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Five Minutes with God

Five Minutes with God is a distinct and exciting approach to daily Bible devotionals. Instead of a lofty goal of going through the entire Bible—or even the New Testament—in one year, Five Minutes with God focuses on shorter passages so that the reader can absorb more of the text and apply it to everyday life. This daily podcast will step you through the Gospel accounts of the life of Christ. Each day’s podcast also ends with a thought for further reflection and a call to prayer. By reading, reflecting, and praying, Five Minutes with God will help you come to know Him, love Him, and follow Him like never before.
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Now displaying: October, 2015
Oct 31, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

We typically think of the suffering of Jesus beginning after He falls into the hands of His enemies. What Luke uniquely shows us about this scene is the immense suffering of Jesus even before His arrest. The prayers of Jesus show us, not just a dread of the difficulty of coming events, but a human mind and body that succumbs to the extraordinary stress of His circumstances. It has been suggested that Luke’s description of sweat that “became like great drops of blood” was a literal statement, not a figurative one. If that is the case, it is evidence of the intense suffering and pressure that Jesus was experiencing as He anticipated His coming sacrifice. Luke also reveals that an angel appeared from heaven to strengthen Him, adding credence to the statement that Jesus makes in Matthew 26:38, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.” So great was Jesus’ suffering in Gethsemane that He was literally close to death. Oh, the price that He was willing to pay for us!

Why do you think Jesus’ suffering was so great in Gethsemane?


Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 30, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

The time of His suffering is at hand, and as Jesus goes to God in prayer, He is overwhelmed by the emotion of the moment. The scene at Gethsemane is full of imagery that is both beautiful and powerful. We see in this scene Jesus the man—filled with dread and trepidation because of the pain, suffering, and humiliation He knows is coming. As important and necessary as Jesus knows His sacrifice to be, His human side does not want to go through the coming events, and He prays to be saved from this moment. On the other hand, we see Jesus as One wholly committed to His Father and His plan. Even in His overwhelming dread, Jesus denies His own human desire and commits Himself to God’s will. As He pours out His heart to God in prayer, His will becomes one with the Father’s. In that moment, as Jesus releases His own will and entrusts His life into the hands of His Father, He finds the strength to overcome His fear and face with courage and resolve His appointed role of atoning sacrifice. What a beautiful picture of faith and faithfulness!

What can we learn from Jesus’ prayers in the garden?


Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 29, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

As He reminds them, Jesus had earlier sent his apostles out without any supplies so that they might learn to depend on God’s care and provision through the generosity of fellow-disciples. But now the circumstances have changed. Jesus is going away, but they are to remain in this world. With His death, life for the apostles is going to become much more difficult. Jesus’ instruction to the apostles here, in simple terms, is to prepare themselves for the difficult and dangerous times ahead. Much has been made of Jesus’ instruction for them to arm themselves with swords. What are we to think of this command? Certainly, Jesus is not suggesting that they become militant in their defense of Him or His teachings (see Matthew 26:51-53; John 18:36). It was not uncommon for men of that day to carry swords, not only for protection against robbers and thieves that they might encounter as they travelled from one place to another, but also as a general tool to be used for a variety of purposes. Jesus’ instruction is simply that they should supply and prepare themselves for the difficulties and dangers that would surely come upon them after His departure.

What can we learn from this text about our Christian lives today?


Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 29, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

Luke gives some further detail into the discussion between Jesus and Peter concerning Peter’s denial of Christ. In discussing Mark’s account of this event yesterday, we pointed out Peter’s imperfections, but Luke reminds us that there was more involved in Peter’s denial of Christ than just his rash overconfidence. Peter’s denial was the result of Satan’s tempting work in his mind and life. As Jesus told the apostles of the coming difficulties and their impending desertion, Satan was busy convincing Peter that there were no circumstances that would cause him to run away. Maybe if Peter had listened to Jesus more than to Satan, he would have avoided the circumstances that precipitated his denial. Satan then easily turned up the heat on Peter in what was already a very tense situation by using people to question his relationship with Jesus. Just as Peter did, we often underestimate the ability of Satan to tempt and trouble us and trust too much in our own ability to withstand. We would do well to learn the lesson that we must always be on guard and seek God’s help in overcoming the temptations that Satan places before us.

What can we do to help us overcome temptation?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 27, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

Peter’s confidence is admirable, even if he doesn’t prove to be as steadfast as he thought. Peter is often impetuous and quick- tongued, rash and impulsive. But despite those characteristics that we might consider to be flaws in his character, Jesus saw great potential in him. In a firm yet gentle way, and with a great deal of patience, the Master Teacher was working to harness Peter’s enthusiasm and passion and turn his weaknesses into strengths. Despite his shortcomings, Peter’s love for Christ was undeniable! Over and over, throughout his time with Jesus, Peter demonstrated a desire to be near Him, to honor Him, and defend Him. While his methods may have been questionable at times, his motives were always pure. I believe Peter provides a great lesson for us. Despite his obvious imperfections, God was able to use him to do great things. When I look at myself in a mirror, I am made painfully aware of my own shortcomings, but Peter reminds me that if my love for God is pure, God can still use me to accomplish His will. What about you?

How can God use you in spite of your shortcomings?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 26, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Jesus prayed for us! What an amazing thought to consider that Jesus, at such a pivotal time in His life and mission, was thinking of us. His prayer for us was that we might be one. You have to wonder if Jesus in His foreknowledge looked down the corridors of time to see all the doctrinal error and division that would characterize those who believed in Him through the ages, and would, with pain in His heart, simply pray that we might be one. But notice that He did not simply pray for unity among His followers, but that our unity be defined by a unity with Him and God the Father. True unity, the kind of unity that Jesus prayed for, cannot be achieved without a submission to God’s will and a following of His word. If all those who believed in God and Jesus would do away with human creeds and traditions and simply follow the teachings of God’s word, then we would be united as Jesus prayed. What a wonderful thing it would be to be able to fulfill Jesus’ desire and prayer for unity among His disciples!

How does Jesus’ idea of unity differ from that of many today?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 25, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

The care and concern Jesus has shown for His apostles during this time in the upper room is undeniable. He has spent every day of the past three years teaching, training, and leading them. He has kept them and protected them. He has nurtured and cared for them. Now as He prepares to leave them, He is concerned for them. He is concerned for how they will deal with His loss and absence. He is concerned for how they will react to a world that will hate and abuse them. He is concerned for their faith and their faithfulness. So He prays. He prays that God will continue to keep them in His care as Jesus has done during His life. He prays that God will keep them from the evil one—that is, protect them from undue temptation and trial from Satan. He prays that God will sanctify them, that He will set them apart by His word. As we see throughout the remainder of the New Testament, God answers Jesus’ prayer. The apostles go on to become courageous and powerful warriors for the kingdom, ushering in the church and leading in the spread of the gospel throughout the world.

What lessons can we learn from the apostles?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 24, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Over the next three days, we will consider the prayer offered by Jesus in the upper room. It is a beautiful prayer to God concerning the events that are to come and the effect that those events will have on His followers. In this first part of the prayer, Jesus prays for Himself, but the focus of His thoughts is not really on Him, but on His Father. His desire at this moment is what it has always been—for God to be glorified and for His will to be accomplished. Jesus has spent His entire life glorifying God and now, in His death, His desire and intent are no different. His prayer for Himself is simply that through Him God’s will and plan will be accomplished, and that God will be glorified. At this point in His life, the humility and commitment to God’s purpose that Jesus displays is remarkable. Knowing the agony, suffering, and humiliation that stands before Him, He continues to put God’s will and plan before His own human emotions. What a great lesson for us to learn from the Master Teacher!

How was God glorified through the death of Christ?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 23, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The final sentence of this reading offers a wonderful piece of encouragement and hope for all those who have committed their lives to Christ. Just a few hours after this statement is made, Jesus will be arrested, the apostles will scatter, and all will seem lost. But despite those events, Jesus wants them to know that He is not defeated. In fact, He has overcome. What seemed to be defeat was in fact God’s plan, and what seemed to end with His death would give way to eternal life through His resurrection. Yes, He had overcome. And because He has overcome, all those who follow Him can overcome as well. Despite lives marked with tribulation and trial, we have reason to be cheerful. Jesus has overcome and has given victory to His disciples. As those who have been bought with the precious blood of Christ, we can live lives of peace, joy, and hope, knowing that we have a Savior that has overcome and gained victory for Himself and for all who belong to Him.

How has Jesus overcoming the world affected your life?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 22, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Jesus is going away. He has made that point abundantly clear to the apostles. They are devastated by this revelation, as we have seen. His leaving will fill them with sorrow, but His leaving will not be the end of the story. In this text, He tries to make them understand “the rest of the story.” They will see Him again. Their sorrow will be turned into joy. Understandably, the apostles struggled with these words and this concept. If His going away was referring to His death, then how could they see Him again? And what did He mean by “a little while”? Jesus’ death, while agonizing for Him and disheartening for His apostles, was not final. He would overcome it, just as the prophets and even He had foretold. He would turn their sorrow into joy. Maybe the lesson for us in this text is that God is not a God of sorrow, but of joy. Despite the fact that life often involves hardships and sorrows, for the child of God, the story always ends with joy. Our salvation and eternal home in heaven guarantees it!

How can we find joy even in difficult times?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 21, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Occasionally, throughout this discourse by Jesus, something is said to remind us of the scene. It is somber and saddening. So disheartened are the apostles by Jesus’ revelation that He is about to leave them that they don’t even think to ask where He is going. They are overwhelmed with sorrow. Their minds are cloudy and reeling with the thoughts of life without their Master and friend. It is against this backdrop that Jesus continues to speak about the Helper that is being sent to them. This Helper, the Spirit of truth, will guide them into all truth, empowering them, working through them to accomplish God’s will and work on the earth. The language here suggests that the Spirit will work as a prosecutor, presenting the truth of God’s word as evidence and convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. What a powerful statement about God’s Word, the product of the Spirit’s work and inspiration! That Word continues to lead many to God and convict those who reject its truths.

How does God’s Word convict people today?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 20, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.

The Helper that would be sent in Jesus’ absence is a recurring theme of Jesus’ words to His apostles in this, their last gathering before His death. This Helper, the Spirit of truth, would come to them from the Father to testify of Jesus and to guide them into all truth. But significant to this passage is the price that they would have to pay for testifying of Jesus. Jesus tells them that they would be cast out of the synagogue and in fact be killed for their belief in and proclaiming of Jesus. Considering these circumstances, Jesus does not want them to “be made to stumble.” He wants them to understand that, despite their hardships and suffering for the cause of Christ, they are not alone. God is with them. He will send His Spirit, the Helper, to them to comfort and guide them. By extension, we need to understand that the same is true for us. Whatever this life might hold, we are not alone. God, in His indescribable love, is always with us to comfort and help us in our trials, so that we also may never be made to stumble.

How does God strengthen and comfort us?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 19, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

The life of a Christian is not always an easy one. It is a life of uncompromising commitment and fellowship of Christ. Many will not understand you or the reasons why you choose a life of faith. Many will belittle, disparage, and mock you for the life you have chosen. Some will hate you and desire to do harm to you because of the values you uphold. Jesus reminds us in this text that the world that hates and mistreats His people, hated and mistreated Him first. As we consider the suffering that Jesus endured during His life and especially in His death, we are reminded that the world has always been and always will be a world that is largely opposed to what Jesus stands for. It is a world that does not appreciate the value of virtue or the significance of service. It is a world that does not understand true love, nor does it believe in faith. Ultimately, it is a world that has rejected God and put its trust only in the physical. Therefore, Christ has called His people out of the world, to live by faith, and walk in His light. No, it is not always an easy life, but it is by far the best life!

Why do you think that so many in the world have rejected God?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 18, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Within these endearing words of Jesus toward His apostles, there is a great principle for each of us. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” With His imminent departure, Jesus was concerned that His apostles continue to love and care for one another in His absence. His desire was not that they simply love one another, but that they love one another in the same way that He had loved them—in a selfless, sacrificial way that always looked out for each other’s best interest. What Jesus desired for His apostles, He desires and commands of all of His disciples in any age. His love for us is great and unconditional, and His command to us is that we replicate that love in our relationships with one another. He wants us to care for one another in a way that puts other’s needs and concerns before our own, to sacrifice our own interests for the best interests of our brothers and sisters. May God help us to love others as He loves us!

Why is it important to God that we love one another?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 17, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

“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 does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

This passage has been often misused to justify doctrinal differences among denominational groups, but what is the true meaning of Jesus’ words in this text? Jesus says that He is the true vine. As such, He is the source of life and nourishment for all the branches that are in Him. Apart from the vine, the branches will wither and die. He alone is the life-giving force for all those who belong to Him. As the vine, He is also the One who defines the branches so that the branches are identified by their attachment to the vine. Just as a grapevine only contains branches that produce grapes, so Jesus only contains branches (Christians) who produce proper fruit. There is, in this truth, a great responsibility placed upon those of us who are branches of the vine. If we are to be in Christ, then we must produce fruit pleasing and acceptable to God, the vinedresser, lest we be pruned away. Could there be any better image to describe the importance, not only of bearing fruit, but of bearing acceptable fruit for God?

Why is it important to God that we bear fruit?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 16, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 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.

The events that were going to transpire in the coming hours and days would be very difficult for the apostles to understand. They could not imagine life without their Master and Teacher, much less all the terrible things that He was about to endure. The questions must have flooded their minds: Where is He going? Why is He going away? Why can’t we go with Him? What will we do without Him? When will He return? Jesus, understanding their trepidation, tries to encourage them with words of consolation and hope. It seems as though His very heart hurts for them in contemplation of the confusion that they are experiencing and the heartache that is sure to follow. His care and concern for them speaks volumes about the care and concern God has for each of us. He does not want any of us to be plagued by fear, hopelessness, or despair. The story of Jesus is one of hope and love intended to comfort and encourage all those who hear and accept it.

Why do you think God is so concerned about us?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 15, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

Relationship—it is at the core of everything God has ever done. He created mankind for the purpose of having a relationship with them. After sin entered the world, everything God did as recorded in the Scriptures was for the purpose of restoring the relationship that had been severed by sin. This passage reminds us of the purpose of the suffering and death that Jesus was preparing to go through. Relationship. If we will love Him and keep His words, then He and the Father will love us and dwell with us. That is all that God ever wanted, a relationship that will last for all eternity. Jesus was about to die to make that relationship possible. After that, it is up to us. We have to choose Him. We have to come to Him in faith and obedience, establishing a relationship with Him through baptism, and loving Him and devoting ourselves to keeping His word. God’s love for us is clearly seen in the cross of Christ. His desire for a relationship with us is obvious. The choice is ours.

Why is our obedience necessary in order to have a relationship with God?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 14, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

It is amazing to read of the great love Jesus had for His apostles. He is preparing to leave them. He knows that it will be a devastating loss for them and a difficult situation to deal with, but He gives them the assurance that He will not leave them alone and helpless. He will continue to be with them through the Spirit of truth, to dwell with them and in them, bringing comfort to their hearts and understanding to their minds. As they continue to walk in His commandments, He will continue to be with them, guiding and teaching them. But the Spirit of truth Jesus promised to His apostles was not meant only for their benefit. That Spirit endowed them with the knowledge and understanding that produced the written Word of God, and that Word continues to teach and benefit every generation of humanity. Through His Spirit, God has provided a guide in His Word for all who will read it, believe it, and apply it to their lives. It is a great testament to God’s love for all of us!

How does God’s Word demonstrate His love for us?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 13, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Jesus makes a great promise to His apostles about the things that their belief will allow them to do in His absence. They will be powerful warriors in His kingdom, displaying the wondrous works of God through the power of Christ working in them and, through those works, will bring glory to God. With Jesus as their constant help, they will have an eternal impact on the world. Belief in Jesus is still empowering! As our belief motivates us to obey His word and give Him our lives, we are transformed into His image by the saving power of His blood. Our fear is defeated by faith, and our hopelessness gives way to eternal hope. As we work and serve and live in this world, we do so by the power of Christ, shining as lights in a dark world, and bringing glory to God by our good works (Matthew 5:16). Our belief in Christ and the saving power of His blood make us infinitely more than we are capable of being on our own. As Paul says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

How does our belief in Christ strengthen us?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 12, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Make no mistake: Jesus came into this world to save sinners through His atoning death. That was His purpose. But as you recognize that truth, do not miss the fact that Jesus accomplished more than that while here. During His life, and especially the three years of His earthly ministry, He set a perfect example of how to live a life of service and compassion and godliness. He never faltered or failed, but illuminated brilliantly the path that leads us to God. During His life, Jesus also accomplished another important feat—He showed us God. As we read and study these accounts of the life of Christ, we get an unprecedented view of the mind and heart of God the Father. We see His righteousness, His love, His compassion, His mercy, and His holiness. In the person of Jesus Christ, God walked among men and gave us the opportunity to experience Him and know Him in a way that had never been possible before. It is truly amazing to think about all the ways God has shown His love toward us!

What have you learned about God by studying Jesus’ life?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 11, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This beautiful passage is one that is very familiar to us. It is a beautiful and hopeful promise of Jesus concerning His return and the eternal home that He is preparing for each of us. But consider for a moment the context of His words—the mood and tone of the upper room that night is somber and melancholy. Jesus has revealed the presence of a traitor among them and has then talked about going away. The apostles are confused, concerned, and probably visibly upset. His words, recorded in John 14, are meant to lift them up, to encourage them, to give them comfort and hope. His going away is not forever. It is only for a time, and it is for a great purpose. He is going to prepare a place for them. His desire is for them to be with Him forever, and He is going to make the way ready. Jesus’ words to His apostles are meant for us also. Just as He did for them, He wants all of us to be with Him for eternity. A home in heaven awaits all those who have come to the Father through Him. The way has been prepared. What a wonderful promise, full of hope and comfort!

How do we come to the Father through Christ?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 10, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

We are familiar with Jesus’ command in this text concerning our loving one another. It is that mutual love that Jesus points to as the identifying mark of His disciples (Christians). But how is loving one another a “new” command? Under the old covenant, God’s people were bound together by heritage. They had a common father in Abraham and a common history as a people and nation. It was these bonds that held them together and sealed their devotion to one another. They were taught to love God and to have a love for mankind in general, but the kind of love that Jesus refers to in this passage was not commanded. Under the new covenant, disciples of Christ would come from all different backgrounds and heritages. There would be no common bloodline except that of Christ. Their bond was to be found in the love that Christ showed for them and in the love that they had for one another. The deep, mutual, brotherly love that Christ taught and desired for His church was new and would set them apart from the rest of the world. That love among Christians is still a command, and should still be a special identifier of God’s people wherever they are.

How do we demonstrate the kind of love Jesus commanded?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 9, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

As we have read previously, Judas has already decided to betray Jesus and has in fact already come to an agreement with the Jewish leaders concerning that deed. He remains with Jesus, but with the motive of finding the perfect time to betray Him into their hands. There were many attitudes that were driving Judas—greed, bitterness, unbelief—but behind them all was Satan. He had used Judas’ love for money, his disdain for Jesus’ attitude toward worldly things, his lack of true faith against him, and had led him down the path toward destruction. Judas serves as a vivid reminder to us that we are all susceptible to Satan’s attacks. If one so close to Jesus—chosen to be an apostle, a daily eyewitness to His wisdom, power, and love—could fall to temptation and betray the Lord, surely any of us could be led down that same road. The example of Judas reminds us all of the diligence with which we need to resist Satan and pursue godliness.

What are some of the things we can do to help us resist Satan?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 8, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Jesus had often taught His disciples of the importance of humility and service, but as they met together in the upper room, Jesus gives them a powerful demonstration and example of those attributes. The job of foot-washing was reserved for the lowliest servant of the household. It was a demeaning and thankless job that no one wanted to do. But as the apostles are sitting around the table arguing over who will be the greatest (see yesterday’s reading), Jesus dons a towel and begins to serve the apostles in a remarkably humble way. What lesson does He hope to teach them through this act of service? That if He, their teacher and Lord (not to mention the Son of God), can humble Himself to perform this act of service, then they (and we) certainly should be willing to serve one another in whatever way we can. For the servant of God, no work is so lowly that it is beneath us. If we can show the love of God to others and bring glory to Him through our service, then we should always be ready and willing to take on the role of a servant.

Why is it so important to God that we be servants?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Oct 7, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

After all of their time with Jesus, and all the teaching and training that they had received from Him, there is still a somewhat selfish spirit displayed by the apostles. I see this as a testament to the propensity of our human bodies and minds toward fleshly desires. It is also no doubt the product of Satan’s work to produce strife and division among Jesus’ closest followers. The desire to be great is a powerful one—one that has led many away from God and into sin. But Jesus teaches His apostles, and us, that true greatness is not what the world defines as greatness. To be great in the eyes of God is to be a servant. Humility and submission are qualities that God prefers and in fact commands of His people. For those who are willing to submit humbly to God and to be servants to those around them, God will exalt in His heavenly kingdom and allow to share in all the wondrous glory of that eternal home. May we always choose to be faithful servants to God over the temporary greatness this world might offer.

Why does God desire for us to be servants?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

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