Authority

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

The one who comes from above is superior to all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is superior to all. John 3.31

Heaven is where God resides. It is a place that is hard for our minds to grasp. Jesus left heaven. He emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and looking like other men. He shared in human nature, Philippians 2.7. He spoke the words of God, John 3.34. God has placed all things under the authority of Jesus, John 3.35. Authority is power. Jesus has all power. It is his power that we should obey. He gives eternal life to the one who believes in him. However, just as there are two sides to every coin, the one who does not believe and rejects Jesus shall receive God’s wrath, John 3.36. It is important in whom we believe.

#risingjoy #john #heaven

The world would rejoice

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

I tell you the solemn truth, you will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice; you will be sad, but your sadness will turn into joy. When a woman gives birth, she has distress because her time has come, but when her child is born, she no longer remembers the suffering because of her joy that a human being has been born into the world. John 16.20-21

Jesus was preparing his disciples for events that would soon take place. His death and resurrection were just hours away. The disciples did not understand what he was trying to say. He told them that they would be sad. They would weep and wail. However, the world would rejoice at his death.

Jesus compared the coming days to the birth of a child. The stress that a woman feels during childbirth is both mental and physical. There is the mental stress of the uncertainty of when it will happen and how it will be. Then, there is the actual physical suffering that occurs during the actual birth. However, once the baby is born and she holds the baby in her arms, her joy overcomes her memories of the suffering that she had just been through during the birth process.

Jesus would die. The disciples would see this as the end to their dreams and hopes for the future. But, on the third day, he would rise from the dead and their joy over this event would eclipse all of the sorrow they had felt.

We do not always understand about the death of Jesus, why he had to die. Nor do we understand the significance of his resurrection on the third day. Yet, when we do understand, it brings a joy that surpasses all the sadness and turmoil that accompanies unbelief. Do you understand? Do you have the joy?

#risingjoy #John #joy

What we must do

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. John 15.10-11

Why is it so hard to be obedient? There are many passages in the Bible that talk about life and death, both in the New Testament and the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, we read of the Israelites failure to obey time and time again. It just seems like they cannot get it right. Even though they know that life is dependent on obedience, they fall time and time again into idolatry among other sins.

In the New Testament, we read in Acts 5 about Ananias and Sapphira. In 1 Corinthians, Paul had to correct one problem after another of sinful actions or attitudes in the congregation in Corinth. Humans have a hard time being obedient!

To be obedient, we must submit. Submission is considered weakness by those who do not know any better, but it is the most difficult thing to do on a consistent basis. It is so easy to stand up and say that you have had enough, that you are doing what you want to do just this once. There is the account of the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew 26.36-46. His will was secondary to the will of God, the Father. Hebrews 5.8 says that Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered.

Our ego, our selfishness, does not want to let go of the false perception that we are in control. We are very good at deceiving ourselves and less apt at dying to ourselves, Matthew 16.24-27.

Yet, if we want our joy to be complete, that is what we must do. Submit. Be obedient. For if we are not obeying God, there is only one other alternative. The devil is like a roaring lion seeking to devour, 1 Peter 5.8. To whom do you submit?

#risingjoy #John #obedience

More important

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

… You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but rather, ‘I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This then is my joy, and it is complete. He must become more important while I become less important.” John 3.28-30

I am sure that we all have either been to a wedding or perhaps, participated in a wedding. They are such happy occasions most of the time. I enjoy watching the groom’s face when he sees his bride for the first time. It brings joy to the heart to see the groom with his bride.

John, who had been conceived by a miracle, Luke 1.13-18, had a purpose from birth. He was to make the people of the Lord ready to receive Jesus when he came.

Jesus and John were in the same general area in Judean territory, both teaching and baptizing. A dispute came up between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew. The disciples went to John, but they did not bring up the dispute. It appeared they were jealous on the part of John for everyone was flocking to Jesus! It would appear that John had done his job well.

Instead of reacting with jealousy, John reminded his disciples what he had already told them. He was not the Christ. He was the friend of the bridegroom that rejoiced greatly when he heard the bridegroom’s voice. His joy was complete. John knew that his role was to lead others to Jesus, not to compete with him for their attention.

It is also our role to lead others to Jesus. Or do we try to compete with Jesus for their attention? He must become more important while I become less important.

#risingjoy #John #Jesus

Are you a Christian?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

“(…)I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me.(…) ” John 17.20-21

Did you ever ask someone to pray for you? How did it make you feel?

In John 17, Jesus was praying to God right before his betrayal. He prayed that God would glorify him. Next he prayed for his disciples that would be left to continue teaching after he returned to God. The last thing for which Jesus prayed was the unity of the believers that would follow through the teaching of his disciples.

Are you a Christian? Are you a part of the church that Jesus talked about building in Matthew 16 and then established in Acts 2? If you are a part of the church, then Jesus prayed for you. His prayer was that we would all be one. Just as God and Jesus are one, his disciples or followers are to be one.

How can that be? It is actually pretty simple. We must follow the Bible in all that we do. There is one message. Do you know what it is? If not, dust off your Bible and read. If you do know what the message is, have you obeyed it? Do you continue to obey it? Imagine. Jesus prayed for you!

#risingjoy #John #unity

Not a pick-and-choose attitude

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

I am praying on behalf of them. I am not praying on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those you have given me, because they belong to you. Everything I have belongs to you, and everything you have belongs to me, and I have been glorified by them. I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them safe in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. John 17.9-11

This is a prayer of Jesus right before he was handed over to be crucified. He is praying for the disciples which will be his apostles and will take the message out to the world. There is a principle here that Jesus makes clear for those who want to see it.

Jesus does not pray for the world. Perhaps this is because the world must submit to God to be accepted by him. The world is not one with the Father. The opposite is true. The world is in rebellion to God, Romans 5.10. The death of Jesus on the cross made redemption possible for every person, but it is not a given. One can refuse to obey and accept God’s grace.

Jesus prays for his disciples because they belong to the Father. Jesus states that everything he has belongs to God and vice versa. Jesus prays that God will keep them safe. He then asks that they may be one just as Jesus and God are one. Paul wrote that he taught the same message in all the churches, 1 Corinthians 7.17.

The religious world has missed this message of unity that is based upon the word of God. The Bible is not to be translated to fit my desires. If that were true, we could all have a pick-and-choose attitude. The Bible is like any document in that God has one message that he wants to share, not hundreds. When we take the message in context, remembering to whom it was written and when, the content should be the same. We do not see the same freedom of division in the Bible that we see in the religious world. We need to be one in the Lord having the same mind, Philippians 2.2.

#risingjoy #John #unity

Is everything relative today?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world. Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. John 17.14-18

Everything is relative today. Whether something affects me or not is relative to my situation and the circumstances surrounding it. So something considered to be true may or may not be relative to my situation. Are you confused yet?

Jesus states clearly what truth is. God’s word is truth. It is not relative. It is applicable to everyone. He first gave that word to his disciples who became his apostles. They went out teaching the word and many times were rejected and mistreated because of what they taught. Generally, it is not the message that the world wants to hear. The world does not want to submit to God, therefore obedience is considered absurd.

Jesus did not call the apostles back from spreading the word of truth. He did not pray that they be taken out of the world, but that they be kept safe from the evil one. When we have problems today, we often pray that the Lord will remove the problem. Perhaps a better response would be to pray for protection from the evil one and wisdom and strength to continue standing for our faith in the midst of the storm.

#risingjoy #John #truth

Incredulous, ridiculous

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. But to all who have received him -those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become God’s children – children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God. John 1.9-13

Sometimes when I am reading a passage about Jesus that refers to the incredulous nature of the Jews during that time, I catch myself shaking my head. I think to myself how ridiculous it is that the Jews could not understand or catch their mistake. And yet, if I am not careful, I exhibit the same attitude.

There is only one of two choices to be made: either accept Jesus as the light, or not. There is not a third option. Jesus is the true light. He came to the very world that he helped to create before time began. The world certainly did not recognize him and never will. But the sad thing is that his own people did not recognize him for who he was. Why? He did not meet up to their expectations! He was not who they thought he would be.

Do I accept Jesus? Do I believe in his name? Do I obey his commands? For that is the only test to prove that I believe. Or do I refuse him because he does not meet my expectations of how he should be?

I need to tread carefully. For it is only through my belief and obedience in Jesus that I receive the precious right that only he gives. The right to become God’s child. Not everyone is. Are you?

#risingjoy #John #light

I don’t want to

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

“Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love. If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love”. John 15.9-10

Jesus shares a very important principle here. Obedience is for everyone. No one who is disobedient will remain in God’s love. Even Jesus was obedient to God. The Hebrew author writes that Jesus learned obedience through the things that he suffered, 5.8. That obedience was not always something that he wanted to do. We see that in Gethsemane in Matthew 26.36-46. Jesus knew and understood what was coming in the near future. He did not want to die such a horrible death. However, there was something that he wanted more – to do God’s will. Can that be said of me when I am brought face to face with something that I do not want to do because it will take me out of my comfort zone? Can it be said of you? I fear that many do not worry about obeying God at those times. I have been guilty of that myself. But the Hebrew writer in 12.1-2 encourages us to run the race before us keeping our eyes fixed on the one who blazed the trail before us. Want to know what part of the secret was? Jesus did not concentrate on the thing that he did not want to do. He concentrated on what would come after. His reward! Then he obeyed even in the things that were hard and against his wishes. He endured. Praise be to God that he endured. His endurance makes my, and your, salvation and joy possible!

#risingjoy #John #obedience

Hold firm

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8.32-33

Jesus is speaking to the Jews who had believed in him and his teaching. He stresses the importance of continuing to follow his teachings. With Jesus, it is not just say a little prayer and you will be all right; then go your merry way. No, with Jesus, we must continue to listen to what he says and practice it. It is a never-ending commitment to follow in his steps. That is not always easy. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15.2 that we are being saved by the gospel that he preached if we hold firm. We must hold on otherwise we believed in vain. The truth is with Jesus. He is the source of truth. The writer of Hebrews tells us that even Jesus had to learn obedience through suffering, Hebrews 5.9. He is the source of our salvation to all who obey him. I need to know what I need to do to obey him. There is only one place to turn. I learn what I need to know through his word which I find in the Bible, more specifically in the New Testament. It is in these words that I will find hope in the midst of despair and courage in the midst of fear. I will also find truth in the midst of relativity. Truth is what will set me free!

#risingjoy #John #truth

The incredible happened!

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God.

Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. John 1.1,14

Jesus is the Word. We use words to communicate with one another. John writes that Jesus is eternal. He already existed at the time of creation. He was with God when God created everything, Genesis 1.26. He has been at God’s side throughout time. John also writes that Jesus is God. The incredible happened! Jesus became flesh. He was born of a woman. He grew up as a human boy who started as a baby, learning how to crawl, to talk, and to walk. He came to live on earth. He came to bring a message, words. He was unique, the one and only son who came from God. He was full of grace and truth. He passed that truth to us in words. Those words came from the Father. When Jesus speaks, it is God talking to us. Jesus said in John 12.49-50 that he did not speak for himself, but that God told him what to say and what to teach. He passed God’s message to us exactly as he was told because of its importance. For you see, his message points us to eternal life.

#risingjoy #John #incarnation

Through service

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

“I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another. John 13.34,35

Love one another as I have loved you. How did Jesus show his love for us? He gave his life. He served. He had just washed his disciples feet earlier in the chapter. It was an unpleasant service that needed to be done. But he did it without complaining, actually taking advantage of the situation to teach a valuable lesson. It is through this service to one another that we demonstrate our love for one another. Whether it be preparing a meal for someone, washing someone’s clothes, listening to grief that needs to be expressed, or keeping a watch over someone who is weak in the faith, we make a decision to act for the good of our spiritual family. We put others needs before our own. Many times we adapt our schedule to fit that of others to be of help. This is something at which the church in the past was very good. Today we are so wrapped up many times in our own lives that we fail to let the needs of others even register upon our subconscious, much less reach out with the decision to be of help to them. Let us make sure that we love one another so that everyone will know that we are his disciples.

#risingjoy #John #love

How it is possible

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

My commandment is this – to love one another just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15.12-14

What a challenge! At first glance, one might think that this is an easy thing to do. Love one another. Sure, I can do that. However, if you have ever worked in a public job, you know how difficult people can be to like, much less to love. This love is a decision to do the best thing for a person. The emotions involved are not important. That is how it is possible to love our enemies, Matthew 5.44. It is a decision. That sometimes means putting aside our emotions to do the right thing. Not something that comes naturally to the general population. We have been fed the lie that my enemy does not deserve my good will, after all he is my enemy. But Jesus went to the cross when I was still his enemy, Romans 5.10. He died for me and for you. He demonstrated how great God’s love was for us. But, Jesus here is talking about laying down our life for our friends. Loving our friends. Should be easier, should it not? My relationship with Jesus is dependent on my obedience to him. Without that, there is no relationship with Jesus. If there is no relationship with Jesus, then there is no relationship with God. How is your friendship with Jesus?

#risingjoy #John #love

So full of joy

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

“Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love. If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. John 15.9-11

People run after so many things searching for something that will make them happy, bring them joy. Our world today is a very selfish one. Most look out for number 1 above all others. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to have complete joy? To be so full of joy that you are overflowing with it? Most of us want that, do we not? Jesus tells us in the verses above how to have that complete joy. But it does not come without a condition. I must remain in his love. How do I do that? Jesus tells us the answer to that question as well. I must obey his commandments. Obey. We do not like that word. Because it means that I may have to give up something that I want to hold on to. There is a reason that we teach our children to be obedient. That reason is to grow into an adult that is responsible for their actions and respects authority, ultimately God’s authority. If children do not learn early on to obey their parents, they will have difficulty obeying God. Do not set your child up for failure. Teach them to be obedient as you are obedient to God so that you both can be filled with the complete joy that Jesus offers.

#risingjoy #John #joy

To love as God does

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3.16

God loved the world. God is so much greater than my finite self. He has the capacity to love everyone equally and unconditionally, without any kind of prejudice. So hard to do. At times, I find myself deciding whether or not a person would be open to the Gospel. Something I need never do since I cannot know what is in a person’s heart. Then there is the way in which God showed his love for everyone. He gave Jesus to die. As a mother, I can only begin to understand how difficult that must have been. Romans 5.6,8,10 tells us that he did this while we were helpless, sinners, and his enemies. That paints a picture that is priceless! God’s love is unconditional. It is extended to all. However, there is a condition to eternal life. Eternal life is for those who believe in Jesus. Do not be tricked into believing otherwise. May I learn to love as God does and believe in the one who makes eternal life a reality.

#risingjoy #John #love