Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry



A New Commandment

John 13.34 35.JPG

John 13:31-38

How are we to love one another? Well, Jesus just told us! We are to love each other like He loved us. That doesn’t mean we have to climb up on a cross and die, just like us picking up our cross is not to be taken in an ultra-literal sense. When we talked about picking up our cross, we came to understand that to follow Jesus we ought to “sacrifice,” ourselves in service to Him. So, the same applies here. If we are to love others in the same way He loved us, then we need to only take a look at what that means. This is easy. Jesus put my needs, your needs and the needs of the entire universe above His own. Jesus the man, literally gave everything to us. This is not rocket science, friends. To love the brethren as Jesus loved us, we just think of them first and ourselves second.

The real issue is WHY we ought to do this, other than the pretty clear idea that Jesus commands it. While that should be enough, our Lord was gracious enough to explain why this matters. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Friends, we don’t prove to the world we are Christians by going to church, abstaining from sin, calling out sin or even by preaching Jesus on the Street corners. I actually think those things are pretty good ideas, but they prove nothing.The only thing that proves to the world that we are the real deal, in the end, is our love.

Jesus Sees the Inside

John 13.21.JPG

John 13:18-30

Jesus knew what lay waiting for him later this evening; as God, in the flesh, He knew not only that He would be betrayed, but who the betrayer would be. That of course, was Judas Iscariot. What is interesting is that none of the other disciples had a clue; in fact, the passage tells us that they assumed Jesus had sent Judas out to purchase things for the needy or even for themselves. Something to remember here is that Judas was likely thought well of and held in some esteem by the rest of the group. They trusted him enough to be the keeper of their funds after all!

So here we have it, a man held in high esteem and placed in a position of trust; yet, he would be the one to sell our Lord for 30 pieces of silver. Judas played the part, said the right words and did the right things. In all respects, he was what we would call today “the perfect Christian.” He was the one we would say of, as we often do when someone falls, “Wow, we never saw THAT coming; they were so proper and faithful.”

Judas had them all conned, and nobody knew the truth. That’s not quite true is it, friends? We know from our story, that one knew, and the one was Jesus.

Jesus knew then, and He knows now. It doesn’t matter what airs we put on. It doesn’t matter how “faithful” we are. It doesn’t matter how nice we dress, or how nicely we speak. Jesus knows. Our Lord is able to look into our hearts and know the truth of our lives and our relationship with Him. If He is looking in our hearts (and He is, by the way), what is He seeing?

The Job Jesus Wants Us To Do

Matthew 4.19 20.JPG

Matthew 4:18-22

Any believer should want to know and execute God’s will for their lives. If you are patiently waiting for God to reveal that will, then I have good news for you. He already has. While God has a specific will for each of us, He also has some things for every saved child of His. We cannot just sit around waiting for that specific will when He has clearly given guidance applicable to us all. If we are not willing to do the clear things revealed to us all in God’s Word, why would our Father reveal more? If we will not do the smallest of things, why would He give us the big ones?

We have talked much about the “follow me” part of this; God has gotten specific here, just for us. He wants each and every one of us to be “fishers of men.” This is, as our title today states, the job Jesus wants us to do. This is the primary purpose of every single saved child of God. Anything else we do in God’s service is a supporting role for the primary mission, which is the spread of the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

We are not all the same, and will not do this job in the same way. Some will still fish, simply presenting good bait and waiting. Some will ride the raging rapids in search of the more difficult catch. It is clear, however, that we are all to be fishing.

Things That Keep Us From Following Jesus

Luke 9.62

Luke 9:57-62

There is a song with the following refrain: “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.” We all want to attain heaven; we also like our lives here on Earth. Strictly speaking, that is not necessarily a problem; God blesses us and desires joy for us while we live here. He also has a mission for each of us while here. The problem arises when we think joy means getting what we want rather than God’s mission. Sadly, many want their ticket to heaven punched, but never want to actually leave the station and take the trip.

In our passage, we see several who did not want to get on the train of discipleship. The excuses were many and varied. All of them wanted the blessing of eternal life, but no change in their priorities. Jesus reminded one that the path He followed was difficult; it seems likely that one chose to stay. One wanted to take care of his father’s business and another wanted to say goodbye to his friends. Things never change, friends. Now we have sports, a new bass boat or even just a work schedule that makes us want to lie around when we aren’t working. The reasons to not follow Jesus are still many and varied.

We are never saved by following Jesus(works), but clearly following Jesus is a result of that gift. If we choose not to follow, Jesus told us that we are, “not fit for the Kingdom of God.

Jesus’ Challenge To Follow Him

Matthew 16.24.JPG

Matthew 16:24-28

Jesus was not a shy retiring type of man who always spoke words designed to make everyone feel “included.” He sometimes told it just as it was, without mincing words. He rebuked evil and demanded obedience. No one was excluded from following, but those who chose to do so found the company to be exclusive.

In our devotional passage, Jesus had just rebuked loud-mouthed Peter for attempting to force his will onto God’s plan, rather than God’s plan on Peter’s life. He then expanded the thought in our passage above. He challenged Peter and the other’s to do some things to be a true follower of His; He challenges us to do these things today.

We are to deny ourselves. The biggest thing Jesus wants from us is….us. As we grow in faith we put what we think we want aside, and come to see what He wants. Ultimately we will come to desire the same for ourselves as He desires for us. We are to pick up our cross. We won’t literally have to climb on a cross and die, of course, but the concept is similar. Jesus sacrificed Himself for us; we are to sacrifice our own lives for Him. Finally, we are to follow Him. Friends, this is simply obedience. Sometimes our Lord will issue clear instructions; when that happens we need to follow them. As He did with Peter and the others, Jesus has issued the challenge to us. What will our answer be?

The Authentication of the Book of John

John 21.25

John 21:24-25

Jesus’ earthly ministry lasted for approximately three years; during this time much of what He did and said was documented in the four Gospels. Jesus probably preached, healed and cast out demons most days of those three years; that would be 1095 days, minus some days of rest. I certainly have never taken the time to add up how many days of preaching and miracles Jesus did in the Biblical accounts, but I am certain it is nowhere near 1095! John addresses that here, telling us that a full accounting of all Jesus did would fill more volumes than the world could hold. Friends much took place during this time that is not accounted for.

Despite the untold number of great things that took place, no evidence has yet come forth to show any falsehood in the life of Jesus. These things happened; history verifies it and the Apostle John provides additional authentication here. It is no accident and further authenticates the things Jesus did, that His teachings began spreading like wildfire immediately after His death and Resurrection. As we have covered before, the Resurrection is the pivotal event that sealed the deal. It provided proof that God was satisfied with the payment Jesus made, and that Jesus actually had power and authority to speak what He did and to do the things He did.

The power of the Resurrection is available in the lives of believers today; the only question is whether we allow it to work through us.


Jesus Prepares a Meal for His Disciples

John 21.13

John 21:8-12

This entire episode described in our devotional passage is fascinating. Many like to make the resurrection of Jesus an allegory, saying things like “Jesus was raised in spirit and in our hearts.” Some say His appearances were not the real Jesus, but simply an apparition put in the minds of people, yet not a real man in a real body. This is not so my friends and we see that here. Jesus sat with His disciples and prepared a meal for them; then He Himself partook of the same meal He had prepared. He sat, talked and ate as if he were a real man. Of course, we know this to be true; Jesus is as real today as any one of us.

We see that from these post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to the end of the book of Acts that the disciples became changed men. Who can forget the changes in the Apostle Paul after his meeting with the resurrected Jesus? These men, propelled by the personal knowledge of the still living Jesus, became our ultimate example of obedience and action. Most of them obeyed through great persecution and ultimately their own deaths.

Friends, we have this same knowledge ourselves. We may not have seen the resurrected Jesus personally, but we have the testimony of history and God’s Word. This is more than enough. The only question is whether we will also be obedient and leap into action. Will we also obey?

Appear in the Presence of God for Us

Hebrews 9.28

Hebrews 9:23-28

During the various feasts and periods of sacrifice in Old Testament times, the blood of sacrifices would flow freely. The idea of blood atonement for sin is taught throughout scripture, beginning in Genesis when Adam and Eve were covered with the skins of animals that had been killed. We know that, “without shedding of blood is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22 God has taught us that for sin to be forgiven, there must be a sacrifice, or a payment.

The multitudes of sacrifices in the Old Testament time were never designed to be permanent, or to offer permanent salvation to the participants; full salvation even then was based upon the faith and belief of those involved in the sacrifices. In our devotional passage we see the words, “patterns” and “figures.” That is exactly what these were. They were no more than the foreshadowing, or a type of the ultimate, permanent sacrifice which was to come. That sacrifice, or course, was to be Jesus.

Jesus paid it all. He was “once offered.” Friends, no further sacrifice is needed. Back then the people often forgot that faith and belief was their salvation and got caught up in rituals, traditions, rules and regulations as the means. Nothing has changed. Many still are striving to pay their own way to heaven by rituals, traditions, rules and regulations. If you are reading this, and are doing that, cease striving and rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Christians are Different in Sorrow

1 Thessalonians 4.18

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

I am sure everybody has heard expressions such as, “It’s always something,” or has heard references to “Murphy’s Law,” or the idea that anything that can go wrong, will. At the other end of this spectrum, we all know of one rather famous “preacher” who tries to tell us all how to have “Our best life now!” The honest truth is that, for most people, the first end of the possibilities applies. God has never promised His children a trial free life, and most of us can attest to that from experience. Oftentimes that experience is beyond painful.

It does seem to always be something, and if this life IS the best we have to live with, then for many that would be a truly hopeless life. Paul wrote the church at Thessalonica, and offered his words to provide comfort to struggling believers. Friends, even if your life is grand the idea that this is the best it will ever be should be a hopeless thought in and of itself. Sometimes believers suffer, and those who reject have seemingly wonderful lives. For the believer, however, this life is not the best it will be.

For the believer some things are true. If life is grand in this world, in eternity it will be grand beyond our ability to measure it. If life is not so grand, or even downright painful, then the end result eternally is exactly the same; the promise of joy beyond our ability to measure it.

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