LET US MAKE ROOM FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT THROUGH PRAYER!
Sunday September 13th
You never know what you might stumble across when you’re out taking a walk.
I heard a story about a man who was walking through the woods when he stumbled upon a suitcase. And when he opened the suitcase he was surprised to find some puppies inside it.
So he called up the local veterinarian to ask for advice.
He said, "Hi, I was just walking through the woods and I found an old suitcase, and when I opened it I saw that there were these five little puppies inside it."
"Oh no, that's horrible. Are they moving?" Asked the receptionist.
"Actually, I'm not sure" replied the man "but that would explain the suitcase!"
As we take a look at John Chapter 16 this morning we will see that Jesus is trying to make sure that His disciples WON’T stumble after He has returned to heaven!
He starts out by giving them some encouragement and a warning:
“These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. 2 They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. 3 These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. 4 But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.
The tricky thing about getting an encouraging word about not stumbling is that the person wouldn’t be saying it if there wasn’t a possibility that you might stumble!
Nobody says “Watch out for that rock” if there’s no rock.
In this case, Jesus’ warning was very real, because these disciples would indeed be thrown out of the synagogues, and hunted down by people who wanted to kill them. In fact, ten of the eleven disciples other than Judas were martyred. Only John was spared, and he was sent to prison on a remote island.
So it was kind of encouraging for them to hear this, but not really. And Jesus has more of this combination of encouraging/upsetting news to tell them:
5 “But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
Jesus had already told them about the promise of the Holy Spirit, who He has referred to as the Comforter, or Helper. He is trying to explain that the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s presence can’t dwell within them until He has ascended back to heaven. Now He is giving them even greater detail about the Holy Spirit’s mission.
8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
I think it’s very significant that the Holy Spirit will convict our hearts concerning sin and righteousness. It has been explained this way – That when we are unsaved, we need to be convicted of sin so that we will repent and turn to God. After we are saved we need to be convicted of righteousness to remind us that we are now righteous before God because of what Jesus has done for us. And we need to be reminded to think that and act that way!
In verse 12 Jesus tells them that He knows this is a lot for them to take in, but He gives them just a little bit more insight about the Holy Spirit to ponder:
12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
This language really highlights the concept of the Trinity. Jesus has everything that the Father has, and the Holy Spirit will only take the truth that the Father has given to Jesus and use it to guide our lives. That’s why one of the surest ways to test whether something is truly from the Holy Spirit is to see if it lines up with what the Bible teaches. The Holy Spirit isn’t creating some new version of the truth. He is only bringing forth biblical truth!
Now Jesus is going to say another comforting/confusing thing:
16 “A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.” 17 Some of His disciples then said to one another, “What is this thing He is telling us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is talking about.”
19 Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He said to them, “Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. 21 Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
The first “little while” refers to the upcoming crucifixion and burial that will take Jesus away from the disciples, something that He knew was going to unfold quickly. The second “little while” refers to the Resurrection, which would happen after three days, but would probably feel like an eternity for them, not knowing what was coming.
Imagine what it would have been like to have been one the disciples and hear Jesus say “in a little while you will see me no more, and then after a while you will see me”! Because we have the gift of hindsight, these words aren’t disturbing to us, because we know how it all turned out, but to the disciples these were confusing and probably frightening words! Jesus had made several prophetic statements about His coming crucifixion before.
But if the time had come for these prophecies to be fulfilled, then their leader would not only be put to death but they would be left alone to face the hatred of a world that would be rejoicing over His death!
Jesus reassures them by saying that it would be similar to a woman giving birth. They would feel intense pain for a short while but upon His return their grief would be turned into great joy that would last forever!
Then Jesus gives them even more hopeful news about the joy of His return:
23 In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.
After the resurrection of Jesus, we are taught to direct our prayers to the Father in Jesus’s name. And this doesn’t just mean tacking His name on to the end of our prayers. It means that we should be praying in complete agreement with the will and teachings of Jesus.
Jesus goes into a little more detail about this in verses 25-28
25 “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father.
26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. 28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.”
In verse 26, when Jesus says, “I do not say that I will ask the Father on your behalf”, Jesus isn’t saying that He will ever stop praying for us. In fact, Hebrews 7:25 says:
“Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
What I think Jesus means is that, because of the Holy Spirit living within us, we can reach a maturity level in prayer where we will know to pray properly on our own.
Apparently, the disciples seem to get this point, or at least they think they do, because they reply this way:
29 His disciples said, “Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. 30 Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.”
One thing they definitely get right is when they say, “We know that you know all things.” By saying this, the disciples are finally acknowledging the deity of Jesus.
But here comes another word of warning:
31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.
These disciples, especially Peter, have sworn to stay with Jesus through thick and thin. But Jesus knows the truth - That they will all abandon Him at His arrest, and only John will show up at the cross. Jesus tries to reassure them by saying that, even when they leave Him all alone, “I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”
That’s a bit of a comfort to this group of men who are about to desert the man that they have pledged to follow to the ends of the earth. And Jesus closes this chapter with a few more words of encouragement, for them and for us:
33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Even though Jesus’ words were originally meant to comfort the disciples, they were also meant to comfort any of us who are facing sorrows of our own. We will all face tribulation in this world, but Jesus has overcome all of the tribulation that this world can throw at us!
Let’s examine what that means in our lives today.
The disciples would have to face ridicule from the Scribes and Pharisees, who told them that they were “foolish fanatics” whose leader was a nothing more than a misguided man who was cursed to hang upon a tree.
Nowadays we face skeptics, atheists and followers of other religions that see us as nothing more than simple-minded idiots for believing in the God of the Bible.
While it is thankfully unlikely that we will ever face the same kind of persecution they faced – things like being torn apart by lions in a Roman coliseum, the fact is that according to 1 Peter 5:8 we still have an enemy who is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour our lives and our testimony. So, in many ways we can also know what it is like to suffer for righteousness sake, as Jesus said in Matthew 5:10!
Indeed, like the first disciples we can truly know what it is like to suffer injustice in the face of wickedness. If the jeering of skeptics, atheists and all sorts of other attackers was not enough, we also have to deal with the harsh realities of living in fallen world where unrighteousness is all around us, in the forms of violence, prejudice, and an unending array of ungodliness.
But that’s why we must always remember that Jesus told us to “take courage” or “be of good cheer”.
Let’s always be mindful of what someone has referred to as the “three eternal sources of unspeakable joy of every Christian”.
Let’s start by remembering that, after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples looked upon His crucifixion not as an act of great tragedy but one of great joy because by this atoning act Jesus had freed them from the power of Satan and had purchased their salvation!
In the same way, when we are born again we too participate in Christ’s death and resurrection and as such we can live our lives in unspeakable joy because we have eternal fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This doesn’t mean that we as Christians are to pretend that sorrow doesn’t exist, but we are to view all suffering on this earth as nothing in comparison to the spiritual blessings we already have and are going to receive when our Lord comes to take us home! The fact that Jesus Christ is not dead but alive and is reigning at the right hand of the Father is one reason why our deepest sorrows can be turned into unspeakable joy!
Another source of our joy can actually be found in the midst our tribulations. Because it is precisely in our weeping and lamenting, in our brokenness and sorrow, that these jars of clay come to realize their frailty and utter dependence upon their Creator. That’s a good thing.
One writer put it this way:
“It is not on the mountaintops of blessings but in the deep valleys of affliction that in drawing nearer to God we feel an unspeakable joy of His love and deliverance!”
Christians are able to be joyful, not because we lack tribulation in our lives but because in the midst of those tribulations we can clearly see how they are leading us towards spiritual maturity. As believers, we can have peace in the storms of life because He who was despised and rejected by men and acquainted with grief far more excessive than ours is alive and promises that He will not allow us to suffer any tribulation without being by right by our side.
The moment we realize this to be true is the moment when, like the disciples, our grief will be transformed into eternal and glorious joy!
The final and possibly the most exciting source of joy for a believer is the promise that in “a little while” the Lord Jesus will take us to our eternal home that He has prepared for us! If our only experience of life was in this present world, the Apostle Paul says, how wretched and miserable, and pitiful our lives would be!
But as immortal beings we live with unspeakable joy because the longest that all of our earthly sorrows can last is a lifetime!
In the book of Revelation John says that when we get to heaven God will “wipe every tear from our eyes and that there will be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain for the old order of things will have all passed away (21:4).”
Surely as we navigate through the trials and tribulations of this world that is “not our home”, we can find unspeakable joy in knowing that nothing, “not death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither present or future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of our God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39)!
It should give us great hope to think about the fact that in “just a little while” we are going to experience the greatest joy of all – going home to live in paradise with our Lord forever!
That’s because Jesus has truly overcome this world!
The story of Cinderella is about a beautiful woman who has a jealous stepmother and stepdaughters who treat her cruelly. The Prince in the land holds a ball with the hope of finding a woman to marry. Cinderella is not allowed to go, but after everyone left, a fairy showed up and granted Cinderella the wish to go to the ball, she used her wand to create a beautiful ball gown with beautiful slippers and a carriage with a driver. The only issue is that when the clock turns twelve she needed to be home as everything the fairy created would be gone. When she went to the ballroom all eyes were on her especially the Prince who fell in love with her. The Prince danced with Cinderella and they had an unforgettable time, suddenly she realized it was close to midnight and she ran, while doing so, one of her shoes fell. The Prince found the glass shoe and told his servants to find the girl who owns the shoe. Yet, the shoe never fit any of the feet that tried them. Cinderella's stepmother locked her in the room and she cried. A mouse snuck into the stepmothers pocket got the keys to the door and placed it under the door to Cinderella, she ran down and tried the shoe on, and it was a perfect fit. The Prince had her escorted to the palace where they married and lived happily ever after.
What does this story have to do with Intimacy with God? Everything! The beautiful bride represented by Cinderella can easily get ensnared under the bondage of the Devil (wicked stepmother) and his demons (the stepdaughters), yet as we cry out to God, He sends help, Angels (mice), and the Fairy (Holy Spirit), who prepares us and makes a way for us to get out of bondage and to meet our Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. He is our perfect fit! We are the ones He has chosen to be intimate with and serve alongside Him in His Kingdom.
One thing I always tell my wife is she is my perfect fit. We may not feel perfect but He is perfect and in Him, we are perfected. He wants us to grow in a deep intimate relationship with Him, and enjoy the goodness of His Kingdom as a member of His royal family. The key to this life is found in this chapter and it can be summarized with the word "ABIDE." We must not allow our wicked stepmother, the Devil, to keep us in bondage anymore, it is time to break out of Lo-Debar and come into the Palace of God's love.
We read in John 15:1-2 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit."
The perfecting comes through the pruning, and the pruning is continual because we are called to produce more and more fruit. We are in a time of Global pruning, problems have come to the surface so we can first acknowledge them and then secondly to receive direction from God how to remove them. We are not to ignore or blame but solve! What are some of these current issues, health, systemic racism, education, police brutality, domestic violence, community disparities, elitism, spiritual immaturity, just to name a few?
As it says in John 15:5 the only way we can bear fruit is by remaining in Him, apart from Him we can do nothing and anything in our life that is not of Him needs to be cut off. Just because we do something in His name doesn't mean it is in Him. Bearing fruit means carrying His nature. If what we do doesn't reflect Him it is deadwood, and the only place it is in the fire to be burned. The pruning God is doing is removing dead works from His church many of the things we have stopped doing because of COVID 19 we are to never return too. God is simplifying His church, bringing us back to a place of intimacy. As we go back to the garden we will also regain our authority. Intimacy and authority go hand in hand. Knowledge of God without intimacy with God produces nothing but dead works. Intimacy with God produces abundant fruit.
Growing pains is a term used to describe the discomfort children go through when they are getting bigger. For God to get bigger we must allow Him to slice and dice the areas of our life that He is not pleased with. What brings glory to God as it says in John 15:8 is bearing fruit which actually proves that we are disciples. People can claim this or claim that but it is not believed unless proven. If we are truly children of God then we bear the fruit of our Father.
During this time of testing, you see how people can be so fickle, so easily moved, attitudes can shift so quickly. Throughout John 15 it says we are called to remain, to abide. In verse 10 it tells us how, "by obeying the Father's commands." The church as stressed grace so long that obedience seems to be forgotten. Grace is not the gift to get out of trouble for our disobedience. Grace is the gift to empower us to be obedient. The greatest command and the ultimate expression of love are laying down one's life (John 15:13). Jesus' death on the cross is love defined, and we are to pick up our cross daily, dying to ourselves and serving those God has placed before us which is the cross-lifestyle. Wearing a cross looks good but carrying a cross is what transforms our world.
As we grow in an abiding relationship with God, learning to remain in Him. We step into a place of deep intimate friendship where God, the Father speaks to us His hidden mysteries. There is nothing better than being a friend of God! To co-laboring with Him to see His will done. To know as it says in verse 16 that we are chosen and appointed to bear the fruit of loving others.
Yet, we must understand that this walk is not easy, and walking with the Lord will bring suffering. The world hates God and therefore hates His followers. As it says in verse 20 if He was persecuted we will too. We can not win everyone over, but one thing we are to do is give nobody an excuse for not knowing the way to salvation, for our life speaks for it in the fruit that we bear. He is our perfect Fit!
Sunday August 23rd
Many of you are probably familiar with the Apostles’ Creed. It was an early statement of Christian belief that has been recited by many Christians over the years.
I like the story told about a children’s class that was learning the Apostles Creed. Each child in the class had been assigned a sentence from the creed to recite.
Top of Form
The first child said, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”
The second child said, “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.”
A number of other children followed with their additional statements about Jesus (I believe in His virgin birth, I believe in His death and resurrection, I believe that He is coming again etc.).
Then there was this awkward silence.
Everyone waited for the next line of the creed to be recited, which is “I believe in the Holy Spirit”.
Finally, one of the children said, “Teacher, the boy who believes in the Holy Spirit isn’t here today.”
Well, I certainly hope that everyone who is here today, boys and girls, men and women, and everyone who is watching online would say “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”
As Christians we believe in the trinity, the fact that there is one God present in three persons– the Father God Almighty, Jesus Christ, His only Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In addition to our Heavenly Father and our Heavenly savior, we have an earthly helper, the Holy Spirit, who lives right inside of us.
Christian author Francis Chan wrote a book about the Holy Spirit that he titled “Forgotten God”, because the Holy Spirit is so often overlooked or misunderstood.
If you ask someone to describe who God the Father is, they will usually have an answer.
If you ask them to describe who Jesus is, they will have no trouble giving an answer.
But if you ask them “Who is the Holy Spirit?” all you might hear is silence, accompanied by a confused look.
There are a number reasons why the Holy Spirit is harder to pin down and to describe, but we must not overlook or undervalue the Holy Spirit in terms of His significance in our Christian walk.
A lot of Jesus’ teachings on the night before His crucifixion focused on the Holy Spirit and His role in the lives of believers going forward.
Jesus definitely knew that the disciples were going to need a comforter like the Holy Spirit very soon. He understood how troubled they would be when they learned about His upcoming departure. So He starts out by reassuring them this way:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 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. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
One of the fascinating elements of these verses is that Jesus’ words reflect the words spoken by the bridegroom at a Galilean betrothal ceremony. The groom tells the bride that he will go “prepare a place for her” in his father’s house and then come back to take her with him. There is no doubt that the disciples recognized this.
But so far Jesus has only mentioned the Father, not the Holy Spirit. And He makes it clear that the way to the Father is only through following Him.
This focus on the connection between Jesus and the Father continues in verses 7-15
7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do 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 initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
Again, there is this complete emphasis on the oneness between the Father and the Son, so much so that if you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen the Father! And the power of the Father will flow to those who believe in the Son, so that our prayers “in Jesus’ name” will surely be answered, and we will have the ability to do even “greater works” than Jesus Himself had performed here on the earth!
But still no mention of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, in verses 16-17 Jesus says,
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.”
Jesus says “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor or another comforter.” So both the Father and the Son are working together to send the Holy Spirit. This makes perfect sense when we look at these other scriptural references to the Holy Spirit:
He is often called the Spirit of the Lord, or the Spirit of God the Father. Look at Isaiah 11:2
“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Then in Matthew 10:19-20 Jesus says,
“19 But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 20 For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
In Romans 8:9 He is called both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ:
“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”
Look at Galatians 4:6
Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Look at Philippians 1:19
“For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”
And look at 1 Peter 1:10-11
“As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.”
So not only is Jesus one with the Father, the Father and Son are both one with the Holy Spirit.
That’s why Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “another comforter” or “another Helper”. Because the Holy Spirit was going to continue doing the work that Jesus had started in the lives of the disciples. The word translated as “Comforter or Helper” was a legal term for a defense attorney, or more generally it could be someone you would call upon for help in a time of trouble. Jesus had been such a tremendous source of help for these disciples until now, but after His ascension the Holy Spirit would take over the work of comforting and helping them.
Jesus also refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth”. Once again, this also shows that the Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son. Look at Isaiah 65:16
“Because he who is blessed in the earth
Will be blessed by the God of truth;
And he who swears in the earth
Will swear by the God of truth”
And we already saw in verse 6 that Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”
It’s very important to take hold of what Jesus is saying in verse 17 when he tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit will not only be “with you” but He also “will be in you.”
This is a life-changing reality. The Holy Spirit lives “in” believers! That wasn’t true under the Old Covenant.
Abraham didn’t have the spirit in him. Moses didn’t have the spirit in him. David didn’t have the spirit in him! John the Baptist didn’t even have the Holy Spirit “in him”.
That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 11:11
“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
This means that YOU are greater than John the Baptist!
That’s what these scriptures are telling us:
1 Corinthians 3:16
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 6:19
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
2 Corinthians 6:16
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said
Think about this for a moment – When we get saved, when we are born again, who do we say we’ve asked into our heart? We say we’ve asked Jesus into our heart, right?
So who is within us, Jesus or the Holy Spirit?
The answer is – both!
Look what Jesus says next in verses 18 and 19
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.
Some scholars believe that when Jesus is saying “I will come to you” He is referring primarily to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. After all, the Holy Spirit is also known as the Spirit of Jesus.
Look at Acts 16:6-7
“They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.”
Those weren’t two different Spirits that were directing the path of these missionaries. The Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Jesus are one!
In the next few verses, Jesus again brings the focus back to the unity between Him and the Father, but also with us:
20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
In verse 23, when Jesus says, “We will come to him and make Our abode with him”, is He only speaking about Himself and the Father, and leaving the Holy Spirit out?
Obviously not. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. When you get one of them you get all three.
Look at Romans 8:9-11
“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Who is in us? The Spirit of God. The Spirit of Christ. The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead. His Spirit.
Do you see the unity of the trinity working within you?
Jesus goes on to emphasize the key role of the Holy Spirit again in the next 2 verses:
25 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
This statement shows that the Holy Spirit’s teaching always agrees with the teachings of Jesus. The Holy Spirit ensures that the words of Jesus will be preserved in our hearts as the foundation of the church and of our individual lives.
In the remaining verses of this chapter, Jesus returns to the theme of comforting His disciples:
27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. 28 You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.
It’s interesting that Jesus tells them in verse 28 that if they truly understood what was about to happen, “you would have rejoiced”. They definitely were not rejoicing over what they were hearing.
They didn’t understand that Jesus’ departure was necessary to complete His sacrificial work on the cross.
But it was also necessary so that the Holy Spirit could be sent to live within the hearts of believers, like us.
Jesus will explain this more fully in John 16:7
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”
Let me wrap this chapter up by highlighting verses 30 and 31
I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; 31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.
The ruler of this world is clearly Satan. Jesus knows that the final showdown with the powers of darkness is about to unfold, starting in the Garden of Gethsemane and ending at the empty tomb. But I really love the fact that Jesus says that Satan “Has nothing in Me!”
This is a reaffirmation of Jesus’ sinlessness. If Jesus had sinned even once, the devil could have accused Him of it, and then He wouldn’t have been an acceptable sacrifice to cover our sins. Do you see why that’s so important?
And I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to say the same thing – “Satan has nothing in me!”
And here’s where it all comes together.
In order for me to be able to walk in purity and holiness – in order for me to be able to say with confidence that “Satan has nothing in me”, I need to be fully connected to the Holy Spirit!
As Paul reminds us in Romans 7:18
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
So I’m not going to be walking in holiness by the strength of my flesh. It’s just not possible. My only hope is to be walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Look at these three verses from Galatians chapter 5:
Verse 5 – “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.
Verse 16 - “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
Verse 25 – “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
In our flesh we have no hope. Through the Holy Spirit we can be victorious! Satan has nothing in you!
Let me ask you a simple question:
Is the man who believes in the Holy Spirit here today?
Is the woman who believes in the Holy Spirit here today?
Sunday August 2nd
I don’t want to spoil the ending for you guys, but the final verse of the Gospel of John, Chapter 21, verse 25 says,“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”So there are a lot of things that Jesus did that aren’t recorded in the Bible, but if you do your research you can find some of them. For instance, I don’t know if you’re aware of the story about that time when Jesus and Lazarus were playing poker. Lazarus placed a bet and Jesus said...I'll see you and I'll raise you.
Of course John chapter 11 is where we find the story of the raising of Lazarus, and also the proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection power. The story begins with Jesus getting the news from Martha and Mary that their brother was sick, with an obvious expectation that Jesus would immediately come to heal him.
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”
When Jesus finds out about Lazarus’ illness, He immediately proclaims that this story will not end with death. But notice how Jesus doesn’t say that Lazarus wouldn’t die, only that this would not “end with death”.
That’s important, because at this point Jesus is aware of three things:
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.
Think about the seeming contradiction in that verse:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
There are going to be times in our lives when God is doing things that make no sense to us. If fact, what God is doing might seem to be the opposite of what we think He should be doing. But God knows what He is doing!
And the disciples can’t figure out what Jesus is doing either:
7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”
13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” 16 Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”
What a bunch of knuckleheads!
They don’t want to go into Judea because they know that there are people in Judea who want to kill Jesus. They say “Let Lazarus sleep if he’s feeling sick.” Then when Jesus makes it clear that He’s talking about death, not sleep, Thomas throws up his hands and says, “Okay, fine. Let’s all go die together in Judea!”
So they all head out towards Bethany, where Jesus runs into Martha on the way. She is distraught with grief:
17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
I tend to think that Martha spoke those words with a bit of an accusation in her voice. After all, “what took so long?”
But in the midst of her confusion and questions, she still has hope. She says this to Jesus:
22 “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
Martha believes in the eventual resurrection of believers on Judgment Day, but she doesn’t have a full understanding of who Jesus really is, and the power that He holds over life and death. She is about to find out.
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
Verse 25 is the core truth of our Christian faith. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. This parallels the words that Jesus will speak in John 14:6
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
Martha says that she does believe what Jesus is saying.
Then she backs that up by acknowledging that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the only one who can raise the dead.
Then Martha runs to share this hope with her sister Mary:
28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.
30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Notice how Mary’s level of misunderstanding reflects where Martha’s was. “I know that you COULD’VE done something to prevent this IF ONLY you had come in time.”
Mary is crying, the others are crying, and soon Jesus is crying too:
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled,
34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!”
John 11:35 happens to be the shortest verse in the Bible.
But it is also a very significant verse in light of how it reflects Jesus’ true humanity. He wept. He cried. Like we do when we lose someone we love.
Hebrews 4:15 says:
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
In other words, Jesus has experienced every aspect of what it means to be human except for one thing, and that’s sin. Because of that, He can fully understand and sympathize with whatever we’re going through.
Some people have wondered, “if Jesus knew that He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, then why was He crying about the situation?” But we see in Romans 12:15 that we are called to:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
So Jesus was simply sharing in the very sorrow that He was about to erase.
The people in the crowd had their own opinions as well, similar to what Martha and Mary had expressed:
37 But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”
Could Jesus have kept Lazarus from dying? Absolutely! But there is a bigger plan at work here.
38 So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
I think that’s really ironic, and kind of typical of how we sometimes relate to God. We tell God what we need. He starts to address the need in a way that only He can. And we tell Him why that won’t work!
I mean seriously, don’t you think that a God who can raise a dead man to life can also make the smell of death disappear?
So when we’re going to trust God for our answers, let’s be willing to believe He can work out every detail!
40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
42 I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
I heard a cute story about a children's Sunday school class that was presenting their end of the year program for the congregation. The children were telling stories about the life of Jesus.
When it came to the part about Jesus' miracles, one little boy said, "Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead!" The teacher urged him to tell the audience more.
He said, "Well, Jesus told them to open the tomb, and then He said, 'Lazarus, come out!' And it's a good thing he didn't just say 'Come out!' because there would have been a stampede of dead guys."
Do you know what’s great about that? At the resurrection there’s going to be a whole stampede of dead guys and ladies coming out of tombs, and we might be part of that stampede!
Now you might think that this powerful miracle would change the minds of everyone in Israel. Not exactly.
45 Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.
47 Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48 If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.
Many of the people who witnessed this miracle became followers of Jesus, but the hard-hearted Pharisees still won’t believe. In fact, they are even more determined to kill Jesus.
And the Holy Spirit speaks through Caiaphas, who is NOT a believer, and prophesies that Jesus would be the “one man” who would die for the “whole nation”, in fact, for the whole world. And they will be a part of that.
So the final verses of this chapter are sort of a lull, a waiting period before the plot to crucify Jesus starts to unfold:
54 Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples.
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 So they were seeking for Jesus, and were saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think; that He will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he was to report it, so that they might seize Him.
I know it seems incredible that these leaders would want to kill a man who has just raised the dead. But in John chapter 16 Jesus tells the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus. By the way this isn’t the same Lazarus!19 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
How true of a statement was that? The Pharisees had Moses and the Prophets to point out that Jesus was the promised Messiah. They wouldn’t believe them.
AND they had a man, Lazarus, raised from the dead, and they STILL wouldn’t believe! In fact, we’ll see in chapter 12 that they wanted to KILL Lazarus too!
What are we to make of this?
Well, for one, we shouldn’t be surprised that people reject the truth no matter how clear it is.
We saw back in John 7:7 where Jesus said that:
“The world… hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.”
And in John 3:19
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”
So don’t get discouraged when people don’t seem receptive to the gospel. Just keeping sharing it with your words, your lifestyle, and your love. Because those are the things that God uses to break through hardened hearts!
Those who are intimate with Jesus know His voice just like sheep know the sound of their shepherd. Proverbs 1:20 says," wisdom calls out in the street; she raises her voice in the public squares. She cries out above the commotion; she speaks at the entrance of the city gates." Knowing God's voice and walking in wisdom go hand in hand. Without intimacy, we walk in deception; what we think is right is dead wrong as we see with the religious leaders in the time of Jesus. They knew everything about God, but since they didn't know God, they couldn't recognize His voice through His Son.
I don't have sheep, but I have dogs, and one of them like a sheep is white and sees me as His Master, the moment I say His name, he comes, when I move he moves, when I speak up he stands up when I say sit he sits. They say a dog is man's best friend we can learn a lot from dogs in how to be a friend of God. The way Knight follows me, we are to follow God. The way Knight just lives for intimacy is the way we are to live to be intimate with our Master, God!
There is no other way to God, but through Jesus, He is the gate, and He is the Shepherd. If anyone says anything different, they are a thief and a robber. That is why our number one responsibility as under-shepherds is to teach those we lead how to grow in discerning God's voice. If we fail in this, those we lead will be easily misled and devoured by wolves. It is not difficult to teach one to hear God's voice for the promise of the new covenant is that truth is written on the heart. (Jer. 23:1-2). God holds Shepherds accountable which includes, Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Teachers, Coaches, Employers, Pastors, etc, on how well they feed those under their care, and if they cause them to be scattered, He will step in and rescue His flock and judge the shepherds severely (Ezekiel 34).
Those who are intimate with the Lord don't just know God's voice but become His mouthpiece. As we allow the Lord to Shepherd us we receive the grace to Shepherd others. The qualities of Jesus as our Shepherd become our qualities as we serve those He places before us. We learn here in John 10:11-16 that the sacrifice of laying down one's life is the greatest expression of a true Shepherd. We also learn that a hireling is a Shepherd with a selfish heart, that doesn't give but takes, he doesn't really care but neglects (Jer. 23:1-2). We all need Shepherds but we need to choose those who are intimate with the Lord proven by their sacrifice and care and then likewise follow and do the same.
In times of testing, people either scatter or draw closer and become stronger. I believe the latter is happening more than the former, the plumbline has been set, and as it says in the latter part of John 10, "those who really know His voice, see Him at work and follow". Will you choose to draw closer to your heavenly Father as it says in John 15:15 to know Him as a friend and to allow Him to reveal to you all that He is doing.
We celebrate freedom in America on July 4th, Independence Day. It was freedom from being under the control of Britain. We have the military who continues to protect and ensure that we remain the nation of the free. We still see as brought more and more to the light recently that not everyone in this nation enjoys the freedom that many soldiers have died for, yet I believe and have hope that we as a nation are progressing and we are moving a bit closer to the reality of Dr. Martin Luther King's Dream.
No matter what legislation changes to bring forth better equality we understand the real issue we have is within. The big issue is sin and the only one that can set us free from it is Jesus. Why do Christians still struggle with sin and how can we defeat it? We will discover that here in John chapter 8 in the Intimacy Series.
Some of the Jewish leaders tried to trap Jesus by bringing a woman caught in adultery to see his response. Now the question is where is the man, the law says, both should be stoned and yet we see already the Pharisees were biased.
Jesus responded, "let the one without sin throw the first stone." This response quickly revealed the hypocrisy of the group as the majority of them were adulterers themselves as each of them one by one quickly left the crowd.Jesus told the woman "where are your, accusers?" Then he told her "go and sin no more."
We learn here that those who walk intimately with the Lord are free from condemnation, they understand God's mercy and forgiveness, and from that place desire to sin no more.
Jesus continues to speak instructing on how one can get free from sin. The key is walking in the light and not in darkness. It is a choice and what path we choose will determine the outcome. One leads to life the other towards death. In the light, the power of darkness dissipates. Freedom from sin is only possible by living in an ever-abiding intimate place in Christ.
The Pharisees continued questioning Jesus, basically saying "who do you think you are?" They tried to convince Jesus that they are the ones who truly know God because they are children of Abraham. Jesus tells them "you don't know me because you don't know my Father." He said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing on my own."
Those who are intimate with the Lord are not moved by what others think of them, because they understand where they came from and where they are going. They have security because they understand their identity. Those in the dark don't see, so it is easy to understand that they are ignorant, confused, and blind. So they don't have to take the insults and false labels personal, what else would be expected of those lost in darkness.
Jesus now speaks in verses 30-47 of truth and freedom. How do we stay in the light so we can remain free from sin? It is by continuing to grow in truth by the knowledge of God's Word. Life is filled with choices, we either follow truth or believe a lie. Satan tries to twist the truth with lies but those who are intimate with the Lord see right through it. Our walk deepens with the Lord, the light shines brighter, as we obey the truth that we have heard. So our life in Christ should be one of continual progression towards greater freedom from sin. We will know we have arrived at that place when like Enoch we are taken up.
The Pharisees started telling Jesus that he has a demon, and they began picking up stones to throw at Him. Jesus responded by telling them that "my Father is the one who glorifies Me," then he disappeared for the time of His death had not yet come.
It is never fun to go back and forth with someone, we hope we can change them, but it is only through God, sometimes we are just planting a seed, and later on, through different circumstances, they will change, but for some, they never will, but at least we know we told them the truth.
Those who are intimate with the Lord understand their life is in God's hands and if it is not His will to physically die then He will supernaturally protect them from those who mean them harm. Death has been swallowed up, we have eternal security, so we need not walk in fear but walk boldly in the light, dispelling darkness, and continuing to grow in freedom through the truth of God's Word.