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Showing posts from October, 2013

Bookends

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As the Lord came to the end of His last Passover meal with His disciples, He offered them this word of encouragement: “I have told you all these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

In a way He has come full circle during this last teaching time with the men who had followed Him over the last three years. He began by giving them another look at their future hope (John 14) and promising them that they wouldn’t be alone even after His departure. His message was tucked, like a row of books, between two bookends. The first was the promise: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). The other bookend is the similar promise from John 16:33, quoted above.

Jesus then reminded them of the importance of abiding in Him (John 15). They would face the same difficulties as He was facing. T…

Enough

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Despite all the tools of modern society, feeling alone still ranks high on the list of ills suffered by many people. Despite Twitter and FACEBOOK, despite an endless variety of groups to belong to, including church, these communities don’t always spell “communion.” Even where relationships are possible, the number of times people who move from one relationship to another, always seeking that elusive something but never finding it, astounds me. Equally disturbing is the number of co-dependent and abusive relationships out there. Some people don’t dare let go—the prospect of being alone is too frightening.

The Weather Network calls us “The Angry Planet,” but we’d be better called “The Lonely Planet.”

Every relationship, no matter now good, is transitory. That’s what we struggle to understand. People move, people change, people die. People come into our lives and they move out of our lives.

Jesus touched on the subject in a statement he made, recorded for us in John 16:32: “But a time is …

Better Let Me Go First

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The ice covered by a thin layer of fresh snow made drivers and pedestrians cautious this morning. I have a short hill to climb on my way to work and since I’ve fallen on that hill a couple of times, I was planning on taking extra care on the way up. A city plow/sander was working on the other side. He crossed the street and just as I started up the hill, the driver beeped his horn. I stepped off the sidewalk to let him by. He rolled to a stop beside me, opened his window and said: “Better let me go first; I have sand.” I thanked him.

“Better let me go first; I have sand.”

On that last night before Jesus went to the cross, He tried to explain to His disciples what was going to happen. But the struggle to understand, or perhaps to accept what He was telling them, was too much. At the end of John 16, Jesus finally says, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father” (vs. 28). They GOT that.

It would take the disciples a little time t…

Prayers That Get Answered

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Tucked away in John 15 are two of the verses that most of us claim regularly. We like the idea of being able to ask God for something and then receive it from Him. And we are thrilled to know that He not only delights to answer our prayers but that He is perfectly capable of doing so, often giving us more than we asked for.

It is important to note that both of these "ask and get" verses are connected to an equally important truth.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:7, 8).

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (15:16).

The whole passage is all about fruit-bearing, or producing the character of God in our lives. We know from Galatians 5:22, 23 what some of these qualities are: “But the fruit of t…

The Bond of Love

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It was a hollow victory. To tell the truth, it wasn’t a victory at all. If Satan thought he had won when he turned Judas into a traitor and paved the road to Calvary, he was mistaken.

Just as Jesus and the disciples left the upper room to take the short walk to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said this: “I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father commanded me” (John 14:30, 31).

Six words of tremendous importance: “He has no hold on me.” This road had been paved since before the beginning of time. It had been determined between a loving Father and an obedient Son in order to rescue a rebellious people. Satan was no more than a pawn on the chessboard of history. He only had the power to manipulate events that had been granted to him by God. Whatever “hold” he thought he had was no hold at all.

The power of the underworld is a popular theme in books…

Every Day With Jesus

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It is one of the classic verses of Scripture. John 14:6 is often quoted in pre-evangelism, as a proof text that Christ is the only means of salvation—and so it should be. But there is much more to it than even that.

On the night he was betrayed, as Jesus and His disciples finished their last meal together, the disciples were uneasy, Jesus kept talking about leaving. That was not what they wanted to hear. He promised that He was going ahead of them to prepare “a place” for them. Thomas was afraid of missing the turnoff so he asked: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (14:5). Then came the classic reply: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (14:6)

This “place” the Lord was preparing was heaven. He had already told them that they knew the way to get there (14:4). That was the heart of the message Jesus had been preaching over the three and a half years He had been with the disciples.

It…

The Hole in the Whole

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Today’s post marks the 100th in this series through Matthew and John. I’m already thinking about what I will do next year!

Advanced planning isn’t a bad thing. But it might be a little presumptuous since I have no idea what might happen tomorrow let alone where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing next year.

Perhaps that is why John records these fascinating words in John 13:1: “Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.” John was writing this after the events. At the time of the Passover supper he, like all the others, didn’t really understand what was going to happen over the next few days of their lives. They may have had plans but I’d guess those plans didn’t include a crucifixion even though the Lord had announced it so many times.

Later, looking back at what had happened, John could write what was in his Master’s mind: “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God” (13:3).

Bu…

H2O

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Water. Ecologists warn that we are abusing it and that one day that abuse will come back to haunt us. In some parts of the world, lack of the vital resource has left millions of people struggling for life. It would be hard to drink too much of it, but most of us drink too little. We bathe in it, flush it, swim in it, and generally assume that it will always be there for us.

Water is essential to life.

Washing, to the Jew familiar with the law and the traditions of the religion of his ancestors, symbolized purification. It had always had a place in the practice of religion, from the cleansing rituals of the priests before they entered the holy places to the bitter water drunk by the woman suspected of adultery. Amazingly it took more modern generations a long time to realize just how important washing was to the prevention of disease and contamination. It wasn’t until the 1800s that physicians began to make the connection that the Bible had always illustrated through its historical rec…

God on His Knees

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It’s a scene often described to us. It’s an example we are told to follow. But how often do we stop to think about why Peter felt the horror he did when Jesus bent down to wash the disciples’ feet.

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1)

In the hustle and bustle of the Passover preparations, apparently no one thought to look after the custom of washing the feet of the guests as they entered for the meal. It would have been proper for one of the disciples to at least wash the Rabbi’s feet. But, it seems, no one did.

So when Jesus got up, removed his outer garment, wrapped himself in a towel, filled a basin with water and knelt on the floor to wash His disciples’ feet, they should have been appalled. We have no record that anyone jumped up to take His place, or objected—except Peter.

We understand the les…

The One Thing I Don't Want to do Alone

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As we read through John 12 there are so many places where we could stop, stay, and study for a while. I going to park on just one statement.

The neighbourhood was abuzz. Lazarus has been raised from the death. The story spread like wildfire. A few days later, as people gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus entered, riding on a donkey. The crowd reacted with celebration, throwing palm branches and their cloaks on the ground, shouting out their worship and their welcome to their “King” ( 12:13).

The authorities were annoyed, and not only was Jesus in their sights, but they were even plotting to kill Lazarus (12:10), and make him stay dead this time.

Some Greek converts were in the city for Passover and wanted to see Jesus (12:20). That simply added fuel to the fire of the authorities. They knew His fame would soon spread beyond the confines of Israel.

But Jesus was not focused on the fame and adulation. He knew what was to come and delivered again the message of His commitment to g…