August 18, 2019
Romans 12:8, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
If you are in conflict with someone, have you given an honest effort to resolve it?
An honest effort may require that you search your heart to see how much you have contributed to the conflict. For example, if you have a problem with Joe, and you have a problem with John, and you have a problem with James, is it possible that you are the one who have created the problems? Is conflict a frequent part of many of your relationships? Is it time for you to work on your attitude?
An honest effort requires courage and risk. Have you made an honest effort to go the person and talk to him or her? Take a moment to reflect on these questions and ask God to reveal to you the truth and help you take action if needed.
John 17:20, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.’
Jesus is praying for future believers, that they would believe in Him through his disciple’s words. That’s amazing since his disciples utterly failed him. Peter denied Him three times. They didn’t wash each other’s feet. And Judas betrayed Him to the cross.
Yet Jesus prayed that they would be successful in their future work! This means no matter how much you have failed Jesus; He is praying for you today! He is not praying only for your redemption, but for your future success! Do you believe that? Take some time to reflect on this verse and tell Jesus your failures, your need and ask him to give you help in those areas.
July 21, 2019
Read John 16:25-33
Jesus was preparing His disciples for what was about to happen: Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Instead of rejoicing and celebrating God’s redemptive work, the disciples were focused on another matter: their master was leaving them. Confusion, anxiety, and fear gripped their hearts – their master was going to leave them!
In response, Jesus speaks words of comfort, nothing in this world can ever provide. He tells His disciples of God the Father’s incredible love for Him and His disciples. But Jesus also tells His disciples of a huge storm ahead – the disciples will be scattered, and desert Jesus. Jesus concludes His words of encouragement with another dire forecast – trouble will await them in this world.
Have you felt like the disciples - confused, anxious, and fearful because of life’s circumstances? You’re not alone. If you’re Christian, what to do?
Jesus’ words in this passage give us clear direction:
Know absolutely, that Almighty God who created all things, loves you! How “Almighty” is God? Jeremiah 32:17a says this: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.”
Because God loves you, and because of what Jesus has done on the cross on our behalf, we can go directly to Almighty God! This is incomparably greater than having the president of your company on speed dial, knowing that this person will pick up your call 24/7.
Jesus, our Lord and Savior, tells us that this world will have trouble – it’s not out of the ordinary. But, But, because Jesus has overcome the world, we will be filled with peace, regardless of the circumstances.
How do these truths integrate into our lives? Believe. Just as Jesus reminded the disciples of the critical importance of believing in Him, we must also stand firmly in this truth.
God has done all the work for us. Our role is to believe, trust, and obey. Not just when we are in trouble, but every moment of our lives. One of the greatest ways to grow in this practice is to worship and meditate on God, throughout the day. This practice is especially critical when we are serving Him. Without a heart of worship and meditation in God’s love, our service can easily devolve into a self-fulfilling exercise.
May the Lord bless and keep you. May you know ever the more, the great love our God has for you!
June 23, 2019
Read John 16:13-14.
According to Jesus, we can discern the voice of the Spirit in three ways. First, the Spirit of truth speaks truth. Second, the Spirit of Jesus speaks the words of Jesus. Third, the Spirit of God glorifies Jesus
Take some time to talk with God about your relationship with the Holy Spirit. Is your relationship with the Spirit mature and deeply rooted? Or, is your relationship with the Spirit still young? Do you often engage with the Spirit’s voice or not? Express this all to God.
Once you feel God has revealed his conviction to you, take some time to listen in silence to the voice of the Holy Spirit. If any voices, thoughts, or senses come up, ask God, “Is this the voice of your Spirit? Is this my own thoughts? Is this some other spirit?” If no voices, thoughts, or senses come up, perhaps pray something like, “God, I cannot hear your Spirit now, but I want to be led by him. As I go about my day, help me to hear and obey the voice of your Spirit.”
June 16, 2019
Jesus openly taught His disciples that one day persecution would come. He mentioned it in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:10–12, 44) and in His “commissioning sermon” when He sent out the disciples to minister (Matt. 10:16–23). Until the Lord returns, or until we die, we must live in this hostile world and face continued opposition. How can we do it? What is the secret of victory? It is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives.
How has this world made it hard for you to be a Christian?
How does understanding this term (the world) help you deal with the world better?
Why is having the Holy Spirit more important than having the physical Jesus with us?
June 9, 2019
Read John 15:12-13.
According to Jesus, the greatest love is self-sacrifice. In the same way that he has laid down his life out of love for us, he is calling us to lay down our lives in love for others.
Take some time to pray to God. Ask him, “God, What are some desires, preferences, and things in my life that would be most difficult for me to lay down for others? Why is it so difficult for me to give these things up? What are you calling me to lay down in love for others?”
Once you feel God has revealed his conviction to you, take some time to ask God for help. Perhaps pray something like, “God, I love so many things. But more than these things, I love you. You have called me more than a servant, you have called me your friend. Help me to recognize your love for me so that I can lay down my life for others.”
May 26, 2019
Read John 15:9-10.
According to Jesus, he is the true vine and we are the branches. In order for us to live and bear fruit, we must abide in him. There are two parts of abiding. First, to abide means to receive Jesus’ love. Second, to abide means to keep Jesus’ commandment to love others. To abide in Jesus is to take your place in God’s stream of eternal love to the world. To abide is to overflow.
Take some time to pray to God. Ask him, “God, is it difficult for me to receive love? Is it hard to put myself in the position of receiver rather than giver? Or, God, is it more difficult for me to show love? Is it hard for me to take the great love that you have shown me in the cross and overflow to others?”
Once you feel God has revealed his conviction to you, take some time to ask God for help. Perhaps pray something like, “God, I need you. I cannot do anything without you. Help me to recognize and receive your love as I meditate on the cross. Help me to overflow with your love to others.”
May 19, 2019
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27a)
Your peace, Jesus? But they are about to kill you. What kind of peace is that? It is a perfect peace, peace with the Father. And after Jesus said this, on the next day, he went to the cross. And on the cross, there he will open the door for His sheep to enter His peace with the Father. Christ will satisfy the Father’s justice, and Christ will purchase your forgiveness, and Christ will provide your righteousness. And Jesus will bring you into the very peace that he enjoys with the Father.
And nothing, and nobody, will be able to take it from 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 14:27b)
Main Idea: Peace is not the absence of trouble. It is the presence of Christ.
Things To Consider:
-How can we maintain the peace of Christ in our lives? Should our life circumstances be a factor in our ability to abide in His peace? (Read and meditate on: Colossians 3:15, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22, and Isaiah 26:3)
-Is there an area in your life where your peace is disturbed? Is there an area in your life where your peace is gone? What do you need to do to have God’s peace ruling in those areas?
May 12, 2019
How do you experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life? The Gospel Coalition, founded by D.A. Carson and Tim Keller, cites ways we experience the Holy spirit in our lives. Here are five of them:
1. In the Gospel
Paul equates the fullness of the Spirit with going deeper in the Gospel – see Ephesians 3:14-18. Through the knowledge of the Gospel, as we experience the fullness of God’s awesome, redemptive work in Jesus Christ, we experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
2. Through the Word of God
A very significant way by which the Holy Spirit interacts in our lives is through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to teach us and brings to remembrance His Word in various circumstances of our lives (see John 14:25-26). So, as the Holy Spirit teaches us through the Word, and as we remember the Word of God in our daily circumstances of life, we are experiencing the Holy Spirit.
3. Through the church
The Holy Spirit speaks through the church. In Acts 13:2-4, the Holy Spirit called out Barnabas and Saul for a specific ministry. This passage declares that the Holy Spirit not only called them but sent them out. So, as we discern the Holy Spirit’s call and obediently respond to it, we are experiencing the Holy Spirit.
4. In our giftings
In 1 Corinthians 12:7, Paul writes that every member of the Body of Christ is given a “manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” This manifestation of the Spirit is what we also refer to as spiritual gifts. So, as we share our spiritual gifts, we are experiencing the Holy Spirit.
5. In our Spirit
J.D. Greear of the Gospel Coalition writes, “Throughout Scripture we see that God guides His people in mission by putting special burdens into their spirits. When Nehemiah left for Jerusalem to rebuild its walls, he didn’t have a command from God. He simply said that God had “put it into his heart” to do it (Nehemiah 12:2). So, as we grow in the Lord, we will sense a calling from God. As we experience such a calling or burden, we are experiencing the Holy Spirit.
This week as you meditate on the things of God, reflect on how you have experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. Write them down, and lift them up to God, ask Him to confirm. Share your experiences with a godly, mature believer. Ask that person to confirm.
April 28, 2019
Read John 14:6-7
Jesus says that if you know him, you know the Father, and if you have seen him, you have seen the Father. This means that the ultimate revelation of God is Jesus who suffered and died on the cross for us.
Pray to God about your relationship with Him. How do you imagine Him? Do you imagine Him as a generous genie? A distant clockmaker? An angry judge? How would your relationship with him change if you imagined him as our loving, forgiving and self-giving savior, Jesus?
April 14, 2019
Jesus said in John 13:34, “you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Furthermore, he prefaced this statement by saying that it was a “new commandment.” Let’s explore this verse..
The charge to God’s people to love is not new. In the OT, Leviticus 19:18 commands God’s people: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
But Jesus’ command in John 13:34 is new in the sense that the love that we are to have for one another must be at a new standard of love, one that is based on the example of our Lord Himself! Instead of loving one another as we would love ourselves, we are to love one another as Jesus loves them.
Given this very high bar, how are we doing keeping this commandment from the Lord? D.A. Carson, a respected theologian and author wrote about this new command to love one another:
The more we recognize the depth of our own sin, the more we recognize the love of the Savior; the more we appreciate the love of the Savior; the higher His standard appears; the higher His standard appears, the more we recognize in our selfishness, our innate self-centeredness, the depth of our own sin. With a standard like this, no thoughtful believer can ever say, this side of the Parousia, “I am perfectly keeping the basic stipulation of the new covenant.”
Our utter failure in keeping our Lord’s new commandment must never become a justification to ignore or marginalize it. Quitting is not an option. John MacArthur offers two practical ways to practice the new command from the Lord to love one another:
Practice apologizing and seeking forgiveness from those around us, as a priority (Matthew 5:23-24).
Grant forgiveness to those who have hurt us. MacArthur writes that Christians should be eager to forgive those who have hurt us, in light of the forgiveness we have received.
During this week, prayerfully develop a lifestyle of humbly practicing the above two things. Journal your thoughts as you prepare and do, in obedience to our Lord.
March 31, 2019
Read John 13:30
Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He was given every chance to repent until it was too late – “it was night”. Often Christians get caught up in the achievements of the world that they have forgotten their first love in Christ. As a result, their relationships are marked by routine instead of the agape love made available through the cross.
In his book, “The Mark of a Christian”, Francis A. Schaeffer tells us that “The Mark” is about the Impact Christians have in the world around them.
Do you bear the “mark”or do you bear the “mask” that Judas wore?
Here are some practical questions to ask and apply to your life:
Are your relationships marked by routine or authenticity?
Is there anyone that has betrayed me that I need to forgive?
Is there anyone that I have betrayed that I need to confess to?
Is there a mask that I am wearing that I need to get rid of?
What is the action I need to take to get help? (Talk to a pastor, counselor, join a small group, etc…?)
March 24, 2019
Read John 13:1-20.
Jesus tells us to serve, as Jesus served us. Obeying this command is a challenge, but not terribly so if the target of our service is people we like and get along with. Jesus’ command, however, means serving people we don’t like so much, perhaps even dread. How then can our service overflow, and not be a periodic trickle, only as it applies to people we like?
The key is humility. When our hearts our truly humble, God’s love fill our hearts and overflows to those around us, including people we might even despise and dread. Study and meditate on this passage during the week. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart for:
Elements that are opposed to biblical humility: arrogance, pride, self-sufficiency, confidence in our gifts, talents, knowledge, and experience.
What the Holy Spirit reveals to you, renounce such things from becoming part of your identity, things that give you a sense of well-being and confidence.
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal how the true meaning of humility.
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you courage to live out being humble before God and those around you, even those you may not like very much.
March 17, 2019
Read John 17:20-26.
In this passage, Jesus prays to his Father, asking that all of his followers would be united as one with them in love. He prays that the love between himself and his Father would overflow into us and into the whole world. He prays that we would see his glory and recognize the eternal love of God. He prays that we would then see that we are loved by God just as the Father loves the Son.
Pray to God for a few minutes. Talk to him about what your relationship is like right now. Are you overflowing with the eternal love of God? Or, do you desire to receive a greater awareness of God’s love for you? Take some time to meditate on God’s love for you in his forgiveness on the cross. Take some time to remember that God is with you throughout the day in his Spirit.