John 15: We Can't Do Anything Without Jesus

"Apart from Me, you can do nothing."

John 15:5 (b), NIV


John 15 is an interesting chapter. The setting is the last supper. Judas has already left to arrange the betrayal of Christ. So now, Jesus is giving the eleven faithful disciples who have remained with Him some last words of encouragement. Four times in this short chapter, Jesus commands His disciples to remain in Him. Twice, He encourages them to remain in His love. He even tells them the reason why, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing." 


It's frightening to consider how many people in this world do think they can do something without God and Jesus. Though the world was created by Them, though everything we have from our food and shelter to the very air we breath was given by Them, people still think they can get along just fine without Them.


But the truth is that we would cease to exist were God to withdraw His breath from us. Furthermore, should we fail to remain in Christ, we would be lost. On the other hand, those who do remain in Christ and in His love can accomplish just about anything they set their minds to. For with Christ we are everything, but without Him we are nothing.


Is it any wonder that the apostle Paul would later say, "For me to live is Christ" and, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."


It is for truths such as these that we are reading. Today is the 83rd day of the year, and the 83rd chapter of the New Testament is John 15. It is packed with truths that will help you live the life that God has called you to. 


Day 82: What It Takes to Love Jesus

“If you love Me, keep My commandments “

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he 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 and said to 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.

“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.

John 14:15, 21-24, NKJV


We've all heard it. Maybe most of us have even said it at one time or another: "I may not always do what Jesus says, but He knows that I love Him." It sounds good, and I think most of us are sincere when we make statements like these, but are they true? The answer to that question is clearly given no less than four times in the short passage above.


And the answer? If we don't keep His commandments, we don't love Him. How could we say something like that? It's because Jesus said it. Look very closely at the verses above. You can look at them in any version of the Bible that you may possess, and they all say the same thing:

  1. "If you love Me, keep my commandments."
  2. "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me."
  3. "If anyone loves Me, He will keep My word."
  4. "He who does not love Me does not keep my words."

To emphasize this message, Jesus points out the word which we hear is not His; rather, it is the Father's. The reason it is so important for us to understand this basic principle is because it is so easy to deceive ourselves in this matter. So many of us associate love with an emotion, and it is true that deep emotions are found in love. But, according to Jesus, when it comes to loving Him we have to have something in addition to mere emotion - we have to have obedience to His words!


One of the most important reasons that we read the Bible is that it helps to dispel common misconceptions that we sometimes have when it comes to Christianity. And one of the greatest of these misconceptions is the idea the love and obedience are unrelated. Jesus makes clear that those who love Him will live with Him forever. But, this love goes beyond a simple emotion, it also includes a desire to obey the One that we love. 


This is why we read!


Today's reading is from the 14th chapter of John. It has vital instruction for those who love the Lord!


Days 79, 80 # 81: Jesus Came to Be a Light for the World

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.

I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

John 12:44-46, ESV


It sometimes seems as if we live in a time of confusion. One group of people would have us believe one thing, while another group would have us believe the complete opposite. Both sides have their spokesmen and both sides present facts that they consider pertinent. I sometimes wonder if the ones helping to create the confusion between right and wrong even believe their own logic. I sometimes wonder if the majority of people can even tell the difference between right and wrong anymore.


It's like we live in an era of blindness.


That's where Jesus comes in. He revealed the fact that He is the only way to eternal life. He told those who held to His words that they would know the truth (a rare commodity these days) and that the truth would set them free. In the passage above, He points out that He came into this world to bring light, so that people wouldn't have to wander around in the darkness anymore.


I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty appealing to me. I like certainty, and I like stability, and Jesus brings both. That's why we read the Word of God: It shines the light so that we can clearly see in a dark world that so many just seem to stumble through in confusion. Jesus is the Light of the world!


The reading for these three days is John chapters 11-13. They will help us to clear up the confusion that threatens to take over this dark world in which we live.



Day 78: Losing a Friend

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. “All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

John 10:7-11, NKJV


I got a call today that I have been dreading. It was from a good friend whose daughter had been struggling with cancer for over a year. Just a few short months ago we thought that she had beat it, but it came back, and this time her frail body just couldn't fight any more and she passed from this life to the next.


Her name was Kaitlyn. and she was only 28 years old. I have known Kaitlyn since she was a little girl, in fact, I had the privilege of coaching her in basketball since she was barely big enough to pick one up. She never got taller than 5' 2", but she always played like she was convinced she was 7' tall. I never saw Kaitlyn play anything short of full speed. 


She had the heart of a champion and a spirit that wouldn't allow her to give anything less than her best.


I have coached hundreds of kids during the past quarter century, but few have impacted my life as did Kaitlyn. She was not only one of the best players I ever coached, but she was one of the sweetest (Not all of her opponents would agree with this assessment, as she kept that sweetness well hidden during game time). She earned her PhD as a Physical Therapist, and though she was Dr. McCarley to her patients, I always just called her "Sweet Heart". 


Kaitlyn and my youngest daughter were teammates since Kaitlyn was in fourth grade and my daughter was in third. Off and on, they played for the Happy Cowgirls until Kaitlyn graduated. I suppose if you count the time that Kaitlyn was going through her cancer treatments, I have been cheering and praying for Kaitlyn for about twenty years.


I tell you all of this to let you know that Kaitlyn was more like a daughter to me than just someone I coached, so when I got the news today that she was gone, it deeply affected me. I know that the pain of her passing will eventually fade, but it will take some time.


So, what has all this got to do with the Bible passage above? Just this: Satan is like cancer - he only steals and kills and destroys. There are times in life where this enemy seems to get the upper hand. If we are not careful, he will indeed destroy our lives, if we were to let him...


That's where Jesus comes in: He is the Good Shepherd, and He has come to give us an abundant life. It may not always be apparent during difficult times like these, but it is true. Life is hard, at times, and sometimes it just doesn't seem bearable. But it can be, if we will just take our eyes off of the one who takes life, and place them on the One who gives it.


This life comes with deep pain and will overwhelm us, if we let it. But, if we can remember during our darkest days that Jesus has called us to something more than these few years we have on earth, it will help us get through.


In all the years I watched Kaitlyn play, I don't remember once seeing her give up. Neither should we. You see, we truly do have an abundant life - here on earth, for a bit, and then through all eternity. But in order to receive this abundant life we have to remember to never take our eyes off of the Good Shepherd who came to this world that we might have life, in fact, a life more abundant than anything we could imagine...


if we will just take hold of Jesus! The Word of God will tell you how. In fact, this is why we read the Word - so that we might not be overwhelmed by the evil one, but instead that we might take hold of the abundant life that God so desperately wants us to enjoy. 

Days 76 & 77: The Truth Shall Set Your Free

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:31-32, KJV


One of the greatest revelations made by Jesus is found in the passage above. It simply reveals that those who continue in His word will know the truth and, by doing so, will be set free by that very truth.


In a world of lies and deceit, this is most comforting. While many of those who we look to for the truth have a hard time with that virtue, it is an unchanging fact in the word of God. Everything that we read there is the truth. That means that we can actually know what God wants, and we can be assured of the guarantees that He makes to those who obey. It allows us to be comforted by His grace, thankful for the sacrifice of His Son, and confident in His promises concerning eternal life.


During times when we often wonder if we can even know the truth concerning the things of this world, it is an anchor of stability for our souls to know that every word that Jesus spoke was the truth, that we can trust in His promises, and be assured of His words when He tells us that we will be set free if we will only continue in His word.


It is for this freedom that we are reading the truths that are contained only in His word!


The reading for these two days is from John chapters 8 & 9. They contain truths that will truly set us free.