Good News!

Luke 2:8-20

Angel&Shepherds

When was the last time you received good news? What did you do?  Did you keep it to yourself or did you share it with others?

Imagine you were one of those shepherds watching over your sheep.  It was a night like any other or so you thought…

Suddenly an angel appears out of nowhere and a bright light shines around you. You’re scared.  You wonder what is going on.  The angel assures you and the other shepherds that there is nothing to be afraid of.  He has come to share good news.  Then he makes the big announcement, “For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you: You will find the Baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

The Savior whom you and others have been waiting for is born.  He’s in Bethlehem in a manger.  While you are still trying to digest this incredible news, other angels join the first one and the air is filled with their glory as they raise their voices in a song of praise to God. What a glorious sight. You can hardly believe what you are seeing.  After the angelic host leaves, you and the other shepherds are filled with excitement.  You can’t wait to go and see the Child for yourselves. You are anxious to go and see what the Lord has made known to you. You hurry off to the manger where you see Mary, Joseph and the Child.

The shepherds “made widely known the word which was told them concerning this Child” and those who heard it couldn’t help but marvel but Mary kept these things in her heart and pondered over them.  I can’t imagine what must have been going through her mind.  First, an angel visited her and told her that she was going to have a Son who would be called Jesus and that He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest. Then, on the night after she gives birth, shepherds show up at the manger to see Him because they too were visited by an angel.  This is a lot to grasp.

The shepherds left the manger and returned to their sheep, praising and glorifying God for all the things they had heard and seen.  It was a night they would never forget.

What can we learn from this wonderful story?

  • After hearing about Jesus, seek Him out for yourself
  • After you have seen Jesus and have been in His presence, go and tell others
  • Glorify and praise God for sending His Son into the world so that through Him we can be saved

This Christmas, take time to reflect on God’s greatest Gift to mankind.  Celebrate Jesus and thank Him for leaving the glory of heaven to come to earth to dwell among us.  Thank Him for the gift of eternal life which we can receive only through Him.  Share the message of love and hope of the season with others.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men – Luke 2:14

 

 

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Church Under Attack

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When I read this I couldn’t help but notice the irony. Herod took it upon himself to attack the church. He killed James and when he saw that this pleased the Jews, he had Peter arrested and thrown into prison. Herod clearly didn’t know that the powers of darkness would not prevail against the powers of light. When Peter was in jail, chained and secured between two guards, God sent an angel to set him free. At first Peter thought it was a vision but once he was outside he realized that this was really happening, he said, “Now I certainly know that the Lord has sent His angel and delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

While he had been in prison, the other believers came together and prayed for him. God answered their prayers. After Peter went to the brethren and told them how the Lord had led him out of the prison, he went to Caesarea where he stayed. As for Herod, he was struck down by the Lord because he did not give Him the glory. The wicked ruler was dead but God’s Word spread and increased. The Word of the Lord could not be chained. “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained” (2 Timothy 2:8, 9).

Today, many are trying to suppress the Word of God in countries where Christians are persecuted but God declared, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11). Until Jesus comes, we are to preach the Gospel even unto death. The saving of souls makes it all worthwhile.

No Rewards

And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’?  But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’?  Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do” (Luke 17:7-10).

stdas0089-3333333333333333333Yesterday morning while I was fixing my husband’s lunch, our seven year old son thought that if he did his work, he would get to play Super Mario.  In other words, he thought that because he did all of his school work he would get a reward.  He and I had a conversation earlier and I told him that he shouldn’t do things in order to be rewarded.  His father later said the same thing.  We wanted him to do his work for the right reasons.  We told him that he had done what was expected of him so don’t expect to be rewarded for it.  If we rewarded him for doing what he was told to do, he would expect this every time.  And he would not be doing his work because he wanted to but in order to get a treat.

When Jesus spoke to the disciples about faith and duty, He told them that a servant shouldn’t expect to get any special treatment or privileges from his master because he did what was expected of him.  And the same principle applied to the disciples.  Instead of expecting rewards or recognition or perks, they should just acknowledge that they had done their duty.

When we serve God, we do it out of love for Him and for others, not to get something out of it for ourselves.  In everything we do, we do it for God’s glory not for our gain.

The Humility of Jesus

Let this mjesus-crossind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).

When I read this the other day, it hit home that Jesus didn’t think anything of leaving the glory of Heaven and coming to earth to live among His creation.   He had no problem setting aside His nature which made Him equal with the Father and taking on the form of sinful man.  Why did He do this?  1 John 3:8 tells us why.  “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”  Jesus came to undo the work of the devil which he started in the Garden of Eden when he tempted Eve and succeeded.

Jesus wanted to defeat sin in the flesh because it was through the flesh that sin entered the world. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12).   Sin is like an epidemic, a cancer and Jesus is the only One who could completely destroy it.  So, He came into the world as an infant, born to a virgin.  He lived a simple life, worked as a carpenter before He began His ministry.  Throughout His life here on earth, Jesus lived in total obedience to the Father and humbly.

In His humility He defeated the devil in the wilderness, using, not His divine power, but the Word of God to counter each temptation until the enemy had no other choice but to go away.  In humility, Jesus allowed the religious leaders and the roman soldiers to mock, spit, strike and humiliate Him.  Not once did He complain or call down the angels to help Him.  In humility, He carried the cross to the place where they would crucify Him.  On the way, women bewailed and lamented Him but He didn’t think about Himself.  He foresaw what would befall them and warned them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”

I always wondered what Jesus meant by “green wood and dry” and today I learnt that green wood is not used as fuel for fire, whereas, dry wood is perfect for that.  And Jesus is represented by the green wood, as the One undeserving of the cruel treatment He was receiving from the people.  And the people who were fanning the flames, pushing for Jesus’ crucifixion, after requesting that, Barabbas, a criminal be released, were the dry wood.  They were deserving of the Divine judgement that they would one day face.  Jesus was telling the women to cry for these people.  The people who continually reject Christ and His work on the cross are the ones we ought to mourn for the time will come when they will be judged and will be cast into the lake of fire.

In humility, as He hung on the cross, He asked God to forgive the very people who wanted Him dead.  He was dying for them too.  The cross is where we ought to go when we find it hard to forgive those who hurt and humiliate and mistreat us.  In humility we realize that Jesus hanging on the cross in our place is what made it possible for God to forgive us too.  We too are responsible for Jesus becoming a curse for us. Humility is about acknowledging that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory and that we have a Saviour who thought nothing of emptying Himself.

In humility, Jesus thought nothing of the shame of the manner of His death, endured the cross, because of the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).  He wasn’t thinking about the shame but the salvation that would be offered to all those who accepted His ultimate sacrifice.  Through His death, many would receive life eternal.  And through His death and resurrection, many would have the same victory over sin and death.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for humbling Yourself and becoming one of us so that You could defeat sin and death.  Sin had separated us from our Father but Your death on the cross, reconciled us to Him.  We will never be able to repay the debt You paid with Your precious blood.  We can honour You by loving others and sharing the Good News about what You did for them on the cross.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

Love is Not Proud

love does not parade itself, is not puffed up – 1 Corinthians 13:4

Jesus washPride is something God hates.  God loves humble people.  Love is humble.  Jesus gave a fine example of this when He left heaven where He was worshipped by angels to come here on earth.  He was humble in appearance.  He stayed in modest lodgings, slept outdoors, ate with sinners, outcasts and tried to keep a low profile.  He got down on His knees and washed the feet of His disciples.  He was their Leader, their Master, yet He served them.

Jesus was teaching them and us that we should never think we are too good to serve others.  No task is beneath us. We s hould perform every task to the best of our ability and with humble hearts, always thankful that we are making a difference in someone else’s life.  Whenwe see how Jesus, the Son of God, humbled Himself it encourages us to be humble too.  It shows us that pride has no part in the ministry of Jesus.

Pride is selfishness while humility is selflessness.  While He was washing twelve pairs of feet Jesus commanded the disciples to love one another.

Pride is self love.  Humility is love for others.  Jesus wants us to serve others in love and humility.  Love does not boast.  Love does not made a big show.  It does not make a spectacle of itself.  It does not draw attention to itself or put itself on display for all to admire and praise it.  It is not self-important.  It is the exact opposite.  When you show someone love, do so with a humble heart, not expecting anything in return.  Don’t brag about it.  Follow the same advice Jesus gave when it comes to doing charitable work.

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.  Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:1-4).

Love is not self-serving.  It takes pride in serving others.  Jesus came to serve.   He spent His entire ministry serving others and putting their needs before His own.

Signs

The Pharisees and the Scribes wanted Jesus to give them signs but interestingly enough, they had been given signs all along but had failed to see them or acknowledge them.  These signs were manifested in the healing of the sick, the cleansing of the lepers, the lame walking, the blind seeing, the mute talking and the deaf hearing.  Yet people still asked for signs.  Their unbelief blinded them to what was right there before their eyes.  Unlike the Queen of Sheba who went out of her way to see King Solomon because she had heard of his wisdom and wanted to see or hear for herself, the Jews did not go out of their way to see for themselves the glory of the Lord, His wonderful miracles nor hear what He had to say.  Unlike the pagan sailors who were with Jonah who once they saw the sovereignty of God, worshipped Him and became believers, those who professed to know Him did not even recognize that He was with them.

Immanuel was in their midst displaying His sovereignty in a different way but they failed to see Him or acknowledge Him.  Unlike the Ninevites who repented when they heard Jonah’s warning, God’s chosen people hardened their hearts and did not listen to One far greater than Jonah.  The Messiah they had long awaited was there talking to them, warning them but they paid no heed because He did not measure up to their expectations.  They could not reconcile the Messiah, the Son of God, and the King of Kings to the man clothed in humility before them.  To them, He looked no different from the people they fancied themselves to be superior to.  Their spiritual blindness prevented them from seeing that there was a difference in His demeanour—the way He treated others, His vast knowledge of scriptures and the law and of God.  Then there were the miracles He performed, His growing popularity and His many followers.  The Light had come into the world but the darkness did not understand it.

Even when they received the sign of Jonah they refused to accept it and instead bribed the guards, encouraging them to say that His body had been taken from the tomb by His disciples.  Before that they had posted guards in order to prevent Jesus from fulfilling His word.  Matthew 27:62-64 gives an account of the religious leaders going to Pilate in order to secure guards at the tomb.  Their reason for this was, “Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night, and steal Him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.”  They recalled Jesus’ words that He will rise after three days but they referred to Him as “that deceiver”.  They had asked Him for a sign and yet they were doing their best to prevent it.

Jesus rightly says of them, “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15).

One of the questions in a study lesson was what sign would I like to see and I thought about it.  I thought I would like the Lord to talk to me in a dream as He spoke to Mary’s husband, Joseph in a dream.  Or for Him to tell me something that I share with others and then it comes to pass.  But, then, I got my sign that morning and it was not what I expected but was just as profound.  God reminded me of something I needed to have with me so I had to walk with an extra bag to carry it in.  God once again made it clear to me that every detail in my life, no matter how small it is just as important to Him.  The sign here was His loving care, attention and presence.  Another sign is Him talking to me.  What greater sign do we need than that God Almighty talks to us.  He communicates with us.

There are signs everyday like solutions to problems; a kind word; an encouraging smile; food on the table; money in our bank accounts; waking up every morning and being able to get out of bed.  His word is full of signs.  God speaks to us when we read His word.  A sign is His Holy Spirit, who dwells in us; who recalls scripture to us; who helps us to understand God’s message each time we open the Bible.  People recovering from illnesses, coming out of financial difficulties are all signs.  The weekly Sabbath is a sign.  It proclaims God’s sovereignty and celebrates creation.  Nature is an unmistakable sign.  We ourselves are signs of God’s goodness and mercy.  Jesus came so that we may have life in abundance.  The changing of the seasons each year; the rising and setting of the sun; the babies being born everyday all speak of the Creator of all life.  The signs are there but do we take the time to see them?

The Humility of Jesus

One morning as I prayed, I reflected on the humility of Jesus.  He left the glory of Heaven where He was worshipped and praised, where He was with God, the Father.  Jesus, God the Son became the Son of God and the Son of man.  He humbled Himself when He came here on earth in that He came to serve and not to be served.  He came in the flesh as one of us.  There was humility in His birth.  He was born in a manger surrounded by animals and hay.

He was the Son of a carpenter and He too was a carpenter, which makes sense.  It ties in with His ministry here on earth.  A carpenter builds.  Jesus came here to build a relationship between God and us.  He came to build a relationship between Himself and us and with one another.  And when He was to return to His Father, He built a relationship between the Holy Spirit and us.  Jesus was humble in that everything He said and did was of the Father.  He was obedient to the Father in all things, following His will even onto death.  He placed the Father first and us second.

Jesus was humble in appearance and in behaviour.  He wanted to teach us that we should be humble.  God loves humility but resists pride.  Humility allows for God to be in our lives.  It allows us to love Him completely and to totally surrender to His will.  It allows us to recognize our need for Him.  It allows us to love others and each out to them.  Humility allows us to give of ourselves—to be selfless.  Humility is of the Spirit.  We should be humble in spirit.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven” and “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth”.  Because of His humility and faithfulness, Jesus is now exalted and is sitting at the right hand of God.  He is now King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  His name is above all other names.

Jesus taught us that in being humble we allow God to us to fulfill His plans.  We open ourselves for His will to be done in us for His glory and for the benefit of others.  In doing everything the Father commanded Him to do, Jesus made it possible for us to receive the grace of God by which we are saved from the wages of sin.  Humility led to salvation and an inheritance of the kingdom of God.

Self-exaltation is a deterrent to God. It is what got Lucifer cast down from Heaven.  Psalm 138:6 says “Though the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly:  but the proud He knoweth afar off”.  God has no regard for the proud, for those who like to puff themselves up and boast.  They put themselves before God and look down on others.  They are self-involved and do not keep the commandments of God.  They love themselves more than God and others.  Their self-importance blinds them to His will.

The Bible speaks clearly of God’s view of the proud.  We should be humble as our Lord Jesus was.  Pride leaves no room for God to work with us on in us.

God Reveals Himself

Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness” – Deuteronomy 5:24

God can make Himself know in the most incredible ways and He does this when His people are facing the most incredible odds.  Elijah was alone against 850 prophets; Gideon and 300 men were pitted against the Midianites and Amalekites who were as numerous as locusts; David stood bravely against Goliath and Moses faced the Egyptian army.  In each of these examples what may seem impossible from a human perspective is very possible from God’s.  Each of these biblical characters had one thing in common.  They trusted God.

God wanted Gideon to believe that anything was possible.  God said to him, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand.” (Judges 7:7)  Gideon was reassured of this when he heard a man tell his dream to another whose response was, “This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel.  Into his hand God has delivered Midian and the whole camp.” (Judges 14:13-14)

Elijah faced the challenge before him, proving to the people who had become attached to false gods that God was the true deity.  He prepared the sacrifice, doused the entire altar several times and then he prayed, “Hear my, O Lord, hear me that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned heir hearts back to You again.”  The fire fell from Heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the dust and even the water.  God had answered.  There was not doubt in the people’s minds that He was the true God.  They fell to their faces and exclaimed, “The Lord, He is God.  The Lord, He is God.” (1 Kings 18:30-39)

David was only a boy when he faced Goliath, a giant well over nine feet tall.  He believed that God who had protected him from a lion and a bear would deliver him from the hand of the Philistine.  With just a sling and a stone, David struck down the giant and killed him.  He succeeded in doing what Saul and the Israelite army had failed to do.  He had broken the defences of the Philistine army by killing their champion.  Because of David the Philistines were defeated.  In doing the impossible he had proved that there was an almighty God of Israel.

God used Moses to perform several wonders but the most spectacular was when they were in the desert after they left Egypt.  God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he and his army would pursue the Israelites.  His reason was, “But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 14:4)

God used Moses to part the Red Sea so that he and the Israelites could go through the sea on dry land.  Then, He hardened the hearts of the Egyptians so that they went in after them.  The water flowed back and covered the entire army who followed the Israelites and all of them perished.  God saved His people from the Egyptians and doing so displayed His power.  He gained glory through Pharaoh and his army.  The Israelites feared Him and trusted Him and Moses because of this.

Another amazing display of God’s power is when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  Jesus heard that His friend was sick but He stayed where He was for two more days.  His reason was, “This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”  Jesus could have gone right away and healed Lazarus but He wanted to show that He was the resurrection and that those who believed in Him will live even though they die.

When they went to the tomb, Martha protested when Jesus wanted the stone removed, saying that Lazarus was dead for four days and that there would be an odour.  Jesus’ response was, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”  When the stone was rolled away, Jesus said to His Father, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.  I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent Me.”  After He said this, He called out to Lazarus, “Lazarus, come out.”  His friend came out, his hands and feet wrapped in linen and a cloth around his face.  Many Jews, after witnessing this, put their faith in Jesus. (John 11:4-45)

Jesus wanted the people to see the glory of God and so that they would believe everything He had told them—that God had sent Him and that He and the Father were one.

Abide in Jesus

“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 bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

First, what does abide mean?  According to Strong’s Concordance, it means not to depart; to be held, kept, continually.  Jesus tells us that if we abide in Him and His words abide in us, then whatever we ask it shall be done.  We cannot depart from Jesus or His words.  He mentioned earlier that He was the Vine and that we are the branches.  Without Him we cannot bear fruit.  We have to remain connected to Him and His word in order to bear fruit. This is the same as building our foundation.  We cannot build on anything else but Jesus.  He is the Rock.  When we abide in His word it is the same as the man who built his house on the rock instead of the sand so that when the rains came, his house stood.

If we want to continue to be fruitful we must continue to have a connection (relationship) with Jesus.  He sustains us.  We draw our sustenance from Him.

So, Jesus is the Vine.  God is the Vinedresser.  And we are the branches.  God casts away the branches that are bearing no fruit because they were not properly abiding in the Vine.  This reminds me of the seed that fell by the wayside; on the stony places; among the thorns.  The seed is the word of God and those who hear it but have the word taken out of their hearts lest they should believe and be saved or those who believe for a while but fall away when faced with trials and temptations because they have no root or those who allow the cares of the world to get the better of them will not bear no fruit.  These are the branches that God will take away.  The branches which bear fruit are like the good soil on which the seed fell and yielded a good crop.  These are people who hear the word of God and  with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience (Luke 8:15).

Jesus wants us to be doers of the word not just hearers.  None of us want to hear Him say to us, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”  It is the same as those who claim to do all sorts of things in His name but He told them that He never knew them because they did not do the will of the Father.  Not everyone who calls Him Lord will inherit the kingdom.  These are they who are not abiding in Jesus.  In order to abide in Jesus you have to do the will of the Father.  We have to bear good fruit.  Jesus said, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor [can] a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  “Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:18-20).  The branches that don’t bear good fruit will be cast into the fire (John 15:6).

Those who abide in Jesus and in His word will bear nothing but good fruit.  What fruit?  The fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23).  When we abide in Jesus, whatever we ask we will receive because we ask is in accordance with His will.  And when we bear good fruit, we bring glory and honor to God.  Jesus made it clear that our good works are for the purpose of glorifying God, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

And when we bear good fruits we show that we are Jesus’ disciples.  Our fruits show that we  enjoy a close and loving relationship with Jesus.  Our fruits are evidence that we follow the teachings of Jesus–we are hearers and doers of His sayings.  When people look at us they should see Christ reflected in us.  It is like when Jesus was here on earth.  When people saw Him, they saw the Father.  When people look at us they ought to see Christ in us.  If Jesus abides in us and we in Him and His word, our actions (lives) will reflect this.  We will have no trouble bearing good fruit or shining our light so that our Father in heaven will be glorified.

It is true.  Whoever abides in Jesus and Jesus in that person, he or she will bear much fruit. Look at the great things the disciples did after Jesus returned to His Father.  They preached the Gospel boldly in the face of persecution, imprisonment and death.  On the day Peter preached after receiving the Holy Spirit, those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.  God added to the church as they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,  praising God and having favor with all the people (Acts 2:47).  Churches were planted in different parts of the world.  Gentiles received Christ and were baptized into the faith.  Paul who once persecuted the followers of Christ, became a champion of the faith.  Once he abided in Christ and Christ abided in him, he became the bearer of good fruit.  And that is why he was able to say with faith and conviction, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7, 8).

Today, make it your purpose to abide in Jesus.  Continue in His word.  Act upon His teachings.  Follow His example.  Allow the Holy Spirit to work through you.  Allow God to trim away the areas in your life that are preventing you from bearing more fruit to His glory.  Cling to the Vine because without Him you can do nothing.

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