Who Are You Going To Follow In Life?

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John 13:1 – 17

13 1 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He now showed the disciples the full extent of his love.  2 It was time for supper, and the Devil had already enticed Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to carry out his plan to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him.

6 When he came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, why are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now why I am doing it; someday you will.” 8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “But if I don’t wash you, you won’t belong to me.” 9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”

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10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you are clean, but that isn’t true of everyone here.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because it is true. 14 And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master. Nor are messengers more important than the one who sends them. 17 You know these things—now do them! That is the path of blessing.

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It is clear from this passage that Jesus knew with absolute certainty, where he had come from, and the authority that he possessed.  He states for us here in verse 14 that he is both the disciples’ Lord and their Teacher.  He is to be listened to and he is to be obeyed.  And he knew that he had come from God, his Father, and that he would be returning to heaven to be with his Father once again.

It would be great if all of us had this kind of certainty in our lives.  More importantly, it would be very good if more people would realize that this life is not “all there is” and then bang, nothing.  No, there is a reality beyond this life and this world, a spiritual realm where both God exists, but also his arch enemy, the Devil.  There are two great spiritual Beings that live in the beyond, and yet they are with us here in the present, in the “Now”.

And every one of us has got to make a choice as to whom we are going to serve with our lives, which will then determine for us our eternal destiny.  Will we choose a life of blessing with God the Father?  … or a life of bitter despair of helplessness, hopelessness and eternal separation from God?  These are the choices that face all of us now, and it is in fact the most important choice of our entire life.

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What prompts me to write these thoughts come from a few things in our passage above.  Notice how this English New Living Translation version identifies the Agent behind the betrayal of Jesus that Judas makes.  It says in verse 2, “The Devil had already enticed Judas….to betray Jesus.”  We don’t talk very much about the Devil in our churches today.  Why is that?  Have we forgotten that from the very beginning of time, the Devil, that evil serpent in the Garden, has been at work to lead all people into a rebellion against God, starting with Adam and Eve.

It says here that the Devil “enticed” Judas to betray Jesus for a little bit of money.  Judas will have to give account of himself when he stands before the judgment throne of God.  While it is true that Satan loves to lead people into sin, still it was Judas’ choice to give in to this temptation of desiring silver coins in his pocket rather than submission to Jesus as Lord.

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Jesus shows us the better way.  The path to a blessed life, right now and also in the life to come, is to submit to the Father in obedience, and to His Son Jesus.  And also to submit to serving others, rather than serving one’s self.  This passage above says that Jesus showed his disciples “the full extent of his love” for them.  How did he do that?  He gave them the example that even the greatest person is only truly great when he values others higher than himself and is willing to serve others out of a spirit of love and humility.

So ask yourself this question then?  Whose example are you following right now?  Are you like Judas and only looking out for yourself, even if it costs someone else dearly?  Or are you like Jesus, and walking the path of humility, love and helping to serve the needs of others around you.  The first path may benefit you in the short-term, but leads to death.  The second path will bring blessings now, and for all eternity.  I think the choice is very clear.


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Does It Really Matter?

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My Favorite Color

One of our family’s favorite and totally silly movies is “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.  I must admit that it is a rather irreverent movie, but in its own bizarre way, it does have a peculiar sense of humor.  And one of our favorite scenes is when King Arthur and his knights come to the famous bridge where the keeper of the bridge asks them to answer truthfully three questions before they can pass.

All of them are worried.  One knight goes forward and is asked, “What is your name?  What is your quest?  What is your favorite color?”  He answers them all easily and correctly and is allowed to pass.  So then brave Sir Robin goes forward with confidence and gets the same three questions.  He answers the first two easily and correctly also.  But on the third question, he says,  “Blue….no red….AHHH!!!”  And for not answering the third question correctly, he is cast down into the endless chasm.  Bizarre humor, eh?

Now, does this silly story have anything to do with real life for you and me?  Haha, not likely.  And yet, at the same time, I have seen something in this story that touches a little too close to home for me.  The choice of what is my favorite color is a little more complex than you might think.  And as I ponder this question, I see a little bit of the “dark side” lurking within me.  Let me explain.

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In my family growing up, I was the last of four children.  As is often the case, being the last child I often felt like the others got the best of everything, and then I just got what was leftover.  And one of the things I thought about often was the dishes that we used at meals.  At some while we were young, my parents picked up a complete 4-person ceramic set of dishes with each set being a different color.

In many ways this was a good idea.  Everyone knew which set was his or hers.  My oldest brother Murray got the green set, then Blake got the blue set, and my sister Lorna got the indigo red set.  That left one set for me, and guess what color it was….yellow!!  Ugh!!  (Forgive me for anyone who does like the color yellow, but when I see a yellow car I think of it as a fat banana on wheels.)

So what was I to do?  When our whole family sat down to dinner, I would inevitably get my food served on to my yellow dishes.  But…. when not everyone was at the table, or if I was eating alone, I would slip my hand deeper into the cupboard and get either the green or the blue set of dishes.  This was my subtle rebellious way of getting back at both my siblings and my parents for sticking me with the yellow dishes.  : )

Now how silly is that?  And yet for some people, colors carry along meaning with them.  Red is considered a very lucky color in the Orient.  Purple is the color in many cultures for royalty.  Black is associated with darkness and evil.  White is also a lucky color and is thought of as the color of purity.  And for me, green and blue have somehow always been associated in my mind as colors of power and strength.  Whereas yellow I had thought of as the color of wimps.  And I definitely did not want to think of myself as a wimp.

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So now I’m 50 years old.  Now I am much more sophisticated, refined and mature, right?  Haha…. well, I would like to think that I am.  But every now and then, this old “dark side” of me wants to come out and demonstrate to all that I am mighty and invincible.  I have even given myself a powerful nickname.  I say, “I am the mighty hunter Namron!”  (It sounds like the mighty hunter Nimrod from Genesis 10:8-9, but all I did was turn my name around.)  : ) But being the last born as well as being the shortest of all the brothers, I think this created part of my need to “have to win”.  I must admit that I have had a competitive spirit for most of my life.

And this competitive spirit shows up when our family plays games.  Whether it is a simple game of Uno or a strategic game like Settlers, as much as I would like to gather around the table and relax with the family to have a good time, I have this unfortunate inner desire to “beat the pants” off everyone else.  (Haha… now wouldn’t that be quite the scene.)

So when we play a game that has game tokens, I tend to reach first for the green or blue token.  But I know how much Jill loves the color blue, so I try to always let her take that one.  But then I look at the green token and I still have the thought that this is a “power” color, so if I can choose this one, then I may have a good chance on winning the game.

Oh my, how foolish this all sounds, eh?  But then that is how tricky our hearts can be, which is what we read in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”  And the answer to that is: Jesus knows my heart, and He is able to cure my deceitful heart when I come to Him and ask Him to forgive me of my selfish human desires.  So what should I do when our family gathers next time to play a game?  I think I’ll reach for the orange token.  : )