The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24
We so often fail to see God’s grace for all it is. One way that we do this is by limiting grace to only that by which we receive salvation. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone (Eph 2:8) but God’s grace doesn’t only bring people out of hell, it brings us to Himself. He doesn’t just save you and then shove you into the world as if saying “good luck!”. God guides, protects and shields us from beginning to eternity because we are His. The best part is, His grace doesn’t depend on your performance or merit. It’s simply His good pleasure to show you His undeserved favor. All the worry and the stress that comes from trying to come up with plans to make something happen or think of what to do in case something doesn’t happen. Will I do it right? What if I mess up? Will God leave me? I love this Psalm because it’s a promise from God, that even if the we fall, it is God who is holding the hand of his children. The same God who holds all of creation together by the word of His power is also holding you because He cares for you. This is is not a licence to sin or be childish in our thinking. This is the peace that comes from resting in the grace of God, and it’s boundless.
As Easter approaches, it’s right for us to spend time meditating on the significance of our Lord Jesus being triumphantly raised from the dead. What is the connection of the crucifixion to the resurrection? What made the resurrection of Jesus unique compared to, for example, the resurrection of Lazarus? Here are couple of short excerpts that shed light on this topic from the book Jesus: Lord & Savior by F.F. Bruce.
“According to Paul’s own account, when he first went to Corinth he decided, in preaching to those who lived there, to ‘know nothing’ among them ‘except Jesus Christ and Him crucified’ (1 Corinthians 2:2). This was because he knew that the proclamation of a crucified Savior would make no concessions to those standards of secular wisdom by which the Greeks of Corinth and elsewhere set so much store; rather it made nonsense of them. But it is plain from the whole tenor of Paul’s writings that for him the proclamation of Christ Crucified involved the proclamation of Christ risen from the dead. Paul knew before his conversion that Jesus was crucified; that had simply convinced him that Jesus could not be the Messiah of Israel. It was the revelation of Jesus risen from the dead that turned Paul round in his tracks and made a Christian of him. The crucifixion and resurrection are necessary to each other. There can be no gospel without both, for neither is meaningful without the other.”
“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.” John 15:1-3
In this passage Jesus is teaching His disciples by using symbolic language, and he introduces the symbol of pruning. Now the original audience would’ve at least had a reference point for this kind of analogy because they were living in a very agrarian culture. That means that vineyards, pruning and vinedressers were all things that they probably had some kind of experience with. But for us who don’t have that experience, we could probably use a little help to make sense of Jesus’ teaching here.
A recap of our previous Bible study – January 2nd, 2015
And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. John 14:29-31
How do we comfort our troubled hearts? Consider the situation of the disciples in our text tonight. They were just told by Jesus that there is a disciple among them who was going to betray Him! He also makes it clear to them that He is about to leave them. They could not understand how these things could be. Do you think their hearts were troubled? Totally.
Let’s look at seven things that Jesus tells his disciples to comfort them. These seven things can be appropriated to us as disciples of Jesus, and we too can take comfort in these daily.
Here is a powerful quote from the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”
Since I first read the book I’ve been moved by this statement. Maybe it’s because the world is constantly saying the opposite of this. Maybe it’s because I can identify with finding that which I was made for. I was made for God.
If you haven’t read our recap of last week’s Bible study yet, you should. Consider what we learned and how you might apply it to your life. One practical application is in the area of personal devotional time.
We learned last week that God has given us the Holy Spirit to live in our inner most being and that we can have amazing closeness to God because of His gift.
The video below explains ways that we can live this closeness to God every day through reading the Bible and prayer. It brings together powerful illustrations and practical advice to help us live what we have been learning. Check it out!
May the wind of God blow so that the words of God landing upon my soul become a flame of affection for Him.
– Ben Stuart