For Your Good – John 16:7

Have you ever considered John 16:7? On some level, I guess I’ve always considered its implications to be something along the lines of, “Of course it’s to my benefit that He goes away. That’s how salvation was bought.” But I’d NEVER considered the full implication of this verse.
To that point, Jesus had been walking with His disciples for a while, but had only walked WITH them. In order for them (and us) to have God IN us, however, He had to ascend and come back as the Holy Spirit. He tells His disciples it is for their good that He goes away. That way, He can indwell them (and us) so that they (and we) could be the temple where He lives!
What does that mean for you? The indwelling that this Spirit gives me means that how I feel/my circumstances DO NOT have to define my day. HE can define my day, no matter what my circumstance or environment! No matter what is going on around me, the Creator of the Universe lives IN ME, and all of His resources are mine because He knows me and lives in me. This really is a good thing!

So, what keeps you from experiencing His presence in your life? A couple of observations come to mind.
1) You do not belong to Him. If you’ve never given Him your life, you have not been indwelled by His Spirit. To solve this, place your hope and trust in Him today.

2) You’ve never really “needed” Him.  For too many followers of Jesus, faith consists of asking His blessing on our already well-laid plans.  We seek comfort, affluence, and prosperity, missing the fact that God is near to the broken hearted.  Recently reading a book about the Holy Spirit, I read about a group of Korean missionary who were abducted by the Taliban.  Two were martyred for their faith, and the rest squabbled over the honor of being the next to go.  Before anyone else could be killed, the Korean government negotiated their release.  Upon returning home, all of the former captives voiced a desire to be back in captivity because of the intimacy with Christ they found during their captivity.  At their darkest hour, they found themselves closer to Christ than they ever had been. Their story reminded me that God doesn’t strive for my comfort or safety.  He strives for His Glory.

3)  Noise:  our lives become so cluttered with busyness that we simply CANNOT focus on a relationship with Christ.  With text messages, voice messages, music, television, reading, FaceBook, cell phones, etc., we lack the capacity for a quiet conversation with our Creator.  Many times we create the noise with noble causes that seem to deepen our intimacy but only keep us from God. All too often we substitute a book, Bible study, or spiritual event for intimacy, quenching the Spirit in our lives and missing His presence in our lives.

Give your life to Christ.  Realize your need for Him each day instead of comfort.  “Unplug” for the sake of your relationship with Him.  He has given you His Spirit for your own good.

A 2 Quote Morning

While reading this morning, two thoughts really impacted me. Since I know the way many of you think, I thought you’d find them provoking as well.

“…this is exactly what I see: a lot of people who have added Jesus to their lives. People who have, in a sense, asked Him to join THEM on their journey, to follow THEM wherever THEY feel THEY should go, rather than following Him as we are commanded. The God of the universe is not something we can just add to our lives and keep in as we did before.” (“Forgotten God,” Francis Chan, p. 122)

“What if you could hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and He asked you to literally give EVERYTHING you owned? What if He asked you to sell ALL your possessions and give the money to the poor? Could you do it? Before you start explaining why He would never ask that of you, take a moment and answer the question honestly. It’s not out of His character to ask for everything.” (“Forgotten God,” Francis Chan, p. 126)

In a recent ongoing dialogue with an old childhood friend, we’ve been chewing on the state of the Western Church, and perhaps this hits close to what we’ve talked about. Feel free to let the discussion begin!

Encouragement? Prophecy? or Both?

In my retreat time this morning, I was reading John 14 – 16. It’s an amazing 3 chapters about the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ relationship to Father and Spirit, and the connection of all 3 to us. Being 3 of my favorite chapters of Scripture, I read them often, but was deeply impacted by them this morning in a way not the norm for me.

I tend to read this passage and find encouragement for my life in the Holy Spirit’s role/connection for me. I enjoy phrases like “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” and “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” They remind me of the intimate connection we have to Father because of Son by indwelling of Spirit. And rightfully so. Jesus Himself says that He is telling us these things “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Have you ever read these chapters as prophecy, though? Look at the progression of events in these chapters. Jesus will be gone for a short time and then return. He will send the Holy Spirit when He leaves for good. The disciples will have questions now, but then all things will be clear. Greater things will be done by them. They will be scattered for a time. They will be hated by the world, yet overcome it. Their grief will turn to joy. They will be put out of the Synagogue. In a passage where most find comfort, Jesus in a very detailed way outlines the rest of their lives for them!

And, just as He said, they are with Him, dessert Him, have their grief turned to joy, walk with Him a bit longer, receive the Holy Spirit, and never doubt again. They turn the world upside down, and in spite of being martyred, they have peace in this world. They heal the lame and blind, raise the dead, speak in languages they’ve never learned, and are noted as ordinary guys who are changing the world because they had been with Jesus. These three chapters of John so closely parallel the Book of Acts that I am amazed more people don’t teach on this! We turn to these chapters for comfort. But do we turn to them for prophecy and to see if our lives are “lining out” like people who truly have received His Spirit?

As Jesus wraps up this prophetic/encouraging discussion with His friends, He says, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” What did the Disciples end up asking for? That their lives be used up for Him, His kingdom, and His glory. And that’s what He did with them, and they received a joy that was complete. A joy so complete that Paul and Silas could sing as they are beat nearly to death (Acts 16).