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Goodbye World

December 31st, 2013

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

John 17:16

New Year’s Eve, 2013. This is the last we will see of this year. Of course, this is just the arbitrary way we humans reckon the passing of time, but wouldn’t it be great if we could think in terms of eternity and not in terms of earthly chronology? In Christ we can now look at all of life differently.

Rather than just saying goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014, why not use the occasion to say goodbye to the world’s way of thinking, and hello to God’s way of thinking?

There was a time when we were of this world, when all of the realities of this world applied to us. When all we knew we learned through our senses alone, not through our spirits. When all of our prospects were physical or material, not spiritual. When time and death seemed so omnipotent, and we so powerless to overcome them. When temptation was overwhelming, and hope was so fleeting.

Now, however, in Christ we can say goodbye to this world’s way of thinking and hello to the perspective and the hope of eternity. The day will come when all record of the sins we have committed will die away with the dust of this world, but who we are in Christ will continue for all eternity. The time will come when time will be no more, and eternity calls to us and we answer and enter into it.

We are not of the world because we are redeemed and kept by the One who is from eternity. We live here but our hopes and citizenship are in eternity, with God. As we will see, just as we are not of the world like Christ, we are also sent into the world like Christ. The power for saying goodbye to the world is with God and from God, and He will enable us to do so.

Alexander Maclaren wrote:

Christ’s prayer for us should be our aim and deepest desire for ourselves … How can such ennobling and exalted consecration be ours? There is but one way. He has ‘consecrated Himself,’ and by union with Him through faith, our selfishness may be subdued, and the Spirit of Christ may dwell in our hearts, to make us ‘living sacrifices, consecrated and acceptable to God.’ Then shall we be truly ‘consecrated,’ and then only, when we can say, ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ That is the end of Christ’s consecration of Himself—the prayer which He prayed for His disciples—and should be the aim which every disciple earnestly pursues.

Thank you, Lord, for your graciousness and for the uplifting vision for our lives. Let us be passionate about heaven’s perspective on our life.

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John 14-17 ,

Still Kept

December 30th, 2013

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

John 17:15

Again we see that word “keep” - which means to preserve, to enable to endure, to protect, to secure.

The prayer of John 17 should be viewed as one that is certainly being answered by the Father in the lives of all believers for all generations - until Christ returns and some of these requests, such as those in verses 24-26, even beyond that event and on into eternity. We have, perhaps, too weakly represented the prayer of Christ on that night for the Lord to take the cup from Him, if it were possible (Matt. 26:39), and we should take it in its clearer light, that the only thing possible for the Christ was the will of the Father. And we can reverse that thought and say that the desires of the Son were also the clear desires of Father as well. God is actively keeping us from the evil in the world and from the evil one in the world. We are secure in Him.

But we still feel the need for His strength. Why is this so? We learn by experience in this life. Perhaps learning will be different for us in eternity, but here we cannot remove the experiential nature of it. We gain the strength in our lives that we feel we need to have. We seek to learn because we think we need to know. And in the spiritual realm we long for the spiritual power we believe will sustain us in our trials. Christ’s prayer leaves us in the thick of the battle, but not defenseless.

From time to time I hear someone mention a difficult trial they faced, saying something like, “It was real spiritual warfare.” We may feel the heat of the fight more at sometimes than at others, but we are always in spiritual warfare in this world. Whether the temptation is weak or strong, whether we feel overmatched or not, whether we have an impression of spiritual darkness or not - the battle is constantly on and we are in the midst of it at all times and in all situations. We are always overmatched in our own strength, but Christ in us is always greater than the one who is in the world.

We have spent the last few days with our grown children and our grandchildren. They are all doing well, their careers and marriages are thriving, as is their spiritual faith. But they are not without their challenges and problems. When we sent them out of the home - while we were living in Southeast Asia - we had prepared them as best we knew how. They were prepared scholastically for their careers, for example, and we helped them financially to gain a footing in the world. They have all overcome adversity, faced difficulty, secured good jobs, and are making good names for themselves in their different fields, and we are proud of them.

Now they are doing well, but what if we had sent them out without preparation? What if we had not helped them to mature while they were at our home? What if we had not cared about their grades? What if we had not taught them to overcome adversity? What if we had never taught them to believe in Christ or told them that He will be with them, or had never prayed for them? It would have been unthinkable for us to have neglected our responsibility as Christian parents.

Oh, but whatever the best Christian parents do for their children pales in comparison to what God does for His. He not only teaches us, but He also guides and empowers and indwells us. He is always with us in our difficulties, so we should not despise them. We may hate the injustice and, as Christ did, despise the undeserved shame, but we should learn that they give us opportunity to experience more of God’s power in our lives. His strength to us will be equal to our days (Deut. 33:25).

Rather than fear what may or may not happen, believers can live confidently through thanksgiving for God’s power regardless of what happens. We do not know what a day may hold, or what a night may bring, but we can be confident that God will keep us through them all.


John 14-17 ,