Overcoming with Jesus

April 11, 2017 – Tuesday
Overcoming
Read:  John 16:16 – 33, NIV
Focus:  v. 33, NIV

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Isn’t it just amazing how the Holy Spirit uses the different personalities of the various writers found in the Bible? Each has specific tasks to perform for the presentation of the Good News about Jesus Christ. I think that John, the Beloved resonates with me better than most of the other writers in either the Old or New Testaments. That being the case then I need to pay closer attention to the others for they also have something I need to know and understand about my God. But, I do get to read some more in John’s Gospel for this devotional. Whoopee!

This portion of John apparently comes not long before the events of what we now call Holy Week containing what led to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This particular segment emphasizes that their grief will turn into joy. Now, I would rather talk about joy anytime and talk about grief – maybe never!  This interesting passage brings the disciples face to face with something Jesus has been trying to warn them about and prepare them for. Jesus is speaking about “in a little while” this and “in a little while” that and the disciples got confused. They did not catch His “drift” – as some of us would say. Verse 18 says they “Kept” asking each other about what Jesus meant by “in a little while.”

Jesus, however, knew that they were confused about what He was saying. He plainly asked them, “Are you asking one another what I meant . . . ?” Then He went on to explain what He meant by the words “in a little while” and other things He had spoken of. Then they seem to “get it” and thought He was finally speaking clearly. He told them that He had been speaking figuratively but the time was coming when He would speak “plainly about My Father.” See verses 28 and 29 which make it appear that now they understood what He was saying to them. The truth is they did understand some of what He was saying but not all of it. In the first place the time of the “in a little while” was coming closer each day and was almost upon them. I guess they understood the substance but not the total essence of Jesus’ remarks. This is obvious in the events that unfolded. It became something immediate very quickly and they did not adjust well to it. And did many of the things He said they would do.

There is an important section in here that we do not have time to enlarge upon for this devotional. It has to do with something that is often misunderstood by believers and misquoted because of it. That is the latter part of verse 23. Read it for yourselves and see if you can figure out what He meant. Hint: Pay special attention to the words “in my name.”

This whole section is about the special relationship His disciples (we are also disciples) can have with Jesus. Joy is the hallmark of the Christian. Troubles may come and troubles may go but our joy is made complete through Jesus Christ. Peace, brothers and sisters, is because in the end Jesus won it for us. Jesus never sugarcoats anything. He tells it like it is. Someone asked me about my medical clinic experience recently and I told them I greatly appreciated my caregiver. She didn’t sugarcoat anything but gave me the options straight up. That is what Jesus will do and even more. Real peace is ours even when there are troubles all around us. Peace is found in our relationship with Jesus. He is real and He really loves us. In John 14:27 Jesus tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Day 33 – The Overcomer

Sunday – March 13, 2016

Day 33 – John 16:16-33 overcome

Focus: vs. 33

33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

“We shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome someday. Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome someday.” These are the words to the famous anthem of the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s. It was a song, based on several earlier gospel hymns drawn from Galatians 6:9, that encouraged it’s hearers to stand strong in order to achieve equality through non-violent protests. While the older hymns had a little more of the Bible in them, the version sung by Joan Baez seems to still catch the gist of the gospel message.

We live in a pretty messed up world where things like the color of our skin is used, by some, to determine superiority over another. The Bible is pretty clear that we are all equally inferior, as compared to God and His holy standards, and that the color of our skin has nothing to do with it. Why is it we, as humans, are capable of so much hatred? The answer is sin. This world is broken and we are broken with it. So we do a lot of stupid things that cause trouble for the people around us.

How can we have peace such a broken world filled with such tribulation as comes our way on a daily basis? Disease, heartache, death, manipulation and every sin that a messed up humanity can think up make for a lot of opportunities for trouble in our lives. In our scripture, Jesus is talking about the near future and how he will be gone soon. That sin and tribulation is going to cause some very bad things to happen to Him. Things are about to get really bad and you can be sure you will be affected by it all. But you can handle all the bad stuff differently. You don’t have to worry, you don’t have to be to be in turmoil. Jesus wants to give you peace.

Specifically, Jesus is talking about the persecution His followers are about to face because they are His disciples. Jesus wanted them to stand strong and history tells us that they did. They stood so strong that the faith has continuously defeated the flawed ideologies of the world over and over again to reach even to our present age. When Jesus says, “I have overcome the world,” He means that He has defeated the sin and brokenness that surrounds us and the death that comes as a result. So our peace comes from Him overcoming the world on our behalf and He continues to do so even today. His words extend to us today. Jesus has overcome the world and, since we have accepted Him, we have gained His victory as well.

Are you facing trials and tribulations in your life today? We shall overcome. The words to the original hymn say, “This world is one great battlefield, with forces all arrayed; if in my heart I do not yield, I’ll overcome someday. I’ll overcome someday (someday), I’ll overcome someday; if in my heart I do not yield, I’ll overcome someday.” We shall overcome because Jesus has overcome. Stand strong.

Prayer Focus: Dear Jesus, You overcame. You defeated death and sin and gave that victory to me. Thank you, Jesus, for my salvation. Hold me close to You in times of trial. Give me strength to stand firm and help me to have peace through the victory You have won for me. Amen.

Day 32 – The Spirit of Truth

Saturday – March 12, 2016

Day 32 – John 16:4b-15 holy spirit

Focus: vs. 13

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 

Jesus describes the Spirit as a Helper. Other translations use the words Comforter and Advocate. The idea is still that He is one who stands beside you. I’m sure many of you parents remember the days when your children, or grandchildren, wanted to “help” you with some task you were doing. It seems to be a good idea to get them involved as early as possible so we let them “help” us. I remember my oldest child wanting to help me mow the church backyard when he was about 4-years old. He had received a toy lawnmower for his birthday, which is in May, and wanted to try it out. It made a satisfying putt-putt sound that sounded something like the gas-powered mower I was using. I had him stand a bit behind me and walk along as I did so he could “mow” the lawn along with me. This seemed to satisfy him, at least for a little while. He thought he was a big help and he really was, if only in taking away my boredom with the job at hand.

The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is a real Helper as is evidenced by the list of things given in this passage of the ways He helps. Along with showing us Truth as the Spirit of Truth, He also has the task of convincing men of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. Now many of us may make the mistake of thinking this is for mankind in general but it is also for us as individual believers. The Holy Spirit speaks only on the authority of the Father and the Son. In fact, whatever He hears He will speak to us about.

I guess the biggest question we might have is, “Are we listening?” He may speak to you directly in your heart. He may speak to you through the Word of God. He may speak to you through other believers and even occasionally, through non-believers. Sometimes He even speaks through the circumstances of our lives. Whenever He does any of these things, and much more, we will be aware that it comes from the Father or the Son, if we are tuned in to His wave-length, so to speak. Are we listening yet?

Prayer Focus: Holy Spirit, help me to stay in tune with You so that I can receive the latest messages from the Father and the Son. Make my heart tender and responsive to Your touch. AMEN.