Archive for May, 2018

Knowledge and Prayer

May 29th, 2018

“I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” (John 16:25-28 NLT)

On the night of Christ’s betrayal He gave an important teaching to the disciples about the Holy Spirit and life after He ascended to heaven. This teaching proclaims the great equalizing of the impact of our faith in Christ. All believers in Christ are of the same rank and status. All are included in the priesthood of all believers. All receive the Spirit. All can grow in knowledge and faith. All can privately worship God in their hearts. All can serve and be used of God. All can pray to God and be heard by the Father. And if this is true for all then it is true for each – for you and for me.

For clarity’s sake, let us remember the order of historical events, that Christ was crucified on Friday at Passover, rose on the third day or Sunday, appeared to the disciples at least eleven times over the next forty days, and ascended on high. In Acts it says:

During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God…After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. (Acts 1:3-9).

Then Acts 1 & 2 go onto explain the history of what happened after Christ was taken up into a cloud. For ten days the disciples continued in life as best they could. Then on the day of Pentecost, which was fifty days after Passover, the Holy Spirit came upon them in an incredibly powerful way.

But soon

In this passage above from John 16 he told the disciples that things were about to change. He said: “But soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tel you plainly about the Father.” The next day after Christ spoke those words He hung on the cross and later that day was buried. His followers were devastated. But then at the resurrection they were overjoyed.  The changes, however, were all before their eyes and not in their hearts.

No doubt their hearts rejoiced at Christ’s resurrection, but they remained unchanged within. The old mysteries remained, their old weaknesses, their old hearts were all still very much the same. The disciples did believe in Jesus, as the passage above says. And that belief was inspired by the inner witness of the Spirit, as Christ said to Peter when he professed that Jesus was the Christ: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16.17). But the inner transforming work of the Spirit in the lives of Christians had not yet begun.

The disciples were only fifty days away from a new day. That which had been mostly physical for them was going to become spiritual. The teaching’s of Christ they had heard with their ears they were going to hear in their hearts by the Spirit’s voice. They, and all Christ followers from that day forward, would have the inner witness of the Spirit in their hearts, transforming them, changing them into the same type of people as Jesus of Nazareth had been. The Spirit would reproduce the character of Christ in them: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:29).

We live in this new day of the Spirit, where the Father and the Son move in our lives through the Spirit’s presence. We have knowledge today of the nature and purpose of God that we would not have had in other times. Christ has opened the door for us to know plainly the nature of God the Father. As we read His Word His Spirit opens our minds to understand and for the Word to take root in our hearts.

Then you will ask in my name

The name of Christ is not meant to be used like some “pixie dust” that we sprinkle on our prayers to give them more power. To pray in the name of Christ means to pray according to His will, under His authority, and for His glory. Christ here said that He was not saying that He would ask the Father for them. This needs to be explained, because elsewhere in Scripture, and even in this monologue, Christ professed to pray for them before the Father.

Therefore (Jesus) is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (1 John 2:1)

What Christ is teaching here is that a relationship with Him in faith results in a life that now can be powerful in prayer. The Father listens to us directly as we pray. We do not need to go through a priest, or through saints, or through Mary, or even through Christ. We have through our faith in Christ already connected with the Father, and now He listens to us directly.

As a pastor people often ask me to pray for them, which I do. A pastor should have a rich and deep prayer life. But every Christian, whether pastor or not, has the same potential in prayer. Our faith in Christ opens up the pathway of prayer to God the Father. This is a privilege that every Christian can take advantage of. There is nothing that makes one Christian’s prayer more powerful than another’s other than their faith in God and their involvement in prayer.

What an awesome truth this is, that we can each have a rich personal and growing relationship with God through Christ. We can grow in knowledge and understanding, and in worship and in faith. And we can also each grow through prayer, taking the needs of the world and of our lives to the Lord.

Daily Devotions

His Love Endures Forever

May 28th, 2018

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever…
to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever… (Psalm 136:1,4)

The inspired psalmist proclaimed the works of God – creation, the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the defeat of pagan kings in battle, and God’s watchcare over His people. But the truth that continually echoes throughout this psalm is His steadfast love. At every verse it is repeated: “His steadfast love endures forever.”

If we want to understand God we learn something of Him from His creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” the scripture proclaims (Psalm 19:1). The beauty, balance, interconnectedness, and detail in creation tells us that God is wise and appreciates beauty. He is a God of endless knowledge and power. Yet at best creation only gives us a brief glimpse at only part of God’s nature.

His acts of deliverance, of miracles, and displays of power also tell us much about God. To those who believe the Bible, His acts of redemption and healing tell us that God is compassionate, powerful, just, and redemptive in nature. This draws the curtain back further and allows us to glimpse more of who He is.

But the true nature of God is more than we can put together by the observation of creation and the witnessing of miracles. In Christ we see God “face to face.” We read that God “made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). And through the reading of the gospels, as the Spirit Himself illuminates our minds, we learn about the eternal nature of God.

We see Him for who He truly is, yet still there is some shadow here across His face. God promises a new day when we will see Him fully. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully” (1 Cor. 13:12). This is why such passages as Psalm 136 are so helpful, for they resound with the truth of God’s steadfast love.

Do you want to know who God is? The trait that is most consistent in Him, that shapes all other traits, that blends everything else about Him together and channels it in a certain direction is His steadfast love. Rejoice in His love today.