Archive for August, 2013

Little, More, Much

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.  Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  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.

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

John 15:1-5, 8

This passage speaks of three level of “fruit bearing:”  “fruit” (vs. 2), “more fruit” (vs. 2), and “much fruit” (vs. 5 and 8).  Christians should bear fruit.  Purging the branches that aren’t bearing fruit will help us to bear more fruit.  Abiding in Jesus, understanding that we can do nothing without Him allows us to bear much fruit.  God is glorified when we bear much fruit.

There is an old saying that goes “Good, better, best.  Never let it rest… until your good is better and your better is best.”  That is a perfect saying for this passage.

We can constantly be working and improving in every area of our lives.  It doesn’t matter if we 7 years old or 97 years old, there are always things that we need to be working on and things that we can improve.

As Christians, we can all bear fruit.  We can all bear more fruit.  We can all strive to bear much fruit.  None of us are perfect, and as long as that is true, we can all improve.  Fruit, more fruit or much fruit?  Where are we at today and what are we doing to bear more fruit for the glory of the Lord?

Pruning the Vine

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.  Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except in abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

John 15:1-4

As I read this passage of scripture, I started thinking about pruning grapes and fruit trees.  I enjoy gardening and I have several types of fruit trees and vines that need pruned.  I know that this is not the doctrinal context of the passage, but reading about pruning the branches that don’t bear fruit got me thinking.

We all have things in our lives that we could say don’t really bear fruit.  We all have things that we do that aren’t productive.  We should be taking a long, hard look at those things.  Some of them are necessary – even the Lord Jesus had to come apart and rest from time to time.  We are not super human.  We need rest and diversion from time to time.  But some of them are just pure wastes of time.  Those are the ones that we can afford to prune out.

If I have fruit tree with branches that never bear fruit, I take them out.  That allows the branches that do produce fruit to have more light, more air, and more nutrients.  They then begin to produce even more fruit.  It is the same in our lives.  If we can prune out the things that don’t need to be there, the things that do need to be there will begin to flourish even more!

If Ye Love Me…

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15

This is one of the most convicting verses in the Bible to me.  It is so simple, yet so powerful.  Seven little words that can drive a dagger into a cold and backslidden heart.  Seven little words that can bring a saint to tears.  Seven little words that can inspire the Christian to a more holy life.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  Do we love Jesus?  It’s easy to say that we do.  It’s easy to go to church every week, sit in the pew, and sing songs like “Oh, How I Love Jesus.”  Saying it is easy.  Living it is a little more difficult.  If we are truly going to love Him, we are going to keep His commandments.  We are going to do the things that He wants us to do.  We are going to love Him not just in word, but in deed.

It is the same with people.  It is easy to say that we love someone.  “I love you.”  Those are three little words that are easy to speak, but much more difficult to live out.  Any married couple can tell you that saying “I love you” is probably easier than doing all of the things that loving a spouse entails.

If there is love, there is going to be action that comes out of that love.  When we are talking about loving Jesus, that action is going to be obedience to Him and to His Word.  Saying that we love Jesus is nice, but if we truly want to love the Saviour, we need to heed His words: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

We say that we love Him.  Are we keeping His commandments?  Do we truly love Him?

A New Name In Glory (Hymn)

A New Name In Glory
C. Austin Miles (1910)

I was once a sinner, but I came
Pardon to receive from my Lord:
This was freely given, and I found
That He always kept His word.

Refrain
There’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, O yes, it’s mine!
And the white robed angels sing the story,
“A sinner has come home.”
For there’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, O yes, it’s mine!
With my sins forgiven I am bound for Heaven,
Never more to roam.

I was humbly kneeling at the cross,
Fearing naught but God’s angry frown;
When the heavens opened and I saw
That my name was written down.

Refrain

In the Book ’tis written, “Saved by Grace,”
O the joy that came to my soul!
Now I am forgiven, and I know
By the blood I am made whole.

Refrain

As Christians, we can sing this song and we can mean it.  At that glorious moment when we came to Christ, there was “A new name written down in glory.”  And it was “mine, O yes, it’s mine!”  It may be a year ago that we came to Him and it may be fifty years ago that we came to Him.  But this hymn reminds us of what a glorious thing it was and is!

I Am The Way

And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.  Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:4-6

Verse 6 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  It gives us the supremacy of Jesus in one concise statement.  It has shown every generation from that one to the current one how to be saved.  It shows us the way to God and to Heaven.

Thomas asked the question in verse 5, “…how can we know the way?”  And Jesus told him.

“I am the way.”  If we ever get lost and need to find our way, “I am the way.”  If we ever find ourselves searching, “I am the way.”  If someone wants to know the way to God, “I am the way.”  If anyone would go to Heaven, “I am the way.”

“I am… the truth.”  Jesus is the truth.  He has the truth.  In a world of error, lies, deceit, and false hope, Jesus shines forth as the truth.

I am… the life.”  Jesus is Life and the giver of life to those that believe in Him.  We are surrounded by a lost and dying world.  But we know the true Life.  In Him is life.  If any person is searching for life, He has it and He gives it “more abundantly.”

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  Jesus is the answer to our questions.  He is the way.  He is the truth.  And He is the life.  The more our lives reflect Him, the better they will be.

A Mansion

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

John 14:1-4

I think that this has always been one of the more encouraging passages in the Bible for the Christian.  I’m sure that Christians throughout the ages have looked to these words for comfort and strength when things got difficult.  We can take that same comfort and encouragement even today.

Jesus starts this passage with “Let not your heart be troubled.”  Sometimes our hearts do get troubled.  It was not hard to see why the disciples’ hearts were troubled at this time.  Their Lord was preparing to die on the cross.  They were confused and likely disheartened.  Jesus gave them these words and thoughts to comfort and still their troubled hearts.  They will still calm and comfort a troubled heart today.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions… I go to prepare a place for you.  I will come again, and receive you unto myself.”  Sometimes things don’t go our way.  Sometimes we get discouraged.  When that happens, we can think on this: Jesus is in Heaven preparing a place for us.  He is going to come again.  He is going to receive us unto Himself.  As I write this, Jesus is preparing a place for me.  That is an amazing thought.  I’m a weak, sinful person.  I don’t deserve any favor at all from the God of Heaven.  But He is there, preparing a place for me.

That is encouraging!

Christian Love

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 13:34-35

This is an interesting passage about loving your brothers (and sisters).  We can find more verses dealing with the same subject in one of John’s other books, I John.  Jesus tells them that He is giving them a “new commandment.”  They are supposed to love each other the way that He loved them.

That is a tall order.  He loved them so much that He was preparing to go to the cross for them.  He was preparing to die for them (and us).  He loved them more than He loved Himself.  And He commanded His disciples – which includes us – to love each other with that same kind of selfless love.

The question is for us today is this: do we truly love each other?  How do we love our brothers and sisters in Christ?  So often, Christians are not marked by their love for each other.  So often, they are marked by their pettiness, jealousy, bitterness, and gossip.  That is sad.  It is pathetic that Christians have strayed so far from the true commandments and desires of the Lord.

Are we loving each other today?  Have we let little arguments with fellow Christians grow into bitterness and hatred?  I think that all of us can do a little better in this area.  I think that we can all show a little more love to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jesus told the disciples that “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”  Can all men know this by looking at our love for one another?

The Service of the Lord

So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.  If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

John 13:12-17

I don’t think that it would be possible to overemphasize the importance of serving in the Christian life.  All through His life, Jesus was a servant.  He “went about doing good.”  He helped people wherever He found them.  In this passage, He gave the disciples (and us) a powerful illustration of serving others by washing their feet.

There is a great lesson for us in these verses.  “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”  If Jesus Himself could stoop to wash the feet of His disciples, how much more should we be willing to be servants?

Serving is not natural.  Serving is not part of our human nature.  Our nature is to want to be served.  We are selfish creatures by nature and by habit.  But, as Christians, we are servants because our Lord and Master was a servant.  We are to follow His perfect example.

“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”  We know that we should be helping and serving others.  We will be happy if we do it.  Are we happy?  Are we serving others as we should?

Good Old Simon Peter

After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.  Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?  Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.  Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet.  Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.  Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and head.

John 13:5-9

Simon Peter was famous for sticking his foot in his mouth.  Some of us are the same way.  Some people (Simon Peter included) just seem to have trouble with their mouths.  They just say stupid things.  To a certain extent, that applies to all of us.  We all occasionally say stupid things.  And when we do, we need to react in the right way, as Peter did here.

Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet.  When He came to Peter, Peter said “Thou shalt never wash my feet.”  That was a stupid thing to say.  Jesus told Him, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”  That shook Peter up a little and he quickly reversed his course: “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

We might say that Peter got into a lot of trouble, but he was also good at realizing when he had made a mistake.  He was good at immediately changing his mind to line up with the mind of Jesus.  That is the mark of a wise man.  How are we when we mess up?  Do we immediately admit our wrong and get back in line with Jesus or do we stubbornly insist on continuing down our own way?  In this matter, we should be a little more like old Peter.

Jesus the Servant

Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;  He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.  And that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

John 13:3-5

Jesus is our perfect example in everything that we should be doing as Christians.  This matter is no different.  At this point in His life, Jesus knew that He was going to be going to the cross.  He knew what was coming.  He knew that Judas was going to betray Him.  I’m sure that He had a lot on His mind.  But that did not stop Him from washing the feet of His disciples.

He was a servant.  In fact, He was the greatest servant that the world has ever seen.  How often do we expect people to serve us?  How often do we allow pride to creep in and find ourselves wanting be served instead of wanting to serve others?  We should be ready and willing servants.  We should always be looking for opportunities to “wash the feet” of others.  Those opportunities are there, if we will only keep our eyes open and look for them.

Jesus is God.  He is the King and Creator of the universe.  But He was a servant.  Imagine the creator of the stars stooping down to wash the feet of some weak, sinful men.  How much more should we be willing to follow His example?  Christians should be the greatest servants in the world.  Christians should almost be tripping over each other trying to help and serve others.  How are we doing?  Are we true servants like Jesus?