It is important for us to realize that Jesus in no way wants us to leave our many-faceted world.
Rather, He wants us to live in it, but be firmly rooted in the center of all things.
Jesus does not speak about a change of activities, a change in contacts, or even a change of pace.
He speaks about a change of heart.
This change of heart makes everything different, even while everything appears to remain the same.
This is the meaning of ‘’Set your hearts on His kingdom first … and all these other things will be given you
What counts is where our hearts are…
My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered that my interruptions were my work.
- Henri Nouwen
John 15 : 1 . 17
I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.
He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you.
For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches.
Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.
For apart from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers.
Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.
Remain in my love.
When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in His love.
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.
Yes, your joy will overflow!
This is my commandment:
Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command.
I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves.
Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
You didn’t choose me.
I chose you.
I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command:
Love each other.
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the Living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
at a place near your altar,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
What joy for those who can live in your house,
always singing your praises.
What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.
O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer.
Listen, O God of Jacob.
O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield!
Show favor to the one you have anointed.
A single day in your courts
is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing
from those who do what is right.
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
what joy for those who trust in you.
In The Shadow Of The Most High
"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall
abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
The shadow of God is not the occasional resort, but the constant abiding-place, of the saint.
Here we find not only our consolation, but our habitation. We ought never to be out of the shadow of God.
It is to dwellers, not to visitors, that the Lord promises
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall
abide under the shadow of the Almighty: ”
—and that shadow shall preserve us from nightly terror and ghostly ill, from the arrows of war and of pestilence, from death and from destruction.
Guarded by Omnipotence, the chosen of the Lord are always safe; for as they dwell in the holy place, hard by the mercy-seat, where the blood was sprinkled of old, the pillar of fire
by night, the pillar of cloud by day, which ever hangs over the sanctuary, covers them also.
Is it not written, “In the time of trouble He shall hide me
in His pavilion, —-in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me” ?
What better security can we desire?
As the people of God, we are always under the protection of the Most High.
Wherever we go, whatever we suffer, whatever may be our difficulties, temptations, trials, or perplexities, we are
always “under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Over all who maintain their fellowship with God the most tender guardian care is extended.
Our heavenly Father Himself interposes between them and their adversaries.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
He is my God, and I trust Him.
For He will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with His feathers.
He will shelter you with His wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For He will order His angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
And make me holy
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from my sin
-Brian Doerksen / Vineyard Music
Malachi 3 : 1 . 6
"I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.
Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
But who can endure the day of His coming?
Who can stand when He appears?
For He will be like a Refiner’s Fire or a launderer’s soap.
He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver;
He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.
Then the Lord will have men & women who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
“So I will come to put you on trial.
I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.
If we live out the Great Commandment, an environment is created where the Great Commission can be effectively obeyed.
Loving people who live around us fosters an environment where people trust one another…
when we truly take the Great Commandment seriously, we
become credible messengers who bring a message evidenced in both word and deed.
As we love those around us, we represent the kind of
life Jesus wants us to live:
the ‘full life’ that Jesus describes in John 10:
-Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon
John 10 : 1 . 18
The Parable of the Shepherd
Jesus said, “I am telling you the truth: the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber.
The man who goes in through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him; the sheep hear his voice as he calls his own sheep by name, and he leads them out.
When he has brought them out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice.
They will not follow someone else; instead, they will run away from such a person, because they do not know his voice.”
Jesus told them this parable, but they did not understand what he meant.
Jesus the Good Shepherd
So Jesus said again, “I am telling you the truth: I am the gate for the sheep.
All others who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate. Those who come in by me will be saved; they will come in and go out and find pasture.
The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy.
I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.
“I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep. When the hired man, who is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away; so the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them.
The hired man runs away because he is only a hired man and does not care about the sheep.
I am the good shepherd.
As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me. And I am willing to die for them.
There are other sheep which belong to me that are not in this sheep pen.
I must bring them, too; they will listen to my voice, and they will become[a] one flock with one shepherd.
“The Father loves me because I am willing to give up my life, in order that I may receive it back again.
No one takes my life away from me.
I give it up of my own free will.
I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it back.
This is what my Father has commanded me to do.”
Jesus was sacrilegious with social norms and constantly ate with sinners, touched lepers, included little children, and undignified women.
He was sacrilegious with Jewish family customs and taught people that His Father’s family was more important than any individual family.
And He was sacrilegious with the temple and spiritual leaders, as He destroyed the need for it and them.
He was a true iconoclast, or “image breaker,”
and although those in power were threatened by Him, the average people loved Him.
He set people free and gave them license to live
He never belittled or condemned people for their behavior, and He was constantly blessing, healing, protecting, and saving people around Him.
All this was done way before He did His greatest act of going to the cross for our sins.
Who wouldn’t love a man like this?
Isaiah 58 : 6 . 12
The kind of fasting I want is this:
Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free.
Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor.
Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.
Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed.
I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side.
When you pray, I will answer you.
When you call to me, I will respond.
If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word;
if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need,
then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon.
And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well.
You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry.
Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations.
You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.