Tag Archives: John

Jump Into The New Year

“Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yardsoff. John 21:4-8

070602-F-6335P-340It’s a new season! The New Year 2014 has arrived and 2013 is safely behind us now with it many happy memories, passive struggles, triumphs and defeats. Whatever the past year held for you today is a new day! That is why I love the first day of each year so much. However, many people become depressed with the passing of the holiday season assuming life will become mundane and normal all over again. What is your perspective this morning? Did your enthusiasm end when the ball dropped and the celebration ended with Auld Lang Syne? The disciples who followed Jesus had experienced the miraculous. His ministry blossomed into healing and deliverance right before their eyes. Jesus taught these men daily. He walked with them. He resided with him. These followers experienced an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ every day. Then the unthinkable happened to their Messiah, He died. How could this happen? Was it the death of their dream? It was the end of one season and the beginning of another. So these men went back to life as it was before Jesus said, “Follow me.” Peter and several other disciples went back to fishing. It was their livelihood before Jesus. It was their normal routine. When Jesus was gone, all Peter could think to do in his moment of sorrow was return to some normalcy of life and so he did. But his season as a fisher of fish had ended and as they floated in the boat they had not caught a thing. Jesus was watching from the shore. He called out to the men inquiring of their catch. When they confirmed that they had caught nothing, Jesus directed them to cast the net on the right side of the boat. Their net could not hold the multitude of fish. Now in the natural what are the odds that when fishing in a small vessel that if there are no fish on one side of the boat that there will be abundance on the other side – unlikely at best. That is when the revelation hit one of the men and he said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Peter did not wait to discuss the futility of his proclamation instead diving in the water to be with the Lord. He left behind the fish and went for the Prize – Jesus. Peter did not want to go back to his old life but wanted to be with Jesus where He was! Today is the beginning of a new season for you too. It is a time to make a choice whether or not 2014 will be the year that you reside in the dwelling place of God in the Presence of the Lord or if you will go back to mundane living struggling to survive. While the choice seems obvious, note that only one disciple was in a rush to be with Jesus leaving behind natural blessing to get to Him. The others hauled in the fish with them!

The Presence of Jesus Christ in your life will change the outcome each and every time without fail. There is not one thing that this earth has to offer that is better than the favor that is found in His Presence. You can spend thousands of dollars looking for a cure for a disease when in an instant God can heal your body for free. A man can spend his entire life securing fame and fortune and die with a bankrupt soul only to be tormented for Eternity. Matthew 8:36 – “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Even the closest followers of Jesus Christ struggle with discerning physical wealth from spiritual inheritance. Will 2014 be the year that you decide to fully trust in Jesus Christ and make Him the Lord of your life? Salvation of your soul is secure in the knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ. Righteousness comes from doing something with this great knowledge. Jesus becomes Lord of your life when you submit all that you are to Him. Peter knew that all He needed was in Jesus Christ. His life did not matter in comparison to the gift of knowing the Lord and being in His Presence. Maybe some would say that Peter was overzealous for God. The Lord obviously provided a blessing in the multitude of fish caught that day and he just left the gift behind. I say that Peter was the only man of faith on that boat! See Peter recognized the sign in the miracle. Jesus did not meet them on the beach that day to fill their stomachs but to feed their souls. Peter was starving for Jesus! It is such a hunger that drove Peter from the boat into the sea to meet the Lord leaving behind natural sustenance for Eternal substance.

Deuteronomy 11:13-15 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, hewill give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full.”

Will 2014 be the year that you decide to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul? It seems like a simple question but the way that you respond will make the difference in prospering in 2014 or experiencing the same frustrating limitations of 2013. Peter had made some crucial errors in the days preceding his meeting with Jesus on the beach. He had denied the Lord in His Dying hour. He had hidden in fear for his life. It was not a defining time for this disciple. Many men would have been afraid to face the Risen Lord with such guilt and shame, however; Peter had to be where the Lord was in spite of himself. His Need for Jesus Christ would propel him into His Presence. Take time today to return to 2013 what belongs there. Guilt and shame are not welcome in this new season of your life. It was nailed to the same cross that Peter’s sins were attached to. Prosperity in the coming year is a matter of the heart and soul. What is your response? Will you jump into this new season as Peter did or will you just keep rowing the boat? The choice is yours. I encourage you to jump into 2014 and leave the past behind. There is nothing in 2013 that will outshine what the Lord longs to do in you for 2014! What are you waiting for? Jesus is waiting on you!

Love

“‘I will tend My flock and let them lie down.’ [This is] the declaration of the Lord GOD. ‘I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak, but I will destroy the fat and the strong. I will shepherd them with justice'” Ezekiel 34:15-16.

“For the Lord will not reject [us] forever. Even if He causes suffering, He will show compassion according to His abundant, faithful love. For He does not enjoy bringing affliction or suffering on mankind” Lamentations 3:31-33.

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16. candles 4

He couldn’t do anything for himself. Born with cerebral palsy, he sat in the wheel chair loving every second of the Christmas musical. He faces challenges that I can’t even imagine. His body wrecked by a disease that causes him to be in constant motion. He sat in the back of the auditorium, perhaps wanting not to distract. And sitting next to him was a proud mother, I couldn’t help stealing a glance throughout that evening, to see hear stroking his hair, wiping his mouth, and smiling all the while. She adored him. I thought to myself, That’s it. That’s love.

I had to meet this amazing mother. She was a single mom who had just moved to Tennessee from Kansas. “How do you do this all by yourself?” I had to ask. “He’s my life. He’s the greatest blessing that ever happened to me.”

This two-person family had an eternal impact on me. I received a glimpse of the love God has for me. Despite my constant battles with the curse of sin and personal rebellion, God loves me like that. Amazingly, you are God’s treasure and if you follow Him, He will be yours.

“Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10. “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!Romans 5:8. No doubt you’ve already heard the familiar words of “O Holy Night” this year. Don’t miss the truth of the final verse: Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.

If you want to know how to love one another, look at the love that sent Jesus to earth to live a life of love and pay the price for all of our sins. It’s all about love. This isn’t a love of fancy words and impossible tasks. This is a love that says, “I am willing to love you no matter what.”

We can love because He first loved us.

 

*** Matt Tullos is pastor of Bluegrass Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee

Loyalty Unhinged

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“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Written by Swagga4Christ Biblical Writer, Stephen A. Peterson © 2013

David O’Connor was a really good person and soldier.  A student at Father Scecina Memorial High School and later as a medic in the United States Army, he saw his work as service to his country for the greater good of humanity, and especially to the more than 200 men and women of his military unit.  David was fully committed to service at all costs and was willing to give his life in service to his country.  Evidence of David O’Connor’s commitment was observed on his desk.  He had, in a picture frame, a picture of the crucified Christ and to the right side these words:  “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Christ’s words were not merely words to Sergeant David O’Connor.  They expressed his commitment to his duty as an Army leader.  A commitment he knew he might someday demand the ultimate—his life.  That day did, in fact, occur in Vietnam.

As every Christian knows, Jesus submitted himself to his words shortly after He stated them.  Unlike any person who ever lived, Jesus knew exactly what He was to experience.  It is impossible for anyone then or today to fully grasp the totality of His agony and suffering.  In recent years, biological and medical scientists have been able to reconstruct physiological information with regards to His roughly 20 hours of relentless torture without sleep, food, water or relief.

As God, Jesus could have spared Himself of the suffering, humiliation, torture.  He was without sin and did not deserve to be brought to trial.  His death was the greatest example of human injustice ever recorded in the annals of humankind.  To this day, even some Christians cannot understand Jesus’ sacrifice and death.  They ask “why”.  They believe there had to be another less painful, less humiliating way to deal with humankind’s sins.  Others have referred to His death as “altruistic suicide”, “hari-kari”, or the result of Him having humiliated the government and religious leaders of His day.  But crucifixion?  Crucifixion was reserved for the most dangerous evildoers, treasonous, murderers of the Roman state as documented by the writers of that era.

A love (agape) humankind cannot understand drove Christ to His death on the cross.  It is only through humility, faith, trust in Him, and acceptance of our human imperfections do we come to even recognize His sacrifice.  Any other approach or explanation defies reason and logic in the human mind.

 

Walking As A Servant

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:3-5

Well aware of his own identity and his oneness with God the Father, Jesus performed the lowliest form of service possible for his followers. Jesus was completely secure in who he was and freely threw off any trappings of status to serve the ones he loved. Sometimes it is hardest to humble ourselves when we feel insecure and have to prove our worth to others or even to ourselves.servant

 It can be just as humbling to accept service as it is to give it. Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet. No doubt Peter felt unworthy. But Jesus was setting an example for all of us who want to follow him and convinced Peter to accept. Jesus had also set an example of receiving service when he allowed the woman to wash his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair. (Luke 7:38)

Being human, there are times we need to help others and times we need to accept help. Jesus is our model for both.

What gifts and talents has God given you? How can you use them to serve others? How can you learn to accept help when you need it?

Easter Musings

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” John 11:25

4525749Below is Some Easter Musings from Military Outreach Greater Chicago

Easter is a wonderful time for Christians as we reflect on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  It’s the miracle of all miracles and the basis of our Christian faith!  When thinking about Easter, we also think about Jesus’ final hours and words to those of us here on Earth.  Looking at Jesus’ words to his disciples before His ascension and the rest of Scripture, one can see similarities regarding how Christians are called to live here on earth and what our soldiers around the world are called to do on a daily basis to protect our country.  It is interesting to see the overlap and perhaps, no one is better prepared to understand what it means to be a Christian than one of our military men or women.

  1. Longing for Home – Christians recognize that this world is not our home.  We will never feel at home here on this earth and experience a sense of longing for the day when we will join our Savior in heaven.  Our men and women serving in the Armed Forces experience a sense of homesickness every day they are away from family, friends, and the familiar surroundings they leave behind to serve our nation.  They are foreigners in a land that is not their own and one they are unfamiliar with.  They long for home.
  2. Ambassadors to Those Around Them – Our military men and women often serve as the first faces many non-Americans see and as such often are the first impression that a foreigner has of who an American is.  Likewise, Christians are called to be ambassadors of Christ, serving as a sort of first example to the people around them of who Christ is and what it means and looks like to be a Christian.
  3. Facing Difficulties and Trials – Jesus never promised us that the Christian life was going to be a picnic. It was going to be tough and filled with suffering.  Our troops go through unimaginable suffering from both visible and invisible wounds they might carry for the rest of their lives.  Both overseas and at home, our troops face unique challenges that require physical and mental fortitude.
  4. Fighting An Unseen Enemy – The Bible tells us that our struggle as Christians is not against other humans, but against spiritual forces and Satan.  Similarly, our military members are often fighting unseen enemies.  Sometimes these are people who seem friendly but are really suicide bombers.  At other times, it is the emotional and physical forces that our military personnel must wrestle with.  Our military personnel must always be ready for the unpredictable.
  5. Prepared to Fight – The Bible calls us to put on the full armor of God which will protect us against the enemy.  We are to be prepared for battle and ready to give an answer to anyone who has questions about our faith.  Likewise, our soldiers have to be constantly vigilant and prepared for battle.  They need to be properly armed and equipped to face those that seek to destroy them.

As we reflect on Easter and all that Christ accomplished for us, we should be mindful of our military members who face similar and far harder situations on a day to day basis than most of us deal with here in the United States.  Have a wonderful Easter and remember, Christ has Risen!!

Matthew Zavala

John 14:1-6

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.In My Father’s house are many mansions;if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

 

Rules of the Road

John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Recently I stopped in traffic behind a large truck. A sign prominently displayed on the truck’s rear door asked the public to call a certain number if the truck driver was not obeying the rules of safe driving. Trucking companies displaying such signs surely have confidence in their drivers and in their training.
I began to wonder how my behavior would change if Christians were required to wear a sign identifying us as Christians and requesting that our bad behavior be reported. Would I be less likely to show frustration because of poor service? Would I be more patient while waiting in line at the bank or sitting in the doctor’s office? Would I forgive more easily when others made comments that hurt my feelings? Perhaps I would offer to help a person in need more readily if I were wearing a sign that declares my faith.
All of us are challenged to follow God’s direction in our day-to-day interactions. Whether or not our behavior is noticed by anyone, we are always accountable to God.
1 Peter 3:8-9 “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”

I am Second

Inspiring the Revolution of Second.

I am Second is a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others. Actors. Athletes. Musicians. Business leaders. Drug addicts. Your next-door neighbor. People like you. The authentic stories on iamsecond.com provide insight into dealing with typical struggles of everyday living. These are stories that give hope to the lonely and the hurting, help from destructive lifestyles, and inspiration to the unfulfilled. You’ll discover people who’ve tried to go it alone and have failed. Find the hope, peace, and fulfillment they found. Be Second.

You are here for a reason. We all have needs and could use some help. Call, chat, or email. 24 hours a day.

Go a step further, talk with the people in your life. Spread the revolution of Second. Share the videos with friends. Start an I am Second Group in your neighborhood, workplace, or school or join an I am Second Group already meeting.

Volunteer at concerts. Serve through I am Second community service events. Organize your own I am Second events. Sign up for an I am Second Expedition to help people in other countries. Check out Get Involved for other opportunities. Connect with us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

I am Second is designed to help people discover their purpose in life. Have you discovered yours?
To find out more about the people and leadership team behind I Am Second you can check out Who We Are.

Chris Plekenpol

In Iraq, I could have saved his life, but I didn’t…
John 13:6 “He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”
http://www.iamsecond.com/about/

Now This Explains It

John 17:21-22  “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in Me, and I in you, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.”

If you are going through a solitary way, read John 17, it will explain exactly why you are where you are – Jesus has prayed that you may be one with the Father as He is. Are you helping God to answer that prayer, or have you some other end for your life? Since you became a disciple you cannot be as independent as you used to be.

The purpose of God is not to answer our prayers, but by our prayers we come to discern the mind of God, and this is revealed in John 17. There is one prayer God must answer, and that is the prayer of Jesus – “that they may be one, even as We are One.” Are we as close to Jesus Christ as that?

God is not concerned about our plans; He does not say – Do you want to go through this bereavement; this upset? He allows these things for His own purpose. The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, nobler men and women; or they are making us more captious and fault-finding, more insistent upon our own way. The things that happen either make us fiends, or they make us saints; it depends entirely upon the relationship we are in to God. If we say – “Thy will be done,” we get the consolation of John 17, the consolation of knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom. When we understand what God is after we will not get mean and cynical. Jesus has prayed nothing less for us than absolute oneness with Himself as He was one with the Father. Some of us are far off it, and yet God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him, because Jesus has prayed that we may be.