Pocketful Of Faith

Take this pocketful of faith, It is all I have today, I'm giving it all.

 

I don’t want to get there
At the end of it all
Looking behind me
To see there was so much more

Take this pocketful of faith
It is all I have today
I’m giving it all
I’m giving it all

CHORUS
You will always have my heart
Everyday I’ll trust You more, oh God
Take this pocketful of faith
It is all I have today
I’m giving it all
I’m giving it all

VERSE 2
Leaving the safety
Here at the shore
Beyond the horizon
I see there is so much more

Take this pocketful of faith
It is all I have today
I’m giving it all
I’m giving it all

BRIDGE
Anywhere You go I’ll follow
When You call my name I’ll run
Lead me on into tomorrow
Light my way like the rising sun

It is a good idea to schedule an inventory of your life on a regular basis if we are going to live as passionate followers of Christ then we have to make sure that we are really doing it. There are so many other things to choose to live for that it is easy to get distracted and off course. If you wait to long to look back then you will discover that there are times when you have wasted time and energy on things that didn't matter.

It takes faith to be obedient and passionately follow Christ, to jump out of the deceptive safety of being normal, it takes faith but thankfully it doesn't take a lot of it. Just a pocket full of faith is all you need to get started on the road of following Christ.

It is scary to ask God if I am playing safe or if I am truly following him with the degree of passion that he desires. Do I really want to know the answer? It may require that I make big changes, nobody likes big changes, big changes are painful changes.

Following anywhere is my goal, he moves, I move, he calls and I answer, he leads and I follow. I must die to self so that I can live with fewer regrets and accomplish the work that God has for me to do.


Following Jesus

Following keeps on happening one step at a time no matter what happens.

 

John 12:12-19  The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors  13  took palm branches and went down the road to meet Him. They shouted, "Praise God! Blessings on the One who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!"  14  Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said:  15  "Don't be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey's colt."

16  His disciples didn't understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into His glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about Him.

17  Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising Him from the dead, and they were telling others about it.  18  That was the reason so many went out to meet Him--because they had heard about this miraculous sign.  19  Then the Pharisees said to each other, "There's nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after Him!"

Jerusalem was probably in a state of chaos, there were crowds in the city with their animals for the Passover celebration, and there were people that were amazed that Lazarus was back from the dead. It reminds me of the commotion that Mary and Joseph experienced when they arrived in Bethlehem to register for the census.

The excitement goes a little bit higher when the word gets out that Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. A crowd begins to parade out of the city to meet him as he comes to town.  The Pharisees are annoyed at the welcome party that Jesus received and unsuccessfully tried to persuade him to silence the people, they told Jesus but he told them that "If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!" (Luke 19:38-40).

The crowds were amazed by Jesus. 

The thing the Pharisees most feared was happening right in front of them and there doesn't seem to be a way to stop it. "Everyone has gone after him!" And why not? Jesus has made their dull life of oppression and poverty so much better. He has fed thousands, given them help with their physical ailments and brought back relatives that have died. Following was easy and for a while it made their life better.

But are they really followers of Jesus? They followed him around but that didn't make them people of faith anymore than going to church makes you a Christian. A fully committed follower knows that Jesus isn't the key to your "best life now."

The Pharisees were amazed by the crowd.

These guys were deceived into thinking that they needed to worry about losing their position and power but Jesus knew better. Jesus knew that the crowds wanted something that he wasn't going to give them, Jesus knew that they didn't understand the mission that brought him to earth, he knew that they would turn against him in a few days. Jesus would disappoint the crowds when he didn't leverage his influence to overthrow the system.

Maybe it wasn't their position or power, maybe some of the Pharisees really believed that they were doing the right thing, in Deuteronomy 13:1-5 God instructed them to kill false prophets, maybe some of them believed that they were obligated to get rid of Jesus in the same way that Saul was persecuting the early church.

The problem with that thinking is that the Pharisees are the real false prophets and teachers that are leading the people astray. Somebody should be throwing rocks at them!

Following Has A Price

Luke 14:25-28  A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them,  "If you want to be My disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison--your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple.

And if you do not carry your own cross and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple. But don't begin until you count the cost.
Jesus didn't smooth talk his way into getting followers, he didn't give the itching ears the stuff that they wanted to hear, Jesus told the crowds that following him was not going to be easy. Many times he told the crowds that his committed followers would have to make great sacrifices.

Make sure that you follow Jesus because of who he is not because of what you think he might provide for you. The truest test of following comes in the “even if” moments, even if my marriage falls apart, even if this cancer never goes away, even if I lose my job, even if we never get pregnant. Following keeps on happening one step at a time no matter what happens.

Isaiah 43:2  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

Are you a part of the crowd or are you fully committed? The crowd questions God's love when the going gets tough. The crowd isn't going to keep on following when the goodies and benefits are surpassed by the struggles and disappointments that will surely come.

We question God's love in the difficulty but he knows that in those uncomfortable situations we grow and we make choices that increase our faith, he will put us in those situations on purpose because he wants so much more for us. It is only when we come through the tough times that our faith muscle gets exercised and it gets put on display for God's glory.

We are satisfied with where we are and who we are but God wants so much more for us. Our amazement with Jesus only requires us to use our brain. God is after our heart and that is what he needs to get us to be his committed followers!

Do we have the faith to follow Jesus one step at a time? Will we follow Jesus wherever He goes, knowing that it is God who leads the way?

Dead Man Returns

A rotting corpse is alive again and yet you still do not believe?!?

 

John 11:43-48  Then Jesus shouted, "Lazarus, come out!"  44  And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him go!"  45  Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.  46  But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.

Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. "What are we going to do?" they asked each other. "This man certainly performs many miraculous signs.  48  If we allow Him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in Him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation."

John 12:17-19  Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising Him from the dead, and they were telling others about it.  18  That was the reason so many went out to meet Him--because they had heard about this miraculous sign.  19  Then the Pharisees said to each other, "There's nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after Him!"

They asked for proof that Jesus is God and now they have the most amazing display of Jesus power and yet it didn't make any difference to so many. If any miracle should have resulted in every person present falling on his face and worshiping Jesus as God then this would have to be the one.

Four days of decomposing causes a body to do gross and smelly things that you don't want to think about. The Jewish culture back then didn't do anything to embalm the corpse, they wrapped the body and sprinkled spices on it to cover up the stink. This is the condition that Lazarus was in when the tomb was opened and yet this smelly corpse gets up and walks out and his decomposition is completely reversed.

Jesus asked Martha, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” Through this miracle she saw the glory of God on display through Jesus but not everyone did. Other people that saw the same event were not convinced at all. They reacted by reporting what Jesus did to the guys that are "in charge."

These two responses to Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead is a clear demonstration of the way we react to Jesus today:

If we believe in Jesus then we will see the glory of God


John 1:14  So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son.

Jesus said that Martha's faith would make her see, the writer of Hebrews tells us that faith is the evidence of things not seen, Paul told us in Romans 1:20 that we have no excuse. There is only one reason some people are so blind to the truth, Jesus tells us why, it is because we love the dark and prefer to be there and our adversary has blinded their eyes. (John 3:19, 8:12)

When John is writing down Jesus words that they would see the glory of God, he must have recalled his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration,  the incredible experience must have been a dramatic and life changing event.

Our inability to see God's glory is because we can be so full of our own glory, our pride and arrogance, our inability to see how disgusting our goodness is, distorts our view of God.

If we see miracles without believing then we are in great danger.


Hebrews 12:25  Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven.

They were “good church-goers” but they didn't have a relationship with God. They could not see and believe that Jesus is God. What further proof of God’s power could you want than to smell the stench of the rotting body as they rolled the stone from the tomb? You can see Lazarus laying there right where they put him four days ago, you hear Jesus’ loud command to come out of the grave and then you see him stumble out in his grave clothes without any signs of the decomposition that you just witnessed.

The writer of Hebrews warns us that we are in great danger if we refuse the evidence that God gives us. The Israelites refused the evidence and would not listen to Moses, in Jesus day he was ignored and rejected as the Messiah, and now we have even greater evidence yet so many of us don't see it.

The evidence of fulfilled prophecy, including over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled, we have the eyewitness accounts of His teaching and miracles and we have an empty tomb, backed up by the changed lives of the witnesses that testify that he did come back from the grave.

Can you consider the evidence and come to the conclusion that Jesus is God? No greater evidence will be given before the moment that it is too late. Some day you will realize that Jesus is God. Make the right choice before it is too late!

The Space Between Grief And Hope

God wants us to face overwhelming trials with faith as we draw near to our hope in Jesus.



John 11:23-27  Jesus told her, "Your brother will rise again."  24  "Yes," Martha said, "he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day."

25  Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying.  26  Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?"

27  "Yes, Lord," she told Him. "I have always believed You are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One who has come into the world from God."

A lot of people are unhappy and confused about Jesus, the message that Lazarus was sick and needed his help had reached Jesus in plenty of time. Some of the people at the funeral were baffled by the fact that Jesus could have just spoke the words and Lazarus would be healed without Jesus coming to see him.

Four days later Lazarus' family was dealing with their loss when the word gets back to the house that Jesus has made his way into their village. How could he show up so late? When the message about Lazarus was given to him he wasn't that far away so where has he been? There isn't much that can be done now.

Jesus encourages her with the thought that she will see her brother again and that death isn't a permanent condition for God's children. Jesus asked her if she believed and she confirmed that she knew that he is the Messiah but that hope didn't get rid of her grief. Jesus didn't expect it to end her sadness, he didn't ask her if she felt better now that she had that resurrection theology straight in her head, according to Jesus it was not how she felt that was important, but what she believed.

Ephesians 2:6  For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.

We have amazing hope but still there is an empty void that will not be filled right away, if ever, so we still have grief but it is tempered with the hope that we will be reunited with that person again. This trial will test our faith, it is a lot easier to talk about our faith as a theory than it is to exercise it, it is easier to believe that all things work together for good than it is to believe that this individual trial is for good.

There are seven qualities of overcoming faith that will help us work through life’s overwhelming trials and losses:


1. Overcoming faith takes overwhelming trials to the Lord.
2. Overcoming faith trusts that God is in control of all our circumstances.
3. Overcoming faith does not limit God.
4. Overcoming faith trusts in the promises of God regarding eternity.
5. Overcoming faith personally applies God’s truth in the present.
6. Overcoming faith centers in the person of Jesus Christ.
7. Overcoming faith believes what it knows and grows from there.
From Bible.org "Overcoming Faith"

As Jesus approached Mary and Martha differently he does the same for us, with Martha he talked to her about her belief but with Mary he sympathized and wept with her. Jesus told us that apart from him we cannot do anything and if we have have him we can do anything but sometimes our emotions overrule the facts.

Emotions Are Okay

John 11:33-36  When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within Him, and He was deeply troubled. "Where have you put him?" He asked them. They told Him, "Lord, come and see." Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, "See how much He loved him!"
Emotions are okay, even Jesus was emotional, our emotions can be opportunities to grow. In our grief we learn to pray, in our weakness we learn of his strength, in our sorrow we learn more fully about his grace.

All of this annoys us, none of it is fun or comfortable but God knows that we grow more like him the most when our lives are less satisfied with the things of earth. If we were fully content and satisfied with our time here on earth then we wouldn't long for heaven so much.

1 Thessalonians 4:13, 18  And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. So encourage each other with these words.

You may be tempted to run the other way but you should come to Jesus. We tend to think that God doesn't love us when we suffer, we think that our circumstances are proof of the level of love that Jesus has for us and bad stuff must happen because he is angry with us. (Romans 8:35-37)

Grief doesn't stop happening but we also have hope that should never stop. That's where we are until Jesus returns, somewhere between grief and hope.

Hope And Glory

Jesus is the only one that can heal our land.

 

Hear our cry, Oh King of heaven 
Jesus hope to every heart 
We are lost, without Your glory 
We are lost, without you God 

Be the fire, that burns within us
Flames of love that purify
Send the power and Your salvation
Let us see Your kingdom come

Only You can move the mountain
Only You can heal our land
Chris alone our hope and glory
Chris alone in You we stand

Turn Your eyes and show us mercy
How we need Your Father’s love
Lead us home and out of darkness
With Your gospel burning bright

Only You can move the mountain
Only You can heal our land
Christ alone our hope and glory
Christ alone in You we stand
(Repeat)

We believe our God is mighty
We believe our God is here
We believe our King is coming
Christ alone in You we stand

Praise the Lord our God is mighty
Praise the Lord our God is here
Praise the Lord our King is coming
Christ alone in You we stand


Right Question, Wrong Motives

Unbelief eliminates all of the evidence that Jesus is God.

 

John 10:24-33  The people surrounded Him and asked, "How long are You going to keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly."

25  Jesus replied, "I have already told you, and you don't believe Me. The proof is the work I do in My Father's name.  26  But you don't believe Me because you are not My sheep.  27  My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.  28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me,  29  for My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father's hand.  30  The Father and I are one."

31  Once again the people picked up stones to kill Him.  32  Jesus said, "At My Father's direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone Me?"  33  They replied, "We're stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God."

Where will your questions lead you? Many times we ask the right question but our mind is already made up so we don't really consider the answer to the question. That's how the leaders in the temple approached Jesus, they had their minds made up, they could not consider the overwhelming evidence that Jesus is who he claimed to be. They were tired of Jesus claims and the threat he was to their power.

The religious leaders make it sound like it is Jesus fault that they don't believe. So they ask him to make it more clear this time, clarity isn't the problem, they just don't like his answer. How sad it is to be so blind that you have an closeup personal encounter with Jesus and you fail to see who he really is. It reminds me of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus, fell on his knees and asked the right question, got the right answer but he left without ever knowing Jesus.

Jesus Said:



✔  He Existed Before Abraham - John 8:56-59
✔  He is Equal with God - John 5:19-20
✔  He is the one that scripture foretold -John 5:39-40
✔  To See Him is the Same as Seeing God -John 12:44-50, 14:6-9
✔  He Could Forgive Sins -Matthew 9:6-8, John 8:23,24
✔  He Is the Judge -John 5:21-23
✔  He Can Grant Eternal Life -John 6:40, 11:25, 10:27-28
✔  He Was the Same as God -John 10:30-33
✔  His "I Am" statements say he is God -John 6:35-39, John 7:37-38, John 8:12, 58

Jesus was asked who he is many times and he answered them plainly each time. The prophets in the Old Testament all pointed to Jesus, John the Baptist said it, Jesus miracles said it and Jesus words said it "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)

Jesus lets them know that they will never be pleased with his answer because they are not his sheep. Jesus sheep know his voice, they listen to him and follow him. His sheep hear the answer to the question "who is Jesus?" It makes sense to them, they have no problem believing that he is the Good Shepherd that they should follow.

John 7:17  Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether My teaching is from God or is merely My own.

Unbelieving hardened hearts will always produce ignorance. Jesus tells us that anyone that has the desire to know God will understand Jesus claims to be God. Unbelief eliminates all possibility of the evidence being considered.

Jesus doesn't back down or flinch the least little bit, he continues with a question that is going to make them more determined to get him on the cross, "Which of these good works has caused you to stone Me?” I remember that Peter asked these same leaders a similar question, "are we being questioned today because we've done a good deed for a crippled man?" (Acts 4:9)

Right Question, Right Answer

Matthew 16:15-17  Then He asked them, "But who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "You are blessed, Simon son of John, because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.
Are you asking the right question? Are you asking objectively with honest intentions? Is your mind made up against Jesus before you ask?

The religious leaders could not answer the question the way that Peter did. His answer was the same when he was being questioned about the healing of the crippled man at the temple. (Acts 4:8-14)

Do you know the shepherd? He gives eternal life to his sheep. You are his sheep if he is your shepherd, do you hear his voice, do you recognize it and follow it, is he in control of your life?

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Who Is Jesus? Here Is Some Proof (diggingtheword.blogspot.com)
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I Am The Gate

There is only one way to get to the safe place of rest that God offers his sheep.



John 10:1-9  "I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber!  2  But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  3  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

4  After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.  5  They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't know his voice."

6  Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn't understand what He meant,  7  so He explained it to them: "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.  8  All who came before Me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them.

9  Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through Me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.

There are two people that were very important in taking care of the sheep, there was obviously the shepherd and there was a lesser known person know as the gatekeeper. We all know that the shepherd was the guy that owned the sheep and they spent most of their time with him out in the fields but we don't hear much about the gatekeeper.

Back in those days the shepherds would bring there sheep into a common sheepfold so that the would have a wall of protection around them during the night. Then the shepherds would be able to go home knowing that the sheep were in a pen and the only way into that pen was through the gate.

The gatekeeper was important for the safety of the sheep, he would accept the sheep from all of the local shepherds and then lock the gate or he would become the gate by bedding down in the opening. The thieves and robbers that tried to harm the sheep had to harm the guy that was being the gate or they had to try to climb the wall which was probably decorated with thorns around the top of it.

Since a live sheep would be difficult to get back over the wall it is very likely that they would slaughter the sheep right there in the pen. The reason they wanted the lamb was to have food or to have the fleece so either way the lamb was going to die.

The Gate Is Narrow

Matthew 7:13-14  "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
The sheepfold is Israel and God's children are the sheep. Jesus is the only gate that will give you access to God's kingdom and protection from the thieves and robbers. The leaders of Judaism tried to make it as difficult to gain access to God's sheepfold as they could, their false teaching took advantage of the sheep and caused Jesus to be moved with compassion. (Matthew 9:35-38)

Jesus wants us to know that his children have a place of safety and rest and there is only one narrow opening to get you there. (Matthew 11:28, 1 Timothy 2:5) These concepts are difficult for our world to understand. We want God to let us into the sheepfold by our rules, we don't want there to be one way in that he gets to define, we like to be in charge but we don't get to be the boss.

Thank you Lord for caring enough for such lowly, dirty and dumb creatures that you went to the extreme to give them an eternal dwelling place of safety and rest.

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It Is Well

My soul can be at peace when everything in the world around me is falling apart.

 

Our scars are a sign of grace in our lives 
And Father how you brought us through 
When deep were the wounds and dark was the night 
The promise of your love You proved 
Now every battle still to come 
Let this be our song 

It is well, it is well With my soul, with my soul It is well, it is well With my soul 

Weeping may come, remain for a night 
But joy will paint the morning sky 
You’re there in the fast, you’re there in the feast 
Your faithfulness will always shine 
Now every battle still to come 
Let this be our song 

You lead us through battles 
You lead us to blessing 
And you make us fruitful 
In the land of our suffering 
God It is well, it is well with my soul

Real Peace

John 14:27  "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid.
One of the greatest gifts that we need is peace. The world is looking all over and they think that they have the answers but their answers don't work for every situation in life. They can't give you real peace when everything is falling apart.

Jesus tells us "I am," He is the bread and the living water, he is the light for our path and the only way to the Father.

To sum it up he is everything that we need for this life and for our forever life. That's why we have peace in the midst of the storm.


Scripture on suffering: 


2 Corinthians 6:3–10, Matthew 5:11–12, Romans 8:31–39,


The story behind the original song: 


It Is Well With My Soul (wikipedia.org)

I Am The Vine

God planted a new vine and he tends to it so it will be fruitful.

 

John 15:1-8  "I am the true grapevine, and My Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of Mine that doesn't produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.  Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.   

"Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.  But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!  When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father.

Our God loves to create, out of nothing he likes to make the most elaborate and complex, out of the dirt he likes to make something clean, and out of the old he likes to make things new. Maybe that is why I like yard work, I like to do my part to create, it is a partnership with God to get things to grow. I do my part and leave the rest up to him.

Our creator is portrayed as someone who has planted and cultivated a vineyard. In the Old Testament God prepared the soil for his vineyard, he built up walls to keep out the wild animals and to keep people from stealing the fruit, his vine had every advantage and should have been the most productive and prosperous. (Isaiah 5:1-7, Psalm 80:8-16, Joel 1:7, Jeremiah 2:21, Ezekiel 19:10)

But after a lot of patient gardening Israel has forfeited its right to be the vine, the New Testament message is of God planting a new vine, Jesus comes along and says, "I am the true vine." Formerly God's life was poured through Israel and you must be connected with Israel to get God's blessings but that's all changed now.

God tends to the vine by looking for two different types of branches, the ones that bear fruit and those that don't, both types are holding the vine back from maximum fruit bearing. It may seem harsh but he uses his knife on both types of branches, the dead branches he cuts off and the fruitful branches get pruned.

He cuts off every branch of Mine that doesn't produce fruit


The way that John MacArthur explains it makes so much sense. If you look at the context of this metaphor it is easy to understand that the first branch that didn't bear fruit was Judas. He was close to Jesus and he played along like he was a fruitful branch but he proved to be a phony. The branches that are being cut and thrown into the fire were never Christ followers.

John 13:10-11  “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

A lot of people try to attach themselves to the vine, John calls them "Judas" branches. They attend church, they go to your small group, they sound like they belong but they are not genuine. Eventually, the fruitless branches are identified and they are removed for the sake of truth and the benefit of the real branches.

He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more


The last words you want to hear from the doctor is "we need to operate." That is the news that the Great Physician has for you. Pruning improves your fruit production. In order for us to operate at maximum fruit-bearing capacity God needs to cut off our sins, our habits and attitudes that slow down the production of fruit.

Hebrews 12:10-11  For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

God's discipline is to bring us to being holy, sanctification is the church word for the process of being made holy and set apart for God. To live attached to the vine is a life of dependence, exercising faith and imitating the vine.

Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the nature that controlled Him will control us. Are we really prepared for what that will cost? It will cost absolutely everything in us which is not of God.

Jesus is our only connection with God, the only means that we are saved and the only hope we have of living a fruitful life for God. When we are joined to the vine, we are united with Jesus in all our interests, we have common desires, we are delighted in the things that he loves and we hate the things that he hates. We are willing to endure the same trials, contempt and persecution that he bore.


When you produce much fruit you are My true disciples


Every believer bears fruit but not all of them bear much fruit. Jesus' followers should be know by the abundance of fruit and the type of fruit. The fruit we produce is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Matthew 7:15-23, Galatians 5:22–23)

God's Pruning Tool

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
God never changes, he is still using the same tool that he has always used to prune his vine, he uses the knife of his Word to get rid of the impurities that will hold up fruit production. He takes off the old blooms, the shoots that are going the wrong way and the parasites.

The Gardner's knife causes us much pain, sometimes we wonder why some things have to be cut away and we resist, we don't like it or understand everything that the Gardner cuts off. I have to wonder if I really need so much attention from the gardener. I must trust that he has great things in store.

I need to be a part of the true vine, the world grows their vines that I need to avoid, Their vine may be their bank account, their education, fame, talents or relationships. Many people plant a vine of religion and rules. None of these can bear fruit! The Vine is Jesus and you need to be attached.

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I Am The Resurrection

Jesus predicted the events surrounding his death to make it obvious that he is the promised Messiah.

 

John 11:25  Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying.

Luke 18:31-33  Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus said, "Listen, we're going up to Jerusalem, where all the predictions of the prophets concerning the Son of Man will come true.  32  He will be handed over to the Romans, and He will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit upon.  33  They will flog Him with a whip and kill Him, but on the third day He will rise again."

Luke 22:37  "For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’ Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true.”

John 13:19  "I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I AM the Messiah."

If you met a very nice person today that predicted that they would be sentenced to the death penalty and all of their friends would desert them and then he would come back from the dead three days later you would think that they were insane. But that's exactly what Jesus did, he told us what would happen.

Jesus claimed to be the resurrection just a few days before Passion week, he told Martha that she will see her brother when he is resurrected, she knew that was true but what she didn't know is that Jesus was going to display his resurrection power right away. She wasn't going to have to wait very long to see her brother Lazarus alive again.

Jesus prophesied that he would be resurrected, he made a lot of detailed prophecies about his last days on earth and his return in three days. How could any ordinary man make such bold claims and then make it happen?


Jesus Predicted:


✔  The disciples would find an unridden colt when they entered town to prepare for Passover (Luke 19:30)
✔  When the disciples entered Jerusalem he predicted they would meet a man with a water pitcher who would have a room for them to meet in (Luke 22:10)
✔  His Words Would Be Everlasting (Matthew 24:35)
✔  The Story Of Mary Of Bethany would be well known (Matthew 26:11-13)
✔  His Own Betrayal By One Of His Disciples (Matthew 26:21-22)
✔  All Of His Disciples Would Leave Him (Matthew 26:31,32)
✔  Peter Would Deny Him Three Times (Matthew 26:33-34)
✔  He Would Suffer Because Of The Religious Rulers (Matthew 16:21)
✔  He Would Die By Crucifixion During The Passover (Matthew 26:2)
✔  His Resurrection From The Dead On The Third Day (Matthew 16:21)
✔  The Coming Of The Holy Spirit (John 14:26)
✔  The Destruction Of The City Of Jerusalem Within One Generation (Luke 19:43-44, 21:20)
✔  The Temple In Jerusalem Would Be Destroyed (Matthew 24:1-2)
✔  The People Would Be Scattered And The Holy Land Would Be Ruled By Gentiles (Luke 21:24)
✔  The Jewish People Would Be Persecuted (Luke 23:28-30)

None of it made sense from the human perspective but it was all a part of God's plan to save the world. Jesus made the connection to the Old Testament prophets, he said that the predictions of the Messiah and his sufferings would be fulfilled in himself. He told us that it was going to happen and then it did! What a way to prove your authenticity as the Messiah!

"If a man can predict his own death and resurrection, and pull it off, I just go with whatever that man says"
-Andy Stanley

If you are struggling to believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah, that he is the one who was in the beginning with God and was God, that he is the divine Son of God, who can forgive all your sins and give you eternal life then take a look at the predictions that Jesus made in his last days and consider the odds of somebody making all this stuff come true.

Jesus truly is the resurrection! He brought other people back from death, he came back after his own death and we have every reason to believe that he will resurrect us after we die if we have his life in us.

Thank you Lord for what was accomplished through your brutal death and victorious resurrection! You have made it easy to have faith in you!

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He's Risen!

Time to celebrate our risen Savior!

 

Oh, oh, Hallelujah
Oh, oh Hallelujah

Grave where are you now
You've been overpowered
Death where is your sting
Conquered by the King

Resurrected One
Shining like the sun
Breaking through the fear
Victory is here, victory is here now

Oh, oh hallelujah
Oh, oh hallelujah
Jesus be lifted higher
We serve a risen savior

Risen He's risen forever glorified
Risen He's risen King Jesus
King Jesus is alive
Hallelujah, hallelujah

The same power, the same power
That crushed the enemy
The same power, the same power
The same power lives in me

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Jesus King Jesus is alive

Jesus is alive!

Luke 24:1-7  But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

Sacrifice And Serve

At the Lord's Supper we are challenged to sacrifice and serve.

 

Luke 22:17-27 Then He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves.  18  For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come."  19  He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then He broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, "This is My body, which is given for you. Do this to remember Me."

20  After supper He took another cup of wine and said, "This cup is the new covenant between God and His people--an agreement confirmed with My blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.  21  "But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray Me.  22  For it has been determined that the Son of Man must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays Him."  23  The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing.

24  Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.  25  Jesus told them, "In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called 'friends of the people.'  26  But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.  27  Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

John 13:4-5  So He got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist,  and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him.

John 13:12-15  After washing their feet, He put on His robe again and sat down and asked, "Do you understand what I was doing?

13  You call Me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and you are right, because that's what I am.  14  And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each others feet.  15  I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.

At the stroke of midnight God sent the final plague down on Egypt because of Pharaoh's refusal to let God's people leave his country so that they could move to a better place that God had prepared for them. God's people received instructions so that they would be covered with the sacrificial blood but all of Egypt was in mourning and finally they were allowed to go.

For hundreds of years the Jews have celebrated and now Jesus prepares to observe his third and final Passover. He knew that this Passover would be different, he knew that the symbolic Passover lamb would be replaced with the real and final sacrificial lamb.

At Jesus final Passover we see his example to us to be a sacrifice and a servant:


The Greatest Sacrifice


Hebrews 10:13 Our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.

The Savior is soon going to be killed, no longer living on earth and not yet glorified in heaven, Christ sacrifice was the beginning of a new covenant between God and man, an eternal covenant and the only sacrifice for our sins that would last forever. Jesus made His sacrifice our sacrifice, His life became our life, and His Father became our Father.

The blood of the new covenant was shed for all, the final payment for sin was achieved, the door to the Gentiles was opened and the temple veil was torn in two giving us direct access to God. (Hebrews 10:20-22)

Romans 12:1  And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.

Now it is our turn to be a sacrifice, it is our turn to be offered up completely, we should give up any rights that we try to claim and give it all to Jesus. A sacrifice doesn't die partially, it is submitted to God, to be disposed of at his will. I should be devoted to God in the same way, I should be given over to his will for my life even if it means suffering, I need to be a living sacrifice.

The Greatest Servant


Isaiah 53:11-12  When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish, He will be satisfied. And because of His experience, My righteous Servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for He will bear all their sins.  12  I will give Him the honors of a victorious soldier, because He exposed Himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.


The suffering servant displayed the greatness of his love for us at Calvary but before he died he gave us another example of his love in action. Our Lord became our foot washer, the King of Kings became our servant, he was never too good to do anything that would benefit us. Because of his incredible love he was completely sold out to his mission.

As God, He owned everything; as the servant, He had to borrow everything: a place to be born, a boat in which to cross the Sea of Galilee and preach from, a donkey (itself a symbol of humility and servitude) to ride into Jerusalem for His triumphal entry, a room to celebrate His final Passover in, and a grave to be buried in.

-John MacArthur

Meanwhile we are busy trying to accumulate everything that we can acquire while we are here on earth. We built bigger barns and rent out storage facilities to hold our stuff. We forget that slaves do not own property, they do not have anything of value, and they cannot control what happens to themselves.

Jesus made it clear that he came to live on this planet to be a sacrifice and to serve. How can I think that my life in this world should be any different? Why are we so busy looking out for ourselves?

I need to sacrifice and serve, look out for the interest of others and have the same attitude that Jesus had. I don't have the right to serve when I feel like it. I don't have the right to give an offering that doesn't seem like a sacrifice. (Philippians 2:2-5)
 I rejoice in Your word like one who discovers a great treasure.   Psalms 119:162