Archive for September, 2021

A FRUITFUL APPOINTMENT 

“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you” (John 15:16).

Being a chosen people doesn’t mean we become frozen into a state of blissful leisure. Ours is an appointed task, to be obediently carried out. The fruit-bearing mission to which we have been called is fulfilled not by sequestering ourselves in upper rooms, mountaintops, or sanctuaries but, rather, in our going. What a great privilege we have been afforded—chosen, appointed, and sent to bear his fruit into the world.

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NOW YOU KNOW

“that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief” (Ephesians 3:3). 

Revelation is the process of God making himself and his purposes known; it’s a pulling back of the veil so that we might understand those things once hidden and unknown. The coming of Christ is the full revelation of God and has made known to us that even we, Gentiles, are recipients of, and full partakers in, the promises afforded the chosen people of God. Mystery solved.

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FOR YOU

“For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3).

In isolation is an unnecessary way to face adversity. To be alone in our struggles only exacerbates the pain and its debilitating effects. Jesus did what he did upon Calvary’s cross to redeem us from our sins but also to sustain and inspire us in our pain; that both the fellowship of  his Spirit and the community of his Body might support and energize us for another day.

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SOMETHING TO KEEP YOU GOING

“You did not choose Me but I chose you…” (John 15:16).

In contrast to ancient days, when students chose their rabbi of preference, Jesus has chosen all those who would be his disciples, both past and present. This twice repeated statement, “I chose you,” (v.19), along with Paul’s allusions to the elect (Romans 8:33), and being chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), are assurances offered to God’s people, and always in the context of their persecution. Instead of confusion, exclusion, and division, these words were intended as an encouragement to persevere and not give up in the face of adversity.

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GOOD DONE WELL

“But Jesus aware of this, said to them, ‘Why are you bothering the woman? For she has done a good deed for Me’” (Matthew 26:10).

In the Greek New Testament two words are translated as good—agathos and kalos. The former points to a deed or activity beneficial in its effect. The latter has to do not just with the quality of the action, but the attitude. When the woman poured the expensive perfume over the head of Jesus, what he commends is the kalos, the good spirit by which she performed her good deed. It’s a very real possibility, Christian, that you can be right, but hold it forth in a way that is wrong, mean-spirited, unattractive, and divisive. As followers of Christ, we should seek to do good things, but doing them in a good way is even better.

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THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM

“This I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17).

For the third time in this upper room discourse, Jesus has commanded his disciples with the imperative to love one another (13:34; 15:12). It is not a divine suggestion, applicable when appropriate, but a mandate from the Lord. If even the most godless reprobate loves the lovable, then, is it not the intentional way we love the unlovable that separates us, and gives us our distinctive Christ-like presence in the world? Perhaps, like his first disciples, we need the frequent reminder that even when we were the unlovable, Christ loved us; that if such love was extended to the likes of us, the only fair and appropriate response is to offer it to others.

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THE FOUNDATIONAL PREMISE

“This is My commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

Jesus’ use of the singular “commandment,” after referencing the plural “commandments” in verse 10, should be noted. A hallmark characteristic of true discipleship is the desire to follow his teachings; knowing these provide, not only the guidelines and parameters necessary to living a life pleasing to him, but also the kind of life that gives credibility to the testimony of our faith. In living them out, and holding them forth before an unbelieving world, all commandments must emerge from a loving faith, not a hateful religion. This is the supreme commandment.

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FULFILLING JOY 

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11).

The One, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2), offers forth the key to unlocking the joy he has known in his life and ministry, even a life and ministry that entailed a cross. A joy that transcends even the most challenging circumstances is to be realized in a life of obedient service to the honor and glory of the Father. The joyful sense of enrichment, purpose, and completeness we all desire cannot be had apart from a life that labors to please God.

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RESPONDING TO FEAR

“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” (Psalm 27:4).

As David is about to be attacked by a formidable foe, the greater enemy to be faced is his own fear. Fear is the warning that danger, real or perceived, is near. This very human emotion can be either positive or paralyzing. In such circumstances, David prays not for victory over or destruction of his enemies, but the presence of the Lord. The house of the Lord is a common metaphor for the presence of God. With the confidence that the Lord is near, fear recedes.

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LOVING GUIDANCE

“When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner’” (Luke 19:7).

We would do well emulate Jesus, who acted as a guest in seeking to bring another to the redeeming  purposes of God. Why would we ever consider doing otherwise while being a guest among others? Consider how you conduct yourself while traveling in a foreign land or a city with which you are unfamiliar; are you not kind, courteous, and curious? As a people who live as “aliens” and “strangers” (1 Peter 2:11) in this present world, perhaps acting as guests would improve the possibilities of bringing others with us along the way to another land.

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