ respond if the four soldiers came to their home, desired to serve in their own way, from their own perspective, regardless Mr. and Mrs. McGinnis’ personal desires or home organization and standards. Consider that these four soldiers might not only impose themselves without invitation, but also sought to deny PFC McGinnis’ sacrifice because of peer pressure, but instead only wanted to exalt and pay homage to Mr. and Mrs. McGinnis because people accept them, but have for whatever reason turned against PFC McGinnis. How would Mr. and Mrs. McGinnis react? They would be offended, maybe even perturbed. They might possibly take legal action and seek a judgement against these soldiers to keep them off of their property and away from their home.

In the world, these soldiers would never consider this horrendous action. They would never consider denying PFC McGinnis’ sacrifice. Why then do we think just claiming to know God or seeking more of the Holy Spirit’s influence in our lives is acceptable to God. This effectively ignores the Son, Jesus. How can we shy away from His name and consider it an acceptable action. God is triune, in perfect harmony. Neither God the Son, God the Father nor God the Holy Spirit would promote themself above the other, nor would they accept our misguided or unbalanced worship.

Honor the Father. Honor the Son. Honor the Spirit of God. Honor them as scripturally appropriate taking nothing from one to promote the other.

Jesus Exaltation

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Jesus has been spreading God’s love throughout Judea. He has healed many, brought many to new faith in and a better understanding of Jehovah God, and pointed many to purity in life. (Jhn 9; Mat 9) Jesus has raised people from the dead. (Mat 9; Jhn 11) Jesus has comforted the ostracized. (Luk 7; 17) Jesus has been ministering throughout Judea for three years.

We remember the events surrounding Lazarus resurrection a short time ago. (Jhn 11) Remember, many attended that resurrection. People from around the area, as well as people from Jerusalem just a little less than a mile away from Bethany. There were many that came to comfort Lazarus’ family. There were many in attendance that supported Jesus, they came only to see Him. There were many that came to see Jesus’ reaction to Lazarus, these constituted mostly Pharisees, those loyal to the Sanhedrin and Sadducees.

Of these groups, we find those loyal to the religious leadership in direct opposition to Jesus to support their livelihood. We find the oppressed general populace Supporting Jesus. Therefore, those connected politically, materially or financially to the leadership, or those that see their life’s identity and dependency through the lens of material and financial success, side with the leadership. This is akin to individuals who vote for candidates that appear beneficial to their business interests as opposed to what may be more pressing national needs. This is why we vote for more secular candidates. What a parallel. The scriptures evidence and instruction of 2000 years ago is directly applicable to today.

The people flocked to Jesus because He gave them truth of a loving God that was involved in their lives. Jesus shared His loving Father with the people (Jhn 14:7; 9) They saw a loving Father in Heaven. The people knew the attitudes of their worldly leaders and that they would be exploited by them for profit. This was normal in the life of the first century. The people of the time knew what they were dealing with. They needed other hope, they needed a savior.

Jesus was brought to Jerusalem on Sunday morning the week of the passover with exaltation, pomp and circumstance. He fulfilled many scriptural prophecies in the events that we today celebrate as Palm Sunday. The Scriptures are true. Jesus is the Messiah. This final week begins this Palm Sunday.

Loving Obedience

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Throughout the entire Bible there are many threads of consistent testimony. One we find everywhere is that God will send a Redeemer, a Savior, One whom will come to forgive us our sins and save us. Another is that there are rules God sets down, there are standards He has for life, for worship, for parenthood, for our professional actions, for relationships and even for every day life. The overarching and governing expectation, the one new commandment, the standard by which this is all accomplished is love. Love born through the life of the Savior. Love exemplified in His activities on earth. Love shared by and through His life given for our eternal life. Love He showed His Father in Heaven as He submitted to all the trials, tribulations, threats, false witness, and ultimately His complete obedience to God’s will. In John 14:15 Jesus simply states a life principle for Him. He shows His love to the Father most poignantly through obedience, through the submission to His commandments.

There is not a lot to say concerning this very simple request. Jesus simply says, if you love me, keep my commandments. He does not demand your love. Jesus does not order your obedience Jesus does not put conditions on His love for us, He will love regardless. He puts no conditions on His Father’s love either, the Father loves us regardless. There are no limits to love that proceeds from God, the only limit is our returning love to Him. We can choose to obey, or not. However, what we choose does have a testimony. We speak with our actions. We’ve all heard that we can vote with our feet. The action we take shows engagement or apathy. Action shows support or neglect. To Jesus love is active, thoughtful, careful, contemplative and involved.

When we seek wisdom in God’s word and apply it to our lives, we show how we love Jesus. When we seek to implement God’s standards in our lives, we show how we love Jesus. When we share God’s love the way He shared God’s love, we show how we love Jesus. Ultimately, when we obey God’s commandments, we show our love for Him, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Do you love Jesus? Search His word, seek His commandments, implement them in your life. Show Jesus you love Him, He’s already shared His love for you through the Cross.