The Way: Living With God

 

Jesus challenged his friends to embrace living with God (219).

“Up till now, I have often used figures of speech to tell you things about God. But the time has come for me to speak to you plainly about God.  It’s time for you to go on living with God.   It’s time for each of you to have your own very direct & very personal relationship with God.  God loves each one of you very much.

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“God loves you  — because you love me & because you have believed that I came from God. I did come from God into the world, and now it’s time for me to leave the world & return to God.”

His friends replied to Jesus, “But now you are speaking plainly, without using figures of speech; now we understand you.  We really do believe that you came from God.”

Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now? Remember, the time has come for all of you to be scattered, and for me to be left alone. But I’m never really alone, because God is always with me.

“I have been telling you all these things so that, whenever you feel all alone, you can have the same powerful peace that God gives to me.  God will always be with you, too.

“In the tribulation of this world, you will experience suffering.

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“But you can be peaceful through it all, knowing that I have overcome the world.”

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God, please help us to love living all of life with You.

(219) John 16:25-33

The Way: From Sorrow To Joy

 

Jesus continued preparing his friends for his impending execution (218).

“In a little while you will not see me anymore, but then a little later you will see me again.” Some of his friends didn’t understand this at all.

But Jesus understood that his friends wanted to understand, so he said to them, “When I leave, you’ll be very sad, but the world will be glad.  However, your sadness will soon become greater gladness.

“This is what I mean: When a woman is about to give birth, she is sad because her hour of suffering has come.

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“But when the baby is born, she forgets her suffering, because she is happy that her baby has been born into the world.

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“In the same way, now you are sad, but when you see me again your hearts will be filled with joy, the kind of joy that no one can ever take away from you!

“When that day comes, you will no longer ask me for anything. God himself will give you whatever you ask him — in order for you to serve him like me.

“Until now you haven’t asked him for anything.  But soon you will ask for & receive from God — whatever you need in order to serve him like me.

“This continuing, direct connection with your heavenly Father will make your joy complete.”

Father, please help us to love asking You for whatever we need to serve You.

(218)  John 16:16-24

The Way: Truth, Choice & Power

 

Then Jesus told his friends a little more about the work of the Holy Spirit in the world (217).

“I didn’t tell you these things before, because I was still here with you. But now it’s time for me to go back to God who sent me.

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“I know it’s not easy for you to ask me about this, because your hearts are full of sadness. But please believe this: it’s better for you that I leave, so God’s Holy Spirit can come to you.  The Holy Spirit of God will give you the power you need to serve as my witnesses.

“When the Spirit comes, he will show people the truth about sin & righteousness & God’s judgment – which is basically this:

  • People sin against God by hanging on to their old independent self-lives.
  • People become right with God by letting go of those old lives & embracing the new lives which I offer them.
  • And all people, including the ruler of this world, will be judged for the choices they make between the old life & the new life.

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“There is always much more for you to learn about God, but this is enough for now.  When the Spirit comes, he will reveal to you more & more truth about God.

“He won’t speak on his own authority; instead, he will give me glory by speaking to you what I tell him, all of which I have received from God.”

LORD, please help us to love serving You in the power of Your Spirit.

(217) John 16:4-15

The Way: Persecution & Help

 

Jesus taught his friends a little about how he would help them in the midst of persecution (216).

“When the world hates you, remember that the world hated me first. If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you. But I’ve called you to love God & to be separate from this world; that’s why the world hates you.

“Remember that I told you: ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ So if the world persecutes me, the world will definitely persecute you, too.

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“But, if people do the things I’ve taught, then people will do the things you teach, too, because you are connected to me!  They may not have known God, but through me they can know God, and through you they can know me.

“The people of this world would never have understood that they are guilty of their sins before God – unless I had taught them this, and unless I had done miracles among them.  But now, the people of this world can no longer plead innocence of their guilt before God.

“Nevertheless, many people will still choose to love themselves & hate me.  And anyone who hates me hates God also! This simply fulfills what was written in the inspired scriptures: ‘They hated me for no reason at all.’

“But in the midst of all this persecution, the Holy Spirit will help you bear fruit for God.  I will send the Spirit to you from God.  He will continue to teach you about me, so you can continue to teach others about me.  I chose you from the very beginning for this very purpose – to be my witnesses.

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“I have told you many things about God & his plan for you.   Remember everything I’ve taught you, and hold on to your faith in me — even though people of the world will persecute you because of your faith in me!

“They will expel you from the synagogues, and they will even kill you, thinking they are serving God! They’ll think that way because they do not really know God & they do not really know me.”

Jesus, please help us to love sharing in Your suffering.

(216) John 15:18-16:3

The Way: The Main Thing

 

Repeating himself for emphasis, Jesus insisted on this particular point (215).

“Love each other, in the same way that I love you.

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“You are my true friends.  I can’t call you students any longer, because a student doesn’t really know everything his master is doing.  Because I’m telling you everything God is doing, I can truly say that you are my true friends.

“Doing the things I’ve taught you is what will show the world that you are my friends.  For example, the greatest love you can ever experience is to give up your independent self-life for your friends.

“You didn’t choose to become my friends; I chose you.

“Now you’re being sent out to bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. For this purpose, God will give you whatever you ask for, just as he has done for me.

“Just don’t forget this main thing: Love each other.”

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Holy Spirit, please help us to love loving each other.

(215) John 15:12-17

The Way: How To Be Joyful

 

In the gardens on the Mount of Olives, Jesus continued teaching the eleven chosen witnesses (214).

“I am the true vine, the real vine, and God is the gardener. God breaks off every branch of mine that does not bear fruit.  And God trims every branch of mine that does bear fruit, so that it will be able to bear even more fruit. Now, you have been trimmed already by the things I have taught you, so you are definitely ready to bear much fruit.

“Stay connected to me, and I will stay connected to you. This is very important, because you know a branch can’t bear fruit by itself; it can only bear fruit if it stays connected to the vine. In the same way, you can’t bear fruit unless you stay connected to me. As long as we stay connected, you will be able to bear much fruit.

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“But anyone who doesn’t stay connected to me will wither & die.  When that happens to branches, they are gathered up and thrown into the fire.

“If you stay connected to me & if you remember all that I’ve taught you, then you will receive whatever you ask for. God’s glory is revealed when you bear much fruit, so God will give you whatever will help you do that.

“I love you completely, the same way that God loves me.  I’m telling you this because I want you to experience the same joy in my love that I experience in God’s love.

“The way you stay connected to my love & experience this joy is by doing the things I’ve told you. That’s exactly how I stay connected to God – by doing the things he has told me.”

Jesus, please help us to love the joy that comes from obeying You.

(214) John 15:1-11

The Way: Powerful Peace

 

Then Judas (also known as Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus) asked Jesus a question (213). “Master, why will you reveal yourself to us & not to the world?”

Jesus continued: “Whoever loves me will do what I have taught. God will also love that person, and we will come to live with him.   Anyone who does not do what I have taught does not love me.  What I have taught has come directly from God.

“After I’ve gone, God’s Holy Spirit will teach you everything you need to know.  The Spirit will also help you remember everything I have taught you.

“I am giving you peace – not peace as the world understands it, but the peace of God.  This peace is so powerful that you won’t be worried & you won’t be afraid.  You will be bold!

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“Listen, you should be glad that I am returning to God, because there is nothing greater than being with God.  I’ve told you all this now, before it happens, so that, when it actually does happen, your faith will grow stronger.

“But, we can’t talk much longer now; the powers of this world are coming for me.  Although they have no power over me, God’s plan of redemption requires my submission to them at this time.  From my example of submission, you will understand that the way to show love for God is to do everything that God commands.”

Jesus concluded, “Come, let us leave this place.”  Then, after singing a song praising God, they left the upper room & went out to the gardens on the Mount of Olives.

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Jesus, please help us to love the peace that only You can give.

(213) Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26, John 14:22-31