Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. (John 15:1-17, NRSV)

Love one another and abide in me.

Jesus tells the disciples how they are connected to Him in a way they can understand. Some scholars even believe that Jesus was walking through a vineyard when this discussion happened, because there was a vineyard close by where they would have been walking that night, as you see this is part of the farewell discourse that happened the night He was arrested. Jesus is the vine that runs between us and connects us together and with the Father and when we abide in Him, we abide in each other and the Father.

So if we abide in Jesus we will bear fruit. We will bear the fruit of love.

So abide in love and bear the fruit which the world needs.

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. “Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” (Luke 14:25-35, NRSV)

How many of us would undertake an addition to our homes without figuring out how much it would cost and if we could do it first?

None of us, yet I still remember a building in lower Michigan from my first call in Northern Ohio that was standing incomplete, because whoever started building it ran out of financial support in the middle of construction so a shell of a building stand where a completed structure should be.

We all can hit hard times though and things can happen so even if we estimate and calculate the costs unseen hindrances may arise.

But if any of us calculated the cost of following Jesus could we do it?

Hate mother, father, sisters, brothers and even life itself?

Could we?

I think if we are honest, none of us can do this on our own, but with the help of God, all things are possible.

So calculate the cost and know you can’t, but take a hold of God’s hand and know you can.

Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we decided to be left alone in Athens; and we sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the sake of your faith, so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. Indeed, you yourselves know that this is what we are destined for. In fact, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we were to suffer persecution; so it turned out, as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith; I was afraid that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labor had been in vain. (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5, NRSV)

Sometimes we need a reminder. Here Paul sends Timothy to Thessalonica to discover how they were doing.

Sometimes we are tempted and we need a friend to help us back to the following of the shepherd.

Remember even Jesus was tempted by the devil after his 40 days of fasting in the wilderness. We will not escape it, but help is always there.

Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. (2 Corinthians 13:11-13, NRSV)

Easier said than done right?

Live in peace, agree with one another…

Not always easy, but it is what Christ calls us to.

And He will be with us to help us do that.

So let His peace overflow your life so the world might live in peace.

The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. They said, “What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old. After they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant: ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers have gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.’ For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:5-31, NRSV)

Peter tells those gathered that all of this has happened because of Jesus Christ the cornerstone, the foundation of our faith.

The person whom the elders and people of God arrested and tried and crucified, He has become the foundation for the faith. And through Him, many things are done, and God receives glory!

So the leaders pondered because they knew that Peter and John were not educated men, but they spoke with great wisdom and power.  And when the leaders advised them not to teach or preach about Jesus, they said they had to, because that is what God had told them to do.

Do we base our life on that cornerstone and share with that kind of veracity?

Jesus gave us that faith, let us base our lives on him!

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Acts 2:1-21, NRSV)

Everyone gathered in Jerusalem that day heard the disciples telling the good news of Jesus Christ each in their own language. How did this happen, and why were they in Jerusalem in the first place?

Well Pentecost is actually a Jewish Festival that occurs 49 days after the Passover, so many devote Jews would have been gathered in Jerusalem for the Festival and possibly many Greeks were there because of the Festival as well. They were celebrating the Weeks or the Harvest. So they were gathered there. And the disciples saw this as an excellent time to share the good news. And as the Spirit gave them utterance, everyone heard them plainly.

So how strange is this? So strange that some of those gathered for this utterance said the disciples were drunk! But how does that actually explain what God did here?

The prophecy of Joel says that all men and women regardless of class, position or anything we use to divide will receive the Spirit when God pours it out. And all will call on the name of the Lord and be saved!

So take heart that the Spirit has been given and hold tight to the promises of God.

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. (Acts 1:6-14, NRSV)

After Jesus ascended, they returned to Jerusalem, and they were together devoting themselves to prayer.

They prayed as a group, devoting themselves to praying together as a community.

We need to hold each other up in prayer. That is what God has called us to do. In loving our brothers and sisters, we need to lift them to our Father in heaven.

The cord of 3 strands is so much stronger, tightly woven for all of us.

So let us gather together for pray and hold each other up!