We Need One Another

John 15:4
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

In this passage, we find Jesus talking about His ability to bring life and fruitfulness to all who abide in Him. He speaks of the Father being the husbandman and Himself, the vine. Just as He has total dependency on the Father, we must have total dependency on Him to complete us, if we wish to bear fruit. In other words, we cannot truly succeed alone.

In Genesis God said it is not good for man to be alone. The Father is literally telling us that being alone is bad for our future progress and growth. This statement is not just related to marriage but encompasses the need for healthy relationships in all areas of life. We thrive as a part of something beyond ourselves. Without God, we are dead in trespass and sin. Without each other, we suffer a lonely existence void of celebration and community. To experience life in its fullest expression, we truly need one another.

I have recognized the great value of cultivating healthy relationships time after time in my own life. They help us through difficult times, and they offer a venue to share our joy communally through great times. There is nothing like partnering with people to share life!

In light of this deeply-ingrained need for one another, how should we look at being part of a local assembly? Our place in the corporate context of other believers is vitally important because it’s the only plan God made for our fellowship with each other. If we hope to be fruitful and successful in life, we must learn to work together. There is no escaping the great expectation God has for all believers to coordinate our efforts and learn to bear fruit as a unit, and not just individually.

Over the last few decades, there has been a shift toward idol worship, super-stardom and covetousness throughout the world. Whether in sports, music, television or ministry, there seems to be a longing for the spotlight to validate and authenticate our actions. The concept of team building is being cast by the wayside and the art of networking has become altogether selfish.

Jesus related the Kingdom to a man who cast a net into the sea. If we play with this concept a little we can see the Kingdom rests in the hands of Jesus, and we are the net (or network) being cast in order to bring about a harvest of souls. The net must be whole, complete and strong for maximum impact—the harvest is lost when there are tears and gaps.

The same concept works in our lives individually. We need power relationships and a local assembly to work alongside other believers. Without this structure in place, our results will be greatly limited. We can achieve a level of success individually, but we will never realize the God potential that comes with the corporate dynamic.

In the coming holiday season, find the time to evaluate your value on the various teams you find yourself in. As a parent, sibling, co-worker, parishioner, etc., do you bring what is necessary to bless and support others, or would things work out the same without you? Now is the time we as believers must be willing to engage ourselves! Let this season be a time of transition from self-centered thinking that says “what about me,” and find your refreshing in how you can bring value to the teams you’re on.

If you don’t have strong relationships, a thriving personal network and a place to serve, my prayer is you will not rest until those areas of your life are whole and functional.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken can be found each week at Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Visit the website to check out his sermons and/or learn more about Spirit Life.

Choose Love

1 John 4:12, KJV:
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

From 1 John 4:12, we learn it is by love that God is known. Although we can’t see wind or electricity, we are able to see the their effects. God is a spirit, so we cannot see Him physically, but as with the forces of wind and electricity, we are able to see God’s effect, which is love.

When the spirit of God enters into a person, he is clothed with the love of God and God is made known in the earth by this effect on that individual’s life. The best demonstration of God is not established by argument, but from a life filled with the love of Christ.

1 John 4:9, KJV:
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

The full manifestation of God’s perfect love was demonstrated by His gift to humanity, Jesus Christ. With this in mind we can quickly glean two important truths about the love of God:

1) God’s love holds nothing back.

2) God’s love is totally undeserved.

The Bible says He has blessed us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places. In fact, His love was so overwhelming that He was willing to give His only son as a sacrifice for us—an unimaginable sacrifice beyond all human comprehension.

After all His blessing, it really would make sense for us to love God, but the truly amazing thing is that even if we don’t, He still loves us! That’s right, God even loves those who are disobedient and don’t love Him back. When there was nothing good about us, He directed His love towards humanity—a love that was totally undeserved.

So Human love is fundamentally a response to the divine love of God. In other words, we love God because God loved us first. Without this arrangement, we couldn’t truly love at all because it’s in His love that we gain the choice to love. Very simply, the love of God and the love of man are inextricably linked to each other. As C.H. Dodd finely put it, “The energy of love discharges itself along the lines which form a triangle, whose points are God, self and neighbor.” When we claim the love of God for ourselves, we are equally bound to love one another because the only proof we love God, is that we also love our neighbor.

Like so many things in life, this is easier said than done. Some folks are hard to like, let alone love. It’s difficult to love someone who lies to, abuses or mistreats you, yet when Jesus experienced these same crimes, He still managed to choose love every time. For a believer indwelt by God’s spirit, there is a choice.

The next time you’re faced with an offensive situation, you can choose offense, anger and bitterness, but I encourage you to choose love. It’s not only the best choice, it’s God’s choice. I’ve found that when I do, He honors my decision with great peace and makes my enemies my friends.

Because I chose Christ, I also choose love.

– Ps. Ken

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Ken VanHoose is senior pastor at Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. You can listen to his messages online at the Spirit Life Church website.

The Fruit of Our Lives

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Our church family recently celebrated the life of our friend Lee Jordan, who went home to be with the Lord for all eternity last week. Elder Lee was one of my closest friends and biggest supporters—I could always count on him for a word of encouragement and wisdom when I needed it. Simply put, he was one of the best men I knew.

It’s difficult to think about continuing our earth bound journey without the friendship and support of someone we cared about as much as Elder Lee. But even though our temporary separation from Elder Lee will be difficult, those of us who are born again understand this separation differently than the world does. Even though we will never see him again on this side of Heaven, the fruit of the life of Elder Lee will live on in the hearts and actions of those who knew him.

1 Corinthians 15:37-38, KJV:
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

Genesis 3:15, KJV:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

In the first verse Paul gives us insight about seed and sowing. When a seed is sown, it is dead and bears no resemblance to the plant it will eventually become—it has no obvious connection to what it will grow into until God gives it the new body that He wants it to become. The same is true of the seed of Jesus Christ spoken of in the first messianic promise in Genesis 3:15. Here the Lord promised a seed that would come from a woman and would crush the head of the enemy. As with every other seed He has made, God chose the body this seed would be housed in—the precious body of Jesus Christ.

In the same way you wouldn’t know what type of plant would grow from examining its seed, Jesus wasn’t recognized as the Messiah when he took his message to Jerusalem—He didn’t look like what they expected and He didn’t act the way leaders of the day wanted Him to act. Jesus was kind to sinners and tax collectors. In stark contrast to the religious and social norms of His region, Jesus even ate and hung out with these people. This is why His message was rejected by the Jewish people. They were looking for a Jewish Messiah who strictly adhered to their law and customs and who focused His actions and attention solely on those borne of the lineage of Abraham. But Jesus repeatedly turned this expectation on its head by ministering to and healing everyone He came across, regardless of their ethnicity or religion.

Jesus taught that unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. In other words, the blessing contained in the seed cannot come forth until it dies. This is what brings forth abundantly. Jesus was the seed for us all, making eternal salvation achievable and making it possible for a great harvest of souls to continue until He returns. Without a doubt Jesus accomplished much in His short time on Earth, but the fruit He yielded during His earthly ministry is far outweighed by the fruit that has come and continues to grow since His death, burial and resurrection!

We cannot determine when we are born or what we will look like and we have no way to know when we will pass from this life. What we do have is the ability to determine how we will live the life God has given us and though we face challenges, we must never allow our lives to be defined by the pain we have to endure at times. Your life counts and must be seen in that light in order to fulfill the potential God has placed in You. A believer’s life will bear much fruit that he can enjoy here on earth, but like Jesus’ life, our real and enduring success comes after we finish our course. Will our fruit remain in the hearts and memories of those we have touched? Will our effort to serve Christ inspire others to greatness?

As believers we are challenged daily to choose God’s way and not our own. At times, espescially during a time of grief and loss, we rely much too heavily on our natural vision. Trust the Lord for the ability to see beyond the present and consider the eternal impact of having lived wholly unto God. I for one know that the fruit of the life of Lee Jordan has only begun to be seen.

Be blessed! See you all tomorrow.

– Ps. Ken

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Pastor Ken is the senior pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Listen to his messages online at Spirit Life Church’s content page.