Thursday, July 28, 2016

John 17

Prayer is as essential to our spiritual lives as breathing is to our physical lives.  Jesus, the Son of God, felt the need to spend time with the Heavenly Father in prayer.  If Jesus Christ felt the need for prayer in His life here on earth, we certainly need prayer in our lives.  In John chapter seventeen Jesus was about to suffer the horrors of hell on the cross, and so Jesus prayed.

In verses one through five Jesus prayed for Himself.  Jesus recognized that the time for His crucifixion had come.  Jesus asked the Father to glorify the Son of God through this process. Jesus said in John 17:1, "Father, the time has come.  Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You." Jesus' humiliating death on the cross would bring glory to Himself.  This was because Christ's death on the cross was the Father's will and would bring glory to the Father. Because God the Father and God the Son are one, it would also bring glory to God the Son.

Furthermore, it would bring about the glorious redemption of God's chosen people.  Jesus recognized that the glorious redemption of His people could only come about by His atoning sacrifice.  We too can be fully confident in the sufficiency of Christ's atonement for our sins, because we were given to Jesus Christ by the Father.  Further we can be confident in our salvation, because Jesus completed the work on the cross that God gave Him to do.

Jesus also prayed for His disciples.  Jesus said that they were given to Him by the Father. Jesus' disciples had shown that they belonged to the Lord by their obedience and acceptance of God's Word. They had shown that they belonged to the Lord by their acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God.  They had shown they belonged to the Lord, because glory had come to the Lord through them.  So our lives as disciples today must show these same fruit of being disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our passion and desire should be to bring glory to His name by our lives. Jesus went on in His prayer to ask the Father to protect His disciples, because they were still in the world.  He also prayed that they would be united in Him.  The Lord of the universe continues to protect His disciples today!  He also desires our unity as believers.

Jesus further went on to pray for the disciples' joy.  This is a joy which we can also have. It is a joy that we can experience in the Lord and is not based on outward circumstances.  It is a joy which comes from abiding in Christ Jesus and in His promises in His Word.  Finally, Jesus prayed for the sanctification of His disciples.  He prayed that His disciples would grow in their faith.  He prayed that through the truth of God's Word they would grow in practical holiness and righteousness in their lives.  That is His desire for us today as well.

Jesus Christ's prayer was not just for the disciples of that day.  It was for us as well, His disciples today! Jesus said in John 17:20, "My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message."  It is also His desire for us His disciples today that we become more like Him.  It is His desire that our lives more and more reflect His holiness. Jesus further prayed that we may be one in unity as believers in Him.  This is so the world will take note our lives and believe in Jesus Christ .  Christ's prayer was that He will live in us, as He lives in the Father. Jesus Christ's prayer was that we would be with Him eternally to be able to see Him in all His glory. Jesus Christ's prayer was that He and His love will be in us.  Are we living our lives according to Christ's desires and prayers for us?  Is living for the Lord our consuming passion?  May we be increasingly reflecting Him in our lives!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

John 15:18- John 16:23

The night before Jesus went on the cross He told His disciples to expect persecution on this earth. Jesus said in John 15:19b, "I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you."  In the free world we enjoy much freedom and do not experience a lot of the blatant outward persecution which is found in some parts of the world.  There is subtle persecution in the free world also, however.  Further, as the free world moves ever increasingly toward the acceptance of all kinds of immoral behavior, we will also increasingly see more open persecution of believers.  Already we as followers of Jesus Christ are considered narrow and judgmental, if we do not follow or accept the life styles and philosophies of the world around us.

The world does not understand the wisdom of God and of His Holy Word.  They do not understand our love for the the Lord and our desire to serve Him.  It is difficult sometimes to live for the Lord in this world.  The Lord Jesus promised His disciples to send the Holy Spirit, however, to help them. The Holy Spirit is our helper also today.  The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and leads us to Christ.  The Holy Spirit guides us into all of God's truth and speaks God's truth into our hearts.  He does this through God's Holy Word.  He gives us the guidance we need when we need it.  He makes known to us what God, the Father and God, the Son, wants us to know and understand.

The night before Jesus died on the cross Jesus tried to tell His disciples that He would soon be dying on the cross for their sins.  Jesus further tried to explain to His disciples that He would be leaving this world to return to the Father.  This was necessary so that He could pay for our sins and then go to prepare an eternal home for His people.  Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:16, "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see Me," Jesus'words must have been confusing and a cause for grief for the disciples.  Sometimes we don't see Jesus in the difficult circumstances of our lives either.  Sometimes it is difficult to hang on to our faith during these times in our lives.

Jesus told His disciples that they would grieve temporarily, but their grief would turn to joy.  This would happen when Jesus rose from the grave victorious over sin, Satan, and death!  Jesus told His disciples in John 16:22 that when this happened "no one will take away your joy."  We too may have suffering and difficulties in this life.  Our final victory, however, has been won through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!  Because of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection even the trials of life can not rob us our our joy in the Lord!  Also someday Jesus will return for us. What joy! What glorious expectations we have in Christ Jesus!

While we are on this earth we need to abide in Christ.  John 16:24 tells us that if we abide and remain in Christ, we can ask for anything form the Father in Jesus Christ's name.  We can go directly to the Father in prayer.  Jesus says this is true in John 16:27 when He says, "the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I come from God."

If we abide in Christ we experience His peace.  It is a peace which the world can not understand or take away from us.  We should not be shocked if we often face difficult obstacles in this world. Jesus says in John 16:33b, "In this world, you will have trouble."  Trials of various kinds are inevitable in this world.  Jesus goes on to say in that same verse, however, that we should not become discouraged. Jesus says, "But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  Jesus has won the final victory! Everything is under His control, even the smallest details of our lives.  He gives us grace to meet each and every trial that He allows in our lives.  Hence, in Jesus Christ we have His joy and His peace in our lives.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

John 15:9-17

"I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."  John 15:11

"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."  John 15:16

Jesus tells us in John chapter fifteen that the only way we can expect to live spiritually fruitful lives is by remaining in Him.  Jesus is like the vine.  We are like the branches.  A branch can only survive when it is attached to the vine.  We can only live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord when we are doing it in the Lord's strength.  Our strength alone will fail ever time.  God's strength in our lives is all-sufficient.

One way we show that we are remaining in Jesus Christ's love is by obeying His commands. We can not just have a lukewarm affection for the Lord.  Our love for the Lord must be a passionate love. Our love for Him must be demonstrated in a love for His Holy Word and in a desire to obey the Lord in all areas of our lives.  Christ demonstrated this kind of obedient love for the Father. Christ was willing to endure the horrors of hell on the cross, so He could be obedient to the Father's will.

Another way we can show that we are remaining in the Lord's love is by loving our fellow Christians. We need to love each other, as the Lord has loved us.  Jesus Christ was willing to go to the cross because of His love for us!  This was sacrificial love beyond our comprehension!  We need to show sacrificial love for each other.  John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this, that He lay down His life for His friends."  In verse fourteen of John chapter fifteen Jesus says to us, "You are My friends if you do what I command."  Proof that we are remaining in the Lord's love is obeying His commands, and one of the Lord's commands is to love each other.

When we abide in the Lord it brings joy to His heart.  When we show spiritual fruit in our lives and a passion and love for the Lord it also brings joy and delight to the Lord's heart.  If we are abiding and remaining in the Lord it further brings joy to our own lives.  Jesus says in John 15:11, "I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

Joy in the Lord is much deeper than the joy and happiness found in pleasant and peaceful circumstances.  The Lord's joy is found in our lives, because we delight in the Lord.  The Lord's joy is found in our lives because of our love for Him, and this joy is present even in the midst of very difficult trials in our lives.  The Lord's joy is constant and enduring in spite of outward circumstances. The Lord's joy in our lives is abundant and overflowing.  We must draw daily from the Lord for our joy and strength.  That joy will then overflow to others.  The Lord's joy is found in obedience to Him and in our love of others.

Finally, the Lord's joy is found in fulfilling the purpose for which we were put on this earth and that purpose is to bring glory and honor to God.  Jesus says in John 15:16, "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."  God chose you and me to bring glory to Him and to bear spiritual fruit.  We must be willing to serve Him in this world in the place where He has placed us. We must bear spiritual fruit for Him and continue to grow in our love and obedience of Him.  May this be our passion and desire.