Posts Tagged good news

Fruit Club

John 15: 16

You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.

I, just like every other minister of the gospel, revel in sharing the Good News. Everyone wants to hear how Jesus’ life and sacrifice will improve the quality of their lives. We are living in an age of self-interest almost to the point of self-absorption. What this means for ministers is that the message people want to hear is how Jesus helps them. The question we have attempted to answer is, “What is in Christianity for me?” Today’s verse functionally turns that question on its head because Jesus made it clear, in this statement, that it isn’t all about me. This is an uncomfortable and harsh reality for some of us but for others of you, this is a higher form of truth and reality and one that you embrace avidly.

Too often we get the cart before the horse but if we spend time with this verse, pondering the fullness of its message, we find rich revelation. Jesus makes clear that the Father will do whatever you ask of Him when you approach Him through Jesus. However, that is the second part of the equation. The first part is that He chose you. We all think we chose Jesus, almost like we graced him with our acceptance of him. We fill our salvation with arrogance as if we were some prize worthy of winning. We weren’t. There is nothing in us that makes us worthy of anything EXCEPT the Father’s love for us. His love for us has clothed us in the worthiness that Jesus won for us. The only thing we did was to accept this garment of blessed grace.

Secondly, Jesus points out that there was a reason for choosing us. Sadly, it isn’t because we are so wonderful, wise and beautiful. We have a purpose and he appointed us for this purpose, that we should bear much fruit. There is also a consequence for not fulfilling our purpose. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He (the Father) takes away” (John 15: 2).

I want to preach just the part of the verse that says the Father will do everything we ask in Jesus’ name but that would be a miscarriage of my duties to you and to the Father. The truth is what equips you and not just the candy-coated version. When you understand the Father’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice you also appreciate that everything they tell us to do benefits us. Yahweh’s love is pervasive but it is not egotistical nor meant to train you to be a spoiled, arrogant child. He wants to raise you into the vision He has of you as a mature partner in His kingdom.

The natural consequence of bearing good fruit is abundant harvest. People spend many words and thoughts trying to figure out the purpose of life when it has been “hidden” right here in plain sight for thousands of years. Your purpose and mine is to bear good fruit. As we do, the Father multiplies our seeds so that a bountiful crop is always maturing in our back yards. Christianity was never meant to be a “Bless Me” club. It is a service organization. It turns out, though, that the way to the blessings is through service.

I want you blessed and happy. I desire that your basket overflow continually. So, go serve someone else. Think about what others may need or what you could do for them. Start at home and at work. What could you do today for your mother? How about your spouse? Maybe your next door neighbor would love just to have a visit or take your mechanic a glass of tea. Do you have doorman in your building? There are people around you all day who need to see Jesus’ fruit. You are the branches on his vine. Bear much good fruit.

Getting Happy

Psalm 37: 18 – 19

The Lord knows the days of the blameless; and their inheritance will be forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil; and in the days of famine they will have abundance.

Hey, let’s get happy today! There is so much blessing in these two little verses that it wants to bust out all over the place.

In this thirty-seventh psalm, David contrasts the wicked and the righteous. The righteous are those who are no more perfect than anyone else but rather their hope is in the Lord as is their trust. They are looking to God while the wicked are contriving and scheming in their own brilliance and in the world system. How brilliant can they be, really, if they eschew the guidance of the Lord. Well, anyway, we get a look at the blessings we can expect to enjoy in this earth but we are also told that the blessing will continue beyond this mortal life.

How exciting is that? The blessing God is pouring out for you is forever! It is only going to get bigger and better as time goes on. The part about the time of evil and the days of famine describe how the blessing works in the earth. There is no evil, no famine in heaven. You have not only a promise, but a statement about what you should expect. We should not shutter as we face evil times. We just lean in on God knowing He has already prepared a haven for us so that we will not be ashamed or forsaken. The wicked will make plans for prosperity and power but their own schemes will be the source of their destruction. Meanwhile, the children of the King will look to their Father and He will be their fortress and their strong right hand. He will provide for them so that they shall not be ashamed. They will not be humiliated by poverty. Instead, they will sing the praises of the Father who shows them grace, love and abundance in all things.

When the world suffers violence or famine, the children look to their Father and actually prosper. In 2008 while many people sang songs of woe, those whose trust was in the Lord took steps forward. Your life is not at the mercy of the world or even its economic systems. The children of God have always prospered in the time of famine when they trusted Him and listened to His counsel. We are just as vulnerable if we listen to the 5:00 news and try to glean wisdom there. If, however, we will turn to the Lord and seek His counsel we shall be safe and secure in all ways.

Let the Lord speak to you today about how He wishes to lead you. Today could well be the day you enter a new level of relationship with the Father. He has big things to show you as He leads you into all goodness and blessing.

Shout

Zephaniah 3: 14 -15

Shout for you, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away His judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more.

Jesus is the Word. He is the gospel. The gospel is the good news of Jesus, the Christ. So, every word in the Bible is a potential source of good news for you, you who are in Jesus. That includes the Old Testament. While you may not typically spend a great deal of time in the book of Zephaniah, it is good to see that God always had good plans for freedom and victory for us.

We have been adopted in the kingdom which was formerly the tribe of Israel. We are members of this family. So, who is the daughter of Zion? The daughter of Jerusalem? Who is Israel? It is you, of course. Some of you know that I frequently line through Israel and write in my own name. This is especially the case when it comes to a promise because every promise God has ever made belongs to me.

I want you to receive today’s passage with the soft tissue of your heart. Here the exultation and the longing for the family. You have good news, you should have a good expectation in all things because the King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst. He is in your breath. Shout in triumph! Rejoice! He, your Father and King, has vanquished your enemies.

However, that is not all. He has put your just judgment behind Him. He has taken it away. People get so hung up on judgment but, let us not. The Word is quite plain about judgment. Jesus bore our judgment so that we can live as God desired, in perfect union with Him. We are made clean by the blood so that no veil of sin separates us from the love of God. We are now positioned where He can pour out His goodness upon us.

Now if that isn’t shouting ground, I clearly don’t know what is. Shout in triumph, the triumph of our Lord Jesus. Glory to his most holy name!

Good News

Mark 16: 15        (NIV)

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
This passage is from when Jesus commissioned his disciples after his death and resurrection. He told them to go and preach the “good news” to all creation. Sometimes as Christians we forget how Jesus phrased this and we lose sight of our commission. He did not tell us to go into all the world and correct others and criticize their life styles. He did not tell us to go and preach fire and brimstone on them until they repent. He told us to tell them the good news; that he, Jesus, came that they might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10: 10). We are supposed to preach that he came into the world so that all could be saved and can enter into a personal relationship with the Father of all creation. He breached the gap between people and God so that we could be reconciled to Almighty God as our own father. This world needs love. People everywhere suffer from a lack of love. We need to tell them that our Father is love and that he loves them. Don’t preach John 3: 16 and skip the word love. Preach it the loudest.

No Shame

Romans 1: 16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Paul was definitely a good evangelist. He did share the good news everywhere he went. I wonder why lots of us don’t tell the good news any more than we do. I think in a sense we are ashamed. Perhaps we are not ashamed of the gospel per se but we are embarrassed or ashamed of sounding like a Jesus freak. Maybe were are afraid of rejection. Paul certainly wasn’t, though, and life could be pretty dangerous for his exhortation of the gospel.

Paul had a revelation of the power of the gospel. Maybe that is what made him so bold and me so timid. Or do we get so caught up in the busyness of our life that we don’t take a moment to be concerned over anyone else. Looming on my horizon is my next twenty to do items and the three big projects sitting on my desk. What will happen in eternity if I get none of that done? I mean, how important are they really? Are my deadlines arbitrary? Does any of it matter that much? When I think of this in light of the eternity of someone’s soul I feel a bit embarrassed. Is it really too much for me to take five minutes to ask my banker if he knows the saving power of the gospel?

You know, I heard a good story the other day about a woman who took the time to notice someone else and when she did she saw that other person suffering. She offered to pray for the woman who’s countenance was forlorn. You know what? Her bravery afforded her the opportunity to meet someone’s need. But I am too busy. Maybe I walked right by that same woman and never even looked at her.

Lord God, give us all the courage of our convictions. Give us joy bubbling up out of us that begs to be shared. Help us to be like Paul and see not the consequences to ourselves but the significance to others. Help us to share the power of the gospel with those who are in need.

Gospel of Good News

Mark 16: 15

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

Glory to God, the message of God, the message of the cross is good news. Did you know that “gospel” means good news? In fact, many Bibles translate this passage with the use of the words “good news” instead of “gospel.” One example is the Common English Bible which reads, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to every creature”. The story of Christ, his coming and his ultimate victory is good news indeed. Think about this also, what are the first four books of the New Testament called? The gospels, right? They are the good news about Jesus, the Messiah.

I have a great exercise for you and I think it will change some passages for you and maybe even the context of the New Testament. Go to your Bible, if it has a concordance, or a search engine like www.Biblegateway.com and search the gospels in the New American Standard for the word “gospel.” It produces 20 verses. Then read that list substituting the word “gospel” with the words “good news.” I believe you are going to feel good after you do this little exercise.

Here is the point I really wish to make though. People talk about a vindictive God. I hear them saying how God took their loved one, caused some bad thing to happen or other doom and gloom pronouncement. I think not. If He is such a vindictive and harsh God then why is His news good news? We have good news to take to people. When humanity was in its fallen state from its own actions, God sent a savior. This good news savior came to rescue us from the pit and restore our earthly and eternal lives to ones of glory and joy. That is good news brother.

I wrote in yesterday’s Word of the Day on Isaiah 52: 7 that beautiful and blessed are the feet of those who bring good news. I also posited that this idea is the perfect evangelistic model. Read today’s verse again. Jesus did not tell us to go into all the world and tell people that they are sinners and that they are doomed to hell. He said to tell them that a savior has come. I saw a car in my hometown which was plastered with damnation messages and it grieved my heart. Really? Is that the love of God on display? Is that the love that put Jesus on the cross for us when we were full of sin and rebellion? Is that the message that saved you? How do we read John 3: 16 and manage to miss out on the word “love?” “For God so loved the world . . . .”

Go into all the world or, everywhere you go, tell the good news of Jesus, our Christ and our beloved. Give away the joy of the Lord. He is not damning people to hell, He is saving them. Glory to God!