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 Promise Of New Life

 

Even though Jesus had performed many miracles among them, many people still were not inclined to trust Jesus (205).

Hundreds of years earlier, the prophet Isaiah had been given visions of Jesus’ glory. But he had also been inspired to see that many people would not trust Jesus.  This was distressing to Isaiah, so he asked: “God, has anyone believed our report? Has your power been revealed to anyone?”

Then God revealed to Isaiah the reason many people were not able to believe.  God told Isaiah: “I blinded their eyes & closed their minds, so their eyes wouldn’t see, and their minds wouldn’t understand, and they wouldn’t turn to me to be healed.”

Nevertheless, some Jewish authorities were inclined to trust Jesus.  But most of these were not willing to talk about Jesus openly — because they feared the Pharisees & didn’t want to be kicked out of the synagogue. So, basically, they wanted the approval of men more than the approval of God.

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Then Jesus said for all to hear: “Anyone who believes in me also believes in God. Anyone who sees me also sees God.

“At this time, I have not come into the world to judge people.  Anyone who rejects me & does not obey me will ultimately be judged by my words on the last day.  All my words have been spoken on the authority of God.

“At this time, I have come into the world as light, to save from darkness anyone who believes in me.

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“At this time, God has sent me so you can begin to experience new life now — new life that will continue in heaven forever, even after your physical death.”

LORD, please help us to love living the new life You graciously give.

(205) John 12:37-50

The Light Of Love

 

Some Greek people were among those who had gone to Jerusalem to worship during the festival (204). They went to Philip, one of the twelve witnesses, and said, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip went & told Andrew, and the two of them went & told Jesus.

But, instead of responding directly to their information,  Jesus took Philip & Andrew in a different direction.  “The hour has now come for me to receive great glory.  A grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain, unless it’s planted in the ground & dies. When it dies, it becomes a plant that produces many more grains.

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“Anyone who loves his life in this world will lose it.  But anyone who doesn’t love his life in this world will experience new life that will continue in heaven forever, even after physical death.

“Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me.  My servants must be with me wherever I am. God will honor anyone who serves me with such dedication.

“I admit, my heart is troubled, but does that mean I should ask God, not to make me go through this hour of suffering?  No, I came among you for this exact purpose – to go through this hour of suffering.  My prayer is that God will bring glory to his name.”

Then a voice was heard speaking from heaven, “I will bring glory to my name.” Some in the crowd who heard the voice said it was thunder, while others said, “An angel spoke to him!”  But Jesus said to them all, “This voice was God speaking to you.  When I am lifted up on the cross –in order to draw people to God — that’s when Satan is going down.”

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Jesus was referring to his impending execution.  Some in the crowd vaguely got this &  questioned Jesus: “Our law says the Messiah will live forever. How, then, can you say that you will be lifted up on a cross? Who do you think you are?”

Jesus replied, “My light will be with you a while longer. Continue in this light, so darkness will not overcome you, because if you’re in the dark, you’re lost.  Trust in my light while you have it, and always be people who share my light.”

After this, Jesus went off by himself for a while.

Jesus, please help us to love sharing Your living light with others.

(204) John 12:20-36

Who Is My Neighbor?

 

A Jewish teacher of the law came to Jesus, to test him (141). “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to achieve new life that will continue in heaven forever, even after my physical death?”

Jesus answered him, “What do the inspired scriptures say? How do you interpret them?” The man answered, “‘Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, & with all your mind’.  Also, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'” “That’s right,” Jesus replied. “Do these things and you will have the new life you seek!”

But the teacher of the law pressed Jesus to break this down more precisely. “And who is my neighbor?” he asked.  Jesus answered him with this story:

“Once there was a Jewish man who was walking down from Jerusalem to Jericho.  On the way, robbers mugged him & left him lying half dead in the middle of the road.

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“Soon, a Jewish priest came along that road; he stayed over to the side & passed by the wounded man.

“Then another descendant of Levi came along; he even bent over & looked at the wounded man, but he also took off without doing anything to help.

“Finally a non-Jewish man from Samaria came along; when he saw the wounded man, his heart was filled with compassion for him.

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“He cleaned & bandaged the man’s wounds; then he put the man on his donkey & took him to an inn & continued to care for him all day.

“The next morning, he gave an advance payment to the innkeeper. ‘Please take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, ‘and when I return, I’ll pay you whatever else you spend on his care.'”

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Jesus then asked, “In your opinion, which one of these three men was truly a neighbor to the wounded man?”  The teacher of the law answered, “The one who was kind to him.”

Jesus replied, “That’s right!  And in the same way, you must be kind to anyone who is near you, whatever their need.  Actually living what you’ve learned is the way to show your love for God.”

Holy Spirit, please help us to love doing all that you inspire.

(141) Luke 10:25-37

Food For The Spirit

Because Jesus said that he was the bread from heaven, some people started grumbling about him (110): “This man is Joseph’s son, isn’t he? We know his father & mother. How can he claim to be the bread from heaven?”

“Please, stop your grumbling, and try to get this,” Jesus said. “No one can come to me unless God has willed it.  On the last day, I will restore physical life to all people who really do come to me.

“You know that the prophets wrote, ‘Everyone will be taught by God.’ Anyone who is really taught by God comes to me.”

(Then, as an aside, Jesus added: “I’m not implying that any of you have actually seen God face-to-face, when you’ve been taught by God.  I’m the only one who has actually seen God face-to-face.”)

Jesus continued: “The main point is this: If you will believe in me, God will give you new life – life that will continue in heaven forever, even after your physical death.

“I tell you again, I am the bread of life; I am the real bread from heaven.

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“Sure, your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died! Now, anyone who eats the real bread from heaven will never die. This bread of life is me. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever!

“Listen, the bread that I offer is my flesh, which I freely give so that people may experience real life.” In confused response, some of the people asked angrily. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus didn’t back down one inch: “If you don’t eat my flesh & drink my blood — if you don’t find your continuing spiritual nourishment in me — you can never experience real life. But anyone who does eat my flesh & drink my blood will actually experience new life, real life that will continue in heaven forever — even after physical death, and even to the extent that I will restore physical life to him on the last day.

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“My flesh is the real food; my blood is the real drink. When you eat my flesh & drink my blood, you live in me & I live in you.  The point is for us to share one life.

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“The living God sent me; my life is in him. In the same way, whoever is nourished by me will have life in me.

“The real bread from heaven is not like the bread that your ancestors ate; that bread did not keep them from dying. Anyone who eats the real bread from heaven will live forever!”

God, please help me to love being spiritually nourished by You alone.

(110) John 6:41-59

What God Wants

Next day, some of the people who had been fed by Jesus took boats & crossed the lake to look for him (109).  They found Jesus in the synagogue in Capernaum, and they asked, “Teacher, how did you get here?”  As he often did, Jesus ignored that issue & addressed their real issue.

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“I know you’re looking for me because you’re hungry for more bread, not for more of God. But don’t seek food that spoils; instead, seek food that will give you new life – life that will continue in heaven forever, even after physical death. This is the food which God gives in me & which I give to you.”

Some of the people asked him, “What does God want us to do?” Jesus answered, “God wants you to believe in me.  I’ll take it from there.

Faith

“But what miracle will you do,” they said, “so we can believe you? After all, Moses wrote that even our ancestors ate bread from heaven, when God gave them manna in the desert.”

Jesus replied, “God gives you the real bread from heaven, and I am the bread that God gives.  Anyone who comes to me will never be hungry; anyone who believes in me will never be thirsty.

“I will never turn away anyone who comes to me.  But none of you will come to me unless God has willed it; I have come to do only what God has willed.

“On the last day, I will restore physical life to everyone who has come to me.

Repentance

“What God wants is for you to experience real life — life that will continue in heaven forever, even after your physical death.”

God, please help me to love doing only Your will.

(109) John 6:22-40

Four Witnesses

Jesus continued trying to persuade the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem that he had come to do God’s will (81).

“I understand that you won’t believe me just because of my personal testimony. But there are other witnesses who have confirmed my testimony. I want you to consider these witnesses, not for my benefit but for yours, so you can believe & be saved.

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John the Baptizer has testified about me. John was like a bright lamp, burning and shining, and you were willing for a while to enjoy his light.

“But there is also another witness for me, even greater than the witness of John the Baptizer. Consider the miracles that God has given me to do. These deeds testify on my behalf and show that the Father has sent me.

“What’s more, God himself also testifies on my behalf, through the words of inspired scriptures. You have never heard God’s voice or seen his face. But you study God’s words — because you believe they have the key to new life that will continue in heaven forever, even after physical death.

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“Yet, although God’s words speak about me, you’re not willing to trust in me — in order to have that new life.

“I’m not looking for human praise. Besides, I know what kind of people you are, and I know that you haven’t really surrendered your hearts to God.

  • For example, I have come with God’s authority, but you haven’t received me.  Yet you receive other people, speaking on their own authority.
  • Here’s another example: You like to receive praise from one another, but you don’t try to receive praise from God.

“Just as you resist God in these fundamental ways, so you resist believing in me.

“But don’t think I’m the one who will accuse you before God.  Moses is the one who will accuse you, even though you say Moses is someone you actually do trust & believe. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because God inspired Moses to write about me.

“The bottom line is that  you choose not to believe all that Moses wrote, and you choose not to believe all that I say.”

Ever-speaking God please help me choose to believe everything You speak.

(81) John 5:31-47