Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 20 November 18:
1. Ezekiel 39:7 – “I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore.” God’s patience doesn’t last forever.
2. Ezekiel 39:21-23 — “And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. The house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day forward. And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt so treacherously with me that I hid my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword.” God will glorify His Name in either positive ways or negative ways depending upon the obedience of those through whom He is working. God warns people that they will choose either blessings or curses. God will not be mocked.
3. Ezekiel 39:29 – “And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord God.” The Holy Spirit enables you to see God.
4. Proverbs 20:6 – “Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?” Nothing makes you more valuable and respected than fidelity to God. Nothing makes you more loving than fidelity to God.
5. Proverbs 20:22 – “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.” God commands you not to respond negatively to insults or maltreatment. Return good for evil.
6. Proverbs 20:27 – “The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.” Man was created with spirit, soul, mind, and body. The soul is our psychology and emotions, but the spirit is our connection with God, God’s spirit within us. Those without Christ have physical life, with a body, mind, and even soul, but they are spiritually dead. Those who are born again in Jesus obtain spiritual life, and the Holy Spirit is within them. They are no longer just smarter animals, they are spiritual beings.
7. John 15:1, 2, 5 – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit…. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
– Jesus expects continual spiritual growth and fruitfulness from His followers. The growth process is often painful as God “prunes” your character to make it more Christ-like and productive. Pruning is the painful process of removing what hinders further growth. What must be removed from your life so that you may continue to grow in Christ? The loving Father will continue to conform you to obedience and love “that your joy may be complete (15:11).” See Proverbs 20:27, 30. God has “appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last (15:16). How are you doing at fulfilling the King’s calling? Everything you do apart from this is meaningless, meaningless, meaningless:”
— “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2:11).”
What sort of fruit does a Spirit-led Christian produce? See Galatians 5:22, 23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.” The attributes God removes are those opposite of the Beatitudes – He prunes away pride, pleasure seeking, arrogance, self-sufficiency, cruelty, impurity, resentfulness, bitterness, defensiveness, etc. Bearing fruit glorifies God and proves our discipleship. (John 15:8) The foundation of fruitfulness is obedience to God’s commands – this is also the secret to joy as well as a prerequisite for genuine love. (John 15:10, 11, 17) Those who obey God’s commands with love as their motive are friends with Christ and understand God’s will. (John 15:15) If we walk in obedience, we will walk in the power of God (meekness) and will have rest within our spirits despite the fact that we will be hated and persecuted by the world. In our persecution, we have true fellowship with Christ – adversity unites.
8. John 15:3, 4 — “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will 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.” You are saved by faith, not by works; you are cleansed by the blood of Jesus. However, having been saved by God’s grace, you must remain in Him to be sanctified in grace. He has called you to obedience, holiness, and good works which God has prepared in advance for you. Now that you have been saved, serve the Lord as His disciple and bear fruit. Jesus said that to bear fruit you must remain in Him, remaining in Him means remaining in His love, and remaining in His love means obeying His commands. (15:4, 9, 10) The fruit that you bear demonstrates your discipleship to the watching world and serves your life’s purpose of glorifying God. (15:8; Proverbs 20:11) Anything you do in life that is self-serving misses the mark. (15:4-6) Jesus describes two types of branches: those that don’t bear fruit and those that do. The branches that don’t bear fruit wither and die to no end, but the branches that do bear fruit add life, and when they fall to the ground (die of self), they produce seeds of new life (disciples).
9. John 15:5 – “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
– From Henry T. Blackaby — There are those who feel that they must be constantly laboring for the Lord in order to meet God’s high standards. Jesus gave a clear picture of what our relationship to Him ought to be like. He is the vine, the source of our life. We are the branches, the place where fruit is produced. As we receive life from Christ, the natural, inevitable result is that fruit is produced in our lives. In our zeal to produce “results” for our Lord, we sometimes become so intent on fruit production that we neglect abiding in Christ. We may feel that “abiding” is not as productive or that it takes too much time away from our fruit production. Yet Jesus said that it is not our activity that produces fruit, it is our relationship with Him. Jesus gave an important warning to His disciples. He cautioned that if they ever attempted to live their Christian life apart from an intimate relationship with Him, they would discover that they ceased to produce any significant results. They might exert great effort for the kingdom of God, yet when they stopped to account for their lives, they would find only barrenness. One of the most dramatic acts Jesus ever performed was cursing a fig tree that had failed to produce fruit (Mark 11:14). Are you comfortable in abiding, or are you impatient to be engaged in activity? If you will remain steadfastly in fellowship with Jesus, a great harvest will be the natural by-product.
10. John 15:10, 11 – “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” You abide in Jesus through obedience. You love Jesus through obedience. You find joy in life through obedience.
11. John 15:15 — “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.”
From Henry T. Blackaby — You do not choose to be a friend of God. That is by invitation only. Only two people in the Old Testament were specifically described as “friends of God.” Abraham walked with the Lord so closely that God referred to him as His friend (Isa. 41:8). Moses spoke to God face to face as a man speaks with his friend (Exod. 33:11). By His very nature God is a friend to us. He loves us with a perfect love and reaches out to us with salvation when we can offer Him nothing in return. It is quite another thing when someone has a heart so devoted to Him that God initiates a special friendship. David’s heart was totally devoted to God (1 Kings 11:4). Although David was not sinless, he loved God. David hated sin (Ps. 103:3); he loved to worship God (Ps. 122:1); he took genuine delight in God’s presence (2 Sam. 6:14); he loved to speak about God (Ps. 34:1); he was keenly aware of his transgressions (Ps. 51:3-4); and he delighted in offering gifts of song, thanksgiving, and praise, asking for nothing in return (Ps. 100). So closely did David walk with God that his words were on Jesus’ mind as He hung upon the cross (Matt. 27:46). Jesus called His disciples friends. He said He would disclose to them things that the Father had shared with Him, because they were His friends. There developed such an intimate friendship between them that He would share what was on His heart with His friends. If you cannot describe yourself as a friend of God, commit yourself to seek after God with all your heart.
12. John 15:20 – “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” If Jesus was willing to be persecuted by sinners for their sake, to reconcile them to the Father, what makes you more deserving of fair treatment than Him. What justification do you have demanding your ‘rights’ from others or seeking their punishment for treating you poorly? If you are going to rest on grace through Jesus, you have no choice but to give grace to all others. You have to be hurt by the sins of others to fully appreciate the grace you have received through Jesus.
13. John 15:25 – “They hated me without a cause.” You will not convince others to believe through evidence our logic. It is not a head problem, it is a heart problem.
14. John 15:26, 27 — “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” You partner with the Holy Spirit to lead people to Jesus. You cannot lead anyone to Jesus apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, and God’s plan is that you serve as Jesus’ ambassador, empowered by the Holy Spirit. This is your life mission.
15. John 15 – God expects followers of Christ to bear much fruit, not through their power or abilities but through the power of God flowing through them. Only the Creator can create; we can only steward what He has created. Apart from Christ working through us, we cannot do anything. If the life of the vine does not flow through you the branch no fruit can be produced. However, it is natural and expected for a healthy tree to bear fruit and to grow. The fruit proves the tree. Your fruit is evidence of your relationship with God.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 20 Nov 18: Proclaim Jesus to as many as you can today, and allow the Holy Spirit to work where the Holy Spirit will. (John 15:26, 27)