A Little Help Here, Please! Philippians 2:12, 13

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

I have struggled trying to live out the Christian life of holiness as it is commanded in the Bible! Here are a few of the many directives I have grappled with:

  • Leviticus 19:2 – “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
  • I Peter 1:13 through 16:
       ...as obedient children...rest your hope fully upon the 
       grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of 
       Jesus Christ...as He who called you is holy, you also 
       be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be 
       holy, for I am holy.”
  • Hebrews 12:14 – “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.
  • I John 3:6 through 9:
       Whoever abides in [Jesus]...does not sin. Whoever sins 
       has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let 
       no man deceive you. He who practices righteousness is 
       righteous just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the 
       devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For 
       this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might 
       destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of 
       God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he 
       cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 

It seems that too often I agree with Paul’s struggles in Romans 7 where he writes in verses 14 through 24 (New International Version):

       We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, 
       sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do.  
       For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  
       I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sin-
       ful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but 
       I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I 
       want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep 
       on doing....For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 
       but I see another law at work in the members of my body, 
       waging war against the law of my mind and making me a 
       prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 
       What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this 
       body of death? 

Who will rescue me from this body of death?” You see, I struggled with being obedient to God. It seemed like I just could not do what He wanted me to do. I know we all struggle at times. But I mean I really struggled! I have an addictive/compulsive personality that has battled against what the Word plainly tells me to do and not to do! I have struggled against addictions to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, pornography, over-eating, and a few more things I can’t think of at the moment – just as Paul described his own struggles! I have come to think Paul had a compulsive/addictive personality also!

Several years ago, I had an extended rough period in ministry as I pastored my third full-time church. My denomination sent my wife and me to The Center For Career Development And Ministry near Boston. There I had intense psychological assessments and personality tests over two and a half days. During the exit interview, as the director of the Center looked over the results of all the collected information, he said to me, “You are the most addictive person to have ever gone through our facility!Gee, thanks! Now I know the reason for my compulsive/ addictive sinful actions, but I still didn’t have the answer concerning how to overcome my sinful struggles and live a holy life!

I thought I was missing something important, an important truth in the Bible! So I read, I searched, I studied, and I found a special key concerning living a holy life for the Lord in Philippians 2:12 and 13! I want to share it with you:

       Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as 
       in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, 
       work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For 
       it is God who works in you both to will and to do for 
       His good pleasure.

Philippians was written by Paul, the same author who wrote Romans chapter 7! If Paul had stopped with Philippians 2:12, I would still be in the same predicament of compulsively living a sinful life! In effect he said, “I have told you what you are supposed to do in your Christian life. Now go, and work it out – work it out with fear and trembling!I had the fear and trembling part down pretty well! But how was I supposed to work out my salvation so God would be pleased with my practical everyday living? After all, the one thing I want to hear when I stand before my Lord Jesus in heaven is, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23).

But we are not to stop at the fear and trembling part in the last section of verse 12! We are to go on and embrace verse 13:For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.This is the key, the gem I discovered, to assist me in working out my salvation the way the Lord wants me to! Paul says that…

  • …God works in me, not just to do it, but also to will it!
  • …He gives me the want to! And I have learned that when I really want to do something, I have no trouble at all in doing it!
  • And when I want to do it, the Lord gives me all the energy, all the means, all that I need to do it!

I grew up on a dairy farm in the Berkshire Mountains of Connecticut. I had a pet Holstein calf I named Curly (she had curls on top of her head between her horn buds). When my father reminded me to feed or water my calf, I ran to do it! I loved that calf and I wanted to take good care of her! Caring for my Curly was never a burden! And when my mother called her three boys to come in for dinner, I sprinted to the house and the dining room table! I loved to eat (see the list of my addictions above) so it was not a chore at all to come in for dinner!

And when I struggle with obeying the Lord, all I have to do is have the courage to come before my God and confess:

       Lord, I’m not sure I even want to do what You are telling 
       me to do. Would You work within me to give me the want to 
       as well as the do it?  Thank you, God. Amen.  

And guess what? He does just that, because He has promised to “…work within [me]…both to will and to do for His good pleasure…! It has made a lot of difference in living out my Christian life before Him! It has taken a good amount of the struggle out of obeying God! I seem to relax more and rest in Him, letting Him do it in me and through me!

Now this is not the only Bible truth I have learned to help me live a life pleasing to my Heavenly Father. But Philippians 2:12 and 13 have made a difference! I will share more of my discoveries in the next Gems. In the meantime…

Start living out the truth of Philippians 2:12 and 13!
Ask God to give you the will to do His will,
And the power to do it!

What’s God’s Purpose for Me? Romans 8:28, 29

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

What’s God’s Purpose for Me?

Most Christians who have been in the faith any length of time have heard quoted Romans 8:28 concerning any number of happenings in their lives:

      And we know that all things work together for good to them that love                     God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

I one time almost got a book thrown at me by a woman whose mother was going through a horrific battle with cancer! The daughter was a strong Christian, but her trust in the daily faithfulness of God was being severely tested as she saw her mom increasingly suffer. By the way, the truth of Romans 8:28 still stands, even in that case, and the daughter later admitted to me that I was right in reminding her of this verse, but that she just was in no frame of mind at that time to receive it!

Has anyone quoted this verse to you when you were going through some trial or testing? Have you wondered how something that seems so not good can work together for good? The problem is that we often fail to go on to the next verse, Romans 8:29:

      For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed                      to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many                        brethren.

Verse 28 tells us that all things work together for good to those who are called according to God’s purpose. Verse 29 then spells out God’s overriding purpose for all of His children, that He predestinated His sons and daughters to be conformed to the image of His Son. All things that touch our lives as Christians – God is using all things to make us more and more like Jesus!

That this is the overriding purpose of the Father is shown by other Scripture truths.  II Corinthians 3:18 says,

      But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass [in a mirror] the glory                    of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even                    as by the Spirit of the Lord.

How do we behold the glory of the Lord?  II Corinthians 4:6 has the answer:

      For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined                in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the                face of Jesus Christ.  

God’s glory, (His fulness) is embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ!  Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus…is the image of the invisible God….”  The Lord Himself said in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father….”  We see Jesus by beholding Him in the Scriptures! It is not a cleareye to eyebeholding, because it is “…by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7).  But the more we behold Him (the more we get to know Him through the Word of God) the more we “…are transformed into that same image from glory to glory just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (II Corinthians 3:18). Saint Paul says it is “…from glory to glory…” (and he could have added a few more glories…) because it is a process – degree by degree, little by little, glory to glory, we are changed into the image of Jesus Christ!

Why is it such a drawn-out process to become like Jesus? Two reasons:

  • We have such a long way to go to become like our Savior! We often don’t realize how much we lost when sin entered into creation. Adam was created “…in the image of God…” (Genesis 1:27). But when Adam disobeyed the prohibition of the LORD: “…of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17). Adam ate, and Adam died! Oh, he didn’t die physically right away. That was many years down the road. But Adam died spiritually, and that was immediate! Before Adam disobeyed God, he and his wife Eve had continuing fellowship with their Creator. But after they ate, when the LORD came to fellowship with them “…in the cool of the day…” (Genesis 3:8), they ran and…hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8). No longer did Adam and Eve carry the image of God within them; now they bore the image of the devil whom they had just obeyed! (see John 8:44). And they have passed that sinful nature to all humanity, as it is written in Romans 5:12: “…through one man sin entered into the world, and death [separation from God] through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…
  • If that sinful and deadly condition of estrangement from God is not corrected, people will be forever separated from Him in hell –…the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).

But for the Christian, the culmination of the process of becoming like the Lord Jesus Christ is seen in I John 3:2:

      Beloved, now are we the sons [children] of God, and it does not yet appear              what we shall be:  but we know that, when He [Jesus] shall appear, we                      shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.

Then, it will not be by hazy faith.  Then, it will be by sight!  We will see Him clearly when He comes back for His own, and we will be immediately transformed into completely sinless and eternal beings like as He is. We will never be God! But we will be like Him, who is the Son of God, God the Son, the One in whom…dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.(Colossians 2:9). 

In the meantime, God is making us more and more to be like Jesus!  Now, I suspect you are a lot like me.  I have a long way to go to be like Jesus!  I have stuff in my life that does not resemble Jesus Christ, and God has to get rid of it!  So He orders all things in my life to work together for good, the good of His purpose to make me more and more like His Son!  And that can hurt!

It is a lot like what I experienced while working in an electrical contact manufacturing plant many years ago.  We made large commercial contact components out of metal – copper, bronze, aluminum.  The process involved stamping them out by a drop-board forge and then finishing them to specs by further processes such as grinding off the rough edges.  I would stand before the grinding wheel for hours smoothing off the roughness of these contacts.  If those pieces of metal had voice, I would imagine them screaming out as I ground away,Ow!  That hurts!  Stop!  Don’t!  That’s painful!”  But if the rough edges were not ground away, the contacts would not fit the order specifications, and they would be virtually useless for their intended purpose!  I guess those contacts did have some worth in their rough state:  they could always be sold for scrap metal!!!

It may hurt to have our un-Christ-like edges ground down so we can be made to conform to the specs God has for us – to look like Jesus!  But if God does not carry out the process, and/or if I fight tooth and nail against the pain of His working in my life, I will not become like Jesus, and I will not be of full use to God!  I would rather bear the pain for His manufacturing process and come out looking like Jesus – useful to my Lord – than to be sold for scrap!

The Weight of Wait

Lamentations 3:19-25

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Atlas was the Greek Titan who was punished by Zeus because he led the Titans into battle against the Olympian Gods for control of the heavens. The punishment? Atlas was to perpetually hold up the heavens! Often he is mistakenly shown holding the weight of the world upon his shoulders! Either way, the weight he was forced to carry was a heavy burden indeed!

Do you ever feel like Atlas with a heaviness weighing you down? At those times of suffering, what might be our continual prayer? “How long, oh Lord, must I wait to have this weight removed from off me?” I found a passage in the prophet Jeremiah’s writings that expresses this Weight of Wait, and also the answer the prophet found – Lamentations 3:19 through 25:

    Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall. 
    My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to 
    my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we 
    are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are 
    new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my 
    portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The LORD is 
    good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It 
    is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation 
    of the LORD.

I ought to give an explanation of the phrase in the first line, “…the wormwood and the gall….” It is not a common expression today. Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary explains it this way:

  • wormwood – “…regarded as poisonous and therefore accursed….
  • gall – “…a poisonous plant, probably the poppy (from its conspicuous head); generally poison (even of serpents)….”

One more word in the first line does not seem to fit most of our troubled times of the Weight of Wait:…roaming….” What does “…roaming…” mean here? Jeremiah wrote this just after the Babylonian army came the third time and destroyed Jerusalem, especially the temple complex, the palace, and the great houses of the rich!

Here is a quick look at the three deportations of the Jews from their homeland:

  • 605 BC – The first deportation involved relatively few Jews, only those of noble birth. This was when Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah were taken to Babylon.
  • 597 BC – The second deportation was the result of King Jehoiakim’s rebellion against the rule of Babylon’s king, Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian king besieged Jerusalem, and King Jehoiachin surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiachin and ten thousand captives from the highest levels of Judean society were taken captive to Babylon!
  • 586 BC – The last Judean king, Zedekiah, rebelled against Babylon’s rule! Before he was deposed, he authorized Jeremiah’s arrest for saying that he, the king, should arrange and lead a surrender to the enemy! The prophet was put in a dry water cistern and left to die in the mud at the bottom!

The Babylonian army besieged Jerusalem for two and a half years before the gates were breached and the city fell. King Zedekiah was blinded, and he and thousands of Jews were taken to Babylon in chains!

Jeremiah was also taken away in fetters! But the Babylonian Captain of the Guard released him at Ramah (about five miles north of Jerusalem), and sent the prophet back to advise Gedaliah, the governor the Babylonians had appointed to oversee the conquered area of Jerusalem. But Gedaliah was murdered, and a band of the remaining Jews fled to Egypt, taking Jeremiah against his will! It was probably in Egypt that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations.

So Jeremiah certainly did quite a bit of roaming after Jerusalem’s destruction! And he certainly faced some great trials! We don’t know how long the prophet had to wait for God’s answers in all these trials, but wait he did! Jeremiah continued to rebuke his fellow Jews in Egypt, and, according to tradition, the prophet was stoned to death by those Jews who became exasperated by his opposition to their godless ways! I’m sure the Weight he felt as he Waited for answers to his prayers was heavy and long-lasting!

Jeremiah’s experience isn’t too encouraging if you are under the Weight of Wait! But there is hope even in the prophet’s experience…..if we remember what our featured Scripture says!

  • This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” (Lamentations 3:21). But you have to have hopeful things already stored in your mind if you are going to recall them in Weighty times! Where do you find such hopeful things? In the Bible! This is one very good reason to memorize Scripture! That way you can “…recall to…mind…hopeful promises of God at any time!
  • Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22, 23). God’s mercies and compassions are good, kind, and faithful, as well as ongoing, according to Brown – Driver – Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions. Yes, Weighty experiences that are given to you to bear can happen all around us, and at any time, in this old sinful world! But because of God’s mercies, they don’t have to Weigh us down! Consider Jesus’ promise in Matthew 11:28:
        Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and 
        I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn 
        from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you 
        will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and 
        My burden is light.

	(Also read The Light Yoke published April 24, 2013)
  • …we are not consumed….” To be consumed means to be destroyed completely! (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary). But in verse 22 of Lamentations 3, the idea is presented in the negative, not consumed. We are freed from being completely Weighed down and destroyed…..because of …the LORD’s mercies…!
  • …new every morning….” – Every day God’s compassions are renewed asa fresh new thing…” (Ibid). This brings to my mind the description of God’s provision of manna in Exodus 16:4: “…the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people will go out and gather a certain quota every day….
        ✡   In Numbers 1:46, we are told that God rescued 
             603,550 men of military age out of Egypt in the 

        ✡   When we consider the women, children, and teens, 
             the people who came out of Egypt numbered about 
             two to three million!

        ✡   Six days every week (except the Sabbath) God 
             would send manna with the morning dew! When the 
             dew lifted, there was the manna on the ground! 
             The manna could be pounded into flour and/or 
             prepared in several ways. Those who went out to 
             collect the manna gathered about a pint of manna 
             for each person in their family! It is estimated 
             that a pint of dry manna might weigh half a pound. 
             If there were three million people to be fed, the 
             LORD would have to send 750 tons of manna every 
             day! And He did this for forty years! That’s al-
             most ten million tons of manna!

        ✡   If God can supply 750 tons of manna every day, 
             surely He can manifest His compassions new every 
             morning in the midst of our Weighty problems!


  • LORD God, ‘… great is Your faithfulness…’!
  • The LORD is my portion…!
  • …I hope in Him…!

But do all these blessings from God come about in our timing? Hardly! That’s why Jeremiah, when he was sorrowing over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity, wrote in Lamentations 3:25 and 26, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Jeremiah experienced the Weight of Wait! His life was not easy by any means. And he was martyred by being stoned to death. But what has the prophet experienced for the last two thousand six hundred years?

  • He is greatly comforted! (see Luke 16:25).
  • He is given great rest! (see Daniel 12:13).
  • He shall receive great rewards! (see I Corinthians 2:9).
  • He is numbered with the faithful witnesses in heaven! (see Hebrews 12:1).

If you are bearing the Weight of Wait now, remember…

  • Psalm 27:13 and 14:
        I would have lost heart unless I had believed that 
        I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of 
        the living. Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, 
        and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on 
        the LORD.
  • Luke 18:7 (Good News Bible) – “…will God not judge in favor of His own people who cry to Him day and night for help? Will He be slow to help them?NO!

But if we have to bear the Weight of Wait even throughout this life, remember what Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not [even] worthy to compare with the glories that shall be revealed in us.

Bear up under the Weight of Wait
As we Wait for God’s answer!


John 15:4, 5, 8

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

In John 15, Jesus and the disciples have left the Upper Room where they partook of the Passover meal – the last meal Jesus ate before He suffered at the hands of men, and died on the cross of Calvary! Where did they go next? As they walked toward the Garden of Gethsemane on the western side of Mount Olivet, they most likely walked through a grape vineyard near the Kidron Brook. It was April 17th, 29 AD (a likely conjectured date when Jesus was crucified). The grape vines, having been pruned in the late fall, were beginning to show growth.

Let’s stop here for a moment. My wife, Hope and I lived near Erie, Pennsylvania the first few months after we were married. Her dad was the pastor of Greenfield Baptist Church, a fairly large church in Northeast, PA, about ten miles from Erie. It was grape country! Welch Foods has their largest manufacturing plant in the area, producing 280 different juices, jams and jellies. I remember driving through the country where there were vast grape vineyards, the grapes mainly going to the Welsh Foods plant. After harvesting in the fall, the workers would prune the vines back in the winter. I was amazed at the pruning! When done, the vines looked as if they were stripped bare! The vines around Northeast were upheld by two wires running the length of the rows. The branches of the vines were trained to grow along the wires on either side of the trunk of the vine. When the workers were done, there were just four bare branches clinging to the wires on each vine! But in order for the vines to produce abundant grapes that year, extra branches and leaves had to go!

Here is the featured Scripture, John 15:4, 5, and 8. Jesus said to His disciples:

    Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of it-
    self, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you 
    abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides 
    in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do 
    nothing....By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much 
    fruit; so you will be My disciples.

I chose these three verses to show the progression of bearing fruit:

Verse 4 – “…bear fruit….” This must be understood by the first phrase of verse 1: “I am the true vine, you are the branches….” (John 15:1).

  • What does Jesus mean when He calls Himself the true vine? It goes back to Isaiah chapter 5, the Parable of the Vineyard. There are not many parables in the Old Testament, but this is truly a parable! Here are verses 1 and 2 of Isaiah 5:
       Now let me sing to you my Well-beloved a song of my Be-
       loved regarding His vineyard. My Well-beloved has a vine-
       yard on a very fruitful hill. He dug it up and cleared 
       out the stones, and planted it with the choicest vines. 
       He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress 
       in it; so He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but 
       it brought forth wild [sour] grapes.

Israel was God’s vineyard, and He desired His chosen people to bring forth Godly ‘fruit’ for the world to see, to bring unbelievers to Himself. But they continually disobeyed (bringing forth wild and bitter fruit). So GoddestroyedHis vineyard! The northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, and ceased to exist. The southern kingdom of Judah was conquered first by the Babylonians, and spent seventy years of captivity in the ancient Babylonian Empire. Allowed back into their own land, the future generations hadn’t effectively learned the lessons the LORD was teaching them. After rejecting the Messiah, they were finally conquered and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD!

  • Jesus is…the true vine…! He demonstrated the fruit the Father had always desired! And not only did He do this, but His followers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, have been bringing forth fruit that honors God for two millenia! What kind of fruit are we talking about?
     ✞   The fruit of people saved and reunited with the Father 
         through faith in Jesus Christ – Yes, But this is really 
         just the result that the fruit produced!

     ✞   But what draws people? It is the Holy Spirit in us pro-
         ducing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23 – Eng-
         lish Standard Version) – “...love, joy, peace, patience, 
         kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
  • To what degree are we to expect the fruit of the Spirit in our lives? John 7:37-39 has the answer: That answer was given by Jesus “…on the last day, that great day of the feast….
  • But first, what was this feast? Because it says in John 7:2 – “Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.”(Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible):

The Jews’ feast of tabernacles – Or the feast of tents. This feast was celebrated on the 15th day of the month Tisri, answering to the last half of our month September and the first half of October. It was so called from the tents or tabernacles which on that occasion were erected in and about Jerusalem, and was designed to commemorate their dwelling in tents in the wilderness. During the continuance of this feast, they dwelt in booths or tents, as their fathers did in the wilderness. The feast was continued for eight days, and the eighth or last day was the most distinguished, and was called the great day of the feast. The Jews on this occasion not only dwelt in booths, but they carried about the branches of palms; willows, and other trees which bore a thick foliage, and also branches of the olive tree, myrtle, etc.. Many sacrifices were offered on this occasion, and it was a time of general joy. It is called by Josephus and Philo the greatest feast, and was one of the three feasts which every male among the Jews was obliged to attend.

  • I said the answer was in John 7:37-39. Here it is:
     On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood 
     and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to 
     Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has 
     said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 
     But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believ-
     ing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet 
     given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
     We tend to think that we look way down inside the 
         Christian and see the Spirit bubbling down there....

     ✞   But the Holy Spirit is to be up and out like rivers 
         of living water! Rivers of living water overflowing up and 
              out in every direction!

         ➔   And with those rivers of Holy Spirit living 
              water come the fruit of the Spirit – “...
              love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, good-
              ness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
              ...flowing up and out in every direction!Wouldn’t that be drawing people to Jesus 

Now let’s get back to John 15:4, 5, 8 – our featured Scripture.

    Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of 
    itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless 
    you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who 
    abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me 
    you can do nothing....By this is My Father glorified, that you 
    bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

How would you describe the branches and the vine? John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches.

  • Is it ‘We are the branches’ and ‘Jesus is the vine? But what describes the vine?
  • The vine includes the branches! As it says in I Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular….
     ✞   Jesus Christ is the whole body!vinethe root, the trunk, the branches!

     ✞   We, as

         ➔   members of the body are simply part of the 
              whole Body, which is Jesus Christ! branches, are simply part of the whole vine, 
              which is Jesus Christ!

What about the fruit of the vine? How much fruit are we supposed to produce?

  • John 15:2 – “…fruit….Just fruit?
  • John 15:2 – “…more fruit….How?
     ...every branch that bears fruit He [the Father, 
         who is the vinedresser (v. 1)] prunes, that it may 
         bring forth more fruit.”

         ➔   Remember the description of the grapevines 
              around Erie?

         ➔   What is hampering your life so that it is 
              limiting fruit?

     ✞   What needs to be pruned in your life?Does sin need to be rooted out of your 
              life? (alcohol, drugs, pornography, nic-
              otine...and a bunch more that can take 
              over a person).

         ➔   Hobbies? I own two antique automobiles. 
              But I refuse to let them dominate my life! 
              I know some people who live and die for 
              their antique automobile collection. (One 
              man I knew had over 100 of them!).

              I have been a treasure hunter with a metal 
              detector for 47 years. But my life is not 
              defined by this hobby. I know some hard-
              core detectorists whose lives are!Work? I have met people who work 80 hours 
              a week and neglect their God-given respon-
              sibility toward their family!

     Hebrews 12:5-11 tells us that God disciplines His 
         children! “...if you never receive the discipline 
         that every child must have, you are not true child-
         ren and don't really belong to God.” (Easy-to-Read 
         Version). That is pruning!
  • John 15:8 – “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” How can we bear much fruit?
     John 15:5 – “For without Me you can do nothing...”

         ➔   ...nothing that counts for God!

         ➔   But with Him,I can do all things through 
              Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 

     John 15:8 – Be a disciple!A disciple is one who closely follows the 
              Master...A disciple imitates the Master, to be like 
              Him! For the Master is fruitful!

There is a warning in verses 2 and 6:

    Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [the Father] 
    takes away....If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out 
    as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw 
    them into the fire, and they are burned.
  • Sometimes you can’t tell a fruitless Christian from a person who is on their way to hell!
     ✞   The one is a branch in Jesus, but fruitless!

     ✞   The other is one who does not abide in Him at all!
  • Both are fruitless! But…
     ✞   ...one gets into heaven by the skin of his teeth! 
         I Corinthians 3:15 – “...his work is burned up, he 
         will suffer loss. However, he himself will be saved, 
         but it will be like going through fire.✞   ...the other goes to hell!

Which of these people do you want to be?

  • One of the two fruitless people?
     ✞   The one who goes to hell?

     ✞   The one who gets into heaven with no fruit, no 
  • Do you want to be one who bears minimal fruit?
  • Do you want to be one who bears more fruit, but not as much as he or she could produce for the Lord?


  • Do you want to be one who glorifies God by bearing much fruit?

You decide!

Power Surge!

Acts 4:23, 24, 29-31

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

You don’t want to experience an electrical Power Surge! That’s what happened to me about a week ago. I was working at my computer transferring a Gem I had just completed to the Gems For Living website when my wife called me upstairs from my basement office. While I was there, the lights in the kitchen flickered just a bit – “No big deal,” I thought. After a few minutes I went back down to the computer. It was off, which happens when there is a power surge, even a small one. I have all my equipment plugged into a high-end surge protector, so no problem! Right? I pushed the ‘on’ button on the computer tower, but nothing happened. I tried again, and nothing. I checked the other equipment plugged into the surge protector and everything indicated that it was online and powered – all except the tower! I tried another outlet – nothing! So it was off to Staples the next day, where I have a ‘repair or replace’ warrantee for my wife’s and my computers.

Guess what the tech found? Nothing! Absolutely nothing was wrong with the computer! The only thing the tech and I could think of was that the power cord itself got fried. So when I went to pick up my computer, I brought in a new cord I had as well as the old cord. Both tested fine! I have no idea why my computer refused to turn on! But the power surge had something to do with it!

There is a power surge recorded in the Bible! It is recorded in Acts chapters 3 and 4.. This passage is far too long to reproduce here, but we can catch the basic surge in verses 23, 24 and 31. But first, let’s summarize what was happening:

Acts 3:1 through 3 – “Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer.” They were on their way to regular afternoon prayer in the temple when they encountered a lame man begging for a handout.

Acts 3:6 – “Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’

Acts 3:7 and 8 – “And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up; and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God.

Acts 3:9 through 11 – An amazed crowd, recognizing the man who was lame and was now healed, gathered around Peter and John!

Acts 3:12 through 26 – And Peter took the opportunity to preach:

  • Verse 12 – “…why do you look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we have made this man walk?”
  • Verses 13 and 16 – It was Jesus! “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong…and…has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”
  • Verses 13 through 15, 17, 18 – “…you delivered up…Jesus…you denied the Holy One…and asked for a murderer…and denied the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead….you did it in ignorance….But those things which God foretold…He has…fulfilled.”

Acts 4:19 through 26 – Then Peter gave the invitation, backing it up by Old Testament prophesies:

  • Verse 19 – “Repent…and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out….”
  • Verse 26 – “To you first, God having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”

Depending upon the interpretation of Acts 4:4, from two to five thousand men of Israel were saved that day!

Acts 4:1 through 6 – The two disciples were arrested and incarcerated! The next day they appeared before the “…rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest…[and others] of the family of the high priest…” (members of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews).

  • Verse 7 – And Peter and John were interrogated by them: “By what power or by what name have you done this…” to heal the lame man!

Acts 4:8 through 12 – Peter and John, filled with the Holy Spirit, presented their defense:

  • Verse 10 – “…let it be known to you all…that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, this man stands here before you whole.”
  • Verse 12 – “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:13 through 18 – With Peter and John escorted out of the presence of the council, the Sanhedrin deliberated:

  • Verse 16 – “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed…a notable miracle has been done through them…and we cannot deny it.” But they wouldn’t admit it, either!
  • Verse 17 and 18 – “‘But so that it spreads no further…let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.’ And they called them and commanded them not to speak…nor teach in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:19 and 20 – Peter and John answered the Sanhedrin: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

Acts 4:21 – The two disciples were further threatened, then let go!

Let’s get to our featured Scripture, Acts 4:23, 24, and 29 through 31:

    And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported 
    all the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they 
    heard that, they raised their voices to God with one accord and 
    said; “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, 
    and all that is in them....Now, Lord, look on their threats, and 
    grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your 
    word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and 
    wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 
    And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled to-
    gether was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, 
    and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

This is a Power Surge!
The Power of the Holy Spirit!

Oh, that such a surge would be in the church today! What do we need to do for such a surge to occur?

  1. The first thing needed is devotion to God by individual Christians who are in relationship with other Christians!Peter and John went up together…” (Acts 3:1).
  2. Where were they going? To the house of God! They …went up together to the temple….” (Acts 3:1). What priority is the church to us?
  3. The implication is that this was a regular practice for these two! They …went up together…at the hour of prayer….” (Acts 3:1). Are we praying regularly?
  4. They saw a need!…a certain man lame from his mother’s womb….” (Acts 3:2). Do we see the many needs around us?
  5. They acted upon that need!…Peter said, ‘Look at us….Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk…! (Acts 3:4, 6). Notice: they knew what they had and what the lame man needed! And they were willing to give what he needed to him! What are we willing to give?
  6. This miracle drew a crowd! Peter saw this opportunity and preached! (Acts 3:12-26). Do we take opportunities set before us to share Jesus?
  7. Peter and John suffered persecution for their efforts! (Acts 4:1-22). Are we willing to engage others with the gospel, even though we might be opposed?
  8. And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all the chief
    priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their
    voices to God with one accord…
    ” (Acts 4:23, 24). Do we grumble and complain when opposition arises, or do we pray? And are we in accord with other believers so our voices ascend to God as one?

If we do it the Bible way…

There will be a Power Surge!
The Power of the Holy Spirit!

Being In The Way!

Genesis 24:27 (King James Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Genesis means “Beginnings,” and often we can find clues to other topics in the Bible by going back to the beginning, the first mention of it, whether in Genesis or elsewhere in the Bible.

Let’s consider Genesis 24:27 (from the King James Version): “I being in the way, the LORD led me….Who said it? It was Eliezer…

  • …Abram’s servant, apparently the head servant of the patriarch’s household! For in Genesis 24:2 it is said of Eliezer, he was “…the oldest servant of his [Abram’s] house, who ruled over all that he [Abram] had….
  • …called “Eliezer of Damascus…” in Genesis 15:2. This servant had some connection with Damascus, perhaps he was born there as Abram traveled from Haran to Canaan. (see Genesis 11:31, 32). Damascus was on the trade route that Abram followed and it was entirely possible his caravan rested in this populated city for several months.

Why is all this important? Because we are also told in Genesis 15:3, Abram’s servant was…

  • …one born in my [Abram’s] house…” (Genesis 15:3),
  • …called “…Eliezer of Damascus…” (Genesis 15:2).

If there seems to be some discrepancy in what the Scriptures say, it should be studied further and rectified! In this case there seems to be a discrepancy. Eliezer was born in Abram’s house, and also called “…Eliezer of Damascus….But there is no scriptural record of Abram ever dwelling in Damascus! It is solved by what is said in the second listed (dotted) statement from the top: Damascus was on the trade route that Abram followed and it is entirely possible his caravan rested in this populated city for several months!

But back to “…being in the way…!

Eliezer was Abraham’s trusted servant, (when Abram put his personal faith in God, his name was changed from Abram to Abraham see Genesis 17:5). The time had come for Abraham to look for a wife for his son, Isaac. So he sent his trusted servant back to Ur of the Chaldees, to find a good woman from his hometown. Ur of the Chaldees was 600 plus miles to the east of the Canaan. But it was closer to a thousand miles by caravan route, traveling first to the north and then following the Euphrates River southeast to Ur.

After months of traveling, Eliezer arrived at the city limits where the main well was located and from which the women of Ur fetched water for daily use.

    He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; 
    it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water.  
    Then he prayed, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me 
    success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, 
    I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the 
    townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when 
    I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a 
    drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’ 
    — let her be the one You have chosen for your servant Isaac.  
    By this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.”  
    (Genesis 24:11-14 New International Version).  

Rebekah, Abraham’s great niece, came out to draw water and proceeded to fulfill exactly Eliezer’s prayerful request to God! She was the one for Isaac!

So what can we glean from this Gem and the incident it highlights? Focus on our featured Scripture of Genesis 24:27: “I being in the way, the LORD led me…. This was part of Eliezer’s praise to God when he realized Rebekah was God’s choice of a wife for his master’s son! Eliezer was led by God because he put himself in the position of being in the way! That doesn’t mean he was in the way, as if he was blocking God’s leading! It means that he was actively in tune with God so he could receive the LORD’s specific directions!

How can we put ourselves in the way and so be led by the LORD?

  • First, bein the way of the Way! Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6). Be sure you are in Him and He is in you – that you have invited Him into your life as your Savior!
  • Be sure that He is your Lord! This means that you are in obedience to His will as you understand it! By the way, God’s will concerning His Lordship in your life is found in Colossians 1:9 and 10:
       ...that you may be filled with the knowledge of His 
       will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that 
       you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleas-
       ing Him, being fruitful in every good work and in-
       creasing in the knowledge of God.

And how do you increase in the knowledge of God? By heeding what it says in another Colossians verse, 3:16:Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…Get in your Bible!

  • Be sure you understand the directions you are receiving are in accordance with God’s Word! There are a lot of voices in this old world that are more than ready to direct us in the wrong way. Regularly read and study your Bible (even memorize certain Scriptures) because the LORD’s leading will never contradict His written Word!
  • Ask Him to make clear how He is leading you! I don’t think Eliezer pulled his expectation out of thin air when he said:
       May it be that when I say to a girl, “Please let down 
       your jar that I may have a drink,” and she says, “Drink, 
       and I’ll water your camels too” — let her be the one 
       You have chosen for your servant Isaac.

       He was asking beforehand how God was going to lead him!   
  • Once you have put in your request, then expect God to lead you! Eliezer did.
  • Don’t forget to thank and praise Him for His leading! Again we have Eliezer’s example in Genesis 24:26, 27:
       Then the man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD. 
       And he said, “Blessed be the LORD God of my master 
       Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth 
       toward my master. As for me, being in the way, the 
       LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”

Because of Abraham’s faithful servant being in the way…

  • …Abraham received a daughter-in-law!
  • …Isaac received a wife!
  • …together Isaac and Rebekah had a son, Jacob!
  • …Jacob then fathered thirteen more children – twelve sons and one daughter!
  • …these twelve sons became the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel!
  • …Israel became a nation perpetually favored by God!
  • …and that nation brought forth the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ!
  • …and Jesus is fulfilling through Christians the promise that God gave to Abraham when He called him out of Ur of the Chaldees – Genesis 12:1 through 3:
       Get out of your country, from your kindred and from 
       your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 
       I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and 
       make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I 
       will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him 
       who curses you; and in you all the families of the 
       earth shall be blessed.

What will the Lord do through you
…if you put yourself in the way of God?