Day Four: We will make our home with them

John 14:22-23–Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

The word “home” or “dwelling places” is the same word used in John 14:2 – In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

Jesus Christ, God-Incarnate, made his dwelling among the people. After His death and resurrection, He returned to the Father and is preparing a dwelling place for us in the Father’s house. But here and now, through the Holy Spirit, God is not just present with us, but is also making His home in the hearts of those who love Jesus and obey His commands.

This means that God will reveal Himself not only to us, but also through us by His Spirit. The life of obedient love is far greater than we can comprehend or contain, because it is beyond us. But the promise of God is that we will not only live it, we will also be transformed. As God makes His home in us, we become like Him. By the Holy Spirit in us, we are also given the grace of responding and reciprocating love for God through a life of obedient love.

Let’s pray and say yes, Lord, may there be more of Jesus and less of me.  Let’s ask God to fill us with His grace that we may love Him through a life of obedient love. As we pray, let’s worship God with this song – More Like Jesus (Passion) (click here).

-CH

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Day Three: I will love and reveal myself to them

John 14:21 – They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.

This dynamic union of loving the Lord and keeping His commandments is “not simply a matter of shared ideas or feelings but of shared life. The love is reciprocal – those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them. This verse does not deny the love God has for all his creatures, but rather speaks of the fulfillment of that love in a qualitatively new way for those who are in the Son. Believers are those who have entered into the same reciprocity of love that unites the Father and the Son. Jesus says that he himself will love such a disciple and will show himself to him or her. Thus, Jesus will remain in personal contact with his disciples…he will remain in relationship with them although the relationship will exist in a new form. [Whitacre R.A. The IVP New Testament Commentary, p.361,]

We, in Christ, share in the love that is between the Father and the Son! This love is the Father’s committed, intimate, life-creating, covenant love, perfectly reciprocated by the Son in obedient love. And then there is even more – the Lord will reveal himself to us! The key to obedience, to all of life, to worshiping God is to know God like this.  Let’s confess our need to know God like this. Let’s pray and ask God to deepen our roots in this love and also for His power to grasp and know how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

-CH

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Day Two: Because I live, you also will live

John 14:18-20“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

The disciples may have wondered – “is Jesus abandoning us?” But Jesus promises that they will see Him.

The fact that the disciples will see him suggests his coming spiritual presence with them is not in view, and the fact that the world will not see him rules out the second coming. So, most likely, he is speaking of his appearance after the resurrection, at which time he will impart the Spirit to them. Not only will they not be abandoned, with Jesus’ return after the resurrection they will enter into the new kind of life he has been revealing throughout his ministry…This salvation is a matter of life: Because I live, you also will live. They will live because they will be united to him by the Spirit and thus come to share in the life of him who is resurrection and life. All of this is made possible by Jesus’ own death and resurrection. [Whitacre, R.A. The IVP New Testament Commentary, p.360]

We now share in Jesus’ resurrection life. Who we are and what we live is resurrection life from which obedience flows. “…I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…” (Gal 2:20). Let’s ask God to help us believe this truth even more, and let’s thank and praise God for His resurrection life – His obedient life of love that He has given us in Christ. Let’s also worship God in song with “No Longer I” (Matt Redman) (click here).

-CH

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Day One: He will be in you

John 14:15-17

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

The uncompromising connection between love for Christ and obedience to Christ repeatedly recurs in John’s writings…The first entailment of the disciples’ love for Jesus is their obedience; the second is that Jesus will ask the Father to provide them another Counselor to be with them forever. [Carson, D.A. Pillar New Testament Commentary, pp.498-499]

Advocate” – The Greek word translated to Advocate here is parakletos. It is also translated as Counselor, Comforter, or Helper.

“another” – The Greek word translated to another is allos and means another of the same kind… Jesus was comforting His disciples by assuring them they did not need to be troubled at his leaving because the Helper or Counselor he would send was just like him! There would be no loss in the exchange. So much are they the same that in Romans 8:9 the Apostle Paul calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of Christ.” [Hughes, R. That You May Believe, pp. 343-344]

Jesus’ promise has been fulfilled. The Spirit of Truth – the Spirit of Christ lives in us! This empowering presence of God enables us to love Him and obey His commands. This is who we are, so let us embrace this afresh today and pray for our lives and for our churches, that God would empower us more to believe and live obedient love.

-CH

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Day 5: The crown for those who love him

James 1:12  Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

“Trial” refers to any difficulty in life that may threaten our faithfulness to Christ:  physical illness, financial reversal, the death of a loved one.… James, then, uses the crown to refer to the idea of reward, [and] the word life following crown will indicate what the reward is.  Revelation 2:10.. is similar, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”[Moo, D.  The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter of James. p. 70]

After going through most of our Loving Jesus Series, I am not sure what sounds more beautiful – the “crown of life” that those who endure will receive, or the description that God gives them as “those who love him.”  Of course, they are both amazing works of God’s grace.

Let’s take to heart this truth of this passage.  Let’s pray for ourselves, whether we are in a time of “trial” or not, that we will be those who persevere in loving Jesus.  Let’s pray for one another in our families, campuses, missional groups, and churches, that we will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

-BR

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Day 4: Lord, you know all things…

John 21:17-19  The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Feed my sheep….
Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Jesus’ threefold repetition of his question may reflect the Near Eastern custom of reiterating a matter three times before witnesses in order to convey a solemn obligation… Peter is not relieved but rather saddened that Jesus has asked him the same question a third time.  Peter’s response, “Lord, you know all things,” rather than pointing to actions of his own that prove his loyalty, defers to Jesus’ knowledge of him… Perhaps at long last Peter has learned that he cannot follow Jesus in his own strength and has realized the hollowness of affirming his own loyalty in a way that relies more on his own power of will than in Jesus’ enablement. [Kostenberger, A.  Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament:  John.  p. 597-598]

In our “yes” to Jesus, let’s rely upon Him.  We trust in Him Who, knowing all things including our greatest need, went to the cross in love.  We take the commission to feed His sheep by, and only by, following Him.

Let’s pray for our churches today, that Jesus’ sheep will be well cared for.  Let’s gladly say “yes” to following Jesus today.  We can also worship in song – May the Words of my Mouth (Tim Hughes) (click here)

-BR

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Day Three: Glad Self-Offering

Romans 12:1-2a Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

What is precious to us?  It seems that it would be noble if the answer to that were at least another human being.  Yet it so often seems, when I get down to the core of things, that it is often: me.  I am precious to me.  When I apply Abraham’s test to my life, I do hand my children, my husband, other people and things over to the Lord in prayer.  But then I so often end up at this place – where God asks for me, all of me.

Here Paul uses a vivid, indeed shocking, idea:  One’s whole self (that’s what Paul means by ‘body’) must be laid on the altar like a sacrifice in the Temple… Christian living… begins with the glad self-offering of one’s whole self to God whose mercy has come all the way to meet us in our rebellion, sin, and death.[Wright, N.T.  Paul for Everyone: Romans Part Two. p. 70]

Let us respond to this passage with “glad self-offering” of our whole selves unto the Lord.  While doing so, we can worship God in song with Build My Life (Housefires) (click here).

-BR

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Day Two: When God Tested Abraham

Hebrews 11:17
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son…19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

[Abraham] is the only exemplar mentioned in [Hebrews] 11 who is said to have been tested by God… The trial before him was the command to take Isaac [and] ‘sacrifice him…’ It was on this son’s survival that the fulfillment of God’s promises depended… Did God’s command, then, to sacrifice Isaac flatly contradict his own promise?
Surprisingly, neither the Genesis narrative nor the account in Hebrews dwells on the inner turmoil within Abraham’s heart.  In fact, the impression one gets is that Abraham regarded it as God’s problem… When the command was given, Abraham obeyed:  By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.[O’Brien, P.  The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Hebrews.  p. 423-424]

I like this description of faith – “…Abraham regarded it as God’s problem.”  Abraham’s part was reverence and obedience.  What would happen, how God would reconcile two impossible seeming things, was God’s.

Today, let’s offer our lives and what is precious to us to the Lord, in reverent obedience.  Let’s do so trusting Him, knowing that the One who raised Jesus to life is able to do with our offerings what will bring Him glory.

-BR

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Day One: Proven Genuineness of Faith

1 Peter 1:6-8  … for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy…

Quite a bit of this letter is concerned with the suffering of the early Christians.  Here Peter states the theme which he will develop: that this suffering is the means by which the quality of the Christians’ faith can shine out all the more, and when Jesus is finally revealed this will result in an explosion of praise.  Meanwhile, they are to live their lives… with love for Jesus in their hearts and ‘a glorified joy (v. 8) welling up within them. [Wright, N.T.  The Early Christian Letters for Everyone. p. 51]

If we are in a current time of trial, let’s take these words of 1 Peter to heart.  I also invite us all to pray that we, together with God’s church around the world, will live our lives with love for Jesus in our hearts and joy welling up within us.

Let’s worship to One Thing Remains (Bethel Live) (click here), proclaiming His love that will keep us for the day when Jesus is revealed.

-BR

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Day Five: More Grace

James 4:6-8 (NIV) – But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. 

 Would you have much love to Christ? Do not allow sin to have any room in your hearts or, if it will abide and you cannot thrust it quite out, let it not have a quiet habitation within you. Disturb sin as much as you can. The more room sin has in your hearts – the less room Christ will have there. Particularly, take heed of inordinate love to the world, and the things of the world, the prevalence of which love will dampen your love to Christ. A subordinate love you may have to people and things in the world – but let no person or thing have your chief love, only Christ. You must have dying affections to perishing things – if you would have a living and strong love to the ever-living Jesus! [Thomas Vincent, The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ]

The hope of loving Christ in incorruption comes from God’s grace. If just ‘grace’ hasn’t seemed enough for you, know that God gives us ‘more grace’ – a never-ending, never-limited, never-lacking supply of grace.

Let us humbly come before the Lord and worship with the song,Jesus Only You(click here). Pray for the ‘more grace’ in our lives to turn from love of the world to have a chief love for Christ.

-AK

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