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Christian Hedonism

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Jesus appears before Pontius Pilate
Image source: LumoProject

In today’s Bible reading, Jesus points out that His Kingdom is not of this world. In fact, he demonstrates the point with, “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36 CSB)

A short time earlier on the night He was betrayed, Jesus prophesied to His Disciples, “Tonight all of you will fall away because of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ ” Matthew 26:31 (CSB)

The Jewish leaders who expected the Disciples to run away if Jesus were to be arrested were very happy that night. Everything worked according to their plans. But they didn’t consider what might happen if Jesus was actually Who He claimed to be.

Everyone else ran. But John the Beloved Disciple and Peter secretly hung around to see what would happen to Jesus. And when pressed if he knew Jesus, Peter lied and called down curses on himself.

But Jesus’ Kingdom wasn’t like any other kingdom anyone had ever seen. If you look at Jesus’ “Kingdom” parables, it’s clear that God’s Kingdom doesn’t look anything like what someone would expect it to look. Those who are first are last; those who are last are first. And the greatest of all is a servant. So when the King was taken, the Disciples ran. His Kingdom is not of this world.

Application

Jesus told His Disciples to seek His Kingdom and righteousness first. Not first as in before going to the next thing. But first as the only thing of importance. Rather than concerning themselves with the things of this world, Jesus tells His Disciples to concern themselves with the things of a different world. A world where He is King.

The Kingdom of God had already come. (Matthew 12:28) And yet, it hadn’t. Even today, we still live in a constant tension of God’s Kingdom as “already, but not yet.” And we await the Day of the Lord, when Jesus comes in all of His glory to make all things right.

Are you a citizen of God’s Kingdom? Have you submitted to His Kingship and to His rule? I urge you do that today!

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

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Practicing the Spiritual Disciplines of Bible reading and Prayer

Today’s Bible reading is Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. In it, Jesus reveals the definition of eternal life. “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent—Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3 CSB) “I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from the world. They were yours, you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.” John 17:6 CSB)

Eternal life isn’t about religion. It isn’t about behavior change: doing the dos and not doing the don’ts in the Bible. Eternal life is about relationship: knowing and being known. And as such, eternal life doesn’t begin when we cross over to the other side of eternity. It begins the moment we come to know Him on this side of eternity.

Application

Do you know Jesus? Do you have a relationship with Him? How personal is that relationship?

How much time do you spend with Him every day? Not every week, but every single day? As with every other relationship with anyone else, there is no other way to develop a relationship aside from time: logging time in God’s Word and seeking Him in prayer, and practicing the other Spiritual Disciplines.

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Grapes

Jesus gives us our purpose in today’s Bible reading: bear fruit. He is the true Vine. And Believers are branches attached to the True Vine. The responsibilities of the branches are to stay connected with the Vine and let the life of the Vine flow through them. Union and Communion.

As long as a Believer stays in Union and Communion with the Vine, the life of the Vine produces fruit. Notice that the Vine produces the fruit through the branches. The branches bear fruit produced by the Vine.

Branches that are not attached to the Vine are gathered up and burned (John 15:6) because they take up space in the vineyard. But branches that are attached to the Vine, but aren’t bearing fruit are lifted up[1] (John 15:2) and given special attention so they can bear fruit. By raising up those branches, they are taken off the ground where the fruit was stepped on or stolen by a rodent or some other hungry animal.

Application?

How’s your fruit bearing? Do you bear the fruit produced by Jesus in your life?

Have you felt discouraged, just waiting for Jesus to come along and remove you from the vineyard? Rest assured that if you are still in union and communion with the Vine, you can never be cast aside. Instead, the Master Gardener will deal with you so that you can bear fruit.

Check your connection. Draw your life from the True Vine. And bear the fruit.

[1] Most modern English translations miss this key point, leading to some amount of confusion about the destiny of non-fruit-bearing branches that are still attached to the Vine. The Greek word means to raise up or to lift up, not to take away or to remove.

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Jesus teaches
Image source: LumoProject

In today’s Bible reading, Jesus highlight the importance of knowing and being known by Jesus. (John 10:14-16; John 10:25-29) In fact, in light of eternity, knowing Him is the most important thing for you to do.

I’m not talking about going to church. I’m not talking about praying a prayer. I’m not talking about being baptized. I’m not talking about any of those things. I’m simply asking if you know Jesus.

And when I ask the question, the first response is probably, “Which Jesus?” The religions and cults have their opinions of Jesus. And all of them distort the Jesus as the Bible presents Him. So they don’t know Jesus. Many Church-goers don’t even know Jesus as the Bible presents Him.

Perhaps you believe in Jesus. But how do you know if you have the right one? Johanna Michaelson said she believed in Jesus; he was her occult spirit guide. But obviously, her Jesus wasn’t the Jesus of the Bible.

As I pointed out a couple of days ago, the Jesus of the Bible isn’t a “feel-good” Jesus, a peaceful Jesus, a grace-only Jesus. No, those pictures of Jesus are incomplete distortions of the Jesus as presented in the Bible. The Bible also presents a divisive Jesus, a righteous Jesus, a Jesus Who doesn’t want you to stay the same way as you are when you first come to Him. He is a transforming Jesus.

Application

When you think of Jesus, are all of your thoughts positive, feel-good thoughts? Or does He make you feel a little uncomfortable?

When you cross over to the other side of eternity, the only question you’ll be asked is, “What did you do with Jesus?” Did you ignore Him? Did you give all of who you are to Him and His work? (Matthew 6:33) Did you think you knew Him? Or did you really know Him?

Having the right Jesus is paramount! Don’t settle for substitutes!

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Jesus
Image source: LumoProject

In today’s Bible reading, John makes a stunning observation. “So the crowd was divided because of him.” John 7:43 (CSB) John wins the title, “Captain Obvious” for this one!

Many today will say that Christians need to be more like Jesus: more peaceful, more inclusive, less judgmental, and less divisive.

“Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” Matthew 10:34–36 (CSB)

It’s as if the ones telling Christians to “be more like Jesus” don’t know Who Jesus really is. Sometimes I just have to scratch my head and wonder if these people have ever read the Bible!

If you read the “Fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23, you’ll see character qualities that everyone can admire. Yes, Jesus was the embodiment of all of these things. And He was more. So much more!

We don’t get to take a trip down the Bible Buffet Line, picking and choosing what we like and disregarding what we dislike. No, we can either take the Jesus presented in the Bible, or reject Him outright.

Application

By His very nature, Jesus is divisive. He is God. And God is divisive! God is very divisive.

And we must choose. We must choose, not which parts of Jesus we want, or which version of Jesus we want, but whether or not we really want the Jesus Who’s is revealed in the Bible. The whole Bible.

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1 2 3 17

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