Starting a Friendship with God.

IMG_0639

9“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

12This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command.

15I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.  John 15:9-17

Jesus says, “You are my friends!”

Jesus envisions friendship with Him to have benefits.
…so… you will be filled with my joy.  vs. 11
…so… you will bear lasting fruit.  vs. 16
…so… the Father will give you what you ask for, using my name. vs. 16

Jesus sees days when these benefits of friendship are ours right on the surface of our experience. He also sees The Day when our faith becomes sight and these promises are fully experienced by His friends in the communion of God.

Joy.

Purposeful and fruitful results from our lives.

A dynamic connection with God, in which we actually realize answers to prayer.

I was nine years old when my Sunday school teacher, Molly McCraken read this Scripture and announced to us, “Jesus wants to be your friend.” In that moment God changed my life. With all that I understood at that moment of my life, I gave my life to Jesus and have lived in the grace of friendship with Him ever since.

Even as a nine year old I saw that Jesus had done for us the very thing He says friendship does. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” vs. 13  I love these verses from 1 John 4:9-16, where the John proclaims again the truth and grace of the Gospel:

9God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
13And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

Praise the Lord!

We give regard to the Cross because of the One who died there for all.

da-vinci-foot_2635775c

He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a  cross. Philippians 2:8 (NLT)

The cross was a feared execution stake. It was a place of shame, guilt, and fear. And it meant those very burdens were being bourn in the person nailed there. But Jesus, died a criminal’s death that was not His own. The testimony of Scripture is that Jesus was “without sin” but “became sin” for us. (1 Corinthians 5:21) The cross is the location of that transfer. God was up to something extraordinary there for us! But first it most be considered that Jesus took up the cross in regard to His communion with the Heavenly Father. Jesus is a willful participant in your salvation.

Let’s reflect on Jesus and His Cross. from the context of this from Philippians 2:5-10 —

5… Christ Jesus…

6Though he was God,

he did not think of equality with God

as something to cling to.

7Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;

he took the humble position of a slave

and was born as a human being.

When he appeared in human form,

8he humbled himself in obedience to God

and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

9Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor

and gave him the name above all other names,

10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

In the meantime.

IMG_5392

11As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. 12He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.13Calling ten of his servants,he gave them ten minas,and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’14But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’15When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business.   Luke 19:11-15

Faulty expectations.

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus stopped in at Zacchaeus’ house. The affect was electrifying. Some people where upset at Jesus for he willingly accepted the hospitality of the chief tax collector. But then the unthinkable happened. Zacchaeus wasn’t just posing; he was really seeking God. Zacchaeus received Jesus. Zacchaeus aligned his life with Jesus and gave away half his wealth. Zacchaeus promised to restore what he had defrauded from others at a rate of four times the offence. Then Jesus addresses Zacchaeus and frames what had just happened: “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:9-10

Godly expectations.

The disciples and crowd were surely excited now as Jesus headed to Jerusalem. They were sure that God’s Kingdom had come and that the trip to Jerusalem would end with triumph such that a new era of prosperity and ease would be theirs. The wealth of the rich and the power of the powerful would now be theirs. But Jesus tells a story, a story meant to reframe their expectations and to create urgency as to the allegiance of their own hearts.

Jesus is the nobleman who would be King. His journey to the “far country” was through Jerusalem, through the cross and then to heaven with His Heavenly Father. In the meantime how shall we live?

Giving ourselves to the work.

In the meantime, we will do just what he says, “engage in business until I come.” Each of us must give ourselves to the work the King has given us.

In the meantime Until Jesus comes again as King in all His glory, power, and authority, we give ourselves to Him, to each other, and to the work He gives us.

 

What starts now.

IMG_6644 - Version 2

27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me,is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”  John 10:27-30

Jesus is talking His relationship with the people who become His disciples.

They know Him. Now.

He is speaking with them. Now.

They are following Him. Now.

They have life. Now.

They have a victory over death. Now.

They are securely in His grip. Now.

They are the gift of the Heavenly Father to Jesus. Now.

They are simultaneously in the Father’s hand. Now.

I’m so glad for the grace to be living what starts now.

 

Baptism and life with Jesus

Scripture:  1 Peter 3:18-22

18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Observations:

For — Peter is connecting how we may suffer in this world according to God’s will even as we “do good” (See vs 17).  In our sufferings we may consider our Lord Jesus who:
suffered…once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous,

that he might bring us to God being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

Jesus’ ministry continued in the spirit and with proclamation of God’s freedom in Christ. vs. 20

Baptism corresponds to the story of Jesus… and indicates our participation in His mission.  vs. 21-22

Application:

Peter is not making baptism the agent of God’s salvation.  Rather he is connecting the act of baptism with the immersion of our decision-making capacities (conscience) in the grace of God in the Gospel.  In verse 18 Peter captures the movement of Jesus born into this world: suffering for sins on the cross, put to death, raised again, and then vs. 22 ascended to the Father.

Baptism “corresponds” to the story of Jesus.  The appeal of baptism as we make the confession that “Jesus is Lord,” is for God to grant us the grace to live by the Spirit of Jesus in this world of relationships infected with brokenness and darkness.  By joining with Jesus’ ministry by the same Spirit that raised him from the dead we may see people delivered from captivity of sin and into God’s forgiveness and His Kingdom (just as God delivered Noah and his family of eight.)  Now we look forward to the end of suffering with Jesus in heaven where all things and powers are being brought under Him.

This Gospel approach to life is “salvation.”  Baptism is part of our redemptive process because of how the act aligns us with the work and community of Jesus in the world by the Spirit of God.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, Today I am remembering the day of my baptism and our celebration of your grace toward me.  Thank you for the hope that pulls me forward and gives perspective to the troubles of this world.  Even this day fill me with your Spirit that I may live aware of the company of Jesus and join you in loving people.   AMEN.