Tag Archives: Jesus

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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resurrection and life

Jesus was close to Lazarus and his sisters. Lazarus was ill, so the family sent word to Jesus requesting he come and help Lazarus. Jesus does go and help Lazarus, but the Bible teaches he waited before going.

We know Jesus waited until Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days before helping. At this point, all hope had been lost. No one believed there was a chance Lazarus could be brought out of the tomb. However, the Bible records that is not the case.

John 11:23-25 says, 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Jesus is getting ready to display his power over death. Life and death battled, and life won. Death’s grip could not hold Lazarus in the grave because of Jesus.

Because of Jesus, death’s grip cannot hold us in bondage. Jesus says he is the resurrection and the life. Ephesians 2 says it is in Christ we are made alive by grace. Jesus question to Martha is the same one he asks us, “Do you believe?”

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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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rivers of living water

It was October, and time to remember Moses striking the rock in the wilderness. The people celebrated for a week. They slept in tents and each morning they would draw water from the pool and take it to the altar. This was done to commemorate the Lord providing Israel water while they were in the desert.

Exodus 17 records the Israelites in a waterless place and grumbling against the Lord. The Lord instructed Moses to strike a rock, and verse 6 records water gushing out of the rock as the Elders looked on. The Lord provided for Israel’s need in a big way, so a festival was started to remember the Lord’s provision.

This week-long festival ended in a dramatic way. The daily water drawing was performed seven times on the seventh day. It was here Jesus revealed where one’s desire for God could be met. John 7:37-38 says, “on the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds. ‘Anyone who is thirsty may come to me. Anyone who believes in me may come and drink. For the Scriptures declare rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”

Jesus stands and shouts to grab the people’s attention. He stands and shouts because his news is that pertinent. “Is your soul thirsting for God? Come to me! Are you longing to feel God’s presence? Come to me!” Jesus invites everyone to come to him and satisfy the desire to be with God. He invites everyone to come to him to find the peace and forgiveness for which they are longing. Jesus invites the thirsty, weary traveler to find rest in him. He can grant rivers of living water for our soul.

Do you allow your soul to drink from those waters? Is Jesus a dot on your calendar or the center of your day?

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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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merry christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:11 says, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.”

You and I have been given a gift. The gift is Jesus. Jesus brings the gift of grace. He came to help us. Jesus did not stand at the top of the mountain and tell us to climb. He came down to hold our hand as we climbed. Jesus did not stand on the opposite side of a gulf and tell us to cross the bridge. He came across to help us. Jesus came as our Christmas gift.

The angel’s good news to the shepherds is for you and me also. As you celebrate today, I hope you have a moment to reflect on the gift of Jesus.

I appreciate you spending part of your day reading this, and I hope you have a blessed and merry Christmas. Please share this post.

baby is born

A census had been ordered, and everyone was to return to their hometown to register. For Joseph, that meant traveling the 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This was a 3-day trip, and it would be more difficult because Mary was expecting a child. The couple made the trip, and Luke’s Gospel records the birth of the child happening while Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem.

Luke 2:6-7 records, “And while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snuggly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.”

This was certainly not an ideal situation from our perspective. Making a 3-day journey to give birth among the goats and sheep was probably not on Mary’s bucket list; however, the Lord used this “less than ideal” situation to bring salvation to the world. Amazingly the Creator of the world allowed himself to be a baby lying in a manger among the livestock. God was quietly at work.

There are many take-aways for you and me in Jesus’ birth. Here are just 2.

  1. Christmas shows the extent of God’s love. God had such a sacrificial love for the world that he came to us to help rather than stay at a distance. John 3:16-17 says God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his son into the world to condemn it but to save it. Christmas comes out of love for you and me.
  2. The setting for Jesus’ birth is not one in which you would expect a king to be born, but the Savior is born. God used a livestock area as the first throne room and a manger as the first throne. We wouldn’t expect God to show up in this situation, but he did. There are many situations which seem less than ideal from our perspective, yet God shows up to do some mighty work. God is always at work.

Much happen on that first Christmas night. We see the extent of the Lord’s love and are reminded he can work no matter the circumstances. In spite of everything happening around us this Christmas season, try to take a moment to rejoice in the truth that a Savior has been born to us.

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