john 14:15-21 esv
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.”
At the beginning of this passage, we find the two approaches to living the Christian Life: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” One approach says that you need to do the right things to prove your love for God. In this perspective, following Jesus is all about meeting an obligation. The underlying belief is that God wants us to do the right things and if we don’t do them then we are not approved of by God. It communicates that following Jesus is all about fulfilling a duty.
What the Bible actually says is the opposite. Jesus did not come to establish another religion but to pursue a relationship. The other approach to following Jesus is all about this relationship. It centers on simply loving Jesus more than following a list of rules. What is amazing is that when this is our approach, the Bible says that we naturally do the right things. Read verse 15 again, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The verse doesn’t communicate “You better do what I say and if you don’t it means you don’t love me.” It actually communicates something like “If you love me, you willl WANT to do what I say.” Following Jesus is not about fulfilling a duty, it’s about delighting in a relationship.
So which side of the comma do you fall on? Simply focus on loving Jesus today and watch as you naturally make the right decisions.
Pray that God removes any incorrect views of Him today so that you can see Him and develop a real relationship with Him.
Pray that God opens your heart to His love and that your relationship with Him is focused on delight and not duty.
JOHN 10:10-15 NIV
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
When reading these verses, it is helpful to know the specific imagery that Jesus is describing as he speaks to the audience. The thief and wolf represent satan. The good shepherd is a picture of Jesus. The sheep represents us. The hired hand is anyone or anything that tries to protect and provide for us in place of Jesus, eventually fleeing.
From these few verses we see two truths about life. First is that we have a REAL enemy who hates us. The second truth is that we have a Savior who LOVES us, and wants the best for us. Notice the characteristics of both satan and Jesus here. Satan is described as someone who steals, kills, and destroys. However, Jesus is characterized as someone who gives instead of steals. Someone who lays down his life in place of ours. And someone who offers a full and abundant life for us instead of destroying our life. From these verses it is easy to see that Jesus and satan are opposites, but it is essential to know that the two ARE NOT EQUAL opposites. In other words, Jesus wins every time.
Lean into the impactful truth from this passage found in verse 10. God doesn’t just want the best for us later, but he also wants the best for us NOW. Jesus wants to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect —life in its fullness until you overflow! Living a life with Jesus is God’s ultimate plan for you to live your best life possible!
Pray that God shows you if there is anything acting as a “hired hand” in the place of Jesus in your life today.
Pray that you are able to experience the full and abundant life that Jesus offers us in verse 10.
Galatians 2:15-21 NIV
“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.
For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
The law talked about in these verses exists to show us that there is no way to achieve perfection. All of us fall short. In this passage, though, we see that Jesus’s sacrifice and resurrection removes the burden of perfection and exchanges it for a relationship with Him. When we decide to give our lives to Jesus, our old identity is left behind. Not just our way of living, but our entire identity is now found in who Jesus is. Because Jesus gave himself for us, our only response is to passionately live for him!
The simple truth is that if we could achieve the standard required to be in right standing with God, then Jesus would not of had to die for us. Instead he gave the ultimate gift: Grace. Grace to not only live a brand new life, but to be a brand new person.
Do you feel pressure to always prove yourself or find a way to measure up? Allow Jesus to take the pressure off. Allow Him to transform your life in ways you never thought possible.
Pray to receive the grace that Jesus provides for your life, and for Him to remove any guilt or shame you may be holding onto because you’ve fallen short.
Thank Jesus for making you new, and for covering your mistakes so that you could be in relationship with Him.
john 15:1-5 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.
These verses paint such a clear picture of what a relationship with Jesus can look like. The vine represents Jesus and the branches represent us. The fruit is a picture of the growth God wants to bring into our lives. Growth in our relationship with Jesus. Growth in our leadership. And growth in our impact of the world.
The picture provided in these verses of the gardener is such a practical explanation of that growth. We see that the gardener removes certain branches or “barriers” that are stunting the growth of a tree or plant. It’s important to note, though, that the gardener prunes the branches that are producing fruit. That is exactly what happens in us when we pursue all that God has for us in life. He will remove what we do not need, even things we may consider to be “good,” to create space for the growth of something greater. This is following Jesus. Its a process of going from good to great.
What in your life do you sense is being pruned or cut-out? While this may seem difficult or uncomfortable, be encouraged today that it is not without a purpose! Growth may not seem comfortable at first, but it produces a fulfillment that far outweighs the discomfort.
Pray that God reveals to you anything that can be hindering your growth in Him
Pray that experience closeness growth in your relationship with God
ROMANS 8:31-39 NLT
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that NOTHING can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So often, when we first make the decision to follow Jesus, we experience an unprecedented sense of relief upon understanding that in dying on the cross, Jesus wiped our slates clean of every poor choice or decision we’ve ever made. In an instant, an entire lifetime of regrets that have haunted us - maybe even for decades - (past choices, addictions, words spoken, actions taken or not taken etc… ) are erased. It’s no surprise then, that so many believers would come to call that experience the greatest moment of their lives.
However, as the journey continues, we come to find that while our hearts and intentions may be in a much better place after getting to know Jesus more and more, getting to the point where our behavior fully lines up with our new identity as followers of Jesus can be a bit of a process. In fact, the bible says that this process of becoming the whole/healthy/perfect being God has called us to be is a lifelong process.
Philippians 1:6 says that: “He (God) who began a good work in you will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Jesus Christ returns.”
In other words, in this life, we will consistently progress, but we will never fully arrive.
That means the pressure’s off right? If God doesn’t expect perfection of us now, neither should we, right? One might think that would be our natural response. However, often times our lives couldn’t be a further reflection from that belief. For some reason, it tends to be much easier for us to believe that God’s miraculous act on the cross covers our past, but not our present or our future. This often leads us into the trap of living a life steeped in shame after every mistake – often trying to earn back God’s love (as though we lost it), and often believing that even God Himself consistently condemns us for not getting our act(s) together sooner. Some of us even begin to believe He is using our difficult circumstances to punish us or “teach us a lesson.”
For many of us, this is our lifelong story. So often, one of the greatest battles we face as believers is learning to truly understand and believe that God will never love us any less than He did on the day we chose to believe in and follow Him and that our circumstances are not at all a reflection of God's love for us.
While our choices and behaviors mature over time, and circumstances fluctuate with the many changing seasons of life, Christ’s love consistently operates at full blast in every single moment.
No matter what we're currently facing or walking through
No matter what mistakes we’ve made
No matter what words we wish we could take back
No matter what terrible news we’ve received from the doctor
No matter what our job situation is
No matter what our living situation is
No matter what our relationship status is
NO. MATTER. WHAT. As believers and followers of Jesus, we can never lose because Jesus never leaves our side.
Pray that God would show you some things you have believed that separated you from His love.
Pray that God would teach you how to tangibly live from the belief that He is on your side.
Psalm 119:44-48 NIV
I will always obey your law,
for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes before kings
and will not be put to shame,
for I delight in your commands
because I love them.
I reach out for your commands, which I love,
that I may meditate on your decrees.
In this passage, the author is illustrating passion for the Word of God. He is expressing his love for God’s Word by obeying, delighting, and meditating on God’s commands. Whenever we see words like law, precepts, commands, or statutes, its referring to the words written in the Bible. The Word of God carries so much power and authority. The Bible is alive and active, shaper than any double-edged sword. The more we read the Bible, know it, and apply it, we begin to actively see God working in our everyday lives. God’s Word has the power to break any stronghold, any addiction, and any struggle we may be going through. As we allow His Word to liberate us, we can truly walk in freedom and in the perfect plan God has promised us.
The more we meditate on God’s Word, the more our passion for it grows. We begin to see the transformation in our life, allowing us to know the character of God. This helps us better understand who we are in Christ, so that when temptation, unexpected situations, or trouble comes, we will be able to stand firm on the power of the Word of God.
Pray that God gives you wisdom and revelation as you read his Word.
Pray that God will help develop a passion for His Word as you read it daily.
Pray that as you read God’s word that He will use it to transform your mind and bring freedom in all areas of your life.
romans 5:6-8 (NIV)
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This is probably one of the simplest and most straight forward passages you can find in the Bible, yet verse 8 is also probably one of the most powerful verses. The apostle Paul, the author, throughout Romans discusses how the only way for us to truly fulfill the law and come into relationship with God is through faith. There is no way for one to obey and work their way into heaven, it is impossible. In these verses, it shows just how much God loves us.
Verse 8 says “God demonstrates his own love” God didn’t just say he loved us and then waited for us to do something, he acted first. He first showed how much he loved you by sending his son to die on the cross for our sins. When we were in the middle of our sin, when we were lost, when we didn’t want anything to do with God he had already sent his son. We often try to do good things and present them to God hoping that he will first see what we can do and accept us. However, that goes against what this verse says. God took the first step toward us to show just how much he loves and cares.
We can’t work our way or be good enough to earn this love and we don’t have to because God has already given it to us. Since there is no way we could earn it, there is no way that we can lose it. So today, you can stand firm in this simple, yet powerful and life-changing truth that God loves you.
Pray and thank God for sending his son so that we can receive His love.
Pray for strength to walk out today in the fact the God loves you and cares about you.