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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Daily Devotions

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.

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Yes Sergeant!! No Sergeant!!

sergeant carter.jpg

Some 37 years ago, I enlisted in the United States Army. To say things were a bit different back then might be somewhat of an understatement. The biggest change which had recently occurred was that the Drill Sergeants could no longer actually lay hands on you; anything else was fair game. There were no limits, yet, as to what they could say or how close they COULD get to laying hands on recruits. Many were the times I wished they would have just smacked me and ended the torture; but, I digress.

The entire process is fascinating, really. All these kids would show up, from all over the place, in a strange place. They cut off everybody’s hair, gave them green uniforms, and suddenly we all were the same! Our first two weeks were called “total immersion.” The Drill Sergeant had to be there when we went to bed, and when we woke up. We did NOTHING that was not under the direct, immediate control of this fellow. We established earlier what “immediate control,” often entailed.

What was the point? Well, amazingly enough, the actual point was not to make our lives suck and torture us. The point was to, very quickly, change us from what we had been(stupid, soft, clueless kids,) into something new. The new thing was a smart(in the ways of the Army at least,) hardened, functioning soldier. It quite effective and crazy fast, in that this process happened in eight weeks. Anybody who stuck it out emerged a completely different person than they had been. We were still who we WERE, we had just been remolded and remade.

We no longer existed for our own purposes, but the purposes of the United States Army. We emerged soldiers. We were ourselves, yet transformed. Hmmmm.

Okay, let me say this first, so I don’t get in trouble. God is not frothing in our faces, making us do push-ups and run places. Nonetheless, there are some good parallels here I think.

We have to enlist in God’s service. We need salvation friends. Recruits sign the dotted line; we have to come to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have to get immersed. Total immersion makes good soldiers. Total immersion makes good Christian soldiers, too. We need to immerse in the Word, immerse in service in a local church and immerse with our brethren.

We have to obey. If only each Christian would learn to obey the way raw recruits do, the world would again be turned upside down.

Finally, we have to go. Soldiers don’t take care of business laying up in a barracks. They go. They go to where the mission is, and they get it done. We need to go to where the MISSION FIELD is, and the Holy Spirit gets it done.

 

 

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

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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?

Jesus Meets the Disciples on the Sea

John 21.3.JPG

John 21:1-7

The disciples’ minds must have still been reeling from recent events. Their Lord had quite shockingly been killed on a Roman cross, seemingly ending everything. Jesus had then been raised, and hope was seemingly restored. Why were the disciples, then, hanging around the Sea of Galilee? They did this because Jesus had told them to do this shortly after some had discovered the tomb empty.

They must have wondered what was going on, yet they did as they were instructed and went to Galilee to wait. They didn’t just wait; they resumed their lives. Peter, leading the way as always, said “I go a fishing.” Fishing is what Peter did; it is how he and some of the others earned their living. They had no real clue what was ahead, so they just did what Jesus instructed, returned to their lives and waited.

Friends, like these disciples we sometimes simply do not know what God has planned for us. He does not always give us the full picture, nor is He obligated to. He is obligated for nothing; we on the other hand are obligated to obey. More than we might like it to be so, sometimes our duty is to go, live our lives and wait for further instruction. We know that later Jesus showed up again, and more of the plan was revealed. We can also know that, if we follow instructions in the beginning that we will eventually learn all that we need to know.

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