VIDEO Sacrifice and Friendship

I have called you friends… —John 15:15

We will never know the joy of self-sacrifice until we surrender in every detail of our lives. Yet self-surrender is the most difficult thing for us to do. We make it conditional by saying, “I’ll surrender if…!” Or we approach it by saying, “I suppose I have to devote my life to God.” We will never find the joy of self-sacrifice in either of these ways.

But as soon as we do totally surrender, abandoning ourselves to Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives us a taste of His joy. The ultimate goal of self-sacrifice is to lay down our lives for our Friend (see John 15:13-14). When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, our greatest desire is to lay down our lives for Jesus. Yet the thought of self-sacrifice never even crosses our minds, because sacrifice is the Holy Spirit’s ultimate expression of love.

Our Lord is our example of a life of self-sacrifice, and He perfectly exemplified Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do Your will, O my God….” He endured tremendous personal sacrifice, yet with overflowing joy. Have I ever yielded myself in absolute submission to Jesus Christ? If He is not the One to whom I am looking for direction and guidance, then there is no benefit in my sacrifice. But when my sacrifice is made with my eyes focused on Him, slowly but surely His molding influence becomes evident in my life (see Hebrews 12:1-2).

Beware of letting your natural desires hinder your walk in love before God. One of the cruelest ways to kill natural love is through the rejection that results from having built the love on natural desires. But the one true desire of a saint is the Lord Jesus. Love for God is not something sentimental or emotional— for a saint to love as God loves is the most practical thing imaginable.

“I have called you friends….” Our friendship with Jesus is based on the new life He created in us, which has no resemblance or attraction to our old life but only to the life of God. It is a life that is completely humble, pure, and devoted to God.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

The great point of Abraham’s faith in God was that he was prepared to do anything for God.  Not Knowing Whither, 903 R


John 15 (Part 1) :1-17 “I am the Vine”

A Good Reason

Put [your] religion into practice by caring for [your] own family. 1 Timothy 5:4

The two women occupied the aisle seats across from each other. The flight was two hours, so I couldn’t help but see some of their interactions. It was clear they knew each other, might even be related. The younger of the two (probably in her sixties) kept reaching in her bag to hand the older (I’d guess in her nineties) fresh apple slices, then homemade finger sandwiches, then a towelette for clean up, and finally a crisp copy of the New York Times. Each hand-off was done with such tenderness, such dignity. As we stood to exit the plane, I told the younger woman, “I noticed the way you cared for her. It was beautiful.” She replied, “She’s my best friend. She’s my mother.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all say something like that? Some parents are like best friends. Some parents are nothing like that. The truth is those relationships are always complicated at best. While Paul’s letter to Timothy doesn’t ignore that complexity, it still calls us to put our “religion into practice” by taking care of parents and grandparents—our “relatives,” our “own household” (1 Timothy 5:4, 8).

We all too often practice such care only if family members were or are good to us. In other words, if they deserve it. But Paul offers up a more beautiful reason to repay them. Take care of them because “this is pleasing to God” (v. 4).

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

If your parents are still living, how would you describe your relationship with them? Regardless of what kind of job they did as parents, what are some ways you can take care of them right now?

Father, give me grace and mercy as I seek to care for those who cared for me. And help me to remember the reason I’m doing it.

God’s Loving Outreach

John 4:1-42

The Lord’s encounter with the Samaritan woman is a wonderful example of His loving response to hurting individuals. Although this meeting may have appeared accidental, it was really a providential appointment with the Messiah.   

As the woman approached the well, Jesus initiated conversation by asking for a drink of water. Since Jews and Samaritans didn’t fraternize with one another, His direct approach surprised her. But it opened the door for dialogue.

Throughout the exchange, Jesus wanted to help the woman recognize her greatest need so He could meet it: salvation. It seems she’d been looking in the wrong places for love and acceptance, but now Christ was offering her the living water of the Holy Spirit—the only thing that would quench her spiritual thirst.

Like the Samaritan woman, we can at times be so intent on getting our immediate needs met that we fail to see God’s hand reaching out in love, offering true satisfaction. The world makes all kinds of promises about love, acceptance, and self-worth, but they never last. Only Jesus can fill our empty souls for eternity. So when your well runs dry, look for Christ and let Him quench your thirst with His Spirit.

Preaching the Resurrection

“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33)

There are multitudes today who believe that Christ’s resurrection was a “spiritual” resurrection, insisting that the idea of a dead body returning to life after three days in the grave is completely unscientific and impossible.

This was not what the apostles preached with great grace and great power, however. They would hardly have been excited about any kind of spiritual resurrection, since everyone— both Jews and the pagan Gentiles—believed in life after death. If that was their message, no one would have doubted, and no one would have cared. Even when the disciples saw the resurrected Christ, they first “supposed that they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:37). Christ even had to urge them to “handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

When the disciples finally became convinced of His bodily resurrection, they were quickly transformed into courageous evangelists, willing even to die in support of their glorious message of salvation. The resurrection was, indeed, contrary to scientific law and all human experience, and this very fact proved to them that their Lord was Himself the divine lawgiver and author of all human experience. All other founders and leaders of human religions, ancient or modern, are themselves subject to death, but He alone has triumphed over death. Only the Creator of life can conquer death, and the resurrection proves that Jesus Christ is Creator as well as Savior.

Therefore, when we today, like the apostles of old, proclaim the resurrection of Christ, we know that His name is above every name, and this enables us also to witness with great power, in great grace. HMM

Bless the Lord, O My Soul! — Psalm 103

Praising The Lord For His Benefits

My soul, praise the Lord, and all that is within me, praise His holy name. My soul, praise the Lord, and do not forget all His benefits. He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases. He redeems your life from the Pit; He crowns you with faithful love and compassion. He satisfies you with goodness; your youth is renewed like the eagle (vv. 1-5).

This exalted work is the definitive answer to the problems so honestly enumerated in Psalm 102, David’s artistic soul erupts in uninhibited praise. From the core of his being, from the focal point of his soul, he praises the holy name of the Lord, And he has good reason to celebrate!

The Lord has given David a cornucopia overflowing with gifts of his grace. He has forgiven David’s sins (v. 3). He has healed his sickness (v. 3). He has delivered David from the grave (v. 4). He has enriched David’s life with gifts of loyal love and tender compassion (v. 4). He has satisfied David’s deepest desires with good things (v. 5).

Instead of being grounded by despair, David can now soar like an eagle. Instead of a weak, anemic faith, he is blessed with vigorous spiritual health that vibrates in his songs of praise.

Personal Prayer

I praise you and thank you, O Lord, for all of your blessings to me: your forgiveness, your healing, your deliverance, your love, your compassion, and for fully satisfying my inner being with yourself.

Fellowship

God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.—1 Corinthians 1:9

Seek fellowship with other Christians. Daniel Rowlands, a famous Welsh revivalist of a past century, said: “The whole purpose of the Christian message can be summarized in a single word—fellowship.”

What did he mean? First John 1:3 spells it out clearly: “And indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Listen to it as it appears in The Amplified Bible: “What we have seen and ourselves heard, we are also telling you, so that you too may realize and enjoy fellowship as partners and partakers with us. And this fellowship that we have … is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, the Messiah.” At first, John seems to say that the fellowship is “with us,” but he hastens to add that our fellowship “is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.”

Follow me carefully now, for what I am about to say can be easily misunderstood: the person who does not know fellowship with God can never know fellowship with anyone else. It must be noted that I am here using the word “fellowship” in its highest possible sense. The one who does not know fellowship with God will feel, consciously or unconsciously, that he is cut off from the very roots of his being. He will feel like a spiritual orphan. This is why our horizontal relationships—that is, our relationship with ourselves and with others—can never be fully realized until we experience a vertical relationship, a relationship with God. Only when we are reconciled with God do we have the potential for experiencing true fellowship with ourselves and with others.

Prayer

Father, I see that I cannot experience true fellowship with myself or with others until I have known it with You. Help me to deepen my fellowship with You so that I might deepen it with others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ex 19:1-22; 20:21; 24:2; 25:22; 33:9

What was the key to Moses’ ministry?

What was the effect?

The Whole Duty of Man

Ecclesiastes 12:13

The writer of Ecclesiastes, presumed to be King Solomon, speaks of life as meaningless: “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ Says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless'” (Eccles. 12:8).

He goes on to say that one can have wealth and fortune, power and prestige, pleasures and achievements, but then asks what they bring to life and what eternal value they have.

A popular philosophy today motivates people to grab all they can. Self-gratification. Survival of the fittest. The more we have, the more we want. There are bumper stickers which say: “Whoever has the most toys at the end wins!”

Is that what life is really all about? If so, then we have all come to the point where life has no real meaning. True, we must love ourselves as we love others.

“Vanity” (the word used in the KJV) is thinking so highly of ourselves that nothing else really matters. We are number one. All else is secondary. And we must satisfy all our needs—at the expense of anything or anyone.

Solomon had everything, or so it seemed. He had wealth beyond measure, a kingdom to rule—he even had a thousand wives and concubines! Yet he was not satisfied. Something important was missing. He referred to his own life as meaningless and futile. There had to be something more.

People try to find meaning in life. Some find it easily. Others struggle for many years. Unfortunately, there are those who get tired of searching and settle for an easy way out. They may try drinking, gambling, drugs, crime or sex, but they don’t find what they are looking for. The only true meaning to life is found in Jesus Christ.

Vanity? Meaningless? Yes, we can all get caught up in that. We have to look beyond ourselves to others, and then we must look upward—to our Lord and Savior.

“Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Beverly Ivany, Teen Talk