“I am The vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 14:5 (NASB)
“We are in Christ by grace; but we need to realize and accentuate the union by meditation and prayer. Waiting more absolutely for His impulses in intercession and action. Being silent for Him to speak. Drawing on Him by the constant appeal of faith which becomes as natural as breathing. Looking away to Him for His commendation. Seeking only His verdict on what may have been said and done. So closely joined to Him, that He may produce in and through us whatever fruit He will for the refreshment of men and the glory of God.” - F. B. Meyer
For with patience to wait
and faith to endure,
Your life will be blessed
and your future secure,
For God is but testing
your faith and your love
Before He appoints you
to rise far above
All the small things
that sorely distress you,
For God’s only intention is
to strengthen and bless you.
Helen Steiner Rice
“. . . they will lay hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated because of My name.” Luke 21:12-17 (NASB)
Jesus made it clear that to be one of His disciples was to invite persecution. He warned them that they would be arrested and taken before the authorities for questioning. Ironically, this persecution would present the disciples with the opportunity to witness to their persecutors. And most important of all, God would not be far away. God would be there, through His Spirit, giving them the words to say.
Later, Peter and John found themselves in such a position. Arrested and forced to stand before the Sanhedrin to answer questions, Peter and John served as witnesses to the power of Jesus and proclaimed that He was indeed the Messiah, crucified yet raised from the dead. When commanded to stop speaking of Jesus and to forsake their faith in Him, they spoke boldly, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)
The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). What was true in Paul’s day still holds true today. Contemporary disciples will face various kinds of persecution if they seek to live a godly life.
The sufferings of the disciples would be a testimony, proving to Jew and Gentile the depth, the reality of their faith, the power of God which strengthened them. Today, when faced with persecution, Christian patience shows the mighty influence of the grace of God. It testifies for God more effectively than words.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NASB)
“If WE confess OUR sins.” John did not say, “If YOU confess YOUR sins,” or “If THEY confess THEIR sins.” He said, “WE”–meaning the personal pronouns included John. Believers do commit deeds of unrighteousness; we do things that we know are not pleasing to God, and we omit things that we know would please Him–deeds of godliness that we could do. Even the most consecrated believer sins, and we need to confess our sins. When we do confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive.
Those of us who have exercised faith in the finished word of Jesus and are covered by His blood are saved by grace–but we still live in the same body we occupied when God saved us by His grace. We sin because we are sinners, even though we are sinners saved by grace; we still have the old nature tagging along. A sheep is not a sheep because it bleats and produces wool: it bleats and produces wool because it is a sheep. A rooster is not a rooster because he crows; he crows because he is a rooster. Sin was our nature when we were born into this world. When we are born again God put within us a new heart but He does not give us new flesh.
If sinners will just confess to God–both sins of omission and commission–God will forgive and abundantly pardon. Forgiveness comes as a result of true confession on the part of the one seeking forgiveness. God is faithful to all His children. He will do exactly what He has promised, He will do all that He has promised, and He will forgive us when we sin if we confess our sin.
God is not only faithful and righteous to forgive our sins, but He is also faithful “to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Righteousness is imputed; therefore when God imputes righteousness, all unrighteousness must be removed. Righteousness and unrighteousness cannot abide in the same heart. Ultimately God will remove all stains of guilt from soul, spirit, and body, and we will stand perfect before Him, holy, cleansed, without spot or blemish. Such can be ours only through the shed blood of Jesus and the unsearchable riches of His grace.
“If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 (NASB)
Regardless of how consecrated we may be, regardless of how completely separated from the world, no matter how far advanced in holiness we may become, never in this tabernacle of flesh will we pass beyond the need for cleansing. Paul warned of this in 1 Corinthians 10:12: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
Through the disobedience of Adam all men are sinners. Even if it were possible for a person to live above sin from the time he reaches the age of accountability until he dies, if his character were absolutely unmarked by sin, he still could not say, “I have no sin.”
Sin has roots; sin also bears fruit. The flesh, the old nature, the root that produces fruit, is always there. As long as we live we will be plagued with our own flesh; but thank God, the Holy Spirit is victor over the flesh, and He is the Divine Agent who gives us victory.
In the first Adam, all die; but in the last Adam (Jesus) all who believe are saved from sin and the curse of the fall. It is Jesus the Righteous One who presents us faultless to the Father; it is not we ourselves. He is the propitiation for our sins, He is our Redeemer, Sanctifier, Leader, Protector, Savior–and He has promised to never leave us not forsake us. He has declared that if we confess Him before men He will confess us before the heavenly Father.
Because we have fixed our hope on the living God. 1 Timothy 4:10b (NASB)
Most of us want to be optimistic. Optimism is that positive outlook that is based on how things are going. Hope is different from optimism. Hope is not based on what is going on at the moment or the direction in which things are headed.
Hope is based on a promise that something is going to change the course of events. It is not based on the latest experience we have had, or on how optimistic or pessimistic we feel at the moment.
Hope keeps on going when optimism fails. Hope is remembering the promises of God, remembering how He has broken into human events in the past, and the promise that He will do it again.
It’s easy to grow downhearted
when nothing goes your way.
It’s easy to be discouraged when
you have a troublesome day.
But trouble is only a challenge
to spur you on to achieve
The best that God has to offer
if you have the faith to believe.
Helen Steiner Rice
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and over turned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves, He said “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” John 2:13-16 (NASB)
Tables flipping over, money flying everywhere, animals in a stampede as man and beast ran from the court of the Gentiles. Then the figure of Jesus emerged, standing with whip in hand. “Get out of here! How hare you turn My Father’s house into a business.”
This is not the Jesus meek and mild that is so often portrayed. This is not the nice, gentle, pastoral shepherd who leads us into green pastures and beside still waters. This is the angry Jesus.
What is going on here? Why is Jesus so angry about what is transpiring in the temple?
The real problem here is not just that Jesus is mad, but that He is at the temple mad, that He is at the Passover mad. Hundreds of worshipers would have been at the temple at any given time during the Passover. This is one of the holiest of feasts for the Jews, because through it they remembered that the death angel had “passed over” their homes that last night in Egypt. This is when they paused to remember their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. This is when they were coalesced as a people of God. Now of all times, Jesus shows up and really lets them have it.
Why? Simply put, worship had become a “market enterprise” rather than a spiritual enterprise. Worship had become a matter of ritual, of doing the proper thing at the proper time, rather than a matter of heart and soul. Religion and worship had become matters of transaction rather than relationship: you pay your money and you get your forgiveness. Or as in our modern church, you just say a few words and accept Jesus as your Savior and all will be forgiven and you will go to heaven when you die. Before you revolt, hear me clearly; there is nothing wrong with the previous sentence, except when that is all there is to one’s faith. There was nothing wrong with the Jews buying doves, goats, lambs, and cattle for sacrifice, except when that was all there was to their faith.
When our faith is determined more by what we want or need than by what God wants for us, then we are destined to become more like Walmart than the Church of Jesus Christ. We have so prostituted the nature of the Church that often people go “church shopping” with the attitude of seeing which church offers the most bang for their buck, rather than spending time in prayer seeking God’s will.
The problem with this type of Christianity is that it can be both superficial and artificial. Jesus is striking out at a loss of sacredness, at a loss of a sense of holy places and holy times, which is revealing of a loss of relationship with the Holy One, God. When worship becomes duty rather than love, obligation rather than opportunity, it is not long before it becomes optional altogether. When we lose worship, when we lose the sense of the Holy God among us, we have lost what makes us special creatures of Holy God.
If you think you are beaten you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t;
If you want to win but think you can’t
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose you’re lost;
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in the state of mind.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger and faster man,
But sooner or latter the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.