Easter 5 John 15 Abide In Christ
#DailyDevotion It’s Not Good For The Christian To Be Alone
5th Sunday in Easter
Acts 8:29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
We have a principle that guides two other principles we see here. One of those principles is that as believers in Jesus Christ, the Lord wants us to share to good news of Jesus Christ with other people. He will bring them into our lives. Probably not in the same dramatic way he brought Philip to the Ethiopian, but he will put them in our lives nevertheless. The other principle is we need other people to explain the scriptures to us, even the professionals. There are no individual Christians. We are one body with the Lord. Which brings us to the overriding principle, it is not good that the man be along. The Lord always intended for us humans to be in communion with each other in communion with him.
So in the book of Hebrews it is written, Heb 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (25) not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
So we gather together as the Church the body of Christ. We see it throughout the book of Acts, the disciples gathering together to devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching, the breaking of bread and to prayer. We see it in the letters to the churches in Paul’s letters. The people of Christ gathered together regularly as the Church and there they heard God’s Word, the Good News of Jesus Christ.
When we gather together as the Church we come to hear God’s Word. Paul tells us, 2Ti 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” So the Lord gives us pastors and teachers to use God’s Word in this manner. And as we interact with them as they preach and teach, they themselves are edified and instructed in the Word.
So let us together, gather around the Word of Christ, that we may be instructed in that word, abide in Christ and bear the fruit of righteousness edifying one another as we see the day approaching of our Lord’s return.
Heavenly Father, always send us those who can explain your word to us that we may believe, be built up and be prepared to witness to other our faith in your son Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Jesus’ Hear His Voice And Follow Him
Saturday Easter 4
John 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.
Jesus knows those who will hear his voice and follow him. It is an amazing thing to watch in the mid-east, sheep that is and shepherds. There a number of flocks will gather together at a well for water and they will get all mixed up. When all the flocks have been watered the shepherds will call their flocks and they will all separate out from one another and follow their shepherd. You can see reflections of this in the Old Testament when such as Isaac’s servant meets Rebecca at the well or when Moses meets Zippurah.
So when Jesus speaks, those who are his will listen to him and follow him. This is wonderful news for us and for when we do evangelism. Not everyone we talk to about Jesus will listen to us. If people don’t listen and come to Jesus when we share his word it isn’t our problem and we most likely didn’t do anything wrong. This person just isn’t one of Jesus’ sheep or isn’t one yet. We can speak Jesus’ word with seriousness and earnestness and should but the pressure of conversion is all on Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
This knowledge of Jesus and us and the Father is intimate. We who follow Jesus don’t just know facts about Jesus. We know him and he knows us. In a similar but not exact fashion as a husband knows his wife and vice versa is the type of knowledge we have of Jesus and he of us. We have become one spirit with Jesus. Jesus and Father know one another intimately. Jesus brings us into that communion through the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus spoke these words he had come for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But Jesus did not lay down his life for these only. Jesus lays down his life for other sheep not of Israel, i.e. the Gentiles. Most of us were once part of that fold. Because Jesus laid down his life for us, this sacrifice brings us into this fold of believing Israelites making us one with them. In Jesus there is no longer Jew or Gentile, just his people, the Church.
Now the Father loves the Son because the Son lays down his life for the sheep. We love him because he has done this for us. But the Son also has authority to take up his life again. Jesus did that too. Jesus willingly went to the cross and Jesus took up his life again on the first day of the week. He is risen never to die again. Jesus promises to raise his sheep up to eternal life on the last day as he calls us up, those who are his who are in the graves will rise first and then we will be changed and meet the Lord in the air. Such is the fate of his flock.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending us Jesus to lay down his life for us. We glorify you for having him take up his life again. Give us ears that hear the voice of the Good Shepherd today so we may be gathered to him when he returns. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Jesus Is The Good Shepherd Who Is God And David
Friday Easter 4
John 10:11[Jesus said:] “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
In this passage from John, Jesus is no doubt thinking about Ezekiel chapter 34. In that chapter, particularly the first part the Lord talks about Israel’s shepherds. The Lord condemns the shepherds for two main things: eating the sheep and letting them become prey for others. The shepherds of Israel were the ruling princes, the priests and the prophets. Since these did not trust in the Lord or listen to him, they used the religion of the Lord for their own profits. They used their position to take advantage of the people instead of leading them and helping them all prosper. They took advantage of the poor, the widow, the orphan and the foreigner living among them. They also allowed false prophets to arise in their midst who led them astray to follow foreign gods and to worship them.
In that chapter the Lord says this; Eze 34:15 “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD.” Eze 34:23 “And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.” So the Lord with be their shepherd and his David will be their shepherd, yet there will not be two shepherds but one shepherd. The Lord himself promises to be join himself to the house of David, becoming one in the flesh with them. The Lord, through the flesh of the Virgin Mary, becomes a descendant of David and in that flesh, the Lord provides one shepherd who is both Lord and David, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the good shepherd that Ezekiel prophecies about. It is he who gathers the lost sheep of Israel and rescues them from the mouths of those who would devour them. Jesus does this by laying down his life. He stands between us and the devouring mouths of death and the devil. Now death and the devil can harm us no more. Jesus our shepherd leads besides the quiet waters of baptism. He brings us the verdant pastures of his supper and feeds us his body and blood. Jesus leads us in the paths of righteousness through the word he teaches. Jesus brings us into his home as one flock and has us dwell with him and the Father for all eternity. He has done this for us through the laying down of his life for us, for you.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending your son, our good shepherd, to lay down his life for us that we may no longer be devoured and led astray. Grant us faith always to look to him as our good shepherd and to expect all good things from his hand. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion If You Believe In Jesus, Worship His Image, Your Neighbor
Thursday Easter 4
1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
Joh 6:29 “Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’” Joh 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Mat 22:37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Mat 22:39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
To believe in Jesus, to trust him is to keep the greatest commandment. It stands in parallel with what Jesus said when asked what was the greatest commandment of the Law of Moses which is to love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Indeed one could say it redirects it or better yet defines it. This is because Jesus is the Lord. The Father, God Almighty, has given us the name of Jesus, Jesus to be the object, the person, through which we love God.
To trust Jesus is to keep the first table of the Law. Just as the Israelites were to believe the Lord delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians and Pharaoh, we are to believe Jesus has delivered us from sin, death, and the devil with his mighty outstretched arm, but in the most mysterious way. He delivers us by going to the cross, outstretching his arms and dying. But death and the devil did not defeat him on the cross, in the grave. Jesus rose from the dead defeating them. He offers his victory to us for free. Through trust in his name, his victory is our victory. To trust he did this for us is to abide in him and he in us.
Consequently, because of his great love for us, we are called to love one another. This is also called the second greatest commandment. Why is this the second greatest? Because man, your neighbor, is created in the image and likeness of God. How you treat your neighbor is how you treat God’s image. If you say you love God but show contempt for your neighbor is to lie. John reasons you have not seen God but you have seen your neighbor. God has given him to you so you may serve God through loving his image, your neighbor. Now the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law give some examples of how to love your neighbor. Jesus’ sermon on the mount and the plain tell us also how God expects us to love our neighbor. Because of our love for Jesus because of his great love for us, we then return that love to him but loving the person in front of us, doing for him what he needs as Jesus did for us what we needed.
If Jesus is in us, then we believe in him and abide in him. Because this is so, we love his image, our neighbor.
Heavenly Father, grant us faith in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, that through abiding in him, we may express our love for you by showing love to our neighbor. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion How To Reassure Yourself When Your Heart Condemns You
Wednesday Easter 4
1 John 3:19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;
What is the “by this” that John is talking about? Just this a few verses before, he laid down his life for us. If you believe Jesus did this for you, then you know that you are of the truth and we can reassure out heart before him. Jesus laid down his life to take away our sin. In taking away our sin, he also has taken away our guilt and our shame by nailing them to the cross in his body. If you are not of the truth then this great truth cannot reassure your hearts before the Father. All you can see and present to him is your broken, wretchedness. But with this truth we can stand before him and present to him Jesus’ righteousness, Jesus’ sacrifice.
Whenever our heart condemns us, and it will what shall we do? We know we sin. John reminds us of that in chapter one. We confess that sin and Jesus justifies us. He is our advocate before the Father. More than that, God is greater than our hearts. God knows our great weakness and our failings. He knows why we do what we do better than we know ourselves. More than that, he knows what God the Son did for us when he laid down his life for us.
Trusting God is greater than our hearts, we can say with St. Paul, “Who will condemn us?” Certainly not our hearts when it believes Jesus justifies us. If our hearts start to condemn us we place Jesus before our hearts and remind it there is your righteousness before God. God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him. We need to remind our hearts of this regularly. If our hearts cannot condemn us because of Jesus then most certain Satan cannot accuse us anymore either. Well he may try but God will not listen to him. The blood of Christ Jesus stops up the ears of the Almighty and all he can hear is the verdict, “Not Guilty.”
Through the body of Christ then, and by his high priestly office, we can approach the throne of God’s grace boldly. For our guilt has been taken away by Jesus. Whatever work we shouldn’t have done does not stand before us nor any work we should have done. Jesus in laying down his life for us has taken care of that. On top of that he has given us the token of his salvation namely baptism. We can point to that and say, “Here you joined yourself to me and me to you. You have taken on all my sins, guilt, shame and death in your baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sin and given me all your righteousness, merits, glory and life. So I can stand before God blameless, holy and without stain.” When our hearts remembers this it stand boldly before God and it should. To do otherwise is to spurn the gift of our almighty king.
Heavenly Father, through your Son Jesus Christ, you have shown that you are greater than our hearts which would condemn us because of our sins and iniquities. Grant us the remembrance of your great mercy towards us in your son’s laying down his life for us that we may ever stand boldly before you in his precious name. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Jesus Calls You To Sacrifice Yourself Daily For Your Fellow Christian
Tuesday Easter 4
1 John 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
What is love or how do we know what love is? We know the love of God and Christ Jesus through sacrifice. The Father sent his only begotten Son to be the sacrifice to reconcile himself to the whole world. The Son came willingly of his own accord to lay down his life for us. Sacrifice for the other is what love is.
Since God so love us, by sending the sacrifice and being the sacrifice that we might have life, John says we too ought to lay down our lives for our the brothers. The brothers here are particularly those fellow Christians in our lives. Yes we should show love for all people we encounter, but especially those who share the same Spirit as us.
Now what does it mean to lay down our lives for the brothers? Does it mean be willing to take a bullet for them or place our lives at risk in survival situation? Perhaps, but I think John is referring to something much more practical in daily life and much, much harder. He gives an example in this passage. If you have worldly goods and you see a fellow Christian in need but you don’t share your goods with your brother Christian, God’s love does not abide in you. The love, the sacrifices John is referring to are daily happenings in which you have to place the need of your brother over against your own desires and wants.
It calls for daily deaths in our lives. Most of what we posses was gained by working. Working takes time and time is money, but time is also life. So to dispossess yourself of something you have worked for is to sacrifice your life, at least that time of your life. We like doing that about as much as taking a bullet. We might prefer to take the bullet sometimes for someone over giving up a worldly good. But to share our worldly goods with those who lack is to show love. Since those possessions represent our life, then also so spending time with someone. Sometimes what people need is time spent with you. It is a sacrifice to spend your time with someone who needs your company. Sometimes they may need your time to get something done. We should be willing if able to spend our time/life for our fellow Christians that need it.
Lastly there is the sacrifice of retribution. If someone has hurt us, particularly if they are a fellow Christian, the sacrifice God calls us to in love is to forgive. To forgive is to die. There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood Hebrews says. Well shedding of blood and dying are the same thing. Jesus shed his blood; he laid down his life for you so you may be forgiven. Now in kind, he expects you to die to your right of retribution. He wants you to forgiven those who have become indebted to you. It may be painful to so. You may have a lot invested in not forgiving someone. To forgive them is to sacrifice your life. In these ways then, let us love not only in words but in deed and in truth.
Heavenly Father, you sacrificed your Son, who willingly laid down his life for us that we may possess eternal life. Grant us your Holy Spirit that we may believe this and then offer ourselves as living sacrifices for our fellow Christians on a daily basis. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
#DailyDevotion Is Jesus The Cornerstone Of Your Salvation?
Monady Easter 4
Acts 4: (10) let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. (11) This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. (12) And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Peter and the other apostles were on trial before the high priest. They had been preaching and teaching in the temple about Jesus of Nazareth and salvation in him. They had healed a crippled man. The priests want to know by what power and authority they had performed this miracle. So now is their chance to proclaim the good news to these men who consciences had been burdened by what they had done to Jesus.
Peter pulls no punches. He is not afraid. He knows Jesus and the power of the resurrection in Jesus. Peter proclaims the law quite bluntly so it my rightly crush these men’s hearts so they might repent of their sin. He tells them you crucified Jesus. You had rejected Jesus who is the stone the builders rejected and which has become the cornerstone. Certainly they knew the bible passage: Psa 118:22-23 “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. (23) This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Now Jesus had also warned that this stone would crush those it fell upon and break to pieces those who fell on it. Yes the Jewish leadership had rejected Jesus. But God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. It is true the Father planned to use these sinful men to accomplish this sacrifice. It is true, they could not have crucified Jesus and killed him unless Jesus laid down his life only to take it up again. Nevertheless the sin was still theirs. It was their will and intent born from jealousy that set them to kill Jesus and remove him from the equation. So now is their chance to repent and be saved.
For Peter proclaims there is salvation in no one else. There is no name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Now this is good news. If we are going to be saved, if we are going to inherit eternal life, it is now our work. We can claim no merit or work we can point to that we can say justifies us before God. We can point to no righteousness of our own before God that can save us from sin, death and the devil. And we do not have to search all over the world, in hidden monasteries, mountain tops, wooded forest or anywhere else for the knowledge of salvation. This good news has gone forth throughout the earth.
Jesus of Nazareth has saved you by his death and resurrection. He offers to you, today, the gift of eternal life. His work on the cross has conquered death. It has removed the power of sin in our lives to kill our souls and bring to death our bodies forever. Jesus promises to raise you from the dead on the day of his revelation to the world and give you an everlasting kingdom where righteousness reigns. If you believe him, it is yours. Will you confess your sins, repent of those sins and trust I Christ Jesus? We know many priests repented and turned to Christ Jesus through the message of the apostles. Make Jesus your cornerstone of your life today. He will do it.
Heavenly Father, you chose Jesus to be the cornerstone of our salvation. Grant us faith in him that he may be the foundation of our salvation that we may be built up in him unto life everlasting. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
4th Sunday in Easter John 10 Jesus Is The Good Shepherd
#DailyDevotion The Resurrection In Jesus Is Annoying To Some People
4th Sunday of Easter
Acts 4:1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, (2) greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
Gee, I wonder why they priests and the Sadducees were greatly annoyed? Well there was a twofold message. One the leadership there was responsible for Jesus’ death. While the text doesn’t mention them killing Jesus in this part what verse two says does imply it. They were annoyed because they were teaching in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection. So besides getting blame for Jesus’ death, they are undermining their spiritual authority. Of course they probably got annoyed at the Pharisees as well who also taught the resurrection of the dead.
But the apostles are proclaiming in particular in Jesus is the resurrection from the dead. Like Adam who brought death to all people, Jesus has brought life and light into the world. Jesus’ resurrection will raise all people from the dead, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting perdition. But all are raised from the dead in Jesus. Jesus died a death for all the children of Adam not just for those who believe in him. Every child of Adam will either be raised or changed on the day of his revelation. We all are raised physically immortal.
But those who believed in Jesus, who put their trust in him possess eternal life now. Our souls have been raised from the dead through faith in Christ and baptism into his name. Our spirits are living and vivified by the eternal life of Jesus. Those who do not trust Jesus are spiritually dead now, dead in trespasses in sins. When they are raised, they are still spiritually dead. There has been no change in their souls.
The apostles were teaching us now is the time, today is the day, we should change our minds, we should admit our sins and receive forgiveness of those sins in Jesus’ name by confessing those sins and being baptized into Jesus. The day of refreshing is now. Now you may already be a Christian, a baptized believer, who has found themselves in sin. It’s not too late. You’re reading this today. As long as we have today, let us examine ourselves, confess our sins and look to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of our bodies on the last day. Refreshment from the burdens of our sins is now, it is today. Don’t put it off. Don’t wallow in your guilt. Jesus can remove it. If you are feeling the weight of your sins, Jesus has given you pastors, like the apostles whom he has given authority to release you from the cords of death that wrap your soul and give you new life today. Today and every day that is today there is hope in Jesus for the resurrection of our spirits today and resurrection of our bodies on the last day to eternal life.
Heavenly Father, always grant unto us those who will teach of forgiveness of sins, life eternal and the resurrection of bodies unto eternal life, that we may live in that joy today and always. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.