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.”

Advertisements

Finding Joy

Advent-Logo“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed” (Matthew 2:10).

 Have you ever lost something important but then found it again after a lengthy search? One year I was carefully stepping through my over-grown garden to check on some squashes. It was getting more and more difficult to walk through without destroying the fast-growing vines. After I was satisfied with the development of the fruits of my labor, I walked out of the garden and back into the house. It wasn’t long before I realized I was missing something important – my cell phone. I liked that cell phone so I began to search high and low for it. It wasn’t in the house and I had a sinking feeling when I realized it must have fallen out of my pocket and into my garden. I called the phone, hoping the ring would guide me to it but, unfortunately, the battery had died. I began to retrace my path through the garden hoping to find it in the thick green growth. It was a needle in haystack – it was a cell phone in a leafy garden. After some time I arrived at the end of my retraced steps through the garden. There I caught the glint of my cell phone deep in the leaves of the squash vines. You can imagine my excitement; I was overjoyed!

The Wise Men lost something important on their journey to find the Christ-child. Apparently, the star disappeared for a time. We don’t know if the nights were cloudy or it disappeared for some other reason. But its reappearance brought them joy. They knew their search was almost over and that star guided them the rest of the way.

The spirit of Christmas is easy to lose. We rush about in our daily lives, adding a whole lot of shopping and planning to our already busy lives. It’s easy to lose sight of Jesus when all we wish for is for the season to end so our lives can get back to normal. I hope that isn’t your life this Christmas. Hang in there, Christmas is right around the corner and there are far more important things than last minute shopping.

The Wise Men sought the birth of our Savior and they found little Jesus in Bethlehem. That’s what we’re celebrating right now. What are you seeking this Christmas? You can find Jesus too when you seek Him with all your heart. Don’t lose the meaning of Christmas in the ribbons and bows of your busy holiday life. Stop and focus on the greatest gift ever found. Christ the Savior is born!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for making it possible to find Your Son Jesus, our Savior

Joyful Waiting

12-2

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. 

I well remember waiting on the arrival of each of our children.  The time seemed to crawl by instead of leaping forward as we would have wished, especially for my wife who was distinctly “great with child.”  I suspect for her it could not happen soon enough.  At the same time it was a joyful time of waiting the arrival of what is often called a “bundle of joy.”

Isaiah’s watchmen were waiting in a joyfully expectant way for the coming of the Lord.  They were joyful in their waiting.  As a young boy I remember waiting joyfully for our father to come up to visit us in the country and maybe even take us fishing.  This would be very special as we would have time alone with him.  Sometimes he would not make it when he thought he would because of his work situation or because he missed his ride up from the “big” city to the farm.  What disappointment; but then again what rejoicing when he did arrive!

Often we get somewhat jaded regarding Christmas and all the “hoopla” surrounding the season.  The stores and celebrations seem like they have gone on for months instead of days – and sometimes they actually have done so.  This year I have seen some Christmas items and decorations in October.  I would urge you to be like the watchmen of Isaiah who waited expectantly, even joyfully, for the coming of the Lord.  The angels who heralded the birth of our Savior did so with the words “good tidings of great joy” and so it should be for each of us as we remember what Christmas is all about once more.

As you pray today, ask God to help you consider what is soon to come on Christmas day and to wait with a joyful expectation that more than makes up for the frustrations you will feel at intense commercialization and the words of those who would rather we just skip it.