Sunday, 13 August 2017

John 14 (Nine) Would you Like to Know How to Exercise Power, Love, and Self-Dicipline?

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever - The Spirit of truth," (John 14:15-16).

When Jesus spoke the words in John 14:13-14, I can imagine the disciples thinking: Wow, whatever we ask in His name - how about a nice something to make life comfortable? Maybe they had a new fishing boat or a bigger house in mind. Jesus, however, added some water to their fire in the above passage. He basically said: ‘If you love me, you will do as I say and also make use of the offer to ask for whatever you need to get the task done.’ He added in the same breath that He would ask the Father to give the Holy Spirit. Did you see the condition? ‘If you love me’ you will prove it ‘by obeying my commands’, and to help you I will ask the Father to give you the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is called a counsellor. What is the work of a counsellor? Is it not to guide us in discovering truth about ourselves? Is it not to guide us in the way we should go? If one for example consults a marriage counsellor, she will have two purposes in mind - to get both partners to see where they individually have gone wrong in the course of the marriage, and then to guide them in the necessary action to put things right. This Counsellor is called the Spirit of Truth and His task is to counsel us in the truth.

Here is where many Christians get deceived. I once drove behind a vehicle that had the following written on the rear window: ‘Have you experienced the Holy Spirit power’. On the door was the emblem of a church organisation. I asked myself whether that is what the Holy Spirit is all about – to have some sensational experience. Paul summarised the role of the Holy Spirit well in 2 Timothy 1:7: "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (KJV). Although the context is somewhat different, the truth is the same. The Holy Spirit works in three ways:

·         Through power - 1 Corinthians 2:4: "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power,” and in 1 Thessalonians 1:5: "Because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake." Miracles were many – of that we have enough evidence from the book of Acts - but the power spoken of in these passages is power related to preaching, conviction and lifestyle.

We therefore need the Holy Spirit to counsel us in how He wants us to implement His power to change the hearts of the people to God; whether by miracles, conviction or His gifts. His power is not meant for the church to draw people to a sensational meeting in order to make us look good or to increase the popularity of the church, but to assist us in building the Kingdom of God.

·         Through love. Since the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of love, His task is to counsel us how to love one another. Only through love toward one another (John 13:35: By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another) and toward our enemies (Luke 6:27: But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you) we will be able to build the Kingdom of God and at the same time love the Lord, since we then obey His commands.

·         Through a sound mind. This is a very important role of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the devil goes out of his way to confuse God’s people. One only has to look at all the deception under the name of Christianity to understand this, leave alone the battle of the mind that every Christian experiences. The meaning of the Greek word for sound mind is self-control and is translated in the NIV as self-discipline.

The Holy Spirit therefore has the task to counsel us how to always have God’s mind concerning His Kingdom, and how to exercise self-control when dealing with all the power and knowledge we get exposed to when being involved with God’s Kingdom. He will guide us away from ourselves towards the Lord who deserves all the glory.

I submit to your guidance Holy Spirit, so I can prove my love through obedience.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

John 14 (Eight) Whatever You Ask

We are discussing John chapter 14 as part of a series.
"And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:13, 14).

How often have you blamed the Lord; "Lord, I ask and ask, and ask, and ask in your name but I do not receive?" What do we ask for and with which motivation? Last week we have discussed the god that many Christians actually serve, which is Mammon. Do you think the Lord will give you the nice car and house you ask for to suit your lifestyle?
The above words were written in the context of the previous verse. Earlier we have proved that Jesus was in the Father as the Father was in Him. He did nothing out of His own. When He was therefore challenged with a faith situation, He first asked Father to give Him that which He needed to accomplish the task, including the faith. I have often wondered why Jesus waited for four days before He attended to Lazarus (John 11:1-44). Then a thought came to me. This was not an easy miracle and Jesus needed to spend more time than usual to consult with Father and receive what He needed to do this great miracle. Remember that, although Jesus was both God and man while on earth, He did not use His godly powers. For Him to identify with man He had to become in all respects just like us. 
When Jesus called Lazarus forth, as recorded in John 11:43, we see the following: "the dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face." Was it possible for Lazarus to walk out of the tomb with his hands and feet bound to his body and his face covered with a cloth? No. So how did he get out? The power of God lifted him and brought him out, Hallelujah!

Jesus therefore actually said in our passage under discussion: "Whatever you need for the sake of My Kingdom here on earth, just ask for it in My name and I will do it so that the Son may bring glory to the Father". Asking for all kinds of things to suit our own comfort, to make life easier for us and rid us of our personal troubles is not what Jesus meant in this invitation. Once again we can link up with 1 John 5:14 & 15: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him.” Father God desires only a few things, namely souls and truth (1 Timothy 2:4), obedience (1 Samuel 15:22) and faith (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore before we ask anything of God it will be wise to establish the Father’s will regarding these basic guidelines first and then ask for anything we might need in order to establish His Kingdom here on earth.

Father, please share with me your will regarding your Kingdom for my life, in Jesus name, amen.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

John 14 (Seven) Faith For Miracles

"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12). Every time I read this verse I ask myself why we then see so few miracles today. We have touched on it previously. We have mentioned that Jesus was completely sold out to the Father and we also mentioned that there are a few individual groups doing great things. If I, however, read this passage, two facts come to my attention. Firstly Jesus stated "anyone" (the KJV says he), which indicates an individual. Today we see great things being done by churches or organisations that lean quite heavily on money, marketing and numbers. Yes, the power of God does convince and convict people, but is this what Jesus had in mind here – great crusades, healing services, large churches and so on? Maybe partly, but He is talking about individuals having faith.

Having faith is the second aspect we notice in this passage. Jesus said if an individual believes in Him he will do the same things He has been doing and even greater things. What has Jesus done? Just read the Gospels - John 21:25: "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." What did Jesus truly and actually expect when He spoke these words. I believe He expected His individual followers to spend their life healing, preaching and doing miracles – doing greater things than He has done. This is what the Disciples and the Apostles have done (Mark 6:8-13, Luke 10:1-24). Imagine the different place the world would have been if that had been the situation. Doctors, other health workers and undertakers would have had a hard living and the church would have grown mightily because Christians would have been everywhere healing and raising people from the dead and preaching the Gospel. Why would it be that we do not see these kinds of miracles regularly among all the followers of Jesus today? We see and hear about miracles by certain well known ministers, but it is not general. Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, when the disciples asked Him why they were unable to drive the demon out: "'Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you'".

We seem not to even have faith as big as a mustard seed. We think too easily: What if it does not work? Except for our faith, our focus is also wrong. Why are we concerned that it will not work? Is it because the Lord would then be embarrassed? No, it is because we might be embarrassed – what would people think of me? We also rely too easily on material things such as doctors and medicine and the power of money. All this modern technology destroy our faith. It is easy to think for example: If the Lord does not heal him, there is always medicineWhy do you think healing ministry in Africa is so powerful? It is because the people in the poor third world countries have nowhere else to turn to. Medicine in those countries is not what the developed countries are used to. Apart from that the people are too poor to afford good, expensive doctors. What are the options left - sickness, suffering and death? When one man therefore thinks he has faith like a mustard seed, enough not to wonder whether it will work or not, the Lord sees a golden opportunity to show off His power and the people benefit from the greater-things-than-Jesus-did opportunity.

Materialism destroys our faith because faith is the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Faith that cannot be seen is the voucher, which is the evidence that God will act. Money can be seen as well as be manipulated and can accomplish many of the things God wants to do for us, so why would we rely on faith if we can rely on money? Therefore what happens? Those who can afford to create their own miracles do so and sell it also to others who can afford to buy it. Those who cannot afford either, suffer in silence because they envy those who have money. Everybody is so busy being concerned about money that very few Christians even consider faith. Have you wondered why the Lord so much hate Mammon (Mat. 6:24, Luke 16:13)?
Lord, I choose faith.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

John 14 (Six) Jesus’ Power Though Us

Good morning
We continue with our discussion of John chapter 14.
“Jesus answered: ‘Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves,’” (John 14:9-11).

Why is it that the church seems so powerless? In the passage we’ll discuss next time, Jesus mentioned that His Disciples would do greater things than He did, yet we don’t often see it. Is it not maybe that we are not one with Him as He is one with the Father? He said that the Father lives in Him and the works that the disciples saw and the teaching that they heard was actually not His, but the Father working through Him. Jesus was completely surrendered to His father. He did not think of His own comfort for one minute. He had no material possessions and no place to stay (Matthew 8:20). He spent all His time and energy either praying or ministering. His life consisted of receiving from the Father and giving it out. There was no time for entertainment, watching television, keeping a luxurious or even ordinary home and so on, if we could speak in modern terms.

How do you compare with Jesus? If we want to do greater things than He did, if we want revival – even as a church – how does our availability compare with His? There are a few individual groups doing great things, but what about the rest of the body? As the Father in Jesus did the work while He was on earth, so Jesus in us wants to do the work. Jesus said to the Father in His last hours before the crucifixion as recorded in John 17:4: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” Now He wants us to do the same through Him that lives in us. He wants us to complete the work Father gave us. 

Do you know the work the Lord wants you to do? Maybe you do not have a specific Christian mission, but are placed in an ordinary day job and therefore think you are not called. Whether we are called to full-time ministry or full-time secular work with part time ministry, we still need to hear from the Lord on a daily basis what work He wants us to complete.

Jesus had to take action. He had to pray during the night to hear from His father what He wanted Jesus to say and do in order for the Father to be able to do for people what He intended to. Jesus had to exercise faith to do and say what His Father told Him to do and say. It was not any easier for Jesus to act by faith as it is for us, because whilst on earth He was a man just like us. Do you think it was easy to spit in the mud and smear it onto the blind man’s eyes, having to believe that he will see, or to believe that Peter would find the coin in the fish’s mouth?

Jesus was exactly like any Spirit-filled Christian when He was on earth. He had the Holy Spirit, the Word in Him and He had open communication to the Father living in Him. Under guidance of the Holy Spirit He had to hear from the Father through the quickening of the Word in His heart. This would have created faith in Him to do what He had to. The more time He spent in prayer, the more power He had available to do miracles. 

Because we have the fullness of Christ living in us, we should be able to do the same if we devote the same time and energy to it.
Lord, I want to be like Jesus.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

John 14 (Five) Do You Have the Life?

Good day

We continue with John 14:6: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus is the life

This passage can easily be interpreted that Jesus is life, the opposite of death. In other words in Jesus a believer is alive, which is good, but it does not say life, but the life. The Greek word for life in this context is zoe, which means vitality, fullness of life that is animate, real and genuine, a life active and vigorous and devoted to God.

Because of Adam’s sin and resulting death we are all dead outside of Christ. Although we are physically alive, life is empty, senseless and without meaning and purpose – in short without the life, Jesus. But once Jesus’ life is poured into us through the Holy Spirit, life becomes fun. We, however, still have a choice. We can live life as per the definition above - full of vigour, vitality, animation and fullness or we can be carnally religious and sad.

Jesus said that He is the life and no one gets to the Father but by Him. The definition of the Greek word for life, zoe, has words like vitality, animate, absolute fullness, real and genuine, active and vigorous. This is how Jesus lived and is what He desires for us to have in Him; a life that suggests productivity, fruitfulness, transparency and a testimony of something worthwhile to be desired by outsiders.

If Jesus in all His life and fullness lives in you through the Holy Spirit, your life will have these qualities. However, if you do not experience these qualities, it is quite possible that you have not exercised the faith required to allow Jesus to live through you in all His fullness, in other words you still rely too much on yourself and on people, or allow the sinful nature and Satan to rob you of your joy. It is then that, for instance, circumstances control you instead of faith, and worry often manipulates you.
Right, let's move on to verses seven and eight.

“If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us," (John 14:7-8).

Jesus’ standard is clear - we will only know the Father once we know Jesus. If for example you are an ordinary citizen of the country, a meeting with the president would be very difficult to accomplish. If, however, you are a close friend of the president’s son, you would be able to walk with him into the president’s office and meet with him if he is not occupied. Why? It is because the president and his staff know you personally as a friend of the family. If we know Jesus as a close friend, we will enter heaven one day saying: “Hi Lord Jesus, here I am – thanks to you I’ve made it.” He will then say: “Hi Pete, good to see you. Come let me introduce you to my Father, whom you already know.”

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew. 7:21-23)

Imagine the surprise when a person has done all these wonderful things in the name of Jesus with the attitude to be seen or to get recognition from men, but never went to the trouble of knowing Jesus and doing His Father’s will. When she walks into heaven and very confidently say: “Hi Lord Jesus here I am, do you remember me?”Jesus will look at her with a frown saying: “I never knew you.” I don’t want to be in that position. Do you?
Lord, help my faith please.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

John 14 (Four) The Way to Be

Good day to you

We are currently discussing John 14:6-7: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

Jesus is the way we should go.

Does that mean that we only need to accept Jesus and would then get right to the Father? If this was true, the Bible could have been only one page and it would have been sufficient. The Bible, however, is packed with teaching to guide us in our discovering of the Way. We need to discover the way Jesus does things, the way He relates to us and to Father. We also need to discover Father’s ways. I have found the Old Testament excellent for that purpose. We learn their way by reading about it in the Bible and applying the principles in our own lives. Experiencing their response in our spirit and circumstances confirms to us whether we were right about our understanding of what they are like.

Say for example as a result of our background we believe God is a nasty judge, sitting in heaven just waiting for us to make a mistake so He can zap us. As we study the Bible though, we discover His love and forgiveness. We find that when we make a mistake and ask God’s forgiveness, peace fills our heart. We don’t even feel guilty about our mistake. When we forgive others we feel we’ve done the right thing; in fact a strange freedom and joy enter our heart. We also notice that people forgive us our sins and their love towards us brings joy. What has happened? We have discovered a way of the Lord, which we were unable to comprehend by just reading about it. In the same time we came a bit closer to the Lord, since we have experienced some of His character which we hadn’t known before.

Jesus is the truth we should live.

Into all individuals are programmed the urge to follow some direction, leading to a point in their life that will bring meaning and fulfilment. Many people, however, float around purposeless, desperately seeking for some meaning in life. They are usually frustrated, lonely and desperate.

Spiritually there are many directions to follow. Buddhism, Islam, New Age, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many other directions of thought make it their business to direct the minds of seeking individuals to some “meaningful” life and purpose. These religions, however, are instruments of the devil designed to deceive, leading to destruction. Each of these religions proclaims something they hold as truth. There can, however, only be one truth.

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31, 32). Free from what? Free from the burden of hopelessness, lack of peace, purposelessness and fear. The truth contained in Jesus and His teachings has the answer to every issue that life presents. It is important, however, to stick to the truth and to do the truth.

Jesus said in other words that He is the truth and no one gets to the Father except through the truth. It's no use we try to please the Father through our own ways of worship and service. It will bring us nowhere. No, we must “worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth,” (John 4:23, 24). This means we must know the truth presented by Jesus, and through realising this truth under guidance of the Holy Spirit we worship the Father through our spirit.

I'm reminded of Gideon in Judges 7:15: "As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped." He saw the Lord in action and realised a truth about Him. He then couldn't but worship him. When we acknowledge something great about somebody, such as an entertainment star, we express worship to such a person. 

This kind of expressing worship to God is different from singing songs in church. This awe comes from our hearts. Then, according to John 4:23 we are true worshipers and will enter Father’s presence through the Truth, namely Jesus. Singing songs is a way of worship, a way of expressing our love for the Lord, but true worship is pleasing the Lord through faith-based obedience to the truth, in submission to and under guidance of the Holy Spirit. Following human guidance in religious activity is therefore not necessarily true worship, even if the songs are powerful and the atmosphere is electrified. One needs to ensure that the Holy Spirit is in control, which is why we received the gift to discern spirits.

Lord, show me your way and truth.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

John 14 (Three) Do You Know Him?

Good morning

When Jesus told the poor disciples where He was going, they had not yet understood. They still relied on their physical senses. Up to then everything they observed had to be seen or heard. They still expected Jesus to become their physical king. I can therefore imagine Thomas thinking in terms of the geographical map of the Middle East. I can picture him paging in his mind through all the possible places in the surrounding areas where Jesus’ Father’s house possibly could be. He might even have thought of Joseph as Jesus' father - who knows. So he asked the most logical question, “Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way? (John 14:5)” to which Jesus answered: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him (John 14:6, 7)."

Did the disciples really attempt to know and understand Jesus or were they just focusing outwardly on His works and their own concerns? It’s difficult to say. We do find much evidence in the Bible of their carnal thinking and their anticipation of Jesus as an earthly king. Think of their reactions when the children wanted to come to Jesus, during the multiplication of the food, when the blind man called after Jesus, when Jesus was glorified with Moses and Elijah, and so on. Their response was protecting Him physically, caring for His physical needs. They saw the physical miracles, but did not connect it to a spiritual Kingdom. They simply didn't have an idea of who He really was and why He came to earth?

Do we take trouble to get to know Jesus? Do you, dear reader, know the Way? It is not whether you know about the Way, whether you heard a description of the Way or an explanation of His character or His abilities. Have you personally experienced the Way?

If one travels a road for the first time, one carefully follows the instructions given you and looks out for road signs and turnoffs, but by the second and third time you have established beacons and eventually have no difficulty finding the place. 

In your relationship with the Lord, do you know how He would react to some of your behaviour? In an earthly relationship we eventually know our friend/spouse/employer so well that we know what turns her on and off, what irritates her and what frustrates her. We know when she is happy and what makes her sad. Do you know this about your Saviour and Master? Jesus actually said to Thomas: “If you know Me and are one with Me you would have no trouble to relate with my Father because we are the same”.

Why did Jesus say He is the way, the truth, and the life? Why did He not only say the way, in other words the door to the Father? He had already answered Thomas’ question. Why did he carry on saying “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well?” I believe it is because He wants us to know His way of doing things on a daily basis, what He truly is like (the truth about Him) and the life that is in Him. He wants to show Himself to us; what it's like to have the right purpose and direction (Psalm 32:8), how to live in truth (John 8:32) and how to live life to the full (John 10:10).

The disciples knew Jesus very well. They walked very closely with Him every day. They, however, according to the record in the Bible, had no experience of His spiritual relationship with His Father. They were not there when He prayed, they could not hear when His Father answered back and they could not hear the Word of Knowledge and Wisdom that Jesus received whenever He needed it in His ministry. In fact, when He invited them to pray with Him during His time of anguish in Gethsemane, they they seemed to have been so bored they fell asleep. They just did not have any insight into the spiritual realm.

How many modern day Christians have understanding of the spiritual realm? My observation is that too many only see the physical. We tend to focus on our physical needs and outward worship activities, don't we?

But the disciples would, once they received the Holy Spirit, know that side as well, which is why Jesus said: “From now on, you do know him and have seen him”.

The Holy Spirit is the connection between the Father and us. Through Him we view Jesus and therefore Father God. It is impossible to get to know everything about a person by reading about such a person. The only way you get to know someone is by living with him.

Lord, help me to obey so you could reveal yourself to me.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

John 14 (Two) Intimacy in Preparation

Good morning

We concluded our last message by saying that Jesus’ preparation of the rooms in His Father’s house is continuous.

Father is holy and man not, so the preparation task of Jesus at the Father’s side involves first: “God exalted Him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel” (Acts 5:31). These include all the children of Abraham, thus also gentile believers. And second: “Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). He has to see to it that you are saved and then, as the Holy Spirit prepares you for holiness, Jesus intercedes for you. Jesus sees to it that you are ready to come into the Father’s presence -- the place (house) where He (Jesus) is. Through the Holy Spirit He must see to it that you enter the Kingdom – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Usually the Father gives a command and the Holy Spirit converse it to you who is supposed to obey, so God’s Kingdom can grow. When you do not do what the Spirit tells you to do, Jesus intercedes for you while the Holy Spirit tries to convict you of your sin. The whole purpose of their effort, in their great love for you, is to keep you in right standing with the Father (righteousness) so you can be with God.
Jesus intention for you is to be holy; in other words set aside for the Lord and His plans for your life.
"Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord," (Hebrews 12:14).
In this final teaching of Jesus, as recorded in the book of John chapters 14 to 17, He gave intense attention to this aspect of closeness to the Father, because He knew that intimacy on earth will mean eternal intimacy.

Lord, please help me to be intimate with you.

Friday, 23 June 2017

John 14 (One) The Godhead

Good morning

For as long as it takes we are going to study the gospel of John chapters fourteen to seventeen. 
Jesus spent a lot of time teaching. If we ignore His directions, He has wasted his time and energy to come to this earth. He did not just come to die for our sin as some tend to believe. He came to enable us to make a difference in this world. He said in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” and in Matthew 28:19 and 20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Doing and teaching His commands are very important. George Müller made an amazing difference in his time early in the 19th century and his work is still going on even today. He had an amazing faith, which caused, in today’s terms, millions of pounds to go through his hands without him having to have done a single business deal or ever having to have asked for money. He simply prayed and believed. His secret – he read through the whole Bible more than 300 times during his seventy years ministry! “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Let’s open the Word at John 14. We are going to focus on John 14 to 17 - Jesus’ final words to His past and present disciples and His prayer for all of us.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going,” (John 14:1-4).

The teaching in these four chapters revolves around intimacy with the Lord. Before we proceed it is important to understand the Trinity of the Godhead. I have heard quite a number of explanations, but the one most logical to me, I believe the Holy Spirit revealed to me.

We must always remember we were created in the image of God. The systems by which man therefore functions are actually systems God designed and also lives by. One can therefore see the Godhead as a Company, such as in a business. The Company’s name is God. The Managing Director of God is Father. He does all the planning, directing and commanding. Another ‘Director’ is Jesus Christ. Since the creation of the earth He was in control of every interaction with man and usually manifested to Old Testament people, such as Abraham and Gideon, as ‘The Angle of the Lord’. From His birth as a man until His ascension into heaven He was directly involved with mankind. After that the third ‘Director’ of God, the Holy Spirit became involved with mankind until today.

One can also see the Trinity as a family unit with the surname; God, where Father God is the father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the two sons doing the father’s bidding.

When we therefore talk about God we mean the Godhead or otherwise we will call the individual ‘directors’ by name. The Bible, however, often refers to the Father as God, since He is the head. In these chapters of John, Jesus gives clear direction concerning each of these ‘directors’ future involvement with those who follow Him.

From the above passage we first of all learn that our heavenly house belongs to the Father and in that house are enough rooms for all who want to be there. We also learn that these rooms need to be prepared by Jesus himself so His disciples could be where He is. But where is He? He is at the Father’s side, at His right hand. “But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God” (Luke 22:69). What does this preparation of Jesus entail? These words of Jesus regarding the preparation were written in the present tense. In other words the process is continuous.
Father, please help me understand the Godhead.
Next time we will continue dicussing Jesus' preparation process.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Using the Armor (Part Four)

This passage in Ephesians 6 concludes with “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (V18).
Note that it does not suggest for us to just pray by asking all kinds of things. It instructs us to pray in the Spirit and to do it at all times. Praying in the Spirit means we pray what the Spirit wants us to pray. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words,” (Romans 8:26). In the light of the spiritual war, which Christians are constantly involved in, prayer is more serious than just giving the Lord a shopping list. The Holy Spirit is very much aware of the spiritual activity in the air, and therefore knows the movements of the evil spiritual forces and their intentions for the children of God. He consequently knows how we should pray.
Although the Lord is sovereign, He is committed to wait until we ask and pray before He acts (Matthew 7:7, Matthew 21:22, James 4:2, 3, etc.). In order to conquer in this spiritual war, we need to stay in touch with our Commanding Officer who knows how to fight the battle. He has already overcome the devil whom He knew for thousands of years, so He understands Satan’s methods and strategies, which is why James exhorts us to first submit to God and then resist the devil (James 4:7). Our prayers therefore should be led by the Holy Spirit and we should pray as He guides us. Praying in tongues is valuable in this. I have often been in deep groaning in tongues, whilst every now and then a thought of something or somebody crossed my mind. As I understand it, the Holy Spirit led my prayers in times like those, while He occasionally made me aware of whom or what I was praying for. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” (James 5:16). Only the Lord can overcome the enemy, which is why prayer is part of the Armor of God.
An essential part of being a soldier is staying alert, which is why Paul exhorts Timothy not to get involved with civilian affairs (2 Timothy 2:4). Being involved with too much of materialistic life distracts us. The war should be our first priority. The devil’s main strategy is to offer us all kinds of things like power, pleasure and wealth which will keep us so occupied that we will not find time to be alert. This is an ideal situation for the evil forces to attack us stealthily and render us useless to the Kingdom work. He tried the same strategy with Eve and Jesus. He succeeded with Eve, but failed with Jesus because He knew how to overcome him.
The last important part of spiritual warfare is support of fellow soldiers, by interceding for them. If all Christians understand this important part of Kingdom living, this army will be a force to be reckoned with.

Lord, I want to be effective in prayer. Please deliver me from materialistic civilian affairs.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Using the Armor of God (Part Three)

 “And (take up) the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” (Ephesians 6:18).
In spiritual warfare the Word of God has a few purposes and all of them relate to a relationship with the Lord.
1.      When Jesus was tempted as recorded in Matthew 4:3-10 He referred to the Word of God with every temptation – “it is written”. The lie can only be defeated by truth, so to expose and neutralize any lie, the truth of God’s Word must be applied to prove lies invalid. In order to do that, one should know the Bible well so that the Holy Spirit can bring that knowledge to the surface when it is necessary to counter a spiritual attack. The devil can deceive either through whispering lies into our ears or by using people and ideologies. Both can only be exposed by using the sword of the Spirit, the Word.
2.      “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division
of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” (Hebrews 4:12). In Christ we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37), but we need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). The more we get into Christ, the more we are conquerors, in other words, the closer we are to the Lord the easier we will be able to hide under His protection and scare off the devil. Therefore we need the double-edged sword to cut right into the depths of our beings to discern which thoughts and intentions of our hearts do not advance the Kingdom of God, so that we can deal with them. Jesus said to the disciples in John 15:3: “You are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.” The Sword of the Spirit cleans us so we can be in right standing and submitted to God and therefore maintain our authority over evil.
3.      “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching,” (2 Timothy 4:2). How often has this kind of Word been preached to you? In order for us to be clean and holy before the Lord we need to face being reproved and rebuked and we need to be exhorted to obedience, all of which could be summarized as training in righteousness. It is the Word of God that is our sword and we need to know it and know how to wield it. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15).
If a soldier is not trained in the skills of warfare and in handling his weapon, he is bound to come second in battle. In the same way, we need to know our weapon and our commanding officer. Read the Bible, think about it and memorize passages the Holy Spirit highlights in your heart. This way the Word becomes part of you and when the Holy Spirit needs it for defense, offence or equipping, it is available in your heart.
     Lord, help me to handle the Word of God correctly.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Our War Against Evil - Using the Armour of God (Part 2)

During the last number of posts I have addressed the necessity of having to watch and pray, since Satan, our enemy, will launch attack after attack. Only our great commander, Jesus Christ, can help us, since He has already overcome Satan. This is therefore a re-post of the series on using the armour of God.

Using the Armor (Part Two)

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one,” (Ephesians 6:16).
Note that it says ‘in all circumstances’. The shield protects us against lies and circumstances brought against us. I asked the Lord why the shield would be faith. Immediately a picture formed in my mind. I saw a little girl hiding behind her father when she felt unsure. Faith is the indication that we trust in and rely on the Lord. If a little girl is threatened, it would be foolish of her to anchor her little feet firmly in front of her enemy, challenging him in self defense. Her enemy, who is bigger and stronger than her, would simply abduct her without effort.
The devil is cunning ana powerful liar and on our own we do not really stand a chance against him. His lies are devious and in ourselves we do not have the wisdom to withstand him. Jesus, however, conquered him at the cross and now Satan is very scared of him. Hiding behind the Lord in faith is our shield. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. 
“Because he holds fast to me in love, says God, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name,’” (Psalm 91: 1, 2, 14).
How do we hide behind the Lord? We live a life of submission to God (James 4:7) and when we are attacked by lies, deception and circumstances, we declare that the Lord is our refuge and shield and verbally resist Satan like Jesus did: “Get behind me Satan in Jesus’ name,” (Matthew 16:23) or “go away Satan in Jesus’ name,” (Matthew 4:10).
“And take the helmet of salvation,” (V17).
Have you ever doubted or felt insecure? All of us have. When you feel insecure you are vulnerable to deception. Sales people use techniques to put their targets into a vulnerable position so that their offers will make them feel safe again. If we are not sure of our salvation, Satan will gladly arrange for us to be deceived into some ungodly doctrine. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life,” (1 John 5:13). Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand,” (John 10: 27-29). Our salvation is our security so we may have peace.
I see in my spirit a little girl walking hand-in-hand with her huge father, looking up at him and smiling. All around them danger is lurking, evil that would love to destroy her, but she is unaware of it for she is safe and content with her father. Then I see a dirty street kid unsure of herself, always looking over her shoulder. Fear and insecurity is written all over her anxious face. She has no one to turn to.
How about you? 
Father, I need to submit to you so I can be safe.