Hate Your Life (John 14:15 and 15:12-15)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” [John 14:15]

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” [John 15:12-14]

Yesterday was a John 14 kind of day (see “Love and Obedience” from March 24) but today is a John 15 kind of a day.

Yesterday I was struck by John 14:15 that talks about loving Jesus and keeping his commandments; that obedience is an act of love, not an act of duty or something to avoid punishment. We obey Jesus because we love Jesus and we want to please him; not in order to get something in return but because he has already given us something: Eternal life through faith in him.

Now today…

Jesus gives the commandment (which, if you love Jesus, you will be pleased to receive) to love one another as He has loved you. Then Jesus goes on to define the ultimate display of love. Are you ready for this?
Laying down your life for your friends.

Then Jesus goes on to say that you are his friend if you do what he commands. So therefore if you love Jesus you will not only freely and joyfully obey him but you will lay down your life for him. In essence, you will “hate your life in this world” (John 12:25)

WHAT?!?

John Piper, from his Solid Joys devotional, “How to Hate Your Life” says this:
It means, at least, that you don’t take much thought for your life in this world. In other words, it just doesn’t matter much what happens to your life in this world.

If men speak well of you, it doesn’t matter much.
If they hate you, it doesn’t matter much.
If you have a lot of things, I doesn’t matter much.
If you have little, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are persecuted or lied about, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are famous or unheard of, it doesn’t matter much.
If you are dead, these things just don’t matter much.

But it’s even more radical. There are some choices to be made here, not just passive experiences. Jesus goes on to say, “If anyone serves me, let him follow me.” Where to? He is moving into Gethsemane and toward the cross.

To love Jesus is to die to this world and cling to the eternal life you have in him. If you are truly clinging to the hope of the resurrection, then what happens in this life really matters very little; for this world can not take away that which God gives through Jesus Christ. But if you are “loving” this life; clinging to it, then you are not looking to Jesus and therefore not loving Jesus.

But if you want a more vivid picture, then imagine this:
Clinging to this life/world rather than Jesus (loving him) is like hanging over a fiery pit and clinging to nothing but a small thread. And you don’t need me to tell you what’s going to happen eventually.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Will you lay down your life for Jesus?
He already laid down his life for you.

Awesome, amazing and mighty God; You loved us first. You love us even though we are sinners. You love us even though we are disobedient. You love us even though we seek this life. Turn our hearts towards You that we may see Your love through the cross of Christ. In Jesus name, Amen

The Pastor -|—

Love and Obedience (John 14:15)

image

http://bible.com/59/jhn.14.15.ESV

It has been a John 14 kind of day as this chapter has been stuck (in a good way) in my brain and heart.

I was out visiting this morning; bringing communion to a couple members at a nursing home and assisted living facility out of town. During the course of the communion service I read from John 14 (since it has been on my mind today) and verse 15 struck me so I tried to make some mental notes on the fly. When I got home, I immediately created the above image through my YouVersion Bible app on my tablet and reflected on this some more. A few thoughts about this verses came to mind:

~ Obedience is a joy because of the one you are obeying.
~ Obedience is trusting the person you are obeying.
~ Obedience is not something to avoid consequences.
~ Obedience comes naturally because of the one whom you love.
~ Obedience out of love is not demanded but freely given.
~ Obedience out of duty is not love.
~ Obedience out of love is not about you but rather the one whom you love.

This is really a beautiful verse in the midst of a beautiful chapter. The love of Jesus should lead you to freely and joyfully obey all that God has commanded. For the one you truly love, you want to please, not because of fear of punishment for disobeying, but because you don’t want to hurt the one whom you love.

Just throwing this out there for you to ponder and reflect on.
Go…

The Pastor -|—

Peace in a Troubled World (John 14)

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” [John 14:1, ESV]

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” [John 14:27, ESV]

Beautiful bookends to a beautiful chapter. The beginning of Jesus’ farewell discourse begins with peace and encouragement to not have troubled hearts. Following this and up through verse 27 Jesus talks about:

Going to the Father
Preparing a place for us
Bringing us home to the Father
That he and the Father are one
In the mean time, giving the Holy Spirit
Not leaving us as orphans
Loving Jesus means loving the Father
The Father loves you

And finally: Peace
So therefore: Let not your hearts be troubled

What a beautiful discourse. And what a great reminder, because think about it, how often do you let your hearts get troubled? How often is your peace rattled?

~ You share your faith with your son or daughter, father or mother, friend or coworker and nothing. They still won’t accept Jesus and therefore it’s easy to become discouraged.
~ You just lost your job, money is tight, your health is not the best; and your heart is troubled about the future and whether things will ever get better.
~ A drunk driver kills someone one, yet another report of ISIS reigning terror someplace, the news reporting another murder involving domestic violence; and you wonder if peace will ever be a reality.

But Jesus says, Do not let your hearts be troubled. I got this. I have overcome this world. I have defeated death. Stuff may happen now that is unpeaceful and discouraging, but think on me. I give you a peace like nothing the world can give, so stop looking for peace there.

And it is this peace; the peace that only Jesus gives, that allows one’s heart to not be troubled. It’s thinking on Jesus that encourages our discouraged hearts. It is faith in the crucified and risen One that truly brings peace in an unpeaceful world.

No matter what you do; no matter how hard your search; no matter how hard you try, you are never going to find or create a situation where your heart will be completely free from trouble or discouragement. Maybe you can do something for the short-term, but there will always be something lacking without Jesus.

So turn to Jesus and let not your hearts be troubled. And know a peace that surpasses all understanding and surpasses anything that this world can promise.

Be at peace, my friends, and praise God always and forever.

God of peace, Your love and compassion and faithfulness is what we truly need in a love-less, compassion-less and faith-less world. May we turn to You and be at peace; knowing that Jesus died and rose that we may have a place at the Great Banquet table and a room in Your Mansion. What a joy to think on this promise. What peace. Thank You, oh God, in Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Give Thanks

As you prepare to retire at the end of a long day and entrust yourself to the grace of God, let’s take a moment to give thanks:

[1] Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, 
for His steadfast love endures forever.
[2] Give thanks to the God of gods,
for His steadfast love endures forever.
[3] Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for His steadfast love endures forever;
(Psalm 136:1-3 ESV)

to Him who created this day,
for His steadfast love endures forever;
to Him who blessed you with breath,
for His steadfast love endures forever;
to Him who sustained your life,
for His steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, 
for His steadfast love endures forever;

to Him to gave you his one and only son,
for His steadfast love endures forever;
that Jesus may die for the forgiveness of your sins,
for His steadfast love endures forever;
so that you may spend eternity with Him,
for His steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, 
for His steadfast love endures forever;

to Him who gave His Holy Spirit,
for His steadfast love endures forever;
to lead you into all wisdom,
for His steadfast love endures forever;
and that you may know the truth of the Gospel,
for His steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, 
for His steadfast love endures forever;

and to Him who keeps you safe and secure in His hands,
for His steadfast love endures forever;
who has defeated sin, death and the power of Satan,
for His steadfast love endures forever;
that you may not fear this world,
for His steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, 
for His steadfast love endures forever;

Holy God, awesome and mighty, abounding in steadfast love and mercy; I praise Your awesome name; for there is much to give You thanks for. You have guided me through this day, even in those moments when I did not acknowledge You. You showed faithfulness even when I was not faithful. And now I entrust my vulnerable life to You as I prepare to close my eyes and drift off to sleep. May I awake in the morning to a new day of grace, ready to glorify Your awesome name. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

Good night world :-)

The Pastor -|—

Have No Fear? Really? (Revelation 15:3-4)

“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
 Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
(Revelation 15:3-4 ESV)

I stumbled upon was led to this scripture this morning for some reason. Funny how the Holy Spirit works sometimes.

In any case…

I started staring and reflecting on the question:
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?

Seriously who? Who won’t fear the Lord? And why? It is a baffling question, really, when you think about it. God’s deeds are great and amazing. God’s ways are just and true. God is King. God is holy. But way too many people don’t know this or acknowledge this.

What a shame.

I look around and see God’s great and amazing deeds all over the place. I can not fathom the thought that we are nothing but chance; that some random molecules or proteins or whatever it is; came together and started forming the universe and thus life. There is no way whatsoever that life is random. It just doesn’t start out of nowhere and with no reason.

GOD is the author of life and thus God should be feared.

Romans 1:19-20 tells us:
[19] For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. [20] For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

It comes down to emptying yourself and trusting God. I saw this quote on Facebook yesterday that said: If you’re not hungry for God, you’re probably full of yourself. That sounds about right but I would say more than just “probably” full of yourself.

Through creation God has made it abundantly clear that God is God Almighty, Creator of the heaven and the earth. God has made it plain who He is. Just look around and see.

So take some time and reflect on the awesome deeds of God. Consider His just and true ways. Submit to His Kingship and acknowledge God’s holiness. Do this in order to foster and nurture a healthy fear of the Lord that sends you NOT running away screaming but running TO God in worship.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

Don’t be a fool. Embrace the wisdom of God and learn from Him.

Creator God, You are holy and awesome and just and true and your ways are wholly righteous. May people run to you in holy fear and cling to Your promises through Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Your Breathed Out Word ~ A Prayer

This is the prayer I wrote to be prayed before the sermon is preached. As I have said many times before, to approach God’s word is an awesome privilege and to proclaim God’s word is an awesome task. One should never enter God’s word without prayer; seeking the Spirit to guide you and open you ears to truly listen.

So may God bless your hearing of His word today.

Holy God,

Your holy word tells us that all Scripture is breathed out by You, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that we may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Your word has a holy purpose and therefore needs to be held in utmost respect.

And there is no where else to turn for words of life; for in the words of Peter to Jesus: Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.

So may we take this to heart and not try to tinker with Your word, but listen to it and submit; trusting that You are righteous and true; no matter how hard it is to receive such a word.

And so may our hearts be right that we may receive Your word and therefore be transformed. In Jesus holy name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Word and Authority ~ An Opening Prayer

Here is the opening prayer I wrote for worship. I offer it to you as you prepare to worship this awesome God of ours…

Holy God, creator and sustainer and giver of Life; there is no god quite like You. There is no authority quite like You. There is no other truth; no other lord and no other way quite like You. And we praise You that You are the King of kings and the Lord of lords. You are our Father. You are our Life. And so we bring our worship and praise here this morning. We also come seeking Your Word of Life; for it is THE authority in our lives. So may Your Spirit speak to our spirits that we may receive this word in all it’s glory and truth for it is from You, oh sovereign God. And in the words of Romans 12, may we not conform to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds; which comes through Your holy word. So here we are, oh God, to worship You for You are worthy. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

May your day be an act of worship.
May your words bring glory to God.
May your acts reflect the Savior.
And may you be blessed that you may bless others.

All praise, glory, honor and worship be to our God for ever and ever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—