Help

shutterstock_132156593.jpgJohn 16:7-15 (ESV)

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.


 

Asking for help is hard! When we ask for help, it requires recognition that we can’t do it on our own and we don’t have the answer. As a child, we constantly needed help, we needed to be fed, clothed, changed, held, and taught. As we grew, we became more and more independent. As we grow as a follower of Jesus, the opposite is true. The goal is to be more aware of our need for help. Our help is the Holy Spirit.

If the Holy Spirit is to help you, you must ask for help. This really isn’t so tough. In your daily life, you ask others to help you, right? If there’s a jar you can’t open, you ask for help. If you’re climbing a ladder, you ask someone to steady it. If you run into computer problems, you call IT. If you’re driving and you discover that you’re lost, you ask for help (at least most women do!). To succeed in life, you need to ask for help. If you don’t, you will continually fail because no person has all the necessary skills to pull everything off in life. Similarly, in your walk of faith, you need help. You can’t do it by yourself. You ought to be continually calling on the Holy Spirit to help you to live this life.   This is not the “Genie in the Bottle”, sort of way, but rather, God is looking to “help” you in the sense that He takes over. He wants to do His work in and through you.

Ask the Holy Spirit for help to give you the right words to say in that hard conversation later today. Ask the Holy Spirit for help to show you areas in your life that need to be addressed. Ask the Holy Spirit for help to point those you meet to Jesus.

Could it be that you have placed the Holy Spirit in a corner and rarely seek His guidance? If so, how can you begin to have a dynamic relationship?

Am I facing a big decision?   How can the Holy Spirit help? How can I ask for God’s help today?

Ask the Holy Spirit today to protect you, provide for you, guide you, and care for you.

All you have to do is ask for help.

One Commandment

shutterstock_113327035.jpgJohn 15:12-17

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.


When was the last time you were given orders?  Perhaps it was at work and involved a project or a deadline.  It could have been a speech you got from the police officer as he wrote you a ticket.  Perhaps it was from a parent (or from a kid!).  Maybe you play sports and a specific play was called or the coach gave you a clear directive.  Maybe it was from a spouse.

What was the order?

Orders are given all the time from all kinds of people.  Friends, family, authority figures, customers, tellers, road signs, computer pop-ups, etc.

In John 15, the King over all creation, the King of kings, the Almighty Holy God has given you orders and His orders supersede all others.  His command is simply profound… “Love.”  And then He clarifies to leave no question of what this order means: “as I have loved you.”

Nothing will change your life and life of those around you more than following this one simple command.

How has Jesus loved you?  Think about what makes His love unique.

What is one way you can love today the way that Jesus has loved you?

Go follow His orders and see what happens.

Jesus, help me to love others the way that You love me.  Help me to see where I have been disobeying your order to love and to turn back to following your example.

 

I Am the Vine

shutterstock_212716945John 15:1-11 NIV

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”


Healthy things grow. Branches in a vineyard don’t grow independently of the vine. And a good farmer knows that only through pruning will you get the best fruit.

The same is true in our own lives. We will only grow spiritually if we are healthy. We cannot grow independently of Jesus. And it is only through challenges and struggle that we will produce the best “fruit” in our lives.

However, we all run from struggle. We don’t like it. Yet it is through struggle that we learn to trust and rely on Jesus. Through struggle we learn to “abide” because we discover what power and strength we have on our own. Abiding feels very unintuitive. It makes us feel vulnerable, yet in verse 11, Jesus reminds us that it is only through abiding in Him that we find joy.

Are you spiritually healthy? What in your life shows that you are growing spiritually?

How about struggle? What struggles in your life have caused you to be desperate for God? As much as you may have hated the process, how have you seen God use that pain in your life? What is the “fruit” of that pain and struggle?

If we will pursue Jesus with desperate dependence, we will discover joy. Joy and happiness and different. Happiness is based on circumstances. Joy is based on confident trust that no matter what is happening in my circumstances, I can trust in who God is and His love for me.

“Jesus, I find myself anxious many times because of a life that I can’t control. You say that if I will place my confidence and trust in you that I can experience joy. Today I surrender to your strength. I surrender to not doing life on my own. Amen.”

Restorer

shutterstock_197688347.jpgJohn 14:1-7

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”


John has a common theme throughout his gospel account:  Believe.

Believe in what?

Believe that every affliction you are facing, every hurt you have experienced, everything wrong in your life and in this world is temporary.  This too shall pass.

It is this reality that drives the challenging statement made by Jesus, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”

What has been troubling your heart lately?

Jesus then clarifies the object of our faith.  Believe in who?  In Jesus.  That He is the way, the truth, and the life.  That He has power and dominion over every challenge we will face in this life and that He is in the business of redemption and restoration.  Revelation 21 captures the moment to come when it is declared that Jesus is making ALL THINGS new.

Think back on what has been troubling your heart lately.  Have you talked with Jesus about it or are you trying to carry it all on your own?

Rather than just dwelling on it, talk to Jesus about it.  Take some time right now to cast your cares on Jesus because He cares for you.  He cares for what troubles you.  And He reminds you that He will one day restore all things that are broken.

 

Holy Week (Friday)

shutterstock_322749128.jpgJohn 19:28-30

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


Great characters, plot with conflict, and resolution are what make an incredible story. There are some really good stories throughout literary history. But there is only one greatest story ever told. It’s found in the Bible. The Bible is God’s story of the redemption of mankind. Jesus is the main character in the story.

Since the creation of man, God has been writing his redemption story. It began in the Garden of Eden with the creation of man and woman. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. Sin entered into the world. Adam and Eve were now separated from his Creator who loved them. Even in the darkest moment of the history God gave hope by promising Satan would be defeated. A Redeemer would be come to save mankind from himself and his sin. For man couldn’t save himself.

For centuries, God’s people looked for the coming Redeemer. Satan who tempted Adam and Eve to first sin continued his assault on God’s plan to redeem the world. He had led nations, leaders, and individuals astray. He tried at every turn to ruin the plan of God to bring a Redeemer. And there were times, when it looked like he was winning. A good story needs conflict. It was the greatest conflict of all times to destroy God’s plan. But God was bigger and the story continued to move forward.

The curtain open in the final act of the greatest story ever told when God sent His Son, Jesus, to walk among us, die, and rise again for our salvation. Jesus was heading to the cross. Satan was doing everything he could to derail Jesus. He got him on the cross thinking he had won. Like any great story in the darkest moments the light shines brightest.

On the cross Jesus said the words that would ring out for centuries to come. “It is finished.” The “it” is God’s plan of redemption. God’s history had been moving towards this day. The word “finish” is the declaration that the work needed for mankind’s redemption was done. The English word “finish” misses the mark. The word carries the idea of completed action with lasting results. Jesus completed God’s plan for the salvation of the world. Nothing else needs to be done. Jesus paid it all once and FOR ALL.

What does that mean for you? There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. When you say YES to following Jesus, God sees Jesus in you. He has done all the work. You reap the benefit from the finished work of Jesus on the cross.

Have you said YES to the finished work of Jesus on the cross? Today can be your day of redemption back to God.

Do you sometimes think you need to do something to make God love you more? Don’t! Enjoy the completed work of Jesus on the cross.

Take this Easter weekend to celebrate the love of Jesus from the cross. “It is FINISHED!” Join us today at 5:30 or 6:45 for our Good Friday Service at our Tempe location (6101 S River Dr Tempe 85283).

Holy Week (Thursday)

shutterstock_247485433.jpg

John 18:33-40

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?”36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.


 

Can you imagine the tension?  Here is Jesus, moments before He will give His life to make a way for us to know God.  The most profound, important and impactful act of love in human history:  Jesus giving His life for humanity.  God, the Creator of all things, in the person of Jesus, come to save the world.  And here is Jesus standing trial, being questioned about who He is.

Jesus, in His brilliance, full of grace and truth stated why He had come to earth.  He knew His purpose.  His purpose was to make a way to us.  This is an incredible picture of love and commitment.  The tension was as thick as it gets.  The pressure from the people had been mounting.  And still Jesus loved.  He still offered truth to those who persecuted Him.  And in His truth, He gave them love.

Have you ever wondered how much God loves you?  The answer is ALL.  Now, this may not make sense, as the answer does not really match the questions.  But it actually does.  Jesus gave everything to make a way to you.  That is how much you mean to God.  EVERYTHING.  For some, know that today.  For others, remember that.  You mean everything to Jesus.

For us, we must be careful not to trade “Barabbas” for the beauty of God.   What that means is life has many things filled with temporary satisfaction.  The problem with those is they distract us from our purpose and identity in Jesus.  Hope in temporary things gets you temporary hope.  But hope in Jesus is forever.

Prayer for today:  Father, you are a good, good Father.  You gave everything to make a way to me, and I know that I am worth everything to you.  Help me see this and respond to you with a life that seeks to follow you.  Help me never trade the temporary for your unending love and grace.  Thank you for giving ALL to show me how much you love me.

Holy Week (Wednesday)

shutterstock_378764086.jpgJohn 13:21-35

21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”

25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


 

It seems that in this moment a plan went into motion with Judas leaving the company of the disciples to betray Jesus and offer His location to those plotting to kill Him. In reality, this plan went into motion long before Judas was born, long before the first high priest ever served Israel, long before any nation even existed. In the same chapter that man first sinned (Gen. 3), God made a promise that a plan was already in motion to rescue and redeem humanity.

Why?

The simple answer carries more power and depth than we will ever fully understand in this life. The answer is love.  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Take a moment to reflect on the love God has for you.

In His final moments with the disciples, Jesus gives them a new twist on an old command. He tells them (and He tells us) to love one another.  He then clarifies the kind of love we are to show with the statement, “As I have loved you.”  It is this kind of selfless love that will set apart the followers of Jesus.  It is this kind of love that has the power to transform the world in Jesus’ name.

Praise Jesus for His unconditional love.  Pray for the world around you, that they might be transformed by the love of Jesus through you.  If you haven’t done so yet, invite someone who needs to hear about the love Jesus has for them to join you at one of the Easter services this weekend (www.sunvalleycc.com/easter).