2297.) John 17

February 20, 2018

John 17   (NRSV)

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,

How does the cross glorify the Father?

“The Son glorified the Father by revealing in the act the sovereignty of God over evil, the compassion of God for men, and the finality of redemption for believers.”

–Dr. Merrill Tenney

Matthew 27:54   (ESV)

“Truly this was the Son of God!”

2since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

We know what God is like because Jesus has revealed him to us. And Jesus has modeled that the way to know God is to be obedient to what he asks of us, by finishing the work that lies in front of us for his sake.

4I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

6“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.

Jesus says of them, “They have kept your word.” When we think of all the failures and disappointments Christ experienced with the disciples, this is a kind assessment from Jesus. He generously judges His disciples. And Christ generously judges us, for he is our Savior as well as our Judge.

How, then, ought I treat others?

7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

11“And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

THE JOY OF CHRIST

If there is anything that ought to characterize the life of a Christian, it is joy! Jesus spoke many times to his disciples about His joy being complete and full in them. His disciples were filled with joy as they realized who they were:  children of God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17). They had been dead in their sins but were now made alive in Christ (Romans 6:4). They had once been helpless victims of death, but now death had no hold over them (1 Corinthians 15:55-58). With such a marvelous salvation experience with Christ, how could the disciples be anything less than joyful?

Don’t deny yourself that which is your birthright as a child of God. Don’t be satisfied with a joyless life. There ought to be in every Christian a deep, settled fullness of the joy of Christ that no circumstance of life can dispel. This comes as you allow the Holy Spirit to express Himself in your life. One of the fruits of the Spirit is joy (Galatians 5:22). This joy is unlike any happiness that is produced by the world. It fills you and permeates everything you do.

Jesus did not pray that you would merely be happy or even that you would escape grief. He prayed that you would have the same joy that the Father had given Him:  a divine joy, a joy that comes from a deep and unwavering relationship with the Father. It is a joy that is grounded so firmly in a relationship with God that no change in circumstances could ever shake it. This is the kind of joy that Christ is praying will be in you.

14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

I remember, as a child, hearing the pastor open his sermon Sunday after Sunday with this prayer:  “Sanctify us in the truth; thy word is truth.” Obviously this made an impact on me, since it is many decades later that I still hear that plea in my mind. In such a simple way I was taught that the word of God, both the written words of Scripture and the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ, is ultimate truth. Such an idea is not so popular today in a society which readily accepts relativism and falsehood. But with Martin Luther and millions of other believers through the ages I say, “Here I stand.”

18As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

20“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one.

This verse is one of the most wonderfully amazing verses in all the Bible, I think, for here Jesus prays for us! We are among those who believe because of the word of the apostles as found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. Jesus prayed then, and continues to intercede now, for you!

As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24“Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

25“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

From this prayer Jesus was to go straight out to the betrayal, the trial, and the Cross. He was not to speak to his disciples again. It is a wonderful and a precious thing to remember that before those terrible hours his last words were not of despair but of glory.

–William Barclay

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a simple song which grows out of our passage today as well as other Scriptures throughout the Old and New Testament:  “Glorify Thy Name.”  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)  John writes at length about the oppositions to Jesus, as in John 15:18-25, John 16:29-33, and John 17:12-16. Who/what might he see as Jesus’ opposition today?

2)  Verse 26 gives us the “secret” of a faithful Christian life:  God’s love, in Jesus Christ, in us. How can you live that out today

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Sanctify them by the truth.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/john-17-17.jpg
“Be kind.”  Calligraphy by Michael Noyes.  http://www.michaelnoyes.com/images/products/product_152_border.png
fruit of the spirit – joy.   http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u62/ParkcrestHSM/blogg/FruitoftheSpirit02JoyTitle.jpg
I pray for them.   http://revphil2011.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/iprayforthem.gif
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2296.) John 16:16-33

February 19, 2018

 

John 16:16-33  (NRSV)

Sorrow Will Turn into Joy

16”A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.”

17Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.”

A LISTENING
by Ann Weems

Going through life
     is a listening.
When we listen
     to the word,
we hear
     where we are so
blatantly
     unliving.
If we listen to the word
     and hallow it
into our lives,
     we hear
how we can so
     abundantly
live again.

19Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? 20Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. 21When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world.

It sometimes happens, even in the best of families, that a baby is born. This is not necessarily cause for alarm. The important thing is to keep your wits about you and borrow some money.
–Elinor Goulding Smith

Babies are such a nice way to start people.
–Don Herrold

Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher’s mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again.
–Jimmy Piersal, on how to diaper a baby

Children are a gift from the Lord.
–Psalm 127:3

22So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Peace for the Disciples

25“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. 26On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

“This is a remarkable passage, by which we are taught that we have the heart of God as soon as we place before Him the name of His Son.”

–John Calvin

28I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.”

29His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! 30Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.”

31Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.

33“I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace.

peace-dove-with-flowers

  • Jesus made the way for peace with God:

Romans 5:1 (NLT)

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

  • Jesus made the way for peace with others:

Ephesians 2:14 (NLT)

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.

In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

_________________________

Music:

Take courage!  HERE  is “Be Not Afraid!”  by John Michael Talbot.  Lyrics follow.

1.
You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.

R.
Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow me, and
I will give you rest.

2.
If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow’r of hell and death is at your side, know that
I am with you through it all.

3.
Blessed are your poor, for the kingdom shall be theirs.
Blest are you that weep and mourn, for one day you shall laugh.
And if wicked men insult and hate you all because of me, blessed, blessed are you!

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   “Ask and you shall receive,” Jesus says in verse 24. Consider keeping a prayer journal to record your petitions and the answers God sends. It can be a record of the Lord’s faithfulness to you, a reminder of his loving presence. 

2)  Do you have times when you feel lonely and abandoned? Jesus says in verses 31-32 that his disciples will be scattered and he will be left alone. The writer  of Hebrews tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” What comfort can these verses bring to you, or to others who may feel alone in this world?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 Images courtesy of:
verse 33.   http://www.triciagoyer.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/take-heart.png
good listening.    http://iesbal3ctrabajando.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/marauz_good_listening.jpg
mom with newborn baby.  http://cdn.sheknows.com/articles/2011/04/parenting/mom-with-newborn-baby.jpg
verse 24.   https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7091/6971171934_3de3a54f24_b.jpg
Jesus.  http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/weblog/Pohlman/JesusName.JPG
peace dove.    http://lisawallerrogers.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/image-9-peace-dove-with-flowers1.jpg

2295.) John 16:1-15

February 16, 2018

John 16:1-15   (NRSV)

“I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. 2They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. 3And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. 4But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.

Regarding persecution:

Jesus foresaw this and gave warning beforehand. He did not want anyone to be able to say that he had not known what to expect when he became a Christian. When Tyndale was persecuted and his enemies were out for his life because he sought to give the Bible to people in the English language, he said calmly, “I never expected anything else.” Jesus offered men his glory, but he offered them a cross as well.

–William Barclay

The Work of the Spirit

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts.

7Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

Sin is the truth about man,
righteousness is the truth about God,
judgment is the inevitable combination of these two truths.”

–David Guzik

And it is also the work of the Holy Spirit to help us find the One who will rescue us from sin and judgement, and clothe us in his righteousness. How sweet to meet our Savior!

12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Jesus frankly admitted that His own teaching was incomplete, and anticipated the further instruction of the church by the Holy Spirit. This statement of Jesus leads us to anticipate the formation of the New Testament.

Jesus Himself refutes those who say “I’ll take what Jesus taught, but not what Paul or the others taught.” Paul and the other New Testament writers taught us the many things that Jesus spoke of.  Today, the Holy Spirit continues to personally lead us into truth, but never in opposition to the Scripture.

The Holy Spirit’s ministry is revealing Jesus to us. He has many different ways, and He uses many different gifts to accomplish this, but the purpose is always the same: to reveal Jesus.

–David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Speak, O Lord,” from the Gettys.

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us . . . 

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Are you facing any “persecution” now — are you encountering opposition as you serve God? Thank the Lord now that all the details of your situation are already known to him, and that he will bring you through the hard times while teaching you more about who Christ is and your need of him. Ask him to help you be faithful in the struggle. The promise is sure:  God works ALL THINGS together for good to those who love him!

2)  Jesus says the Spirit of truth will “guide you into truth” and “glorify me.” How do you experience the Spirit’s work in these respects in your own life? Pray for open eyes to see the Spirit’s ministry in and through you!

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 Images courtesy of:
verse 13.   https://i.pinimg.com/736x/64/46/1e/64461e893a8767e20bafbcf17e660073–scripture-quotes-bible-verses.jpg
books of the New Testament.  http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/supplies/supplyIMG.asp?p1=9780805406115

2294.) John 15:18-27

February 15, 2018

John 15:18-27   (NRSV)

The World’s Hatred

18“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.

1 John 3:13-14 (NIV)

Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

20Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’

The reason for the hatred: knowledge and responsibility.

Jesus did two things. First, he exposed sin. He told men of the things which grieved God and of the way in which God wished them to walk. He set the true way before men. Second, he provided the remedy for sin; and he did that in a double sense. He opened the way to forgiveness for past sin, and he provided the power which would enable a man to overcome sin and do the right. These were the privileges and the knowledge which he brought to men. Suppose a man is ill; suppose he consults a doctor, and the doctor diagnoses what is wrong and prescribes a cure. If that man disregards the diagnosis and refuses to use the cure, he has no one to blame but himself if he dies, or comes to a condition which makes life wretched for himself. 

It is possible for us to do the same. Not many are actively hostile to Christ, but many live their lives as if Christ had never come and simply disregard him. But no man can know life in this world or in the world to come if he disregards the Lord of all good life.

–William Barclay

26“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.”

It is remarkable that our Lord moves quickly from His words about love for one another to this word — to the world’s hatred for the Christian. The world refers to secular society. The world is organized society without God, but with its own morals and standards and value systems. It is what we ordinarily call the system, and it is what hates believers and wants nothing to do with them.

What is to be the attitude of the Christian to this kind of world in which we still live? Our Lord’s answer is found in verses 26-27. He says, When the Spirit of God has come, you will bear witness to this world. The world is not to be left in its hopeless rejection of Christ–even though it has resisted and rejected truth when it knew it to be truth.

So the Christian is not to retaliate, not to resent the hatred and persecution of the world, not to be vindictive and to return evil for evil. Rather, we are exhorted to return good for evil. Nor are we to retire from the world, to withdraw from it and build a Christian ghetto in which to hide ourselves and then throw tracts across the chasm! Rather, we are to move into the world, live in its midst just as Jesus did, and bear witness to the truth, even though it is often rejected. We are to do this for the sake of those who will receive, believe, and accept the Word.

Primarily it is the witness of the Holy Spirit. He does what no person can do. The Spirit of God opens hearts, removes blindness, and opens minds to understand. He bears witness that a word is true, gives it a ring of authenticity, so that power in witnessing rests with the Spirit, not with us. But as Jesus indicates here, we also are to bear witness here as the apostles did–as to what they saw and heard, what they themselves experienced. That is where every Christian stands. Just before His ascension Jesus said, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses . . . (Acts l:8a). We are all to be witnesses of what Jesus has been to us, what we have experienced, what has happened in our lives, what He has done for us.

And the Holy Spirit will witness with that, using those words, simple as they may be, to open minds and to break through hard hearts, to pierce and break down barriers, and to open people up to the Word. 

–Ray Stedman

_________________________

Music:

Only light can drive out darkness. Only love can drive out hate.

HERE  is a song from my childhood — “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam.”

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   What is to be our response when we see or experience hate in the world? What is the way we can be an effective witness?

2)   Pray this: “Lord, You have placed me in this world, in this time, in this community, in this family. Now let me be Your witness today in all that I say and do. Let your love shine through me, for Jesus’ sake.”

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
 John 15:18.   https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Inspirational-Images/large/John_15-18.jpg
love-hate heart.   http://www.cuorhome.net/heart-images/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/lovehate37-500×286.jpg
John 15:26-27.   https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d2/f0/34/d2f03468b93dd0a361b06e4ba0287577.jpg

2293.) John 15:1-17

February 14, 2018

John 15:1-17   (NRSV)

Jesus the True Vine

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit.

Some scholars believe that the ancient Greek verb airo, translated here as “removes,” is more accurately translated “lifts up.” The idea is that the Father lifts up unproductive vines off of the ground (as is common in vine-dressing), that they may get more sun and be more productive . . .

Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.

. . . This word for prunes is the same word translated cleanse in other places. Ancient Greek uses the same word for both meanings.

–David Guzik

3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

5I AM THE VINE, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Question 1:  What is the chief end of man?

Answer:  Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

–The Westminster Shorter Catechism

9“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

John 15:13 (KJV)

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

1 John 3:16-18 (KJV)

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

These verses are often quoted as referring to a death for others, but the first thought in our Lord’s mind must have been of a life laid down in loving service. The life that does not shut up its compassion but loves in deed — in the doing of real things — this is first of all the life laid down.

The inspiration for that life is not only Calvary but all the years before. Our Lord’s patience throughout those years, going on loving in spite of disappointments and ungratefulness, how that challenges us who find disappointment and ingratitude so trying. Think of the courage that could trust heavenly matters to those poor human hands. Even His nearest and dearest wrangled about who would be greatest during His very last meal with them. And yet His love could overcome everything and say of such followers, They have kept Thy word (John 17:6). He knew, as only Love can know, that in spite of all failures that was their heart’s desire. And so He spoke of them at their highest, not their lowest.

Lord, evermore give us this love, that we may lay down our lives for the brethren.

14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

GOD’S GRAFFITI
by Ann Weems

We’ve splashed our rules
all over the sanctuary walls . . .
so many rules we don’t have time
      for dancing . . .
our graffiti
      defiling the house of God.
God’s graffiti is different:
      God writes LOVE
           upon our hearts.
Some night, let’s sneak into the sanctuary
      and paint over the rules
      and write God’s graffiti
all over the walls . . .
      LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “I Am the Vine”  by  the inimitable Ken Medema.

_________________________

Reflections:

1)   Put into your own words what Jesus means when he says, “I am the vine.” 

2)   What is required of his followers for us to “bear fruit”?  What fruit are you bearing for the Lord now?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
“I am the vine.”  http://sahajapower.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/i-am-the-vine.jpg
pruning.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/john-pruning1.gif
To God be the glory.   http://brookwoodcovenant.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Glorify-God.jpg
Greater love.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/greater-love.jpg
LOVE graffiti.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/love_grafitti_1.jpg

2292.) John 14:15-31

February 13, 2018

John 14:15-31   (NRSV)

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

15”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.

John 14:16 is one of the verses in the Bible that shows the underlying theme of the Trinity. God the Son prays to God the Father that He might send God the Holy Spirit to us.

17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

THE SAME SPIRIT

It took me some time to realize that the Spirit whom Jesus gave to his disciples was not just the third person of the Trinity; it was the Spirit who had empowered Jesus’ own life and ministry. The secret to Jesus’ life was the Spirit, and the Spirit is anxious to be the secret of your life and mine.

The Spirit was the one who initiated Christ’s conception. It was he who anointed Jesus at his baptism. The word Christ means “anointed,” so it was the Spirit who made Jesus the Christ. It was the Spirit who led Jesus and sustained him through his temptation  in the wilderness. The Spirit was the source of Jesus’ power over the demonic, and the Spirit enabled him to endure the Cross. The writer of Hebrews speaks of Christ as the one “who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God” (Hebrews 9:14). It was the Spirit who, with the Father, raised Jesus from the dead.  The Spirit was the key to the earthly life of Jesus.

Now on Jesus’ last night before the Cross, he told his disciples that he wanted them to have the same one in their lives who had been in his own. He promised them the Holy Spirit. And that promise is to you and me as well. Have you received him? Do you let him gently lead you? This is your privilege as a believer in Jesus. Read the promise in Luke 11:13:  “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me;

“John never allowed love to devolve into a sentiment or an emotion. Its expression is always moral and is revealed in obedience.”

–C. K. Barrett

and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?”

23Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

25“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Isaiah 9:6   (NIV)

And he will be called . . . Prince of Peace.

28“You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. 30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.

So Jesus tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit will teach them what what they need to know and will remind them of what they had already learned from Christ. Jesus says the Holy Spirit will bring them peace, which will continue through Christ’s struggle on the cross to his final destination in heaven, and for us, through our struggles on earth until we are in heaven with Jesus. 

“Rise, let us be on our way.”

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Music:

HERE  is “Perfect Peace”  by Laura Story. The song begins with a clap of thunder.

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Reflections:

1)   The Trinity is a mystery. As a child, I was taught that it resembles an apple: God is like the peel, for protection; Jesus is like the fruit, what we eat in Holy Communion; and the Holy Spirit is like the seeds, bringing new life. Yes, I get it — but who wants a relationship with an apple peel? On the other hand, what I remember most from reading the book The Shack is the wonderful portrayal of the 3 persons of the Trinity! Particularly when they sat at the table and ate and visited together — oh, I wanted to stay with them! What pictures of the Trinity have you found helpful?

2)   What do you find is the best thing to do when you feel un-peaceful?  Might reading and believing this chapter help you claim the fact of the peace of God, even in those times when you may not feel it?

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
 But the Advocate.   https://i.pinimg.com/originals/4b/a2/9a/4ba29a44f27cce7fb545c9654ff5dcf8.jpg
Holy Spirit dove.   https://stpetersposse.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/holy-spirit-dove-pentecost.jpg
verse 27.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/c728c-john14_27.jpg

2291.) John 14:1-14

February 12, 2018

John 14:1-14   (NRSV)

Jesus the Way to the Father

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.

Many dwelling places. There is room for all. There is room for me.

If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

Take comfort; even as He prepares a place for us, He prepares us for that place.

–David Guzik

4And you know the way to the place where I am going.”

5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

6Jesus said to him, “I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Is Jesus the only way to God?

An often-heard disagreement with Christianity is “Jesus and Christianity are fine, and it is great that you have a way to God. But I have my own way, and the Muslim has his, and the Buddhist has his. All roads lead to God if we are sincere in seeking Him.”

If a Christian objects to such a statement, they are often met with the reply, “What right do you have to send me to Hell just because I don’t believe in Jesus the way you do?”

But the Bible tells us that Jesus is the only way to God. How can we say this? We begin with the basic truth that Jesus is at least a way to God. Was He a true or a false prophet? Was He at the very least an honest man? If Jesus is a true prophet – or at least an honest man – then what He said about Himself is true. Therefore, Jesus is the only way to God.

Simply put, if Jesus is not the only way to God, then He is not any way to God. If there are many roads to God, then Jesus is not one of them, because He absolutely claimed there was only one road to God, and He Himself was that road. If Jesus is not the only way to God, then He was not a honest man; He was most certainly not a true prophet. He then would either be a madman or a lying devil. There is no middle ground available to us.

Sometimes people object and say, “I believe Jesus was an honest man, and I believe He was a true prophet. But I don’t actually believe He said those things about Himself in the gospels. I believe Christians added those things in later on all by themselves.” But there is no objective reason for a person to make a distinction between “Jesus really said this” or “Jesus really didn’t say that.” We have no ancient texts showing us just the supposedly “true” sayings of Jesus. Any such distinction is based purely on subjective reasons – “I personally don’t think Jesus would have said that, therefore He did not say that – later Christians just put those words in His mouth.”

If it is all up to personal opinion – if we can determine what Jesus said or didn’t say on our own whims – then we can just throw out the gospels period. It really is an all-or-nothing deal. Either we take the words of Jesus as recorded by these historically reliable and accurate documents, or we throw it out all together.

To take it a step further, it is not enough to merely believe in Jesus. Shockingly, that isn’t narrow enough! The Bible also tells us the atoning work of Jesus on the cross was the only way salvation could be accomplished. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His death, Jesus prayed if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me (Matthew 26:39). Jesus asked the Father if there was any other way to accomplish the salvation of man other than His atoning work on the cross, other than Him drinking the “cup” of His sacrificial death on the cross in our place, let it be so. But there was no other way.

The idea that all religious beliefs are equally valid, and all that matters is that we be sincere in our beliefs is so absurd that people would only apply it to religion. If you thought you were a cow – sincerely, of course – and insisted that you should stay outside and eat the lawn, men in white coats would take you away. Why won’t they allow you to be sincere in your beliefs? Because they objectively know you are wrong. Why do we apply the same muddled thinking to religion?

But is Christianity bigoted? Certainly, there are some who claim to be Christians who are in fact bigots. But Biblical Christianity is the most pluralistic, tolerant, embracing of other cultures religion on earth. In fact, Christianity is rather pluralistic — it is the one religion to embrace other cultures, and has the most urgency to translate the Scriptures into other languages. A Christian can keep their native language and culture, and follow Jesus in the midst of it. An early criticism of Christianity was the observation that they would take anybody! Slave or free; rich or poor; man or woman; Greek or Barbarian. All were accepted, but on the common ground of the truth as revealed in Jesus Christ. To leave that common ground is spiritual suicide, for both now and eternity.

–David Guzik

7If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

Since Jesus lived in an ordinary home with an ordinary family, we know that God understands our family life. Since Jesus did manual labor as a carpenter, God understands working life. Since Jesus lived among normal people and ate/drank/slept as a normal person, God understands what it means to be human, thirsty and tired and tempted. Since Jesus was unfailingly gracious to those who were hurting, we know God is kind. Since Jesus died on a cross, we know God has done everything necessary to reconcile us to himself.

How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

12“Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

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Music:

HERE  is a poem by George Herbert put to music by Ralph Vaugh Williams.

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
such a way as gives us breath,
such a truth as ends all strife,
such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
such a light as shows a feast,
such a feast as mends in length,
such a strength as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
such a joy as none can move,
such a love as none can part,
such a heart as joys in love.

–George Herbert

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Reflections:

1)   Do you believe that what Jesus said in verse 6 is true today, for all people — that “no one comes to the Father except through me”?

If you do believe that, what responsibility does that bestow upon you?

If you do not believe that, why do you think Jesus would say it?

2)   How do you understand, in your own experience, that Jesus is your way? Your truth? Your life?

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Let not your heart be troubled.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/letnotyourheartbetroubled-3.jpg
John 1:18 and John 14:9.   https://image.slidesharecdn.com/jesuspublicministry2014-141019215307-conversion-gate02/95/jesus-public-ministry-2014-by-marge-martinez-2-638.jpg?cb=1413755656