151. “I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” -John 15:5 Context: John 15:4-9
Fellow believers, without Jesus we can do nothing of eternal significance! Even as we do things that make this world a better place, we are to keep in mind making an eternal difference in the lives of others. And Jesus tells us that will not happen unless we abide in Him. He is our strength, which we appropriate by abiding in Him. Just as the branch is sustained by the vine, Christians are sustained by their relationship with Jesus! When the branch is separated from the vine, it withers and die. When we fail to abide in Jesus, we began to wither and we won’t be able to bear any more fruit. I like to think of “gospel math.” I was a “zero” before I was saved by Jesus. In Jesus I’m a “10” because Jesus is a “10.” Take away Jesus from my life and what do I have – “zero” all over again! I’m glad He makes clear I am eternally secure in Him! But to bear the maximum amount of fruit for Him I need to abide in Him, and the fruit will naturally be produced, bringing glory to God the Father!
152. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” -John 15:13 Context: John 15:11-17
Jesus Himself was the greatest example of this when He died for sinners so they could go to Heaven and be with Him rather than go to Hell! It is also a beautiful verse to celebrate those who in service to their country gave their lives so their countrymen could remain free. But laying down your life is more than dying for another. It is a lifestyle that practices J.O.Y. That’s putting Jesus first, Others before yourself, and then also taking care of Your own best interests. Jesus. Others. Yourself. JOY! Laying down your life for others means wetting aside your own agenda so you can look around at the needs of people around you and be a blessing to them! It is practicing an unselfish lifestyle, loving others as you love yourself. Have you laid down your life for your friends? Aren’t you glad that you are not just Jesus’ servant, but His friend? He chose us to be His friends and share His love with others. When you set aside your time and talents, and treasure to bless others, you are laying down your life.
153. “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” -John 16:7 Context: John 16:7-14
Many times a Christian will exclaim, “If I could only have lived when Jesus lived, and walked with Him, my faith would be stronger.” Here Jesus actually challenges that! Jesus says to those who walked with Him that it will be to their advantage (and ours) when He returns to Heaven. Why? Because with Jesus’ work completed God the Holy Spirit will help people come to Christ for salvation and indwell those who believe (John 7:37-39; Ephesians 1:13-14). From inside of them, the Holy Spirit prompts believers to remember and apply what they have read in the Bible. He prompts them to meet the needs He helps them see around them. 2 Timothy 1:7 says this indwelling Holy Spirit gives us power, love, and a sound mind! It will be wonderful to be with Jesus in Heaven one day soon, but in the mean-time here on earth we as believers have an advantage Old Testament saints did not have on earth -the permanently indwelling Holy Spirit!
154. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33
Brothers and sisters in Christ, here is an important truth you need to know – in the world you will have troubles related to being a follower of Christ. Some today think that if trouble comes to the Christian they must have done something wrong. The reality is that Christians face all the normal troubles that come from living in a sin-stained world PLUS troubles related to following Christ in a world that rejects Him. Paul later assured Timothy that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). If you seek to live and witness for Jesus, there is a price to pay. For some that means being mocked, insulted, and rejected by loved ones. For others it has meant suffering physical harm and even death. In the midst of this sobering news Jesus commands us to be of good cheer. Why? Because He has overcome the world! The rest of life on this earth will be the only “Hell” the believer ever experiences. After this life it will all be Heaven! Conversely, for unbelievers, this world is the only thing close to Heaven they will experience, and then Hell awaits if they don’t turn to Jesus. As believers we can’t always take comfort in our changing circumstances but we can take comfort that Jesus has overcome the world. In World War II my granddad was a Marine on a transport plane flying toward Japan when the Japanese surrendered. The war was over, but there were still battles to fight. My granddad’s plane was redirected to Japanese occupied China where they were to convince entrenched Japanese soldiers that they had lost. The Japanese soldiers refused to believe, and fresh battles ensued with live bullets being fired! So it is in the Christian life! Jesus has won the war, but Satan and his demons still have to be rooted out of their strongholds. Victory ultimately is ours, but necessary battles continue!
155. “Watch and pray, let you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” -Mark 14:38 -Context: Mark 14:32-42
As we learn to pray, it is important to note that God always answers prayer. He answers “yes,” “no,” or “wait” according to what best fits His ultimate will. As Beth Moore has said, “whenever God says no, it is for a greater yes. Jesus models receiving a “no” answer to prayer in this passage. In His humanness Jesus asked if He could forego taking the cup He was due to drink. The cup was the wrath of God that must be poured out on sinners because of their defiance of their Holy God. Justice demanded the sin be dealt with. As sinners none of us was able to deal with that cup. Jesus the eternal Son of God had come to earth to drink that cup as our substitute so we could live. Yet here in His humanness the Son of Man expressed the same very human feelings we all have to avoid suffering. But Jesus added to His request, “nevertheless, not My human will but Yours be done.” Because Jesus was absolutely committed to the divine will He entrusted Himself to the Father’s answer, even if it meant hearing no, and going on to the cross to bear the sins of the world! And that’s exactly what He did. We too must pray with total confidence that God’s answer will be best for us and our world, even when we do not understand, even when the answer is no or wait. We also note that if we are going to increase our prayer time, it is going to be a battle of discipline as our spirit fights with our flesh. Don’t be found sleeping on your watch, fellow Christian! Get to your battle station of prayer!