John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
I’ll bet most of us have thought about our own salvation in terms of surrendering our circumstances and behavior to God. There may be as many stories of personal conversion as there are saved people. That testimony almost always states the effects, the blessings, of “our” surrender to him.
This quote from My Utmost for His Highest reminded me of the “cause” of my surrender: “The fact that He [Jesus] saves from sin and makes us holy is actually part of the effect of His wonderful and total surrender to us.”
It’s a blessing to live with the effects of our surrender but there would be no blessing without the reality of John 3:16. It was God’s “total surrender” of his own son Jesus on our behalf that caused our surrender to effect his blessings in our life. We surrender to God because he first surrendered to us!
John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
It’s a desirable thing to be a servant to Jesus but it’s even better to be a friend. A servant operates on a need-to-know basis to accomplish an assigned task. A friend shares the privilege of knowing the master plan. The great heroes of the Old Testament, Moses, Abraham and David, were honored to be identified as servants of God. They were faithful but their access to God was limited. For the most part they saw God as a chief-of-state they could only catch glimpses of through the eyes of the chief priest and obeying the law.
Now Christ has bridged that gap between servant and friend. This is your assurance: that friendship is yours at the most personal level; the Spirit of Christ living inside you. He did not choose you to live a life based on what someone else may or may not know but has provided all YOU need to know to be his friend. He’s chosen you as his representative so you “might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” in the world we live in – our Father’s world. The ability to know God is only limited by our desire to know Jesus Christ on the same intimate level that he knows his Father.
John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind…14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Jesus always “was” but it took the Big Event to remind people to notice. This year it was odd to notice Christmas things beginning to show up in stores in October. It was a confusing reality that just didn’t seem right. Couldn’t we just get through Halloween and Thanksgiving first? In fact I wonder about that.
Remember the times Jesus makes reference to eyes that see and ears that hear? Remember all the things that are associated with our celebration of Christmas that impact our senses: sight, taste, touch, sound, smell. Remember when that “other” Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”?
What if the reality is God has not lost control of the celebration of the birth of his Son, our Savior to commercialism? Maybe God is using retail to remind us to notice it’s his reality on display even though the stores may have a different plan.
• What if those beautiful illuminated trees decked out with ornaments and flashing lights are meant to remind us of a long ago star?
• What if the Christmas music playing everywhere is really the modern-day version of the angel choir?
• What if Christmas hoopla is God using the money, time and effort retailers put into Christmas to appeal to our physical senses to remember HIS reality?
• What if crowded aisles full of people searching for the perfect gift is God reminding us Christmas is the reality he chose “to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives,” the Big Event.
God bless reality.
- Philippians 2:14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.
Faith is a structure built from the many truths of the Bible. It was that idea of building one truth onto another that made me think of Legos…you know, those little building bricks that lock together to build amazing things. “Do everything without grumbling or arguing” is a brick I’m adding to my last post about dealing with whatever happens.
Those individual bricks of truth from the Bible are like spiritual Legos. God has designed a perfect system of building personal faith that’s dynamic and changing evidence of personal growth that reveals the reality of Logos. John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word [Logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
Spiritual Legos become Logos ” as you hold firmly to the word of life.”
John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
What an amazing chapter John 15 is. I’ve decided it’s on my “all time best” list so I’m revisiting it. I have this beautiful hanging basket of yellow petunias outside my window and its become my connection to John 15:1 and my personal Petunia object lesson for the inquiring spirit.
Petunias are eager to grow, but they require regular tending. I have to water them daily, fertilize occasionally and most of all there’s the continual “pruning,” aka: deadheading or pinching back, so they can continue to flourish and bloom. I guess I never paid much attention to the vine-like nature of petunias before. Their stems are meant to grow longer and droop over the basket edge adding their flashy blossoms to the overall beauty of the plant but even those stems need selective pruning.
That plant is a beautiful example of how regular pruning keeps all that growth energy working to produce the best, and most beautiful, result for the plant over its life. It’s a plant that does have a season but with that regular tending it can look it’s best right up to the end.
Got it Petunia?
John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. ESV
“God saves a person, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and then says, in effect, “Now you work it out in your life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful.” My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers
Daily is pretty long and pretty regular. There are times I’d just like to do what I’m told…read the Word…and not have to think about why and how it works in my life. Those are my “servant” relationship days of obedience. They’re good but Jesus has something even better in mind. The best thing: his friendship.
I wonder if that change in our relationship with Jesus is one of the main issues we deal with as believers? Most of us enter into that relationship more or less like applying for an entry-level job. It seems much simpler to accept the role of servant. The servant has the easy out of saying “I didn’t know” that transfers a lot of responsibility to the Master in case we happen to screw up.
Reread John 15:15 and think about that change. Have you accepted that promotion from servant to friend? You need to know this amazing truth: at the very moment you committed yourself to serving Jesus he committed himself to helping you understand you are so much more than a servant to him. You’re his trusted friend. That’s worth thinking about!
John 16:31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Quote from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers
“Jesus was not rebuking the disciples in this passage. Their faith was real, but it was disordered and unfocused, and was not at work in the important realities of life.”
The idea of real faith being slightly unfocused isn’t really a surprise but Chambers comment made me look at the words of this Scripture more carefully. I can put myself there with those disciple’s hearing Jesus, the one I’ve pledged to faithfully follow, speaking these words to me; ‘You will leave me all alone.” Ever done that?
Of course you have! It hurts to remember failing him doesn’t it?
Remembering that reality is one way Jesus leads you to confession and repentance. Jesus knows…”In this world you will have trouble.” Jesus says remember and repent… “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” “I have told you these things, so that…IN ME…you may have peace.” That’s faith that works in the important realities of life. That’s the secret of the peace of repentance.
Repent: view or think of (an action or omission) with deep regret or remorse.