Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What are you singing today?

So many times I ask "what are you listening to?" and today I thought I would change it a little . . . we are told in the Bible:

speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,

or as another translation says:

addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

Both of these are Ephesians 5:19, but they are slightly different. Another translation says "in your heart" and I think all three are correct!

We can make melody in our hearts if we are not in a situation where we can sing aloud, and we also should sing from our heart and with all our heart!

So, what are you singing today?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why do we obey? (Continued)

We touched on this last time . . . some people (and we might be in the boat with them) obey Jesus' commands because of the fear of punishment. Maybe their grandma or parent told them about the fires of hell. Maybe they heard sermons about it. What does the fearful person look like? The person who simply wants to escape the fires of hell?

Now, before we go any further, let's pause briefly. I know there are some people who would point out that it's OK to be motivated by fear. They even show us verses that talk about it:

               ....fear the Lord and shun evil.   Proverbs 3:7

               ....work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works
               in you.  Philippians 2:12,13

But let's examine this more closely.
Did you know that in the Old Testament, there are ten nouns and eight verbs that can all be translated into the word "fear"? And it is in the New Testament that we find four different words that all translate to "fear."  Oy. We need to figure this one out, right?
When you and I think of fear, we put it in the category of worry, anxiousness, dread, frightened feelings, etc. Everything from butterflies in our tummy to true horror and dismay. Just one word. Maybe the ancient world had a better idea -- lots of different words to convey different meanings! Anyway, this is all what we'd call the "spirit of fear" like in this verse:

               For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love,
               and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7

The fear that is mentioned in the verses at the top of this post is a reverence for God. The spirit of fear can be harmful, but the fear of the Lord does us a world of good. We are not stricken by terror, we are brought to reverence and awe by the thought of our Father God and His blessings.

                For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but
                you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry,
                "Abba, Father!"  Romans 8:15

So the "right kind" of fear, the kind that is spoken of in both Proverbs and Philippians, is a reverence for Him. It is a reverence that makes us take great care and thoughtfulness to make certain that we don't come up short in our following Jesus. This type of fear is a great guard to preserve us from evil. This reverence will cause us to think before we act. This is a reverence that will cause us to put Christ and our witness for Him before our own selfish desires, and it will keep us from making foolish mistakes. Not all the time, for we are creatures that forget. But the more we model this reverence, this fear of God, the fewer selfish mistakes we will make. Where do we get this? He gives us this ability. It is His grace that reminds us and that bends our wills; His grace works in us; He enables us to act according to His principles. Kinda takes the stress off, right? (Grin) We have the Creator of the universe that helps us!
Are we supposed to have a fear of the Lord, then? Yes, that fear is the reverence and awe of God; it is that we put God first, and far above all else in our lives!
But are we to have an unhealthy fear of God? No! We should not dread Him. We should not be terrorized by the thought of God. Why should we? He is a loving Father:

                If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your
                children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to
                those who ask Him!  Matthew 7:11

Those who will obey God because they fear punishment have a difficult time drawing near to God. They have a hard time with worship and praise, since it is difficult to embrace something that frightens you. They fear that God will reject their efforts to obey Him. That is far from the truth. And it's a lack of faith. He has promised that He will meet our needs. He has promised He will grant our requests. He is a loving Father . . . let's ask Him today to help us reverence Him; let's ask Him today for wisdom as we move about in this world -- show us, Lord, when we stray and sin. Show us the pathway that we need to walk, to follow you so closely that Satan has no opportunity with us. Show us how to walk with you so that others see Christ, and not us.

All of these are requests that will honor Him, and He will grant them. We need only to ask.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday slowdown

When we walk with the Lord In the light of His word, What a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey. 
Trust and obey, for there's no other way To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. 
Not a burden we bear, Not a sorrow we share, But our toil He doth richly repay; Not a grief or a loss, Not a frown or a cross, But is blest if we trust and obey. 
But we never can prove The delights of His love Until all on the altar we lay; For the favor He shows, For the joy He bestows, Are for them who will trust and obey. 
Then in fellowship sweet We will sit at His feet, Or we'll walk by His side in the way; What He says we will do, Where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why do we obey? (Part II)

Please be sure to check out our focus passage today and then join us for the study.
Sure, go ahead.
We'll wait till you get back. The verses are John 14:15,21-24.

Ah, there you are. Great, let's get back to our study.
The first reason that we noted yesterday for believing and obeying Jesus' commands is the reward of heaven.
There are people who obey our Savior for the simple reason that they are hoping to get something out of it. (I know, right?)
What is this like?

Well, since their obedience is linked to a reward, these people will always have their hand out. What do I mean? Either short term, or long term, these folks are always expecting God to "bless them real good" because they have been so good!
It's as if they are channeling the little kid in them, and they expect God to be their parent and dole out an allowance to them for good behavior. Or that He is their personal Santa Claus, and they have been very, very good.
Whoa, pardner.
Yes, we do believe that whatever we ask for in Jesus' name, we can receive. After all, Jesus just told us that back in verse 14 of this same chapter. But that is not a magic formula for getting our prayers answered!
Instead, it is a confirmation that God will answer our prayers because we have Jesus within us, in His Spirit. So, we are not going to use prayers as a frivolous thing, but rather we will pray the same kind of prayer that Jesus would pray.
Ummmm, what are our prayers usually like? OK, no fudging here. Are we in a crisis, asking for help? What kind of help? Do we ask to be removed from the crisis, or do we ask for strength and wisdom to get through it and be a witness to His power?
I guess that Jesus wouldn't pray many of the prayers that we do. We are so quick to ask for God's blessings. So quick to seek relief from any kind of difficulty or hardship. We know in our hearts that He will be with us, is with us in the hard times. But we want to scoot away from those times that will teach us so much. And those situations are nothing compared to what Jesus faced; they are small potatoes compared to the suffering of the cross -- He didn't try to shy away, in fact He embraced the suffering that He knew was ahead of Him.
He lived with the reality of God's grace and the Father's presence in His life -- He lived this moment by moment. We need to understand this in the same way -- God's blessing and His presence is upon us right here . . . right now.

                I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it
                is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the
                secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or
                hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through
                him who gives me strength.  (Phil. 4:11-13)

Paul had learned (and it didn't come easily) the secret of contentment. Each of us needs to learn that, too! Christ is with us even in the midst of difficulties, suffering and pain. He will give us all the strength we need for each moment. He will be true to His word, and be faithful to us.  We don't need to ask God to make us comfortable, or to remove our difficulties, or to give us an allowance, or a reward because we've been good. He has told us that heaven is ours, and more blessings beside.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why do we obey?

“If you love me, you will obey what I command . . . 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” 22Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” 23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”   (John 14:15,21-24) 
This passage can be read on the surface and you just think, yeah, that sounds nice. I love Him and I keep His commands . . .
On the other hand, if you really dive in, it can be a wee bit intimidating -- you mean, if I don't keep His commands, then I really don't love Him?  Or, if I keep His commands, no matter the motivation, then I love Him?
Let's dive in and keep your eyes open so we can figure this out, OK?

Jesus actually says this four times here; I kinda think He was trying to make a point, and I really want to make certain I understand it correctly! It's clear that He is linking obedience to His commands as a sign, or a proof of the genuine love of His followers.
It's really important, though, to look at what He DIDN'T say -- He did not say, "If you keep my commandments, then you love me." That could mean that love is flowing from my obedience, and that could be a flawed reasoning.
Let me show you an example. Recently I have become much more careful to use my seat belt when I drive into the town near me.  Why?  Well, I almost received a ticket for not wearing it -- I actually had it under my arm instead of over my shoulder, because I am short, and the belt really bothers me if I wear it "correctly." OK, I am more careful about wearing it the right way now. So I am obeying the law, right? But my obedience has not made me "love" the deputy that stopped me late at night and scared me to pieces. Nor has my obedience made me "love" the town that says he can stop and ticket me for not wearing it.
Truthfully, my obedience to the law hasn't even made me agree with the law, although it's written "to protect" me. I saw nothing wrong with my shifting the belt for my comfort, and since I was going very slowly in a town with very low speed limits, I feel I was in no imminent danger. I simply don't think my opinion is worth a hefty ticket fee. (Grin)

Jesus said, "if you love me, then you will obey my commandments." In other words, love produces obedience. It is possible to obey Jesus' words and not love Him, but it is impossible to love Him and not obey Him.
Got it?
As parents, we know that our kiddos will obey us for many different reasons. Sometimes they do what they're told because they are out to get something that they want. (Really? Those little schemers...) Sometimes they obey because they're afraid of being punished. (Yep, it happens.) Sometimes they obey us parents simply because they must; they have no choice. (Grumble, grumble.) But you and I both know that it's wonderful when they obey simply because they love us!

So let's look at ourselves. Look slowly, and thoughtfully. And honestly.
Do we obey Jesus because we are hoping for the reward of heaven?
Do we obey Him because we are scared of being punished?
Or do we obey Him because we are forced to; we have no choice, like the self-righteous Pharisees?
Lastly, do we obey Jesus simply because we love Him?

We need to be very careful that we don't fool ourselves. Think about your motivations, your reasons. Do we really know the motives of our own hearts?

                The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can
                understand it?  (Jeremiah 17:9)

Let's study this passage and think about these reasons for obedience. Let's see if we can apply this to our lives . . .

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Verses that inspire

I'd like to encourage everyone who stops by the blog today to pause a moment and leave a specific comment: tell us a verse that has meant a great deal to you in the past week.

So many of us are facing similar challenges, heartaches and joys -- the verse that helped you this week might be just what another woman needs to hear!

I'll share one to get us started . . . kinda long, but oh, so wonderful!

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.

(Psalm 91)
There are things going on in our lives that we may not understand at this time; but as Charles Stanley often preached, we must not fret or whine. We need to ask ourselves, "What is my Father trying to teach me in this situation?"  There must be a reason, for He tells us that even though we don't understand, we must accept that . . .
"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8
Share with us a verse or two that has inspired, comforted, or challenged you. God may use it to help someone else, too!

Monday, September 22, 2014

John 14:12-14 Greater works?

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

This is a pretty amazing passage, is it not?
Does anyone besides me hear the theme for Mission Impossible playing? I mean no sacrilege; how in the world can we, as mere followers, do something this huge, this impossible?
Greater works?
But our Savior did not, could not lie. And He said it.
Let's dive in!

First, let's look at the things that Jesus did . . . we can find examples in His feeding over 5,000 people with just a boy's lunch; He walked on water; He told the wind the waves to "be still" and they did.
Are we going to do greater miracles than our Savior?
He said we would do greater works. Let's look back at some ground that we already plowed, OK?

            For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he
           will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.
           21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the
           Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father
           judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may
           honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the
           Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.“Very truly I tell you, whoever
           hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be
           judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time
           is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of
           God and those who hear will live. (John 5:20-25)

There's that term, greater works, again. To put this in context, we remember that this was when the man who'd been an invalid for over thirty years was healed. He was lifted up physically.
Even greater than lifting up someone physically is lifting them up spiritually. The greater work is salvation -- when people pass from spiritual death into spiritual life.
Even though Jesus performed many miracles, His primary work was not healing people, walking on water, etc. The primary thing that Jesus was concerned about was seeking and saving those who were lost!

            For the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
            (Luke 19:10)

Jesus wanted to see sinners saved -- and then He says we will do that, too!  Remember the scene at Pentecost? More people were converted in that one day than were recorded converted in the whole three years that Jesus was teaching and preaching here on earth. Remember the verse where Jesus says the fields are "white unto harvest"? He is talking about a harvest of souls . . . we are building on the foundation that He laid!

Jesus began the work; we are supposed to work hard to bring it to completion. Jesus knew what was coming. He knew that we would have the privilege of "harvesting" many souls; we are able to tell many people of His love.
The darker the world gets, the more brightly our light can shine. And now it can shine through radio and television, across our land, and across the globe. Our light can shine further now than could even be imagined before.
Think of all the way we have to witness -- a word for Christ to a neighbor or acquaintance, giving money for missions to spread His gospel -- I'm sure that you can think of many other ways that we can fulfill this verse:

             But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you
             will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and
             to the ends of the earth.  (Acts 1:8)

In our passage, He promises to do these works through us. And this applies to our witness here at home, and our witness around the world . . . when we ask something that is according to God's will, and we know it is His will, He promises to make it happen!
We are able to bring glory to God by seeing people saved. That's worth devoting our lives to. That is worth committing ourselves to doing. It's way, way bigger than us, or our problems. We can do greater works, with His power and Spirit.
We have a great commission, and we can tell of a great salvation; it can conquer a great need, and bring glory to our great God!
Let's get busy!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday slowdown

Draw me close to You, never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear you say that I'm Your friend
Help me find a way, to bring me back to You
You're all I want
You're all I've ever needed
You're all I want
Help me know You are near
You are my desire, no one else will do
No one else, could take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace
Help me find a way, to bring me back to You
You're all I want
You're all I've ever needed
You're all I want
Help me know You are near
Draw me close to You, never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear you say that I'm Your friend
Help me find a way, to bring me back to You
You're all I want
You're all I've ever needed
You're all I want
Help me know You are near

Michael W. Smith

Thursday, September 18, 2014

An un-troubled heart, conclusion

Another compelling reason to trust Him is found in verse 3:
              And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will
              take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
We're shifting our focus from a place, our Father's house, to a person, Jesus. Where Jesus is, that is where we find heaven. In His presence we will find the heavenly dwelling place that we are hoping for. He's telling them that He is not yet prepared to receive us there -- He must die, and rise, and be glorified. Then He will intercede for us and come for us. I Thessalonians 4:16-17 is a familiar passage that reminds us of the future reunion we will experience:
              For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud
              command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet
              call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we
              who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with
              them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will
              be with the Lord forever.
Is anyone besides me praising right now? (Grin)
Jesus is telling them (and us) to have un-troubled hearts. Don't worry, because you can trust that I am coming for you. I will come and take you to myself.
Maybe right now you are thinking that this all sounds wonderful, but right now my heart is troubled because of what I'm facing here on this earth. Maybe you are worried about what is best for your children. Or you are worried about what is best for your parents! Perhaps you are fretting because of your job, or your health, or you are depressed and lonely.
Perhaps you are thinking, if He doesn't want my heart to be troubled, isn't there something He can do to encourage me, to bolster my faith -- do I have to wait for heaven, or for the second coming?
Don't feel badly if you are thinking that way . . . Phillip did, too! Look at what he said to Jesus in verse 8:
                 Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.
Phillip didn't say, "That's great that we'll see the Father someday." What he said was, "We want to see the Father now! And if we do, that will be enough." (By the way, the word used there is the same word that Paul uses in II Corinthians 12:9, where he proclaims "My grace is sufficient for you."
So Phillip is asking if Jesus will show them the Father now. He seems to be saying that it will satisfy their troubled, anxious hearts. And in the next verses (7-11) Jesus will repeat that He and the Father are one, and that His presence is the presence of the Father.
              “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.”
              “From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
              “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?”
              “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show
                us the Father’?
              “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
              “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

Jesus is asking Phillip, is it enough? I have showed you, and He is here. I am here.
Perhaps you are asking Jesus in your own life, "Where have You been? You used to be with me. I could feel You here. And I felt like the Father was here with me. But now it seems You are gone." It is for you that He tells us "Trust Me." And, "I am always with you."
All we have to do to find that is to look down the page at verses 16-18 . . . and we'll cover this again in our next study, but here it is:

                 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be
                 with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot
                 receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know
                 Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave
                 you as orphans; I will come to you.

Remember when you were a young child, and you were sick? You would be lying in your bed, the covers all rumpled and mussed from your kicking them. Your fever would be making you feel so hot one moment, and so cold that you shivered, the next moment. Your mom would come in and gently pull up the covers, and give you a sip of juice, and before she left, her hand would rest on your forehead or face. Her hand felt cool and comforting to your feverish body. For a moment, all was well. All was better.
The comfort that our Savior gives us is so much more satisfying; it lasts so much longer. He is with us always, as He promised. That Spirit of God is dwelling is us as Christians. The Spirit of Christ. He has gone away physically, yes. But He has not left us as orphans. He has come to us.
Right now, He is much more interested in our marriages, our loneliness, our health, our jobs, and our parenting that anyone here on earth is -- He is more interested and cares more than we can imagine. He's not just a spectator; He is our Helper.

Why are our hearts un-troubled?
There is a place for us in our Father's house; Jesus opened the pathway to that place. Jesus and the Father are One, and are worthy of our trust and worship. Jesus is with us always, and forever.

Let not your hearts be troubled . . .

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

An un-troubled heart, continued

We're studying a familiar passage this week: John 14:1-11.  Let's continue and see some reasons why Jesus says we should trust Him, and trust the Father.

              In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told
              you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place
              for you . . . (verses 2-3)

At this point, I think we all like to pause and just let that sink in, ay? God's house is large; it has many, many rooms. He's not going to run out of space for us. And there is a space for each and every one of us. It's not a hotel -- it is a home, and His children live with Him in His house. It is very spacious, so He never runs out of room; and there is a room designed for each of the eleven, even Peter, who must have still be shaking his head in disbelief. And if we trust Him, there is a room there for each of us. So, all of us that are impulsive like Peter, and all of us who are imperfect saints, struggling to follow Jesus, can rest and not let our hearts be in turmoil. We can trust Jesus. We can trust God. We will have a place in His house -- a place in His household, as His child.

               To as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become the
                children of God. (John 1:12)

This is the message that He wanted to have sinking into their consciousness: Yes, I'm going away, and you can't come with me now. Yes, you will be scattered and frightened tonight when they strike Me, the shepherd, and I will go alone to do My work. But don't let your fear, your sadness, even your shame produce fretfulness -- don't let your hearts be troubled. Why? Because you can trust Me, and trust God. There will be a place for you in my Father's house, as His children, and that is forever.

If that doesn't make us drop to our knees in gratitude, I don't know what will!

Secondly, let's notice that Jesus mentions not once, but twice, that He is going to prepare a place for us. What does that really mean? In our mortal world, many of us find ourselves making repairs and preparing places for family members, either in their houses or ours. To have an elderly family member or parent move into a younger person's home requires a great deal of preparation for safety and other issues. And there is repair work each year that we must do in order to keep our homes in good shape. We are all familiar with these things  . . . is that what Jesus means? Is heaven in disrepair? Is the abundant life of fellowship with God in need of improvement?
In my studies I found some notes that clarified this: heaven is not in disrepair (of course). The sweetness of fellowship with God is not defective (of course not).  Our dwelling near the heart of God has actually been planned for redeemed sinners (that's us) since before the world was created.

Here is one way that things are not yet ready . . . what was not yet prepared is the way to "reserve" your room in God's presence. Remember, sin had not yet been atoned for. Jesus is the Lamb of God, and He is about to be slain. The wrath of God, the condemnation for our sins had not yet been atoned for; Jesus will bear our burdens on the cross, and defeat death. Each and every obstacle between us and our room in the Father's house is going to be removed in the next momentous, scary, awesome three days.

               No one takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
               I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This
               command I received from my Father.  (John 10:18)

I think that Jesus is saying that the pathway is not yet quite complete -- there is more to be done. Look at verses 4-6:

             And you know the way to where I am going. Thomas said to Him, Lord,
            we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus
            said to him, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the
            Father except through me."

I hope you will leave a comment and straighten me out if you think I'm wrong, but I believe that Jesus is telling Thomas (and the rest) that He's going to prepare a place for all of us. And as He goes, He is actually becoming the Way that we get there. He is the Truth that we hold onto, the Truth in which we place our trust. And He is also the Life, the eternal life that we will enjoy once we arrive in this special place. 

In other words, we don't need to have troubled hearts about the fact that we are imperfect, unworthy, sinful people. Our sins don't mean that we will find our spot in God's household unavailable. It won't be taken by someone else. Because Jesus is going to purchase our forgiveness and become the Way to the Father. He is going to make our room not only available, but "just right" and a certainty for all of His redeemed sheep.
So let not your hearts be troubled. Trust Him.

Join us again tomorrow and we'll finish this passage.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Prayer requests

Do you have a prayer request this week? Do you have a praise to share? Has He done something in your life that you would like to tell about, and tell of His blessings? Or is there something that concerns you, and you've turned it over to Him?

Let us join you in prayer regarding problems and obstacles.

Let us praise Him with you for blessings and abundance.

Leave a comment so that we may have the privilege of praying with you.

Thank you.

Monday, September 15, 2014

John 14:1-11 An un-troubled heart

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”

This passage is so familiar to many of us. We've heard it preached and read at funerals, and we have read it over again ourselves. It is a treasure. It's a comfort. It is also very down-to-earth and relevant to our lives today. One of the most common struggles that we have as Christians is that of a troubled heart. We want so badly to trust Him, to lay our burdens on Him, and to live freely and joyfully.
But do we?
Many times the answer is no. We fret and worry. We fail to trust Him fully with the problem we are facing. Let's look at what Jesus tells us in this passage.

Remember what John told us in the first chapter of his gospel? He was writing so that all of us would "get it" and understand Who Jesus was, and why He came. Look at John 20:31, also:

                 These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son
                 of God and that by believing you may have life in His name.

John wants us to trust and be assured of the reality that Jesus is the Messiah, the One Who fulfills all of the promises of God. And he wants us to treasure the fact that He is God among us, and that we can be connected with God through connecting with Jesus. That life "in His name" is the life that includes the power to have an untroubled heart.
So, here in the fourteenth chapter, is the living God, the creator of the world, present among us in our world in His Son. Jesus is the eternal, loved, image of the Father, and through believing in Him and receiving all that He gives, we are connected to the Father and share in an abundant life.

In these verses, Jesus will show us how He and the Father will "tag team" our worries, if you will, and overcome our troubled hearts. They will give us strength and peace to carry on with our lives in loving service. Jesus calls us to trust Him, and to trust the Father. He's even going to give us reasons why we should!

Notice that verse 1 and verse 11 both seem to make a similar point:

                Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

                Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe
                on account of the works themselves.

So He is encouraging us to show belief. Faith. The opposite of our hearts being troubled. Trusting Jesus for Who He really is, and also trusting God, are included in each other.

              Whoever believes in me, believes not in me, but in Him who sent me.
               (John 12:44)

So the whole point of this first portion of chapter 14 is to ditch our troubled hearts. To trust Him. And in trusting Him, trust the Father.

Think about it . . . He had just told them that He was going away. And He had said that they could not go with Him. And He had really lowered the boom on Peter -- He said Peter would deny Him before the night was over!
There were reasons a-plenty for all of them to be sitting there with troubled hearts. But right away (we can ignore the chapter break) He tells them, "Don't be troubled."
He's saying, "Instead, trust me. Trust God."
He is saying that to each of us, too.
I hope you will join us for the rest of the week, and hear more.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday slowdown

I am satisfied with Jesus,
He has done so much for me:
He has suffered to redeem me,
He has died to set me free.

I am satisfied, I am satisfied,
I am satisfied with Jesus,
But the question comes to me,
As I think of Calvary,
Is my Master satisfied with me?

He is with me in my trials,
Best of friends of all is He;
I can always count on Jesus,
Can He always count on me?

I can hear the voice of Jesus,
Calling out so pleadingly,
"Go and win the lost and straying";
Is He satisfied with me?

When my work on earth is ended,
And I cross the mystic sea,
Oh, that I could hear Him saying,
"I am satisfied with thee."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How will we score? Conclusion

When we left off yesterday, we had noted that Peter (like so many of us) was always proclaiming his loyalty, but he was not always as willing to practice it. We are very much like him, aren't we?
Be honest.
"You're going to die, Lord?" he asks. "Well, if you die, I'll die with you."
It's easy to say the words "I would die for the Lord." But when they are getting the nails to drive through your hands and feet, it becomes a much different situation, doesn't it?

"Are you really willing to die for Me, Peter? Let me show you how loyal you really are. Before morning comes, you will deny Me not once, but three different times."

"Going to be loyal to me?" the Lord asks. "Well, watch and pray with me, Peter," as they walk through the entrance to the Garden of Gethsemane. "I'm going just a little further into the Garden to pray. I want you to watch and pray, OK?" But Peter, along with the rest of the disciples (and we can insert our own names, too) quickly falls asleep.

"Are you truly loyal to Me, Peter? How closely will you follow Me?" In Luke's gospel, when the soldiers arrested Jesus and took Him out of the Garden, Peter followed at a distance. Now, be honest, and imagine if you were there. Do you think you might have followed at a distance, too?

Well, when we follow at a distance, instead of following closely, we end up sometimes in the wrong crowd. That's what happened to Peter. He ended up in the courtyard of the High Priest's place, just outside of where Jesus was being put on trial.
John was in the courtroom with Jesus, but Peter was outside, with all of those who had a part in arresting Jesus. One of them asked him, "You're one of the Nazarene's followers, aren't you?"
"Not me," said Peter.
Oy vey.
Twice more they asked him. All three times he denied Jesus -- the final time he said he didn't even know him! Peter found out the hard way that it was a lot easier to proclaim his loyalty with words, than to practice his loyalty.

We can all identify with the little boy at the beach who struggles valiantly to step into his dad's footprints in the sand. He keeps trying, even though dad's stride is longer, and his feet are bigger! Are we walking in the footsteps of Jesus? Are we trying, as He did, to live our lives in such a way that we bring glory to God? Are we living our lives showing that we love one another? Are our lives testimonials to the fact that we are unwaveringly loyal to our Lord?

You see, it doesn't matter so much if we wear a cross around our neck, though that is a lovely way to silently show our faith.  It doesn't matter how many bumper stickers are on our car, though that is sometimes a fun way to show our world view and our faith. The most important thing is our commitment to follow Jesus. So often we fall down in this, just as Peter did.

Remember what happened that night? Right after the third time that Peter denied Jesus, the rooster crowed, just as Jesus said. What do you think was in his mind when Peter heard it? That's tough. He was confronted with the fact -- simple, unvarnished, and undeniably true -- that he had denied Jesus again and again . . . and he ran out, weeping.
Sometimes we react that way, too. We've fallen short. We haven't done as we should, and we realize it. We have been open and bold and fearless in some ways, and then we suddenly see ourselves as we really are. Well, this should not be a shocker. I know, right? Remember what the Bible tells us? "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." No one is perfect, no not one -- except my Savior, Jesus.
But Peter didn't stop there. That's not the end of his story. He became a leader in the church as it grew in Jerusalem and spread around the world. If you recall, Jesus gave Peter another chance. He said to him, and He says to us, "Just because you fell short doesn't mean I have stopped loving you. You can start all over. You can begin again."

We can still be used of God. Maybe we can follow closer this time. Maybe we can love others a little more. Maybe we can allow more of His glory to shine in our lives. If we are willing to try again, He is willing, too!

That's what Jesus is saying as we finish our scorecards this week. "I'm willing if you are."  He isn't going to force His way into our lives. He will put up stop signs and danger signs on the road of life in order to warn us, and to guide us to him. But it is our choice, our decision.

So He invites us.
And then He waits.
And we must consider. Do we want to be His disciples? Are we aware of the marks of discipleship? Are we displaying them in our lives?

How did you score on this test?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How will we score? part II

The second mark of discipleship reminds me of ripples in a pond . . . for when we show this, we send out ripples that reach far further than we can imagine.

In verse 34, Jesus told them:

                A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you,
                so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are
                my disciples, if you love one another.

You know, it just doesn't make as much difference if we memorize and recite oodles of Scripture verses. Or if we give buckets of money in the offerings that are taken up. The most important thing, the thing that makes the memorization and the giving "work" is whether or not we show love. The Bible tells us that the world will know we are His followers by our love. Christ wants His followers to be known by how they love and minister to one another.

Maybe we can help a divorced person know that God doesn't love divorce, but He loves divorcees. Maybe we can comfort someone who is grieving. Maybe we can minister to someone who has lost their home and belongings by helping them find a job, as well as driving them to the food bank or the clothing distribution. Maybe we know someone who is struggling to put a blended family together, and we have some experience with that, so we pray for and counsel them.

There are so many ways that we can show love. Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone were to look at us or our church, and say, "Wow, those Christians really love one another, and folks on the outside, too!"
Now we have discovered two boxes on the scorecard -- a desire to glorify God, and an unfailing love for one another.
The third part of the score card is undying loyalty to Jesus. Let's look act verses 36-38:

                Simon Peter asked Him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replied,
                "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later."
                Peter asked, "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? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me
                three times!"

Oh, that had to hurt. You know it must have.
How loyal are we? Do we have an unflinching loyalty that will always be there?

Let's also look at Matthew 16:21-22:

                Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem
                and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and
                teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day
                be raised to life.
                Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, "Never, Lord!" he
                said. "This shall never happen to you!"
                Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a
                stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God,
                but the things of men."

Does it seem to you like Peter was always being tempted by Satan? And I don't know about you, but that is awfully familiar to me. Impulsive, motivated by love, jumping to conclusions, jumping in to help at a moment's notice . . . (it seems that Jesus was always  praying for Peter to be able to resist those temptations, too.)
It was Peter who wanted to walk on water. "You need someone to walk on water, Lord? I will!" Then Jesus said, "All right" and he did walk on water. For a moment.
It was Peter who wanted to build three tabernacles or shelters on the Mount of Transfiguration.
It was Peter who was always speaking up, always charging ahead. I find myself in his shoes often; do you?
Whether it was the correct thing to do at the moment or not, Peter was always demonstrating his loyalty to Jesus. At least with his words.
We'll talk more about this tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What are you listening to?

Praising God is an important part of our Christian life, and music is such a lovely, even fun way to praise Him, isn't it?

Seems to me that when I sing or hum a tune and think about praising God, my day just seems brighter. Might not change my circumstances, but it changes the way I respond to them!

If you have a moment, please read Psalm 145 today, and find a cheerful praise song to listen to! I know I will!

What are you listening to today?

Monday, September 8, 2014

John 13:31-38 How will we score?

When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
38 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!

Last week was pretty tough, ay? I learned a lot from our study, and I hope you got something from it, too.  This week we are not letting up -- we are still examining ourselves. Hey! You may be protesting -- take it easy on everyone!  Well, we have to look closely at ourselves when the Spirit shows us things that are important, right? Let's dive in!

If there were a test that could reveal how faithful a Christian we were, or measured the level of our spiritual walk, would you like to take that? Or would you shy away from it?  On the surface, where most people see us, we like to think that we appear to be doing a good job of being a Christian. We even like to think to ourselves that we are doing a good job. If you were to ask me, "How are you doing in your faith walk? In your spiritual life?"  I sure would want to answer "just fine!"

But in reality, things may not be going very well. We may not be growing spiritually. We may not realize it. What if we had a test that could measure the level of our commitment to Christ? Remember when you were a kid, and you would back up to the wall or the doorway and mom or dad would make a mark to show how you had grown?
In John 13:31-38, Jesus provides us with the real marks of true discipleship -- kind of like a measuring stick to show us how we are doing. 
A score card, if you will.
Remember what happened in our study last week? Jesus and his disciples were eating the Passover meal in the upper room. Jesus knew full well that His arrest would come the next day. But He began the evening by washing their feet, as we studied last week.  Then they sit down to their meal, and while they are at the table, Jesus says that one of them will betray Him. In the midst of all the turmoil and questions, Judas quietly leaves the room. Once he is gone, Jesus and the other eleven men are there, and it is almost as if a cool breeze has wafted through the room. The air is fresh and clean, and the servant of evil is gone. Jesus begins to talk about what it means to be His disciple. Let's listen in, because this is important!

The first thing that Jesus tells them, is that one of the marks of discipleship is a desire to glorify God. Check verse 31 again:

               After Judas had left, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and
               God is glorified in Him."

He is telling them, "I am going to be glorified" and we are blessed to be able to look backwards and understand -- He is talking about His own crucifixion.
How, people ask, can any glory come out of that? The Son of God, hanging on a rough-hewn, bloody cross . . . how can glory come out of suffering and pain, and death? There is only one way: on the cross, Jesus defeated Satan. On the cross He became the sacrifice to redeem us from our sins; to take away the sins that separate us from God. He built a bridge between man and God so that we could be together again.
But wait! There's more . . . God will also be glorified through Me, he says. Again, we find the answer to how this happens, on the cross of Christ. On the cross, Jesus reveals one more time to all of us who are so blind, a picture of what God is really like. We can see the love and mercy of God, and we see His justice as well. We can see with our own eyes, and with our hearts, the righteousness, holiness and power of God. It is displayed there for us to see and understand -- and Jesus willingly gave Himself on the cross so that we could see.

What does that mean in our lives?
I believe that Jesus is telling us that whenever we show the world God's love, mercy and grace in our own lives, then God is being glorified through us.

Can we influence others for Christ? Can we show them by how we handle the tough times and the good, that we know Him? Can we speak a word for Him in our conversations?  Even in casual contacts with folks, can we say something that shows we rely on Him, or that we are grateful for His providence and care? Such small things . . . but they're not really small, are they? Nope! All of these are ways that others can see us giving glory to the Father.

So, how are we doing? This is our first test on the scorecard.
Are we busy trying to glorify ourselves, or are we trying to glorify God?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Which one of us? Conclusion

Yesterday we paused just as Jesus handed a sop to Judas Iscariot. Some folks may not know the term, nowadays . . . here in the Southland, it's still used today. We use bits of bread to "sop" up the gravy or remnants of a great meal from our plates. In Bible times it was the same -- it was "a bit, a morsel" like in Ruth 2:14, where the word is used to mean a morsel of bread that was dipped before it was eaten.

It must have been deadly quiet when Jesus handed it to him. There was tremendous significance in what was happening -- that morsel of bread, that sop, stood for something.

Let's dive in!
Let's look at the letters S - O - P and think about what they might stand for in this case . . .
First, we could say that they stand for a Satan Owned Person. In the very next verse, John tells us that "after the sop Satan entered into him." Before a Christian can betray our Lord, we have to give way to the devil, to give in to him. When we quit fighting against Satan, we begin surrendering to him, and there is no in-between here; we must either be filled with Jesus or we will be full of Satan. Christ told us that we can't serve both, right?

It could also mean Skilled On Pretending. Verse 28 says, "Now no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him." When we mortals look at each other, we have trouble telling who is for real, and who is not. We can't read hearts as Jesus can. Humans are really good at disguising our hearts, and people may think that we are spiritual, but we are not. People may think that we are living holy, spirit-filled lives, but our secret sins are hidden just below the surface. Judas was a really "great pretender" -- he pretended to be a disciple that loved Jesus, but he was there in the room for the wrong reason.

Those letters could also stand for Steadily Occupied Position. In John 13:29 we see this:

                       Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling
                       him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to
                       the poor.

We can see that some of them didn't realize at first that Judas was the betrayer. He had held his position of treasurer for so long that they just thought of him that way.

If we look in John 17, we see what else the letters can stand for: Son of Perdition. Let's check out the 12th verse of that chapter:

                      While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which
                       You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished
                       but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.

Judas had pretended for an awfully long time.
He had done it for so long that he didn't even know himself that he'd become a pawn of the devil. He didn't fully realize the impact of his sinful plan. Perhaps he was thinking that they might whip Jesus, or maybe he thought they would throw him in prison for a short while and then release Him. It may be that Judas hadn't a clue that his betrayal would cause Jesus to die. But Jesus knew.

Those letters could mean Settled On Price. If we look in Matthew 26:15, we can see that Judas was only after the money -- he was paid thirty pieces of silver. Did you know that silver, in scripture, is almost always used as a symbol of judgment? If we look further back, into the Old Testament law, thirty pieces of silver was the price paid for a slave that had been gored by an ox. So Jesus was sold as a slave . . . and then would be pierced by nails and spears.

The most important thing, I believe, is that these letters can stand for the fact that Judas was the Same Old Person. He had been following Jesus around, but it seems he had never been born again. Like many in our world today, he never fully knew Jesus, and would not know Jesus as his Savior, because he loved the world and money and his religion; he loved all of these more than he loved Jesus.

Here is the question that we must wrestle with: could any of us betray Jesus?
None of us are as holy as we want everyone else to think that we are. We are not as perfect as we sometimes make ourselves out to be, or as much as we'd like to think we are in our own minds.
We are all capable of betraying Him if we are not careful to daily walk with Him. We must talk with Him each day, and allow His Spirit to guide us. We must spend time in His word, so that the Spirit has tools to use, to keep us in His pathway. That's what it takes, to keep us from becoming the Lord's betrayer, just like Judas was.

I am indebted to several preachers who have used this concept of the letters "S-O-P" in sermons, for assistance in preparing this final study on our passage.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

John 13:18-30 Which one of us? part II

Please refresh your memory of our verses by re-reading them, either in your own Bible, or in the post below this one.

"Which one of us?"
The question is in all of their minds.

There is Thomas sitting there. He says, "Could He mean it is me? I know, I am called the doubter sometimes. I don't always accept everything that is said, without some added explanations. But I think that is just my being cautious -- it doesn't mean I'm bad, does it? I love Jesus and I want to serve Him. I couldn't be the one to betray Him, could I?

Matthew thinks, "My name even means 'gift of God' . . . it couldn't be me! I've given up that life of stealing from others and trying to squeeze money out of everyone. I used to be a horrible thief, but I gave that up and I'm not looking back! Everyone hated me, because of my sin of usury, but I won't turn my back on Jesus. What in the world could convince me to do that? Oh, please tell me that I'm not the one!"

If we were to continue around the room, and look into the hearts of Bartholomew, the "other" James (the son of Alphasus), Thaddaeus and Simon the Canaanite, we would see that all of them were asking themselves, "Could it be me? Seriously?" "I love being a disciple of Jesus, and I want to inherit a position in His kingdom. It couldn't really be one of us, could it?"

Even Judas Iscariot is saying that it couldn't be him. He was a master at putting on such a good show that no one suspected him of anything. He was trusted implicitly -- after all, Jesus and the disciples had made him the treasurer . . . "If I wanted to be a thief," he might have been thinking, "I could do that very easily. I really do love the position and the title, and the access to the money! I'm never broke like the rest of them, since I have the whole treasury. Look here, I'm sitting really close to Jesus, so they can't suspect me. There's no need to worry about my true nature being revealed, because my secret is mine alone."

Who was the betrayer at the table? Well, of course we know. It was Judas, but no one else knew it that day, except for our Lord Jesus. And he was just about ready to expose that sinful character that was sitting at the table with all the rest.

               Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.
               And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of
               Simon. (John 13:26)

Jesus took a piece of bread, and sopped it, and then handed it to Judas.
I'd be willing to bet that you could have heard a crumb hit the floor at that moment.
Come back tomorrow to finish this with us, if you will . . .

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

John 13:18-30 Which one of us?

       I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’
19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

There are some words in our English language that just make us feel bad. They sound bad. They sound negative. Words like deceit. Violate. Untrustworthy. Betrayal. We'd rather close our eyes and turn away, right?
None of us like that word "betray." I'm guessing that there is really no worse feeling in the world than to know that someone you thought you knew, and that you thought you could truly trust, has violated that trust. When someone turns against you, you can scarcely breathe; you're stunned. You didn't think they would betray you. But they have. Have you experienced that?

When Jesus spoke the words in this passage, we can guess that all of the disciples were wondering who he was talking about. Probably each of them is glancing furtively at the others, checking to see if they are looking back at them. Is someone accusing them? How could they think that? I wonder if it is him? If we are again spectators in the room, we have to admit that this is an elite group. These were men that Jesus hand-picked; these were they who would be the leaders of the New Testament church. Surely they were above suspicion, above doubt. Could it be one of them? Or, more to the point, as the disciples looked around the room at each other, "Which one of us?" "Surely it cannot be me." Even Judas asked the question, trying to put up a front, that he was like the others . . . but he was about to be exposed.

Oops. Kinda getting ahead of myself there. Let's look at some of these fellows . . .

Remember Simon Peter? What is his nickname? The Rock. Hey, he says, you know it can't be me; I'm a charter member of the group! I've actually been with Jesus longer than any of you others. I'm not just a good man -- Jesus called me a rock, and it wasn't because I'm dumb, either. It means you can count on me when the chips are down. And I'm the bodyguard for this group; I'll fight when needed. Jesus knows that even if all of you left Him, I'd still be here. (Of course, we won't mention to Simon Peter that in a few hours he will eat those words.....)

How about James? He is in the inner circle, so to speak, of Peter, John, and himself. They are the most privileged, the closest to Jesus. They have seen more, have learned more, have been with Jesus more . . . and in the days to come they will see more than anyone else. James says, Well, I'm a faithful servant, and Jesus knows that I will sacrifice anything that I have for Him.  So he is asking, too, "Which one of us?"

Hmmmm. We come to John next, who was called the "beloved disciple." Our verses say that he leaned on Jesus and asked Him, "Lord, Who is it?"  John is wondering, how can it be me? I am closest to Jesus, and He knows how much I love Him. Why would I betray the Lord? Even now, I am the only one in the room who is close enough to Jesus to talk to Him face to face and ask Him. But, am I capable of betraying my best friend and Master? Am I?

Andrew is sitting there with the rest. As he looks about, he is thinking, no way! Not me! My mama named me Andrew, and that means "manly" and I am a man's man. I have integrity. I'm not a sissy. Never, never would I betray him . . . at least I don't think I would. Could something happen to make me do it?

Then there is Phillip. He says, I'll admit I have questioned things before. I've had trouble with this faith thing. I can't help it; it's just the way I'm made. I like to have things logical and ordered. But just because I ask questions and want proof doesn't mean I would betray Him. No! It just can't be me!

Have any of these followers of Jesus sounded a little like us? If we look into our own hearts, is it possible that we could betray our Lord?

Let's pick this up again tomorrow . . .