The Way: Pray For Witnesses

 

Jesus continued praying in the presence of his friends (221).

“Father, I have inspired these chosen witnesses to know you. They are your created children, whom you gave to me.  And now they understand that you are the giver of everything. They understand that even I have been given to them by you.  They truly believe that you sent me.

“These witnesses have done what I taught them.  I gave them your message & they received it.  So now I pray, not for the whole world, but specifically for these witnesses –that my glory may be shown to the whole world, through them.

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“When I have returned to you, I will no longer be in the world, but they will still be in the world. By your power, please keep them safe.  Keep them united, just as you & I are united.

“While I have been with them, I have kept them safe & not one of them has been lost — except the man who was determined to be lost, so that the inspired scriptures would be fulfilled.

“I pray especially that these witnesses will be strengthened by having my complete joy in their hearts.  They need strength because I have given them your message, and the world hates them for it.  The world hates them because they don’t belong to the world, just as I don’t belong to the world. But I’m not asking you to deliver them out of the world; I’m asking you to keep them strong & safe from Satan, as long as they remain in the world.

“Please continue using the truth of the inspired scriptures to keep them dedicated to you. I’m sending them into the world, just as you sent me into the world. For their sake, I renew my dedication to you.  I pray  that my example will inspire them to remain truly dedicated to you.”

LORD, please help us to love remaining truly dedicated to You. 

(221) John 17:6-19

Faith Will Sometimes Fail

 

Then Jesus changed the mood (210).  “Tonight, all of you will desert me; as the inspired scriptures say, ‘God will kill the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

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“But, after I am raised to life, I will meet you in Galilee.”

Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “I will never desert you, even if all the rest do!”

Jesus replied, “Listen, Satan will test all of you.  And before the rooster crows tomorrow, you, Peter, will deny knowing me  — three times!

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“But” Jesus continued, “I have prayed for you — that your faith will not fail completely. And when you return to me, strengthen your brothers.”

Peter again insisted, “But Master, I am ready to go to prison with you. I will never desert you, even if I have to die with you!”

And all the other chosen witnesses said the same thing.

Jesus, please help us to love returning to You, whenever our faith fails.

(210) Matthew 26:31-35, Mark 14:27-31, Luke 22:31-34, John 13:36-38

Betrayer Beware!

 

Then Jesus changed the subject (208): “But this verse from the inspired scriptures must come true: ‘The man who shared my food turned against me.’

“In other words, one of you here tonight will betray me.  I must be sacrificed as foretold in the inspired scriptures.  But it would be better for my betrayer if he had never been born.”

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His students looked at one another, confused about this; Peter told John, who was sitting next to Jesus, to ask him which one of them he meant.  John did so & Jesus told him, “I will dip some bread in the sauce and give it to my betrayer.”

So Jesus took a piece of bread, dipped it, and offered it to Judas Iscariot.

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Jesus knew that Satan was already controlling the thoughts & feelings & actions of Judas, so he said to him, “Hurry and do what you must!”

But the others at the table didn’t understand why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas was in charge of the money bag, some of the students thought that Jesus meant for him to go & buy what they needed for the festival.  Others thought that Jesus meant for him to give something to the poor.

Judas accepted the bread from Jesus & went out into the night.

Jesus, please help us to love Your perfect justice, even for us.

(208) Matthew 26:21-25, Mark 14:18-21, Luke 22:21-23, John 13:18-30

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

The Plot Thickens

 

Later that evening, Jesus again told his chosen witnesses (203), “In two days, during the Passover Festival, I will be arrested & sentenced to be crucified.”

At the same time, the chief priests & the elders met together in the palace of Caiaphas, the High Priest; they plotted to arrest Jesus & arrange for his execution. “We must not do it during the Passover Festival,” they said, “or the people will riot.”

Satan had begun to control the thoughts & feelings & actions of Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve chosen witnesses.

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So Judas offered to betray Jesus to the chief priests & the officers of their temple guard. They were very pleased, so they agreed to pay Judas thirty silver coins.

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The agreement was made, and Judas started looking for an opportunity for the officials to arrest Jesus, without the people knowing about it.

LORD, please help us to love relying on Your Spirit to overcome our sin.

(203) Matthew 26:1-5 & 14-16, Mark 14:1-2 & 10-11, Luke 22:1-6

Givers & Takers

 

Jesus gave his chosen witnesses another insight to his future return to the earth (201).

“When I return as king with my angels, I will sit on my royal throne and all the nations will be gathered before me. Then I will divide them into two groups, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. I will put the sheep on my right and the goats on my left.

“Then I will say to the people on my right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by God; inherit the kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the foundation of the world, because:

  • I was hungry & you fed me.  I was thirsty & you gave me a drink.

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  • I was a stranger & you welcomed me in your homes.

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  • I was naked & you clothed me.

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  • I was sick & you took care of me.

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  • I was in prison & you visited me.’

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“But these righteous people will answer me, ‘When, Master, did we ever see you hungry & feed you, or thirsty & give you a drink? When did we ever see you a stranger & welcome you in our homes, or naked & clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, & visit you?’ And I will reply, ‘Whenever you did this for one of the least of my brothers, you did it for me.’

“Then I will say to those on my left, ‘You are under God’s curse and must go away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for Satan and his evil spirits — because I was hungry but you wouldn’t feed me, thirsty but you wouldn’t give me a drink; I was a stranger but you wouldn’t welcome me in your homes, naked but you wouldn’t clothe me; I was sick & in prison but you wouldn’t take care of me.’

“But these selfish people will answer me, ‘When, Master, did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and refuse to help you?’ And I will reply, ‘Whenever you refused to help one of least of my brothers, you refused to help me.’

“These, then, will be sent off to eternal punishment, but the righteous will go to eternal life.”

Jesus, please help us to love seeing & serving You, as we care for Your people.

(201) Matthew 25:31-46

The Stronger Man

 

Another time, Jesus expelled an evil spirit that kept a man from being able to talk (144).  When the evil spirit was gone, the man began to talk!

The crowds were amazed at this miracle.  But some of the people repeated the slander of the Pharisees: “It is Satan, the chief of the evil spirits, who gives Jesus the power to expel evil spirits!”

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Jesus had heard this charge from the Pharisees before, so he repeated his earlier response, again shredding their flimsy logic: “If a country divides itself into opposing forces which fight each other, then that country will fall apart. If a family divides itself into opposing forces which fight each other, then that family will fall apart. It is the same with Satan; if his forces are divided & fight each other, his power will not last.

“Besides, if you’re right in saying that Satan is the source of power to expel evil spirits, then that means your followers must expel evil spirits by Satan’s power, too.  But if you insist your followers do not expel evil spirits by Satan’s power, then you can reasonably believe that I don’t either.

“In fact, it’s by God’s power that I expel evil spirits, proving that God’s kingdom has already come among you.

“Just consider this illustration.  Whenever a strong man, with all his weapons ready, guards his own house, then all his belongings are safe. But when a stronger man attacks him & defeats him, he carries away all the weapons the strong man was depending on, and all his belongings, too.

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“In that same way, I am overcoming Satan,” Jesus concluded.

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Holy Spirit, please help us to love finding all our strength in You.

(144) Luke 11:14-22