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Discipleship

1 2 3 21
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 washes His Disciples' feet
Imaage source: LumoProject

In today’s Bible reading, John tells us that Jesus washes the Disciples’ feet. All Twelve Disciples. Including Judas.

This is an Inconvenient Truth about Jesus’ ministry. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him. And yet, He served him. He washed Judas’ feet in the same way as He washed Simon Peter’s feet. And John the Beloved Disciple’s feet. Jesus knew their hearts completely. And yet, He served them all. Including Judas.

If Jesus knew His Disciples’ hearts completely, and yet washed their feet, then I — not knowing peoples’ hearts — don’t have a place to decide to whom I can/should minister.

And neither do you.

Application

God doesn’t give me the choice of whom I minister to. When I said, “Yes” to Jesus’ call to discipleship, my answer was forever, “Yes”. My call to “The Ministry” is no different.

Jesus said that no student is greater than his master. (John 13:16) If Jesus had a Judas, how could I think that I am above having my own Judas(es)?

Jesus tells us to count the cost to be His disciple. And when I look at what Jesus’ death accomplished for me, what right could I possibly claim to exempt me from “having” to minister to anyone?

When it comes down to it, you really can never say, “No, Lord.” If Jesus is Lord, then the answer must be “Yes.” To answer, “No” is to deny Him as Lord.

Jesus is Lord of all or not Lord at all.

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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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Image source: LumoProject

Today’s Bible reading includes a familiar passage where a woman is brought to Jesus who was caught in the act of adultery. (John 8:4) Jesus tells the Jewish leaders to go ahead and stone her, with the condition that the first one to throw the first rock must be completely innocent. The accusers walk away, and Jesus tells her that He doesn’t condemn her. End of story. Right?

There are several things I need to highlight here. Yes, the Jewish Law prescribed death by stoning for those guilty of adultery. (Leviticus 20:10) Note that the death penalty was for both of the partners committing adultery. Where was her partner? Did they let the man go? And what were these Jewish leaders doing when the act was being committed? Where were they? How did they know?

Second, her accusers left her alone with Jesus Who tells her that He didn’t condemn her. But He didn’t just leave it there. He says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” John 8:11 (CSB)

In telling her He doesn’t condemn her and letting her go, Jesus never condones the woman’s sin. Never. Instead, He uses the situation as a teachable moment for the woman. And for us. Instead of sentencing the woman to death and participating in her execution (as He was obligated to do under the Law), Jesus extends grace and mercy, demonstrating that there is more to dealing with sin than serving as judge, jury, and executioner. God offers a clean slate and an opportunity to start over.

Application

None of us is the judge, jury, and executioner. As Believers and representers of Jesus Christ, we are to help bring about restoration to the brokenhearted. Restoration and rehabilitation is a big deal in the Kingdom of God. But a big problem with bringing restoration and rehabilitation is that as long as the person hasn’t dealt with their sin, there can be no restoration. There can be no rehabilitation.

Look at how Jesus dealt with the self-righteous religious leaders. Look at how Paul dealt with self-righteousness individuals in the early chapters of Romans. Neither Jesus nor Paul swept sin under the rug. Both men dealt with sin head-on. And when the people recognized their sin, both men were there with an extended hand to help the repentant sinner to “go and sin no more.”

All of us are guilty of sin. I don’t know what sins you are guilty of. The reason we sin is because we’re sinners. But have you dealt with your sin condition? Have you taken the First Step (admit that you have a problem)?

God offers peace with Himself, forgiveness, and restoration as we deal with our sin, and not a moment sooner. That’s the very purpose of the Law: to expose our sin and our hopeless condition. But we don’t get to experience the Good News until we’ve dealt with the Bad News.

Don’t cheapen grace! Deal with sin as soon as God reveals it to you. Then, repent of your sin and trust Him to empower you to “go and sin no more.”

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1 2 3 21

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