Tag Archives: I Am

the vine

A good gardener knows how to care for a garden. She knows when to tenderly care for her plants. He knows when and how much to trim away. The plants in the garden are healthy, and they produce good fruit and beautiful flowers. A good gardener’s work is obvious when we look at a garden.

The Bible teaches God is the gardener of our life. John 15:1-3 says, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.” As the gardener, God compassionately cares for our lives so they become a beautiful part of his creation.

And, the source for our lives, according to John 15:5, is Jesus. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” It is in Jesus life is found and turned into a beautiful part of God’s plan.

As our life comes from Christ, the gardener trims away all of the unattractive parts to give room for the fruit of the Spirit to grow. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us what fruit will be growing. 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

A life in Christ is a beautiful creation. That is not to say as it grows, it doesn’t have its ugly parts. We all know life is not perfect every day, but in Christ, it ends in the beautiful perfection of Heaven. How is the Lord making your life a beautiful creation?

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the way, the truth, and the life

Taking in all this news was hard. There was a great deal to process as they had an intimate conversation with their leader. He was preparing the group for what was getting ready to happen. He was going to be handed over to enemies, and he was going to prepare a place for them. When the place was ready, he would come back and get them. Much was said, and Thomas was taking it all in, which leads to his question.

John 14:5-6 says, Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Perhaps Thomas was asking a question the other disciples wanted to know, but did not have the courage to ask. They would not be able to find the destination unless they had the address.

Jesus tells the disciples the address is him. The way to get to the place he is describing is him. Jesus is the way. It is in his truth and the life he offers we find our way into Heaven.

Jesus says no one gets to the Father except through him. No one finds the Lord’s gift of grace except through him. No one finds the Lord’s peace except through him. Jesus says he is the way, the truth, and the life. Forgiveness, peace, and life are found in Jesus.

Perhaps Thomas’ question is one you are asking. The address to the destination is Jesus. He is the way.

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3 characteristics of the good shepherd

Taking care of sheep was a commitment, not just a job. Sheep required around-the-clock care and protection. A good shepherd would care deeply for his sheep, and he would tend to their needs in a compassionate way. The Bible teaches Jesus is our good shepherd.

In John 10:11 and 14, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” This means Jesus acts toward us as a good shepherd acted toward his sheep. Here are just a few of the characteristics that make up a good shepherd.

A good shepherd knows his sheep.

A good shepherd knows his sheep. He knows everything about them. To many, sheep all look the same, but to their shepherd, they are unique.

  • In John 10:3, Jesus says, “…the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
  • “I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep and they know me,” Jesus says in John 10:14.

Jesus knows us. He knows our thoughts, hurts, passions, and everything else about us.

A good shepherd goes ahead of his sheep.

Jesus says in John 10:4, “After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them and they follow him because they know his voice.” A good shepherd goes ahead of his sheep to keep them out of danger. He leads them to water and green pastures so their needs are met. As our good shepherd, Jesus guides are lives.

A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.

Standing between the sheep and their predators is the shepherd, and he is willing to give up his life to save theirs.

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Standing between us and the penalty of sin is Jesus. He laid down his life to save ours. He is our good shepherd.

David writes in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want.” And, the Lord is a good shepherd. He knows us and he tenderly and compassionately cares for us. Take a moment today to thank him for being the good shepherd.

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the gate

The sheep would graze all day, and when darkness fell, the shepherd would lead the sheep to the safety of the pen. It was usually an enclosure with rock walls and perhaps some thorn bushes across the top to keep predators from crossing the rocks. There was no gate on the enclosure; that is where the shepherd came in. The shepherd would serve as the gate blocking the opening. No one could go in or come out of the pen without going through the shepherd. The shepherd was the gate.

In John 10:7-10, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth. I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers, but the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely, and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

The Bible teaches man longs to have a deep communion with God. There is nothing else capable of filling the void in one’s life except the Lord. There are many things which promise a rich and satisfying life, but they fail. Money taunts that it can buy happiness, but it doesn’t. The excitement of popularity and fame is soon replaced with weariness of always being in the spotlight. Chasing after a “perfect body” leads only to stress and anxiety. All promise to bring a rich and satisfying life, but the promise is hollow.

The emptiness left in one’s life without the Lord can only be replaced by the fullness of life he offers. Jesus says, “I have come that they may have a rich and satisfying life.” This life is not measured in material possessions, popularity, or good looks. It is measured in the fullness of life we experience by fulfilling our God-ordained purpose. It is measured in allowing the grace and mercy of the Lord to work in one’s life. The way in is Jesus.

As he says, “I am the gate.” He is the entry point to a rich and satisfying life, and he welcomes all who desire to walk through the gate.

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light of the world

Night time in an unfamiliar terrain can be a scary place. With darkness all around, a traveler is not sure what lies ahead. The pitfalls of the land are unknown, so anxiety increases and nerves grow razor-thin. Have you ever been in this situation?

Israel was. As they were leaving Egypt, they found themselves in the unfamiliar territory of the desert. They were unsure what lie ahead, but the Lord gave them guidance. Exodus 13 records the Lord leading Israel by a pillar of fire. The light provided by this pillar gave Israel protection, it provided salvation, and it helped the people remember the Lord was with them.

Like Israel, life may place us in some unfamiliar territory, and the Lord will give us guidance in these moments. Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Just as Israel followed the pillar of fire, we can follow him.

“here is a promise of salvation much greater than Israel experienced. For it is deliverance not just from a national enemy, but from the forces of rebellion against God that lie behind every form of evil in the world. And, this deliverance is not just a rescue from darkness and a glimpse of the light, but an ongoing life apart from darkness through possession of the light of life,” according to the IVP New Testament Commentary. Jesus is our guiding light.

It is through Jesus we find protection, salvation, and the truth the Lord is with us. He is our light in unfamiliar places. He is our light guiding us through the darkness of this world. What areas of life do you need the Lord’s light to shine?

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bread of life

The people of Israel found themselves in the desert where there are not a lot of food choices. Walking through the desert day after day is bound to strike up a hunger, so they had to eat something. They did not know what they were going to eat so the people grumbled. They had been pulled out of the fertile lands of Egypt and placed in the dry, parched desert. How on earth were they going to survive? Anxiety levels elevated; the Israelites quickly forgot how the Lord brought them out of Egypt.

But the Lord had a plan. Exodus 16 reveals the Lord sent manna each day for the Israelites. Verses 21-22 record, “Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much, two omers, for each person, and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses.” For the entirety of their trip, the Israelites were provided manna. The Lord met their needs.

The Israelites were taught a valuable lesson. The Lord can provide for our needs. What seemed impossible to them, was easy for the Lord. They saw a dry and parched land, but the Lord saw a bread basket. The Lord had provisions to meet the need. All the Israelites had to do was trust him.

Later, Moses recalled, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The people spent 40 years in the desert, yet they had food, water, clothes that stayed wearable, and feet that were not swollen. The Lord continually met their needs.

The Bible teaches the Lord is still in the need meeting business today. John 6:35 says, “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Like the Israelites, our anxiety levels may be high. We may not understand how the Lord could possibly meet the needs in a situation or circumstance we are facing, but he put manna on the ground. What needs do you need to trust the Lord to meet today? Like the Israelites, he desires for us to trust him with our needs.

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