When We Face Difficulties, We Need to Remember The Promises- John Chapter 16

John 16 is a continuation of what Jesus letting the disciples know what is coming. It is a combination of a heads up warning and a promise of a blessing.

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Jesus lets them know why he is giving them a heads up warning in John 16:1

All this I have told you so that you will not fall away.

If we only make promises of a wonderful life because of trusting Jesus, when hard times come people might lose heart. While it is true there will be a wonderful life, it may not happen until we enter eternity in heaven. Jesus wanted the disciples and us to know that people will oppose and persecute us because of him, so when it happens, we will not be weakened in our faith.

They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.

The disciples were put out of synagogues and most of them were martyred for sharing the news about Jesus. Throughout history, Christians have been put in jail and killed for their faith. It still happens today in our ‘modern’ world. In some countries Christians are killed by those who think they are doing God’s will. In some places Christians are killed or put in jail by people who think it is the right thing to do. In the western world, governments are increasingly infringing on our religious freedom.

Why didn’t Jesus tell them about it when they first signed on to follow him?

I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you

Because he was with them.

Now for the blessing part of Jesus’s discourse. The promise of the Holy Spirit.

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

The Holy Spirit is our advocate as is Jesus. The plan all along was for Jesus to die for us, defeat death through his resurrection, and ascend to heaven. Then he would send the Holy Spirit. Think about how all of that unfolded in real time. It all happened in a little over 40 days.

For all who believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit is given when we believe in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is a guarantee of our future eternal blessing.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

The Holy Spirit teaches us as Jesus said.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 

The Holy Spirit will always work to glorify Jesus.

He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 

So how this balances out is in this life we may have problems. We might be persecuted in various ways. BUT we have the Holy Spirit to counsel us, teach us, guide us, and is our guarantee of our future eternal blessing.

The question for us is whether we view all of what God has in store for us as being worth far more than the temporary difficulties in this life.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The Cost of Following Jesus-John Chapter 15

You know those people on television who promise things like your best life now? The books written about how God wants us to have it all? They run counter to things Jesus said.

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In John 15, after telling the disciples he calls them friend and after talking about love for one another, Jesus gives a reality check.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

That is quite the contrast to what Jesus was talking about right before regarding love one another. Now the word hate is being used. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. That sounds ominous.

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. 

If I had been there, I would have thought-wait a minute Jesus you were just talking about love one another and how we are your friends and now this?

Being identified with Jesus does involve risk. In some places in the world, it can mean death or imprisonment. In the Western World it could mean loss of friendships and opportunities.

When Jesus talked about pick up our cross in Luke 14:27-

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

He was talking about how we may lose out on things or people in this life because of him.

In John 15 Jesus again brings up the Holy Spirit but note why

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

The Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses for Jesus, to go out and share the gospel and show the love of Jesus. We do so even though we will face rejection and at times opposition. We do so out of love for others knowing they are in eternal peril if they do not have Jesus.

This dear reader the reality check from Jesus. The good news is that he is with us no matter what happens.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When Jesus Repeats Something Pay Attention- John Chapter 14

If Jesus says something one time, I want to pay attention. If he repeats it, I really want to pay attention. In the conversation Jesus had with the disciples in John 14, there are two things he repeats; the Holy Spirit and the phrase Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled.

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When Jesus first mentions the Holy Spirit, he refers to him as another advocate.to help us. The 2nd mention of the Holy Spirit we learn more about what the Holy Spirit does.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

How wonderful it is when a bible verse comes to mind just when it is needed. There is a connection between being filled with the Spirit and the God’s Word.

Ephesians 5 encourages us to the filled with the Spirit. We note the outflowing of being filled with the Spirit.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,  speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Then note the similarity with Colossians 3:16

 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

The more we fill our minds with God’s Word, the more the Spirit can work in our lives.

The second thing Jesus repeats is the phrase- Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled.

Before Jesus repeats it, he tells them what he will share with them.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.

The peace the world gives is temporary and conditional. The number of peace treaties signed and then violated are too numerous to count. There are also the life styles offering peace of mind which tends to go out the window as soon as trouble arrives. The peace Jesus gives is eternal peace in our spirits knowing Jesus is in control and we will be with him forever.

That is what Jesus bases the repeated phrase- Let Your Hearts Not Be Troubled- on.

He reassures them and then lets reminds them of what is coming. Satan attempt to defeat Jesus which in actually ends up being Jesus’s victory over Satan.

I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me,  but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me

The fact that Jesus reassures them before reminding them makes me think of the wonderful truth of Romans 8:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Absolutely NOTHING can separate us from Jesus. We are eternally his.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Saying Goodbye for Now- John Chapter 13

I have been at the bedside of people who were dying. In each instance, the person wanted to express what was pressing for them to share with loved ones and friends.

I have also observed how families of team members on ministry trips I have been on become emotional saying goodbye at the airport.

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In Jesus’s final hours before his arrest, he wanted to spend time with his disciples to share with them encouragements and truths about himself. God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. In a way it was similar to those on their deathbed saying parting words.

In John 13 he tells the disciples the time for his death has come.

When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

He let them know they were staying behind.

My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.”

Notice the term of endearment- My children. That is how Jesus feels about all who believe in him.

Jesus gave a new command. A command that if followed will let others know we follow Jesus.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Peter wanted to know where Jesus was going. Jesus let them know not now but later they would follow him to where he is.

 “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”

It is because of the promise of Jesus returning for us that for me it is more like saying goodbye at the airport. Yes, Jesus knew he was going to die on the cross. He also knew he would defeat death through his resurrection a few days later. He will return. There is no such thing as parted forever for those who believe in Jesus. There is only see you again. Yes the parting has sorrow at the time, but the reunion in heaven will be so sweet..

Jesus will return one day. Nothing can prevent that. The only question is- are we ready?

We become ready by placing our faith in Jesus as our Savior. If you want to trust Jesus and ask his forgiveness, tell him. If you are not sure about Jesus and if he is for real. you can tell him that and ask him to show you.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Speaks to Us Through His People

Have you ever had one of those conversations that you realized God arranged for you? That happened for me this morning in church.

My Rheumatology appointment is this Wednesday. After having seen various specialists the past five years, I must admit in the back of my mind I have had doubts about my upcoming appointment.

This morning in church I was talking with a few women who asked me what my appointment is for. I briefly shared with them about my experiences trying to get a diagnosis. One of the women is a retired nurse. She shared with me about how her son has gone to the same clinic I will be going to and how great they have been.

As she shared with me, I realized I am going to the right place. When I walked to the worship center, I thanked God for that brief conversation.

If we are open to God’s leading, he will direct our paths even in little things like the conversation I had this morning,

Now I will go home and take a nap. 🙂

How is your Sunday?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Is Our Source- John Chapter 6

As a single man, when someone gives me food or invites me for dinner in their home, instantly I have a fondness for them. When I was younger, a married couple were my friends and I could stop by anytime. I tended to do so close to dinner time. When I would stop by, they would ask me to stay for dinner, I would act like I did not want to be a problem, and they would assure me they wanted me to stay.

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After Jesus fed the thousands and left, the people looked for him. When they found him, they did not admit to the reason they were looking for him.

When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Just like my friends knew the reason I stopped by at dinner time, Jesus knew why the people were looking for him.

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”

He took that moment to teach them about eternal life.

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

So they asked the question.

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

The Jewish religion was full of works people had to do. The list of rules by the religious leaders for how to follow the Sabbath was cumbersome. The people were looking for a checklist of works. Jesus answered.

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Believe in Jesus. It is that simple. Not easy but simple. The reason it is not easy is because people tend to want a complicated religion not relationship.

So under the guise of asking for proof what he said is true, they said.

“What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

Ah but even in asking for proof, their real motive still show. They started talking about bread. The manna from heaven. Jesus had just fed all of them with turning a few fish and a few loaves of bread into enough food for them all to have their fill. They were not actually looking for proof. They wanted more food. But by bringing up the manna from heaven during the time of Moses, they opened the door for Jesus to reply.

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Jesus is our source for every thing. He created the water we drink. He created the plants that give us food. But here Jesus is talking about spiritual/eternal life. When we have Jesus, he gives us the Holy Spirit, the living water he spoke of in John 4. When we have Jesus, we have the word of God to sustain us. When Jesus said, I am the bread of life, he was telling them he is the source for eternal life, for all things spiritual concerning God.

The people were looking for physical food. Jesus used the opportunity to teach them about spiritual food.

Do we believe in Jesus or do we want to add to that a list of our own manmade rules?

Do we trust Jesus alone, or do we want to have a checklist for us to accomplish?

Do we spend time with Jesus for our souls to be nourished?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Troubled Woman Meets Her Savior Jesus- John Chapter 4

John chapter 3 ends with proclaiming Jesus is the Son of God and has all authority. The first three chapters of John show us that Jesus is the creator, is God the Son, is eternal, and that he came for us.

In chapter 4 we see the first account by John of Jesus interacting with someone desperately in need of God- a Samaritan woman.

Samaria was an area that no self respecting Jew would walk through. Jews thought of Samaritans as being unclean half breeds and Samaria as being a place one would be defiled just walking through. Serious Jews would walk around Samaria to avoid it.

The closest we come to it in the USA would be the days of whites only and colored sections in restaurants. The division between Jews and Samaritans ran so deep.

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So what did Jesus do? He went into Samaria one day and sat down next to a well waiting for the person he knew was coming, a Samaritan woman with a dismal track record with men and relationships.

She came to the well and Jesus spoke to her:

“Will you give me a drink?” 

This simple request sent shock waves through the woman. She knew Jesus was a Jewish man and she knew her “place” in life. She knew Jews did not interact with Samaritans and she knew women were not valued. She replied:

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

Jesus steered the conversation to the reason he was waiting for her- to offer her forgiveness and relationship with God. He used the physical water to begin to speak of spiritual matters:

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Living water, the Holy Spirit living within us because of knowing Jesus is what he is beginning to offer her, but she did not understand yet was trying to grasp it:

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?

Jesus shared with her that he was speaking of spiritual water and eternal life:

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

She asked Jesus for the water he was speaking of but first Jesus let her know that he knew about her life saying:

“Go, call your husband and come back.”

After she replied that she did not have a husband, Jesus let her know:

“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Jesus knew this fallen woman had a series of broken relationships with men. We do not know if some died or if they left her. We do not know if she left them. We only know she had a string of husbands and was then living with a man not married. And yet Jesus spoke with her offering her eternal life.

She tried to change to subject by talking about where to worship. Jesus corrected her thinking about worship by saying:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman began to understand something about Jesus saying:

“I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

She wondered if he was the long awaited promised one from God- The Messiah.

Jesus confirmed it for her:

“I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

The woman became the first Samaritan to share with others about Jesus when she ran back to the village saying:

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 

No matter how far we have fallen in life, no matter what others think of us, Jesus loves us and will come to us just as he did the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus will give us relationship with him and eternal life if we will believe in him. We cannot earn it just as the Samaritan woman could not.

Not only that, Jesus will do his work through us just as he did with the Samaritan woman.

Who Jesus Is- John 3:31-36

If I were to divide John into theme sections, I would place chapters 1 to 3 as introduction to who Jesus is with chapter 4 beginning the section of Jesus’ miracles proving who he is.

It is fitting that at the end of chapter 3, John recaps the basic truths about Jesus in the first three chapters. It could be summed up as Jesus has all authority being from God and being God. The recap sets the stage for what will transpire in following chapters as Jesus shows who he is. Jesus is our creator who came into our fallen world to be our Savior.

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In verse 31 we see the contrast between Jesus and all others. Jesus is from above and speaks of things above with above being heaven. Those who are of the earth speak of earthly matters.

We also see in verse 33 that whoever accepts the words of Jesus certifies that God is truthful.

Verse 34 has a wonderful promise that God gives the Spirit without limit. Jesus teaches more about the Holy Spirit in later chapters.

In verse 35 we see two distinct persons- The Father and The Son. We see that The Father loves The Son-Jesus, and has given all things into Jesus’ hands. So we see even in the brief recap in John 3 that there are 3 distinct persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit-the Trinity. It is so had for us to fathom 3 persons in perfect unity, oneness, who have existed for all eternity.

Analogies fall so short but one that I like is the sun in the sky. The sun exists in 3 forms and the same time, solid, liquid, and gas. It is one sun in the sky with three forms.

The chapter ends with a promise yet also a warning in verse 36:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

If we believe in Jesus, we have eternal life. Jesus only sees two groups of people, those who know him and those who do not. My desire is to share Jesus.

The recap is important and not to be overlooked as it sets the stage to the encounters people will have with Jesus in following chapters. In the following chapters, Jesus our creator and Savior shows who he is.

The question each person is faced with is who is Jesus to you and does it match up with the Jesus of the bible?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.