John: A Walk with the Messiah: Chapter 14

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Now we come to John Chapter 14.  Still in the quiet, intimate presence of Jesus in the upper room with His disciples, friends, sharing one last meal before His death.  How blessed are we to share these last moments with the Christ and the disciples.  The words spoken in this room are full of importance and hope.  In Chapter 13 Jesus had ended with some troubling news, “one of you will betray me” and “where I am going you cannot go”.  Yet Chapter 14 begins with some encouraging words: “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1 ESV).  Jesus knows that the coming events are going to be world-changing and not at all encouraging, at first.  He wants to encourage the apostles.  The word here in the Greek is tarasso. The word means “to be agitated, shaken, to allow one’s calm/peace to be taken away”. This is in contrast to verse 27: “My peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.”  What the world gives to us can be taken away from us.  The peace Jesus gives, cannot be taken away.

The end of verse one gives them the “how” of the “let not your hearts be troubled”: “Believe“.  We can allow other things in the world to crowd in and cloud our peace, but nothing can steal it from us if we believe.  Believe in God and believe in Christ.  So much water will be under the bridge before the disciples meet with Christ again and Jesus wants to encourage them to remain faithful in spite of current appearances.

And what is encouraging to the apostles here has and will encourage so many others throughout the years. When times are troubling, we don’t have to let our hearts be troubled either.  Our solution is the same as it was for the apostles, “believe“. Our faith in God and Jesus can be our strongest weapon when battling the woes of life and our strongest hope in the storm.  God is faithful and will not forsake us. And the peace of Jesus is ours.

Jesus then tells the apostles that He is going to prepare a special place that the apostles may come to dwell with Him.  Jesus dwelled with us for a short time, a few decades, but in the place Jesus prepares, we will dwell with Him for eternity.  Interesting thought, Jesus prepares a place for us and then he prepares us for the place.  How blessed are we to be allowed to walk with our Savior through life toward the place He prepares specially for us?

Verse 6 gives us the statement that kind of wraps up the “how do we get there” question:

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:4 ESV).

Let’s break this down.  Jesus is the way to the Father.  There simply is no other way.  No works, no faith, no great holiness or righteousness.  Nothing or no one allows us access to the Father except Jesus.

Jesus is the truth.  Any other gospel preached is a lie.  Any other hope of eternal life is false.  Jesus is the only way and the only truth.

Jesus is the life.  Only God can give life.  In the garden, God breathed life.  Jesus died for life.  Eternal life.  Only the eternal God can offer eternal life.

Then, follows the “what do we need to do” question. The answer to this question is so important that Jesus repeats it at least 4 times, and we have already discussed that if something is repeated in the bible, we better pay attention.  Especially, if it is God Himself repeating it.

  • Verse 12 says “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do”
  • Verse 15 says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
  • Verse 21 says “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.”
  • Verse 23 says “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.”

Notice a theme here?  Belief, faith, in Jesus isn’t just in word.  Lip service will not get us to the place Jesus left to prepare.  Jesus wants us to do what He says.  As a parent and you give a command to your child, you expect it to be followed through.  If you are a boss in an office and you give an employee a task, you expect it to be done.  Jesus is no different.  He expects His disciples, His followers, to follow.

But what is maybe unique to commands Jesus gives as opposed to those you may give to a child or employee, Jesus doesn’t ask anything of us that He did not do Himself.  Christ was the ultimate example.  Everything He commands of us we can look in His life and see the fulfillment and execution of those commands.  He doesn’t ask us to endure anything that He Himself was not willing to endure.  Isn’t that comforting?  Isn’t it much easier to walk a path if we know that someone has already tread that path and know he made it safely to the other side?  And, as a final example, Jesus says “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14:31 ESV).  How does the world know His love, our love?  By obedience. Not words. Deeds.

And not only do we have the peace of Jesus to guide us, Jesus promises a Helper.  The Advocate. The Counseler.  There are many names He goes by. But whatever His name, His job is clear.  The Holy Spirit is sent to help us.  And oh do we need help!!  This is huge!  Only because Christ came and left do we have God dwelling among us again, not only among us but in us!  The Holy Spirit, God, comes to dwell within us.  We know of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Old Testament through the prophets, but never has He come to dwell in the hearts of all His people.  People like you and me.  We may never do great feats like Moses or Elijah, but we will never be insignificant because we have God Himself living inside us and God never does anything slight.

Chapter 14 ends on a dark note just as Chapter 13 does: “the ruler of this world is coming” (John 14:30 ESV).  Jesus knows that the “end” is coming, but we know that the end is just the beginning.  Even so, Jesus gives His apostles hope, something to looks forward to in the future when it seems hope has come to an end.  Jesus acknowledges Satan as the “ruler of this world”.  Never underestimate the power of Satan here on this earth.  But equally so, do not underestimate the overwhelming power of our Savior.  Jesus says “He has no claim on me” (John 14:30 ESV).  Satan never took anything from God that God didn’t allow Him to have, including His Son.  None of the events that we are leading up to would have happened if God had not allowed it to happen.  When it seems that evil has the upper hand in your life, always remember, your Savior is stronger.  Your Savior is alive and well in spite of what Satan tried to do to Him and it is He that fights for you, alongside you.  You are not alone.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

Amen. Amen.

 

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Names of God: Elohim

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Last week, dear readers, we began a new series on the names of God.  Over the next couple of weeks, we will be focusing on three names in particular that will carry over into many of the others we will study later on.  They are the most used names and are often used to create compound names to describe God.

When God is first introduced to us in the Old Testament, He is referred to as “Elohim” (el-o-heem).  In Hebrew, this name means “mighty” or “strong”.  An interesting point to note about this name is that it is plural, being the plural form of “Elohe” which means “deity”.  This name is used over 2,000 times in the Old Testament.  In our modern bibles, the name is translated, simply “God”.  When used without an article (the), the word is used to refer to other “gods”, for instance, the Canaanite gods.

In the bible, Elohim is the Mighty Creator, the Author of Life.  He speaks and the world is:

“‘I made the earth
    and created man on it;
it was My hands that stretched out the heavens,
    and I commanded all their host’…

For thus says the Lord,
who created the heavens
    (He is God!),
who formed the earth and made it
    (He established it;
He did not create it empty,
    He formed it to be inhabited!):
‘I am the Lord, and there is no other’.” – Isa. 45:12,18

Elohim simply spoke the world into existence. Our gloriously wondrous world and all it’s splendors, words lovingly spoken from our Creator God.  He simply opened His mouth, and it happened. Imagine the awesome, raw power.

Elohim breathes Life:

“The Lord God [Elohim] formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” – Gen. 2:7

“[He] gives breath to the people on it
    and spirit to those who walk in it.” – Isa. 42:5

“In his hand is the life of every living thing
    and the breath of all mankind.” – Job 12:10

He didn’t even have to speak this time, He breathed.  Sweet, life-giving breath flowed into Adam’s nostrils and he awoke.  That same life-giving breath lives inside us, filling us with God-breath, His essence.  He breathes and we live.  Inhale. Exhale. Think about your own breath and the life that it brings you.  Now think about how much more God’s breath brings Life to all each time He breathes.

Elohim is mighty.  Google defines “mighty” as: “possessing great and impressive power or strength”.  Doesn’t that sound like our God?  Impressive.  Great.  Powerful.

The Mighty One, God the Lord,
    speaks and summons the earth
    from the rising of the sun to its setting.

“…the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever”. – Jos. 4:24

Elohim is strong.

“The Lord is the strength of His people” – Psa. 28:8

“In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all” – 1 Chr. 29:12

Awesome is God from His sanctuary;
    the God of Israel—He is the one who gives power and strength to His people.” – Psa. 68:35

His strength is our strength.  Our own weaknesses and limitations are nothing to Him.  Through Him we are empowered to do His will.  Empowered is a pretty amazing word.  Power dwelling within.  God’s life-breath, God’s awesome, raw power, living within His creation.  Amazing.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

What’s in a Name: The Names of God

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What is a name?  Google defines “name” as: “a word or set of words by which a person, animal, place, or thing is known, addressed, or referred to” .  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary refers to it as “a word or phrase that constitutes the distinctive designation of a person or thing“.  So in essence, a name is a word by which something’s distinctiveness is known, what makes that particular something unique.

Often, we just refer to God as “God”, but sometimes we say “Father” or “Lord”.  Would it surprise you to know that God has many different names and titles?  Can you name a few?  How many?  Did you know that some sources say there are as many as 900 different references to God?  Amazing.  If a name tells us what a thing IS, maybe we can learn more about who God is, just by studying His name.  Here are a few names that we use when we refer to God: the Lord, the Almighty, the Creator, the Maker, the Godhead, Jehovah/Yahweh; Father, Son, Holy Ghost/Spirit; the Holy Trinity; and even “The Man Upstairs” (although, this one seems a tad irreverent).  Over the next few weeks I’d like to explore some of these names in an attempt to know God better.

Let’s start by looking at what just the English name “God” means to us.  Once again, Google says God is: “the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being“.  Merriam-Webster defines the word as this: “a spirit or being that has great power, strength, knowledge, etc., and that can affect nature and the lives of people“.  Already we have some synonyms that we use for our God that describe His nature: creator, ruler, source of all authority.  He is: powerful, strong, knowledgable, supreme, and able to affect all that He has created.  Already we are painting a word picture of the distinctiveness of God, the personage of God.

The next few weeks we will study the names God is referred to in the Bible, specifically the Old Testament since it is there that we are first introduced to our Creator.  Each one gives us an idea of who God is and why He deserves our worship and obedience.  Hope you’ll join me! God bless!

Faithful and Sure

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“O Lord, You are my God;

I will exalt You; I will praise Your name,

for you have done wonderful things,

plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” (Isa. 25:1 ESV)

God has done so many wonderful things for His children over time.  He has given them blessing after blessing and ultimately redeemed them completely from their sin.  He has remained faithful in all His promises even those made at the beginning of time.  He has even remained faithful in the discipline of His children.

Because the Bible gives so many examples of the faithfulness of God, I can also trust God to continue to be faithful.  I can trust Him to keep His promises and I can trust Him to deliver me from my enemies (and myself) time and time again.  I know that He will fulfill my needs and I know that He will never forsake me.  I know He will continue to work His children’s lives until all is complete and we can come Home.  He is my Rock.

Father, thank You so much for Your faithfulness.  In a world that is ever-changing, we need a constant strength to rely on, a strong tower, a fortress.  I will forever praise Your faithfulness.  May I remain ever faithful to You and may You graciously forgive me when I fail.  Your love is eternal, may it dwell in me forever. Amen.