You’ve Been Served – John 13

Did you know that Jesus loves you whether you love him or not?  He died for you while you were a sinner.  Jesus knows us as fully as he knew his disciples. He knows intimately of every time and every way that we have denied or deserted him. Yet knowing us and our shortcomings he willingly died for us. Jesus continually displays his love toward us and reaches out to us. He continues to serve us, guide us and encourages us by his Spirit. He serves us as we serve one another. Are we prepared to love one another with the same kind of love Jesus demonstrated for us?

In our passage today Jesus knew that one of his disciples had already decided to betray him. Another would deny him by the next morning. Even this night, they would all desert him. In the next hours they would repeatedly display ignorance, laziness, and lack of trust. It was indeed a sorry lot that gathered in the upper room. Even with good reasons to reject the entire group, Jesus deliberately showed to them the full extent of his love. The actions, words, and feelings that he shared with his disciples conveyed the highest form of love because his disciples did not deserve nor immediately appreciate this love.  Neither do we deserve his love or service.

As Jesus final days on the earth are coming to an end, he shows his closest followers what love is:  service, sacrifice and laying his life down.

This story is one of the most memorable incidents in Bible. It was the night before Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion. It was an intense time in Jesus’ life. His public ministry had ended. Jesus now turns his full attention to his disciples.

I want you to imagine this situation with me for a moment. In that culture the most demeaning task around was to wash the guest’s feet. This was job done by lowest slaves.

It was necessary because people wore sandals did most of their travel by foot. They walked along trails that we not only dusty, or muddy when wet but also cluttered with camel and donkey dung!

I’m sure that guests arrived with more than dust on their feet. It was a common courtesy for the host to have his slave wash the guest’s feet as they entered the house.

Jesus had sent Peter & John to prepare for their meal together. The food had been cooked. The table had been set. And I’m sure the disciples thought this matter would be taken care of as well. It wasn’t!

As Jesus and the disciples enter the room they see towel & water basin in the corner. They do not see a slave to wash their feet. Perhaps some of them pause as they enter the room, wondering where the servant was—maybe wondering why Peter and John had not taken care of this important detail.

As they recline at the table, each disciple feels a little uncomfortable.  They may have thought:

“Somebody ought to at least wash Jesus’ feet. But—if I do that, where will that put me on the social pecking order?

“I would be at the Bottom of the heap. If I volunteer I’ll get stuck with that job from now on.”

“Maybe if I just wait, somebody else will do it.”

If you’ve been in church more than week, you know that kind of thinking does occur at times.

“Somebody needs to take care of the nursery, but that’s not my ministry. Somebody needs to clean those bathrooms, who dropped the ball on that?”

I think maybe each disciple was hoping one of others would volunteer.

Each one may have begun to JUSTIFY in own mind why it was not his job to do it.

“I did it last time, its Matthew’s turn he hasn’t done it in long time.”

“Peter and John were supposed to take care of all this-Jesus told them to. One of those guys ought to take care of it.”

“I came to enjoy a time with the Lord—and now we’ve got this problem”

John is thinking—“Look I’m over here leaning next to Jesus, I’m in spiritual intimacy.

Jesus doesn’t want me to leave and help you.”

Peter is thinking—“Don’t these turkeys know the call of God on my life? Don’t they see the leadership giftings in me? I just wish they would remember that I’m the one who answered Jesus’ question: Who do you say that I am?” I got the revelation—‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ I’m moving in the Spirit don’t disturb that. Don’t you remember the prophecy Jesus gave me on that occasion? I wish these people would pay attention to what God’s doing in me. If they had, they would be over here right now washing mine and Jesus’ feet.”

We don’t know all the specifics, I’m taking some liberties–but we do know that nobody rose to the occasion.
Rather than begin with a lecture, He gave them an EXAMPLE.  Verse one says,

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He now showed the disciples the full extent of his love. (vs. 1)

Historically Christians have displayed a number of different kinds of symbols to mark their identity as believers.  Such emblems as neck chains with crosses have been used for hundreds of years.  In recent years we use bumper stickers, posters, tee shirts, key chains, decorated bibles, jackets, hats and you name it, it has probably been marketed and sold.  I don’t have any problem with these items per say. Whether you wear a button or display a fish on your car is of no consequence.  More important and more definitive than all the pins, stickers is the sign of a true follower of Christ:  ONE WHO SERVES.

In the next post we will examine how we can serve like Jesus.

Darrell

www.RidgeFellowship.com

 

 

 

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The Language of Tears – John 11

Tears speak more about what our hearts feel than any words could ever express. Those tiny drops of humanity that tumble from our eyes, creep down our cheeks and splash on the floor carry the message that our hearts ache and hurt. Tears are the messengers that sometimes substitute for our crippled words.  They spill out carrying with them our deepest emotions. A tear stain on a cheek speaks more than words ever could. A tear falling on a casket says what a spoken farewell never could.  What gives more support than the tears on the face of a friend as we pour out our troubles to them? What do we do when the words just won’t come out right as all the nouns and verbs and adverbs and adjectives lay deflated at our feet?

Tears are a language that Jesus understands.

The scripture says that Jesus was moved by the heartbreak of their souls and that His Spirit groaned inside him and He was troubled.

I want us to see how Jesus deals with each of our needs in very specific ways.  According to our personalities and needs Jesus meets us differently.  In our passage we see Jesus enter the scene and Martha, the same Martha that we read about in Luke 10 that was too busy to sit down and listen to Jesus rushes out to meet Jesus first.  She is a go-getter she goes out to meet Jesus and has questions, she raises theological issues, she needs to vent, and she needs some answers.   There is no mention of Martha pouring out her soul in His presence. No mention of that happening with Martha but with Mary it was a different story, wasn’t it? For Mary she was more emotional, she was a crier.   Notice what Jesus does.

32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell down at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, he was moved with indignation and was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept.

Mary fell at the feet of the One she knew held the future and wept! She poured out her heart to the One who could make the difference and moved Jesus to work in her circumstances.

Tears are a language that Jesus understands!

How many of us are moved by the heartbreak of our children or some disappointment that crushes their little souls?   Won’t we also move to do all within our power to help them and ease the pain?  As parents we do all within our power to make it all right.

Why do we think that Jesus doesn’t care about our troubles or the things that trouble us?

John 11: 35, the shortest verse in the entire bible.  Did you know that?  Many people memorize this one because its so easy to remember, but man is it powerful!  “ JESUS WEPT!”  Those two words let us know that God is concerned about the things that break our hearts! God wants so much to be a part of our everyday lives.  Did you know that? God is moved by the tears of his children

Jesus not only cries with us, he also cries for us.  His heart breaks when we don’t recognize our need for him.  His heart breaks from our unbelief.  His heart breaks when we don’t live the lives we could.  I love the compassion in Jesus in Luke 19:41-42 “ As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it  and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace”

Think of all the tears that must be shed in heaven as Jesus who died on the cross NONE might perish but all have everlasting life with him, sees each and every moment some lost soul dies and is separated from Him for all eternity.  God created us to fellowship with him and live with him. I believe that Jesus has shed many tears for you if you’re here today and you still have not received Jesus . Jesus knows that time, the last time, you’ll reject the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.  You aren’t able to see that invisible line in the Spirit but Jesus does and for some of you this could be the last time you hear. Tears are a language that Jesus understands when people reject the truth and won’t come to Him.

You might be here and think that you don’t deserve this kind of love, that you’re unworthy. No one has ever loved me before or I’ve lived such a bad life, surely God only wants to punish me. Jesus loves you just the way you are and he’ll accept you and write your name in His Book of Life if you’ll only respond to Him right now. You may have been abused, mistreated, unloved, made fun of your whole life for the way you look, where you live, the clothes you wear or the things you’ve done but Jesus still died for you that you might have life and have it more abundantly as it says in John 10:10.

You may say “I don’t have any self-esteem because of what’s happened to me,” Jesus doesn’t want you to have self-esteem: he wants you to have self-worth! You were worth so much it took the blood of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the one at whose name every knee will bow and every tongue confess, to purchase your salvation.  You’re worth so much Jesus died for you!

Some of you may even at this moment be crying on the inside wondering if all this is really true and your head hangs low in your heart as you wonder. My best has never been good enough and I’m just ashamed of what I am but listen to me, God will reach out a nail scarred hand to lift you up and put peace in your heart and joy down deep in your soul if you’ll only let him. Don’t resist Jesus today. Tears are a language that Jesus understands.

Darrell

http://www.RidgeFellowship.com

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Sick and Waiting – John Ch. 11

Sickness and death do not indicate that God has rejected someone or that they have done something wrong.  Neither we nor our loved ones are exempt from sickness or death. In John chapter 11 close friends of Jesus, that Jesus loved were experiencing sickness and death, yet he did not rush to spare them grief. The presence of pain and suffering in the lives of faithful disciples of Jesus can teach us that as Christians we do not have different experiences in life, rather, we experience life differently with Christ. Our hope in Jesus does not insulate us from life’s difficulties, but it does provide a way through and beyond them. God can use difficult experiences to make us more compassionate servants for him as we console others.

In today’s passage out of John 11, we will see two ladies, Mary and Martha who felt hopeless and angry.  Their brother Lazarus was sick and dying, but Jesus did not go to help.  Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus but did not help them when they expected it. This is an interesting picture of Jesus, someone who doesn’t immediately take us out of our situations. Maybe you’re a little uncomfortable with that image. But there was a reason, which we will see.  Jesus eventually came through for Mary, Martha and Lazarus and He will come through for you.  Like Mary, Martha and Lazarus we too need to know that life and faith will be difficult.  They needed Jesus to help them through difficult times and we will too.

I NEED JESUS BECAUSE…

Sickness And Death Will Be A Part Of My Life

1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha…3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”

There are many questions that immediately come to mind when we read through chapter 11 of John.  Why was Lazarus sick? Why did Jesus wait two days after hearing Lazarus was sick? Why did Lazarus have to die? The questions are endless.

And so are the questions we often have as we go through our own type of difficulty and dillema. The “whys” of life can drive us crazy.

Understand that Jesus loved Lazarus. The Bible is very clear on that. Jesus loved him, but Lazarus was sick! You can be a friend of Jesus and still be sick! You can love Jesus and still be sick! That’s pretty clear in the scriptures. The love of God does not exempt one from sickness or sorrow or physical death.

Our sickness could be a number of things: physical, emotional, mental, family problems, and so on. Sickness can be termed as “that which causes any area to be infected with imperfection.” Here on earth human nature is infected with imperfection. 

Even If He Delays Helping He Is In Control So I Should Keep My Faith

5 Although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days and did not go to them. 7 Finally after two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.”

  17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.

Jesus waited two days before he came to help.  John says “finally!” he goes.  When your waiting on God to answer a prayer, for Jesus to help you it seems like forever.  When he does help you may feel like saying “finally!”    It says in verse 17 that “when he arrived Lazarus has been in his tomb for 4 days”

Have you noticed the attitude of Jesus as he heard the news of Lazarus’ sickness? He knew that Lazarus was dying but it didn’t seem to affect Jesus at all. He just kept doing what he needed to do. Jesus wasn’t upset in the least for he already knew what was going to happen when he reached Bethany. He already knew that there were no impossible situations and that his power to bring about a resurrection was not limited by any circumstances.

I think it would help us greatly to realize that our seemingly hard or impossible circumstances are nothing to God. His power transcends our trouble. His power is not limited by our faithlessness or our hopelessness. Jesus has resurrection power and he cannot only bring victory when we haven’t given up hope, but he is just as able to bring us the victory after we have long given up hope.

When it seems that our finances have already died and the stink is beginning to arise; when it seems that our health is completely gone and the doctors have given up on us; when it seems that God has waited too long and the stink of our unbelief, distrust, and hopelessness rises; that’s when Jesus is ready to show His power and glory in us.

When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, the family of Lazarus was long past having hope. Lazarus was already dead, buried and his grave was sealed.  One of worst lies we can believe is “it’s over and there is nothing that God can or will do about it now.” It could come from our own disbelief or from the enemy’s whisper.  If he can get you to give up on God, then the he has accomplished his goal.

That should be our first indication that God isn’t finished with us yet because the devil can’t speak the truth, therefore we should realize that God’s answer is still coming in his own time and in His own way. Just keep on trusting and having faith in God.

Perhaps your prayer seems that it will never be answered. We find ourselves in distress over finances, relationships within the family, and any number of things and it seems that God has turned a deaf ear to your cry. Things have gone from very bad to much worse and now there is no visible way to make things right.

You are wrapped up in doubt and fear. Your faith is blinded; your hands and feet are bound up from working for the Lord.  A stone of unbelief has been rolled across the door to your heart and has now convinced you that your attitude, your heart and your life stinks to God so it’s time to quit and walk away. You are shrouded in a tomb of darkness and your spiritual grave is sealed and your life is over and hopeless.

Why does Jesus let us go so far before he comes? Why must we sometimes get so deep into our trouble and our attitudes begin to stink before he comes to our rescue?  Jesus wants us to know that it’s not in our power to overcome our problems and our own sinful hearts. That power must come through “His Resurrection Power” It will come in his time and in his manner.  But we must remain hopeful, not bitter.  We should be pleasant not stinky.

Jesus arrived in Bethany four days after they’d buried Lazarus. Martha greeted him first, and told him, Lord, if only you had been here YOU could have saved him. And Jesus said: “Lazarus will rise again.” Martha knew enough about Jewish theology to know that one day, all the graves will open and the dead will rise from them. She said: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the dead.”
Martha wouldn’t be comforted, I know about the resurrection — but that’s so far off. Jesus then uttered the basis for all history’s hope and direction – “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE!”

What a claim! Jesus claimed to be in charge of everything:  life, death, the afterlife and everything between.

Death is the great equalizer in life. We may all have different lives, come from different backgrounds, experience different joys and sorrows, but the one thing that links all mankind together is death. We are all going to die.

Some of the questions that mankind has tried to answer about death are:
Is death the end? Is there life after death? Why is there death?  Will we live again?

We will see that Jesus answers these questions in our next post.  Plus we will see that Jesus enters our pain and sorrow and shares it with us.  He is no stranger to grief.

Darrell

www.RidgeFellowship.com

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Jesus Satisfies – John 10

Jesus Satisfies Me

10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus here promises that when we follow him, we will have a satisfying life or some translations say “Abundant life”
The Greek word “perissos” means:
• exceeding some number or measure or rank or need
over and above, more than is necessary, superadded
• exceeding abundantly, supremely
• something further, more, much more than all
superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon

God is not interested in taking all the fun out of our lives. He is not interested in making us follow a bunch of rules that put everything good out of bounds! He wants us to experience life abundantly!
But it comes from following Him and His voice. When we follow our voice or the voices of imposters, or thieves we get hurt.

Examples: Christ says sex is for marriage. We think – I don’t want to follow that! So we follow our own. And we end up with sexual addiction, teen pregnancy, abortion, disease, emotional scars, and a cycle of poverty.
On the other hand if I follow God’s word I enjoy sexual relations without fear of disease, abandonment, and unwanted pregnancies. I enjoy to the full the benefits of what God has created without all the side effects.

Christ says we are to forgive those who hurt us. We think – I don’t want to follow that! I’d rather harbor bitterness and seek revenge. And we end up with  ulcers, hatred, divorce, pain, and emotional scars, physical violence.
On the other hand if I follow God’s word I discover that when I forgive others I really set myself free. I discover that I am more at peace. That others lose their power over my emotions. And I set into motion a cycle of grace into their lives.

Christ says we are to spend time with Him and with His body the church: through, serving, giving, worship, and fellowship in a small group. We think – I don’t want to do that. I want to watch TV and get on the Internet. And we end up with hectic lives full of more information than we know what to do with. We end up with images in our minds that are unholy, which set into motion a whole new cycle of sinfulness in our lives.

Jesus Saves Me

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock.13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

In the book Chicken Soup for the Soul, Eric Butterworth tells the story of a college professor who had his sociology class go into the Baltimore slums to get case histories of 200 young boys. The students were asked to write an evaluation of each boy’s future. In every case the students wrote, “He hasn’t got a chance.”
Twenty-five years later another sociology professor came across this earlier study. He had his students do follow up on the same 200 boys who were now men. With the exception of 20 boys who had moved away or died, the students learned that 176 of the remaining 180 had achieved more than ordinary success as lawyers, doctors, and businessmen. The professor was astounded and decided to pursue the matter further. Fortunately, all the men were in the area and he was able to ask each one, “How do you account for your success?” In each case the reply came with feeling, “There was a teacher.”
The teacher was still alive, so he sought her out and asked the old but still alert lady what magic formula she had used to pull these boys out of the slums into successful achievement.
The teacher’s eyes sparkled and her lips broke into a gentle smile. “It’s really very simple,” she said. “I loved those boys.”
Their success was based on the love of a teacher.
Our success as followers of Jesus is based on the love of a shepherd who was willing to not only teach us, give us an example, but also to lay down his life for us.  Without him, WE DON”T HAVE A CHANCE.
He loved us enough that our sinfulness became his burden.
He loved us enough that his perfect rightness became ours.
He loved us enough to suffer on the cross for us. To save us from eternal death, to prepare us to meet His Father. He will keep us safe in the sheepfold.

Jesus has a Relationship with Me

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

 He “Knows” His Sheep  “ginosko” – to know experientially and was used as a Jewish expression for physical intimacy. This is not book knowledge, but personal knowledge.  Jesus knows you and wants you to know Him. He knows everything about you – good and bad – and He loves you anyway. You matter to Him.

Just as a shepherd knows the individual bleats and bahs of his sheep, the Good Shepherd knows every detail about us.  It is a mutual relationship – He knows the sheep and the sheep know the shepherd. They know His voice, His touch, His compassion, His love, and His discipline – and we experience His leading every day. Do you know this relationship?

Have you let the Good Shepherd give you his protection, his care and leadership?  Today could be your day.  Today could be the moment in time when you step across the line and connect with God’s flock.  Today could be the day when you invite the Good Shepherd to invade every fiber of your being.  But you are never going to experience rest or the Shepherd’s protection, guidance and peace until you make the wonderful choice to make Jesus your Savior.

Darrell

www.RidgeFellowship.com

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