Jesus is life itself.

The Word for today:
John 17:1-5

mark this: John 17:3–
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

In the Bible, the opposite of “life” is “Hell.”

Say what!??

“Life” in the Bible means “relationship.” And not just any relationship. It means a relationship with the true God! It means that our relationship with God, broken by sin, is restored through the blood of Jesus.

Eternal death, on the other hand, does not mean that we cease to exist or that we cease to be conscious. It means that we are forever separated from God.

In the Bible, physical realities are pictures of spiritual realities. In the physical realm, we know that there is no life without relationship. If that isn’t apparent to you, then ask your Mom or Dad (not the kids on the school bus!) about the birds and the bees. They’ll understand what you mean.

If Adam never “knew” Eve, Cain would never have been born:
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” (1)

If we don’t “know” Jesus Christ–have a personal relationhip with him–we are not born again:
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (2)

If you want to live, really live–both in the “here and now” and forever–then open the door of your heart and get that relationship started today:
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (3)

Jesus isn’t just the way to life. Jesus is life itself:
I am the way, the truth, and the life. (4)

(1) Genesis 4:1; (2) John 17:3; (3) Revelation 3:20; (4) John 14:6a

Posted in Stand in the Rain Blog | Comments Off on Jesus is life itself.

Avoiding or Overcoming

(by Pastor Joe)

John 16:33 —
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

What do you tend to avoid?

Every one has certain activities or situations or places that they try their best to stay away from.

Some of those choices are wise:
(i.e. Stay away from angry German Shepherds, shopping on Black Friday, or the Department of Motor Vehicles.)

Some are more personal, bordering on the ridiculous:
(I have made various vows to avoid Hot Pockets, Pop Tarts, and Lime-away at all costs.)

But for the most part, human beings try their best to limit the amount of inconvenience, difficulty or suffering that they face. And that makes sense to a point. After all, who really wants more hardship or trouble? But in our efforts to sanely limit the amount of difficult things, our culture as a whole has tried to hide or compartmentalize normal parts of the human experience.
We confine sickness to hospitals, ageing to nursing homes, and death to funeral homes. Communication gets reduced to voicemail, Facebook and text messaging, not just because they are easier, but also because a face to face communication is harder.

The sad thing is that for many believers in Jesus Christ, we have somehow come up with the twisted idea that Jesus’ job is to make everything easy for us, to free us from every instance of suffering or frustration or discouragement. We may not say that out loud, but all we need to do is to consider what we pray for and what we are disappointed over when we don’t get our way.

In the last few chapters (including today’s passage), Jesus has finished telling His followers all that He has in store for them. There are some amazing statements about who Jesus is (i.e. John 14:6, 15: 5) as well as some amazing promises about what He will provide (i.e. John 14:14, 15:15, 16:16). We spend a lot of time with these passages and we ought to.

But today’s verse is the one promise that no one is naming and claiming, yet in it is not only the secret of Christian living, it is the very Gospel. God’s promises are not for us to avoid all of life’s hardships, they are our strength to overcome those hardships. Jesus does not automatically remove us from every ugly or unfortunate circumstance, He tells us that He is always bigger. In Paul’s words we are not to try at all costs to hide from the effects of a fallen world, but rather “overcome evil with good.” (Ro 12:21) The apostle John answer his own question this way: “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:5)

So DO NOT live a life of hardship avoidance- it never works and it is contrary to everything about Christ. Here is the Gospel message once again:
“In this world you will have trouble (see Cross), but take heart, I have overcome the world (see Resurrection).”


Posted in Stand in the Rain Blog | Comments Off on Avoiding or Overcoming

a primer on the Holy Spirit

The Word for today:
John 15:26–16:15

mark this:
John 15:26 —
“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.”

The Holy Spirit bears testimony concerning Christ. If the Lord Jesus Christ is real to you, that is the work of the Holy Spirit:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3).

The Holy Spirit is a person, not a “force” or an “it.” He is the third person of the tri-une God, co-equal with the Father and the Son.

The Holy Spirit is always in the world, from the very beginning in Genesis 1:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

In the Old Testament, the Spirit came upon certain individuals (Gideon, Samson, Bezalel, Isaiah, etc.) for specific purposes. But God promised that one day the Spirit would come upon all believers! (See Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36: 26-27; Ezekiel 47; Joel 2:28-29; cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4; Acts 2:33.)

Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and was led by the Spirit (Luke 4:1). Jesus’ empowerment and guidance by the Spirit sets the pattern for us. We, too, are to walk by the power and guidance of the Spirit, as Jesus did. (See Galatians 5:16, 25.)

When Jesus resurrected, His Spirit–the Holy Spirit–remained on earth, as Jesus promised:
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. (John 16:7)

Since Pentecost (50 days after the resurrection of Jesus) the Spirit dwells within everyone who trusts Jesus for salvation from sin. The difference that Pentecost made is that the Spirit who was abroad in the world is now in us!
Every believer is baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). This is a one-time event which seals our salvation (Eph. 1:13; 4:30). Water baptism is an outward and public demonstration of a “Holy Spirit-ual” baptism–which already occurred!

We are to ask God for a daily filling of the Spirit to empower our lives and make us purposeful and productive in God’s kingdom. (See Luke 11:9-13.)

The Holy Spirit hides Himself and reveals Christ (John 15:26; 16:13-14).
When the church departs, the Spirit will remain in the world as He was in the beginning, in order to preserve a climate for the Word of God to be heard. See John 16:11:
He will convict/convince the world concerning sin (faith in Christ takes away our punishment);
…and righteousness (faith in Christ adds His righteousness);
…and judgment (those without Christ have already been judged as lost sinners; see Romans 6:23).


Posted in Stand in the Rain Blog | Comments Off on a primer on the Holy Spirit

the non-negotiable Jesus

The Word for today:
John 15:9-25

mark this: John 15:23 —
He who hates Me hates My Father also.

God defines Himself in Jesus Christ. We don’t get to define God. That’s not ours to do.

The line is drawn at Jesus Christ. The decision is not about “God”–that vague Someone out there whom we think we can define. The decision is about Jesus Christ–God’s definition of Himself.

Jesus is the express image of God (1). That means that Jesus is God’s expression of God, God’s definition of God. It’s the only definition that counts.

Many people claim to love “God,” but they hate Jesus Christ. Jesus says that’s a contradiction in terms. He made a powerful, non-negotiable proclamation when He said to all mankind, “If you don’t love Me, if you don’t acknowledge Me, if you hate Me, you hate My Father also.”

The Bible will not allow any silly, generic “God” talk–unless what you mean by “God” is Jesus.

(1) Hebrews 1:3

Posted in Stand in the Rain Blog | Comments Off on the non-negotiable Jesus

I am the True Vine

(by Norm the Elder)

John 15:1-8
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
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.”

Jesus Christ is the True Vine and we, who have given our lives to him, are the branches. Thus the resurrected life and power that flows from the True Vine flows into the branches. How profound is that!

It is important to embrace the fact that it is Jesus and Jesus alone who is the True Vine. How many attach themselves and pour their lives into worldly vines that have little or no power and eventually wither and die. Anything we abide in that leaves Jesus out is a false vine that will leave us with a lack of sustenance.

So what happens when we become branches of the True Vine? A host of resources and spiritual power for a new life flows into our very being and changes us from the inside out. Old habits and useless baggage can be purged from our lives as we are changed into new creatures in Christ.

As that new life flows from the vine into the branches we realize we have the same Father and Spirit that Jesus has. We experience forgiveness, salvation, reconciliation, and sanctification as we put off the old nature and put on the new.

We can be filled with the Spirit. We become citizens of a new kingdom with all its rights and responsibilities. We are made part of a royal priesthood. Our spiritual ears and eyes are opened and we begin to see our world as Jesus sees it. We take on the mind of Christ. We bear good fruit. We can ask of God and expect Him to answer. We can call ourselves disciples of Christ.

If you find your life lacking direction and purpose, come to God and let Him graft you into the True Vine. Give yourself completely to being that branch in Him and experience the power and strength that flows from the Lord Jesus Christ into you.


Posted in Stand in the Rain Blog | Comments Off on I am the True Vine