Sunday, May 13, 2012



There are seven "I AM" statements by Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John. Jesus is not into making sure everyone knows a certain body of knowledge or set of doctrines. He is completely all about having a relationship with each one who wants it. When He uses the "I AM" pronouncements, it is clear He is describing different dimensions or facets of the relationship with you He desires. One of the most familiar of these is found in a setting with the disciples just a couple of days before He heads to His death (John 14:1-6).
Jesus comforts His disciples regarding His imminent departure from them to go to the cross. He has mentioned this to them a few times and now it is time. He says: "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself"

I am convinced now that Jesus is referring to His death and His coming again to receive them personally is going to happen through the resurrection-"that where I am, there you may be also." Jesus wants us to be with Him wherever He is. By the way, now that's heaven-being in His presence with Him.
Then Jesus says, "And you know the way where I am going." Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" (John 14:1-6) Do you see how confused Thomas was with Jesus' words? He is as confused as most Christians are today. Thomas was thinking Jesus was referring to a place-a location that can be found with a good set of directions.

Jesus straightens out his thinking. Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." He's saying, "Thomas, you're missing the point! I am not talking about a place that you can find by a set of directions or a map. That's not the way. "I am the way!" Jesus is not interested in getting you to go to some special or heavenly location or place. The important thing is not a place, but a person. Jesus, Himself, is that person. He is the way!

With every one of the "I AM" pronouncements or signatures by Jesus in the Gospel of John there is a corresponding miracle or sign that illustrates it. With this one the miracle is the one in chapter 4 of John. Check it out.
Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe." The royal official said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." Jesus said to him, "Go; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives"; and he himself believed and his whole household. This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee. (John 4:46-54)

Here's what I see here. The official came to Jesus thinking that Jesus was the only way his son would have a chance to live. Jesus was the only way! Then Jesus spoke healing to the official. Jesus was the truth! Then, the official received word from his servants that his son was healed at the moment Jesus spoke the truth to him. The official then knew Jesus was the life!

This is the foundation for SECRET #42: The follower of Jesus relates to his Master as the way, the truth and the life. There is no place to figure out, only a person to follow, because He is the way, the truth and the life!



From the earliest times with the disciples who were following Jesus most closely, there was a discussion about positions in the Kingdom. In the 18th chapter of Matthew there was an interesting scene that begins with a question from the disciples: At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
The answer Jesus gives is set forth in four parts: FIRST-Jesus pulls in a child and declares that no one will enter the kingdom of heaven without becoming like a child. He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

SECOND-Then Jesus gets to the question of the disciples more directly and says that the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven has the humility of a child. Jesus says, "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

THIRD-Jesus announces the blessing to those who receive one child such as this. Jesus says that by doing this they are receiving Jesus personally. He says, "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me."

FOURTH-Jesus warns of the curse upon those who cause one of these little ones to stumble. Jesus says, "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."

NOTE that there are basically two conditions to enter the Kingdom. "Unless you are converted" is the underlying theme here: 1. Converted means to have a change of mind-a change of mind toward Jesus. Conversion has the idea of total surrender-a total change of mind to be completely focused on Jesus. 2. Unless you become like children-humble, innocent, respectful and most of all, a teachable, tender heart, you cannot be converted in your heart and enter the Kingdom.

NOTE that this is a serious issue for Jesus. Your actions and reactions must be pulled into check. Your life is not just about you. There are many looking on and following you in your attitudes and actions. I like thinking that you may be the only book on Jesus and His teachings some people will ever read and the only way Jesus will ever be able to touch them, so pay attention to who you are and what you do.

Later Jesus clarified this even more when He said: "Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." (Matthew 23:10-12)

This brings us to SECRET #41: The follower of Jesus is a servant of all. Over the last few years we have discovered a way to remind us to be a servant to all. It's a simple question. It is: "What can I do to help?" This question sets the mood toward servant hood with those you encounter, but most of all it sets up your mood and mode of action. It's easy! "What can I do to help?" SECRET #41: The follower of Jesus is a servant of all.



Two gates, two guides, Now, two foundations. "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell-and great was its fall." (Matthew 7:24-27)
This brings us to SECRET #40: The follower of Jesus builds his life on a solid foundation. There are two foundations upon which you can build your life according to Jesus. So, everything you do with your life as it relates to hearing the words of Jesus and practicing what He says affects how well you cope with every storm that blows your way.

NOTE similar things about each foundation: 1. Each person hears the words of Jesus. 2. Each person faces the same rain, floods, and blowing winds slamming against them.

And note the differences between the two: 1. Each person responds differently to the words he has heard-one by acting upon the words of Jesus and the other by not acting upon them. 2. Each person experiences a different result-one does not fall down and the other falls flat!

I am now convinced that most of us most of our lives have lived our lives founded upon the sand. It's what I call the "sandcastle lifestyle". What Jesus is saying is so simple and so profound. Jesus wants only two things from us:

1. He wants each of us to listen to His words. Instead of talking all of the time when you pray, try sitting still and waiting for Jesus to speak to you. You'll know what He wants from you. You'll know what His will is for you. I regret to say that I have spent most of my life talking and not listening. Therefore, I have missed out on what Jesus is attempting to say to me. It's as simple and as tragic as that!

2. He wants each of us to act upon what He says to do-to practice what He says in your daily life. Listen to Jesus and do what He says to do, no more and no less. This is why we have included the 3rd habit for our lives-waiting on Jesus to lead out.

NOTE THE RESULTS: FIRST-If you hear His words and are careful to do them, no matter what comes in against you, your house will not collapse!

SECOND-If you hear His words and don't do them, the very same rain, floods, and winds will come against you, then your house will fall flat, dramatically! HOW'S YOUR HOUSE STANDING???

Then, Matthew gives some insight on how impactful Jesus' teachings here were: When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29)

Jesus spoke so powerfully that it amazed all those who heard Him. This Jesus is for real! Jesus is so attractive! Jesus is the most irresistible One ever! He didn't quote any other teacher; He was the teacher of teachers, so do whatever you have to do to carefully listen to Jesus diligently practicing what you hear from Him. SECRET #40: The follower of Jesus builds his life on a solid foundation. That foundation is the rock. His name is Jesus!



SECRET #39 is The follower of Jesus is careful to do the will of the Father. We just saw in SECRET #38 that Jesus makes it clear that no matter what your lingo is, calling Him "Lord", or what you have done-spoken, cast out demons or healed in the name of Jesus, or claim to be a believer in Jesus, you may not enter the Kingdom of heaven. There is only one qualification Jesus gives in this context and it is: only "he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter."
Jesus uses this same terminology when He was making the point about who His real family members are: And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother." (Matthew 12:49-50)

Jesus first refers to God as His Father in the 7th chapter of Matthew. It's interesting to note that Jesus doesn't use the term Father when speaking to the Pharisees or the devil. The term Father is used primarily when He is interacting with His disciples and potential disciples. It's also interesting to note Jesus is the only character in the Gospel of Matthew to use the term Father. Jesus identifies God as his own Father through the use of the phrases my Father, my heavenly Father, or my Father in heaven.

Jesus also makes several references to our relationship with the Father. Jesus says: "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." "Therefore you are to be perfect or complete in your love toward everyone, as your heavenly Father is complete in His love of everyone." "Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."

Why is this Fatherly image so vital? In a sense, as Jesus shared His relationship with the Father, it was a personal invitation to enter into that same relationship with Jesus and the Father. Jesus says that "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:44) And in His prayer to the Father in John 17 Jesus says: "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;" (John 17:20-22)

I love the end of that prayer: "That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one." The invitation for us is to be in Jesus and the Father and they in us-that we may be one together with them!

Paul Young, author of The Shack opened up a thought to me that really makes sense. Jesus makes it very clear that He only does what the Father directs Him to do-the will of the Father. Jesus says He does nothing on His own initiative, but always does things that are pleasing to the Father (John 8). So, when Jesus' mother suggested to Jesus that He help out their friends at the wedding celebration and make some more wine, Jesus said that it was not His time. Or, in other words, He hadn't heard the word from the Father to do such a thing. Then, shortly after she told the servants to do whatever He said, Jesus moves into gear and made the finest of wines for the wedding feast. What happened between the first rejection by Jesus and the next move of actually following through and doing it? He just received word from the Father that this was the thing to do!

SECRET #39 is The follower of Jesus is careful to do the will of the Father. So, what does it mean to do the will of the Father? I think Jesus answers this in His next story where He compares the wise man and the foolish man who built on two different foundations. Here it is: "He who hears my words and practices them" is the answer to doing the will of the Father! Listen to Jesus and do what He says. FOLLOW HIM!



Jesus discussed two gates-wide and narrow-and now He paints a picture of two kinds of fruit-two kinds of prophets or leaders. He says: "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:15-20)
This brings us to SECRET #38: The follower of Jesus is cautious of false prophets and teachers. This is a significant and strong teaching about the deception that is present within the circles of those who claim to know Jesus and His teachings. For years I have asked, "Who are these guys?" And, the usual answer is filled with a listing of everyone just to the right or left of the one who is answering. But Jesus gives us a clear understanding of who these people are so that we can identify those who are false and those who are genuine with respect to their relationship with Jesus.

Now, don't get the idea that a false teacher or false prophet has an FT or FP tattooed on his forehead. It's not that recognizable. However, Jesus does make it clear what the difference is. That difference Jesus articulates is more for a personal examination first before you use what He says as a litmus test to be applied to others. Jesus warns that there will be false prophets who seem harmless, but are out to destroy. He says that you can decipher them by their fruits. But even this may be difficult to judge (conclusively judge) whether or not a prophet is false or genuine, because many false prophets show a certain kind of fruitfulness in what they do. That's what makes them so attractive!

But NOTE what the test here really is. The term fruit is the operative word here. In order to check out a prophet's fruit (not their show or outward demonstration), you need to observe the person and ministry over a prolonged period of time. It takes time to produce fruit. There is no instant fruit. So watch for the fruit over a long period of time and you'll know.

Now NOTE what these false prophets actually do. This is amazing! "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" (Matthew 7:21-23)

Jesus says that there will be people who come before Him in the last days, calling Him Lord, but will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Just using the right language will not get a person into the kingdom of heaven. HOWEVER, the one who does the will of the Father will enter-the person who not only talks a good game, but walks it and proves it out by his actions.

These people, Jesus says, will do 3 things that will make it all the more difficult to discern whether or not a person is a false prophet. They speak in the name of Jesus-"Did we not prophesy in your name?" They cast out demons in the name of Jesus. They perform many miracles in the name of Jesus.

WOW! These are some powerful things that the false prophets do. So how can you tell the difference between the false and the genuine. Jesus offers two identifiers here of what false teachers and prophets are all about. First-Watch their fruit! Second-"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter."

The deceptiveness of these false prophets is another good reason why it's necessary to keep: 1-Walking with Jesus 2-Walking with others 3-Waiting on Jesus to lead out. THE BEST DEFENSE AGAINST THE COUNTERFEIT IS TO KNOW THE GENUINE VERY WELL. HIS NAME IS JESUS AND ALL HE REQUIRES OF YOU IS TO FOLLOW HIM! SECRET #38 is The follower of Jesus is cautious of false prophets and teachers.