Archive for the ‘Discipleship’ Category

But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” (John 16:5-16, NRSV)

Jesus told the disciples He was leaving, but none of them asked Him where he was going? Why?

Did they finally get something, or were they afraid to ask?

Afraid of where it would be?

Afraid He would want them to go with Him? (Well He did say He was leaving them and the Fathe was sending the Advocate (See John 14:15-31))

They might have finally gotten it. But they don’t ask, and they are sad He is leaving, but as is stated in John 14:15-31 they should be happy, because He is going to the Father and if he goes to the Father He will send the Advocate.

So be happy that Jesus came and left to be with the Father again. Because we can still see Him through the Advocate and His body. He is still here, and we can live with Him forever.

And soon we will be with Him fully again!

Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31, NRSV)

God does not need us.

He does not need us to make dwelling places for Him.

He does not need us to serve Him.

He created everything, including us.

Paul looks around Athens and discovers what theAthenians need to hear and he tells them.

He looks at their context and talks to them in ideas and concepts they will understand.

That is how the message of God is received by others. By us understanding who they are and us speaking to them in concepts and ideas they understand.

Here is a cute cartoon about this:

Reflection in water of the Holy Spirit dove by Sue Ann Jackson (www.sueannjacksonllc.com)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?”  Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way. (John 14:15-31, NRSV)

Jesus told the disciples that He was leaving and going to the Father but He would never leave them?!?!?

How can He do this?

Well, He and the Father are sending the Advocate, the Spirit to be with them. The world will no longer see Jesus, but because the disciples know Him and will have the Spirit, they will still see Him.

And we can see Him today, in the faces of the body around us, through the Spirit dwelling in us.

The Spirit surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the body of Christ together!

In you, O LORD, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,  take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. You hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD. I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have taken heed of my adversities, and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place. Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.  For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away. I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.  For I hear the whispering of many—terror all around!—as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”  My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.  Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.  Do not let me be put to shame, O LORD, for I call on you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go dumbfounded to Sheol.  Let the lying lips be stilled that speak insolently against the righteous with pride and contempt. O how abundant is your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear you, and accomplished for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of everyone!  In the shelter of your presence you hide them from human plots; you hold them safe under your shelter from contentious tongues. Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was beset as a city under siege. I had said in my alarm, “I am driven far from your sight.” But you heard my supplications when I cried out to you for help. Love the LORD, all you his saints. The LORD preserves the faithful, but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.  Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD. (Psalm 31, NRSV)

How many of us have ever been in a dark valley with seemingly nowhere to go?

No way out and all we see is darkness and despair?

Most of us, if we are honest, have been in situations we do not like.

But here is the kicker for those of us who follow God…

Even in the darkness, there is light.

Even in the storm, there is shelter.

Even when terror is all around us we have refuge in the Lord!

So take heart and know that He who has overcome the world will hear your pleas and come to your aid!

 

Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.”  They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:1-10, NRSV)

Once we were not a people. We did not have any place to hang our hats, to call home.

But now that we have been brought into the house of the Lord we are God’s people!

We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people!

We were not, but now we are, because of Jesus, and God’s mercy and favor.

Tell everyone and invite everyone because all are welcome here!

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.) Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. (John 18:28-38, NRSV)

What is truth?

That is a great question. We live in the age of alternative facts. Where it seems as though we can just say something isn’t true and it isn’t.

But isn’t there really some absolute truth?

The picture above shows 2 people one on either side of a number. To one it looks like a 6 and to the other, it looks like a 9. It says, “Just because you are right, does not mean, I am wrong. You just haven’t seen life from my side.” Which is a somewhat true statement. But when the person wrote or drew the number, they had an idea in their mind which it was, a 6 or a 9. So, therefore, one of those in the picture is ultimately wrong. But why is it we have to say and feel that everyone is correct?

There is an ultimate truth. Gravity will always win and until the sun explodes the earth will rotate around it. But the ultimate truth is God created everything that exists and still cares for you as one of His most prized creations.

That is truth.

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”  Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-36, NRSV)

If the biggest smallest word in the English language!

“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples.” If you continue means they were listening to and following His words. That is a question for some. But do we continue to listen and follow the words Jesus is saying to us?

They questioned even the statement of being set free, because they are descendants of Abraham, and therefore are a part of God’s chosen people, but have they forgotten this little place called Eygpt? And the years the Israelite people spent there in slavery? Never been slaves to anyone? Really?

But it isn’t about being a slave to a master who is human, could be, but more than that it is about us living a life that is freed from all worries and concerns. It is about us finding joy in the darkness because we are connected to Jesus.

It is about hearing His calling and following. It is about abiding in His word and allowing Him to abide in us.