red letter words

By Diane Houghtaling


One morning during a stressful time I asked the Lord where He wanted me to focus my attention. His answer was John 15:9. So I opened my Bible to John 15 to read the red letter words, the words of Jesus that I have grown to love and cherish.

In verse 9 Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” The answer Jesus had for my focus problem was to remain in His great love – the everlasting, powerful and perfect love that the Father poured out upon Him and He now pours out upon me.

I continued to read His words. Vs. 10 – “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.” This is how I can remain in His love. As I watch how Jesus remained in the Father’s love by obeying His commands, so I can remain in His love by obeying whatever Jesus commands me to do.

Vs. 11 – “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” There it is – the only way I can have complete joy is to receive the joy that Jesus will give me. He gives me His joy as I obey His commands and remain in His love. Vs. 12 – “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Now Jesus spells out the command that I must obey to remain in His love. The same love that He received from the Father and poured out upon me is the love He now commands me to pour out upon others so that I can remain in Him and have complete joy.

Vs. 13 – “Greater love has no one that this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” This is how I am to love others with His love – that greatest love in which He gave up His life, laid it down on the cross, for me. This act of laying down His life brought me life, forgiveness of sin and a relationship with the Father. It gave me abundant life now with the promise of eternal life with Him.

But now Jesus is also calling me to lay down my life for my friends to allow His greater love to flow into their lives. I need to die to myself, to my plans, to my desires, to what I want to do with my time so I have the time to love others as He loved me. I must be willing to be inconvenienced, to love unconditionally those who are unlovable and to lay aside my plans when the Lord has another plan for my time to flow His love to the hurting around me.

Vs. 14 – “You are my friends if you do what I command.” Jesus and me, friends, partnering together in His work of salvation, healing and restoration.

Vs. 15 – “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” As I receive Jesus’ love and remain in it, obeying His command to lay down my life and love others, He moves me from servant status to calling me His friend. Then He begins to share secrets with me, the secret desires of His Father’s heart. Everything the Father has made known to Jesus in their intimate love relationship He is now willing to share with me.

Vs. 16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” Before I knew Him, when I was steeped in sin and going my own way, when I didn’t know that He was the one I was searching for, Jesus chose me. He chose me and pursued me and got my attention when He poured out His great love into my wounded, hurting heart.

Once Jesus had my heart He appointed me to go and bear fruit that would last. Go, move, walk in His ways, do good and allow His love to flow through me to others whom He was drawing and pursuing and choosing to go. This is the fruit that will last – souls turning to the Lord, giving their hearts to Him and allowing Him to flow His love through them to even others He’s pursuing.

Then, when I’ve gone and am bearing fruit that will last, then the Father will give me whatever I ask in Jesus’ name. For Jesus has shared the secrets of the Father’s heart with me and that is what I am asking for. I ask for what the Father already desires and He is delighted to give me what I ask for.

Vs. 17 – “This is my command: Love each other.” Just in case I didn’t get it the first time, this is the way to the Lord’s heart, remaining in His love and making my joy complete. This is to be my main focus, no matter what I’m doing.




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