Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hatred and Servanthood! - John 15:18-27

Hatred and Servanthood! - John 15:18-27
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 1, 2015

No one likes to be disliked, unless they have some severe mental problems or are into self-abasement. But what if everyone around you did not like you because of your belief in God? We are seeing a noticeable uptick in the amount of aggression directed towards Christians. From public school teachers in classrooms failing those who confess a belief in God to assistant coaches who pray and military chaplains who do not agree with the politically correct and ungodly version of what marriage is. Christians are disliked because of their way of life and in whom they believe, but it is the duty of the believer to serve their Lord.

Here in John's gospel we find Jesus getting into heavier theological subjects in order to prepare his disciples for the future without his physical presence. He knew that not only would they need to understand the consequences of their discipleship, but why there would be so much fallout from the world around them. Let's discover what Jesus taught and why concerning the world's hatred and our servanthood…

READ: John 15:18-27

How would you feel if you moved to a new town and everyone there disliked you simply because of whom you were? Certainly those who have faced racism or bigotry can relate, however, what if all the folks were just like you but still they simply did not like you at all? Jesus related that…

I. The world hates Christians because it hates God! (Vv. 15:18-23)


If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well.

  1. Friendship with God results in incurring the world’s hatred. Consequently, being friends with the world is to be God’s enemy. James, Jesus' brother, would later warn weak believers, "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." (James 4:4 NIV) Jesus tells them, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own." However, from now on things would be drastically different. "As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." Jesus had chosen them just as he does us and now the world would hate them and us because of this. The world loves the false face appearance of being good but hates the hard hitting truth of holiness. It hates it because it can never measure up to God's standard. As Jesus' disciples we all have to remember that "No servant is greater than his master." As our master Jesus was persecuted so we shall be as well. Jesus tells them the tough truth that "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me." The world does not know, understand, follow, love, and live for God. Instead the world lives in constant guilty fear its phoniness will be revealed for what it truly is and it was laid bare through Jesus! "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin." This is the core of the problem, sin. The world likes to call it making a mistake, a minor slip, error, personal gaffe, misstep, or lapse of judgment; but what it truly is, is sin! Jesus bluntly relates, "Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well." The world hates Christians because it hates God!

  EXAMPLE: She was crying uncontrollably at recess and when I finally got her to tell me what was wrong she lamented, "They won’t let me play with them!" She was emotionally crushed. The offenders had decided to limit their game to a certain amount of people and that was it and she could not understand why they would exclude her. She was hurt and left feeling unwanted and violated. Some Christians go through the same kind of emotional upset when faced with rejection of their faith bt family, friends, or others. Yet Jesus plainly teaches us that the world hates Christians because it hates God!

Now what if you were told to go out into the town where you moved and where everyone disliked you to try to share with them a medication that could cure them of their undeserved hatred and of everything that harmed them forever? Jesus now tells his disciples that…

II. The servant of God will testify concerning Jesus! (Vv. 15:24-27)

If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.' When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

  1. Jesus walked this earth teaching only great things concerning God and the world. He focused on why so many folks were headed in the wrong direction with their lives. Everything Jesus did while he was here physically was to glorify God. He had said that "no servant is greater than his master." We are to glorify God in everything we do and when we do, we are immediately at odds with the rest of the world! The truth Jesus speaks is never understood by the world because it is spiritually discerned. They are "unable to hear" what Jesus teaches (John 8:43) because they "belong to [their] father, the devil, and [they] want to carry out [their] father's desire!" (John 8:44) In fact, Jesus tells them, "If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father." Sin is fundamentally irrational. Their hatred of Jesus was without any rational cause which also fits the pattern of hatred for all righteous people from the prophets, David, others and now them and us! This is why the world, "Hated [Jesus] without reason!" It fulfills their self-guilty law of personal survival at any cost! When faced with this kind of irrational hatred towards goodness and righteousness believers might be tempted to camouflage their faith or hide themselves in the crowd. Jesus reminds his disciples with the comforting truth that "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me." We need not fear what the world does, we have God in us! In fact, when we live for Jesus we are living for God and are testifying to the truth of Jesus! This is why Jesus reminds them specifically, "And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning." They had seen the miracles of God, had seen and heard the words of truth, and knew Jesus was the messiah; therefore they must now testify to what they had seen and experienced for themselves! The servant of God will testify concerning Jesus!

  EXAMPLE: The little blond freckled-faced imp in front of me readily declared, "I just don't like him!" when I asked why she was so mean to a fellow playmate. I tried to get her to find some reason and she simply responded, "I don’t have any reason, I just don’t like him!"  However, finally after several minutes of coaxing a truthful response, she confessed, "I don't like him because he always plays by the rules!" When they played their games together the little boy would always play by the rules they had established together to begin with while she often wanted to bend them to meet her needs of the moment and then he would let her know she was breaking her own rules! While it can be tough sharing with others they need Jesus, when they think they are perfectly okay, the servant of God will testify concerning Jesus!

Conclusion:

The world hates Christians because it hates God! The servant of God will testify concerning Jesus!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The love of God! - John 15:9-17

The love of God! - John 15:9-17
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 25, 2015

Selena Gomez sings about how she is sick of the same old love, but the words in her hit song have to deal with how people mistreat one another in relationships. The artist Weeknd sings about being so deep in love his face goes numb. There must be literally hundreds if not thousands of songs that deal with love in some way or another. Love is such a frustrating and baffling thing for some of us that we sometimes misunderstand what real love is like.

Here in John's gospel we discover the love of God displayed in the life of Jesus and now we learn what that loves is all about and just how truly wonderful it is. The love of God is complete, true, and open. When we see Jesus we see the love of God. Let's discover what this means for us…

READ: John 15:9-17

If we say we love someone they expect certain things from us. Our words and actions should display what we say concerning our love for them, and our relationship with God is no different. In fact…

I. The love of God means we will stay in his love! (Vv.:9-11)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

  1. Here in these verses are some wonderful truths that Christians experience that no other religion offers, namely the promise of God's infinite love. Jesus tells his disciples, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you." His disciples experienced the same love God showed towards his Son, Jesus! And Jesus desired that they "remain in [his] love", meaning that they actively abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, and stand in his love for them. The way a disciple of Jesus remains in his love is by obeying his commands. Remember, Jesus' commands were to love God completely and to love others as we love ourselves; so if we love God and others we are obeying his commands, just as he obeyed his Father's commands and remained in his love! Jesus had already told them, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15 NIV) And he had taught that "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23 NIV) This is why John would later write, "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome." (1 John 5:3 NIV) The idea is for Jesus' followers to continually decide to walk with Jesus by displaying the love of God in their lives. Jesus taught this "so that [his] joy may be in [us] and that [our] joy may be complete!" Our lives are only complete and full when we walk in the love of Christ and when we do his joyfulness and delight is displayed in our lives! The love of God means we will stay in his love!

  EXAMPLE: My Dad would tell us kids, "Show your mother that you love her by doing what she asks you to do the first time." I did not fully understand that as a kid, but I do now. When we immediately did what our mom asked us to do it displayed to her and others our respect and love for her. The same is true for our faith walk with Jesus. If we say we love Jesus, we will remain in his love by displaying his love for him and others! The love of God means we will stay in his love!

Our joy is found in the love of God and our love for God is more than a feeling or state of being. In fact we learn that…

II. The love of God means sacrifice! (Vv. 12-14)

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

  1. Far too often Christians want to experience the love of God without exerting any effort in the love of God. They think it should flow into their lives no matter how they live their lives. This is a totally self-centered and myopic view of God's love. Jesus' command for them was simple, "Love each other as I have loved you." Jesus was not fooled; he knew this would be easier said than done. Yet he had loved them when they doubted him, disobeyed him, and even betrayed him. He loved them in spite of themselves and all of their foibles. This truth is the same for us this morning! While he was getting ready to die for them they were busy arguing over which one would be greatest in Jesus' kingdom! This is when he taught them, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." (Mark 9:35 NIV) And then took a small child in his arms as an example and told them, "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me." (Mark 9:37 NIV) Jesus loved his disciples far more than they realized and far more than we often realize. He loves us to death. This is why he told them, "Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends." Jesus laid his life down for us and we should be willing to do the same for one another! If we truly want to be great in God's kingdom, we must learn to be the servant of all, even to death. His promise is, "You are my friends if you do what I command." We are to love one another as he loved us. The love of God means sacrifice!

  EXAMPLE: When my father developed heart disease it was devastating for our family. We all had to chip in and work in order to pay the bills, by food, and clothing. Our time, effort, and money was no longer our own. When my father left us to go work in Alaska for a year it hurt us emotionally and then when my mother went to Seattle later to earn a living that was hard for our family as well. I did not fully understand why this had to happen at the time, but now I realize that when families love one another, they are willing to sacrifice for the whole family. The same is true for the family of God. The love of God means sacrifice!

There are benefits to staying in the love of God and being willing to sacrifice our lives for him, we learn that…

III. The love of God means we are his friends! (Vv15-17)

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.

  1. Jesus' relationship to his disciples was one of master and learner. He was their rabbi, teacher, and they were his disciples and pupils. In Jesus' day it was often seen as a master servant kind of relationship, he taught them and they waited on him. But we do not see this kind of interaction with Jesus and his disciples, nor do we find it in our relationship with him either. He tells them, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business." They should know what Jesus was about by now; he came to seek and save the lost through his death, burial, and resurrection. This is what his business was about. However, they were not his servants and he tells them, "Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." Master's do not share with their servants, but friends share with friends, and Jesus shared "everything" he had learned from God the Father as he walked the earth as a man. He taught them about the Father's plan and that he did only what the Father asked him. Part of the plan was that they were chosen to bear fruit for his kingdom, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last." In fact Jesus had chosen them for a specific mission and in doing this mission, "Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." Again we find God's promise to answer the requests of those he considers his own, those he has chosen, those who willingly sacrifice themselves to his kingdom plan. And Jesus finally reminds them again, "This is my command: Love each other." The love of God means we are his friends!

  EXAMPLE: Contrary to an old Christian song, friends are not friends forever. The friends we make can grow apart from us for varying reasons; distance, maturity, education, feelings, family or just the simple things in life can cause friendships to wane. However, the friendship we have with God was bought at a tremendous price; the death of his Son. His friendship is forever because he chose us not because we were nice to him, good people, or did what he liked; he chose us because that was his plan all along. And by the way, God is not our buddy; we are his friends because he decided it to be so. We are to remain in his love by exhibiting the love Jesus displayed in our lives. The love of God means we are his friends!

Conclusion:

The love of God means we will stay in his love! The love of God means sacrifice! The love of God means we are his friends! Now, do you know what real friendship with God is all about?

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The vine! - John 15:1-8

The vine! - John 15:1-8
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 18, 2015

When I grew up in the orchards of Leavenworth, Washington they were mainly older trees that were quite tall, but now many of the orchards have gone to a newer style of tree where they are a lot smaller and pruned to be more one dimensional and they look more like a vine. Here in John's gospel when Jesus teaches about being the vine he is of course referring to grape vines but being raised in one of the largest apple growing areas in the world, I think of apples.

The vine Jesus is referring to of course is him and the importance of remaining in him is likened to being cultivated on a vine. Jesus' followers are to be correctly connected to Jesus; no false claims can be tolerated and must be cut off and discarded. Jesus' disciples are entrusted with three duties: 1) to remain in Jesus, 2) to love God and one another, and 3) to witness concerning who he is. He is the vine, let's see what this means for our lives…

READ: John 15:1-8


When the apples in the orchard were ready they had to be picked and stored quickly. At that time most were handpicked, sorted by hand, and then stored in cold storage until they were shipped all over the world. Here in John's gospel we discover that…

I. We are part of the vine when we are handpicked by God! (Vv. 1-3)


I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

  1. It is hard to imagine that some fruit trees, in order to produce a more abundant harvest, have to be sometimes drastically pruned. Jesus knew there would be those who would come along claiming they were God's answer to mankind's problem, when in fact they were just false vines. God is not fooled; he knows who are his and who are not. Jesus tells them, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener." Herein is the final of Jesus' "I AM" statements found in John's gospel and while Jesus is God and thereby the true vine folks should grow in, God the Father is the Gardener. It is his job therefore to "cut off every branch… that bears no fruit." Is Jesus talking about believers or is he referring rather to Israel? I believe he is telling his disciples that God the Gardener has the right to prune those in Israel who would not believe in his Son. God never cuts off his beloved, those who trust his Son with their lives. Only a few of the Jews would bear fruit, would follow Jesus, yet "every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will bear even more fruit!" Jesus' disciples were God's chosen from all of Israel to bear fruit for his kingdom, however, they would need to be pruned in order to produce even more fruit! They would go through tough times but those circumstances were only part of their lives so they would produce even more fruit for God's final harvest! Jesus assures them, "You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you." Jesus' disciples would be fruitful because they would be the pruned trees of God's orchard, handpicked by him! We are part of the vine when we are handpicked by God!

  EXAMPLE: My mother went to work at an apple packing plant where apples were handpicked, sorted, and then wrapped to be boxed and sent worldwide. They were to be the best of the best apples. She learned to do the task of picking, sorting, and wrapping very quickly. She was so good at it that she was put in charge of training others how to do the tasks of sorting, picking, and wrapping. We are part of the vine when we are handpicked by God!

Did you know that all apples are grafted onto hardier stock, like roses, and that the seeds you get from any apple, if they grow, will grow into only one kind of apple from which they were originally grafted from? Not every seed will give rise to the same type of apple even if it all came from one type of apple tree. Here in John's gospel we discover that…

II. We can do nothing without Jesus, our vine, in our lives! (Vv. 4-5)

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

  1. The relationship God's people would have with him from now on would go through his Son, Jesus. In fact, Jesus relates this new relationship to his followers by telling them, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you." Notice the shift here in what Jesus is teaching? He goes from God choosing and pruning to those who decide to follow him and remain in him. Jesus is promising all those who decide to give their lives in trust to him that he will always be with them; he will always remain in them! The spiritual problem comes when folks try a different way than the one God has provided through Jesus. This is why Jesus related, "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine." Trying our own way instead of God's results in stunted growth at best, yet if we remain on the true vine of God, we will bear a harvest for him! The reason was obvious to Jesus, "I am the vine; you are the branches." Our spiritual nourishment comes from the vine provided by God, Jesus. He is to be our source of spiritual sustenance, nothing else is to replace him or be grafted into our lives. Fruitfulness is the result of Jesus being reproduced in a disciple. We are to trust him with our lives, walk with him daily, and obey his commands of loving God completely and others as ourselves! Jesus' promise is restated by him, "If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit" and yet "apart from me you can do nothing." We can do nothing without Jesus, our vine, in our lives!

  EXAMPLE: Interestingly once in a while the orchardist would go through the orchard and find a tree he would like to cross breed with a different variety. He would selectively pollinate certain blossoms or graft different apple varieties onto select trees. He would come back and check often to see if his selections were growing the way he desired. Jesus is to be our source of spiritual sustenance, nothing else is to replace him or be grafted into our lives. We can do nothing without Jesus, our vine, in our lives!

The purpose of apple trees is to produce fruit, especially the fruit the harvester desires. If tree do not bear consistently good fruit they are cut down and burned. We discover here in John's gospel that…

III. We bring glory to God when we produce fruit for his kingdom! (Vv. 6-8)

If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

  1. The simple truth that we can never be and can never do anything truly worthwhile without Jesus is frankly taught by him when we states, "If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers." In fact we are useless without Jesus. All the grand schemes of the world look wonderful on the outside but on the inside they are sustained by the withering nature of humanity's pride of "look what I have done"! This is why Paul would later write concerning this: "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (1 Corinthians 3:11-15 NIV) Jesus states that "such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned." Wow! Yet we receive the promise again that "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." This is not an Aladdin's lamp wishful thinking thing but rather the deep abiding truth of knowing God's will and understanding what to ask him for and when to ask him for it! If we need the deep spiritual water or nourishment, we will know when to ask for it and God will provide. Why? The simple fact is that everything Jesus did and everything we are to live for is for God's glory. Jesus succinctly related, "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." An effective walk with God is contingent upon his words remaining is us; his will be done on earth as it is in heaven! We bring glory to God when we produce fruit for his kingdom!

  EXAMPLE: Every year the orchardist went through his trees and pruned them back so they would produce only the best fruit. Weak limbs, branches that grew straight up and those that grew inward or too low to the ground were cut off. Trees that did not bear well were cut down. All the branches, limbs, and trees would be placed in a large heap and once a year we would have a huge bonfire. The orchardist knew exactly which limbs to cut and the ones to save so the trees would produce the most fruit possible. We bring glory to God when we produce fruit for his kingdom!

Conclusion:

We are part of the vine when we are handpicked by God! We can do nothing without Jesus, our vine, in our lives! We bring glory to God when we produce fruit for his kingdom!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The peace of Jesus! - John 14:27-31

The peace of Jesus! - John 14:27-31
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 11, 2015

From the harassed parent to national concerns people have wanted "peace in our time". Some have declared it only to be later disappointed by those who thwarted the peace process and who wanted war, disruption, or not sharing their favorite toy. World peace is more than green veggies whirling around inside of a blender and it is difficult to make happen. The reason is obvious to those of us who actually read the Bible; humans are sinners by nature and by choice. We will not enjoy real peace until we know the Prince of Peace Jesus.

Here in John's gospel we discover Jesus teaching his disciples some final thoughts before his illegal trial, horrendous death, lonely burial, and glorious resurrection. He has taught them that after he heads back to his Father he would send them the Holy Spirit to live in them forever. When this occurred, they would experience a peace they had never known before, the peace of Jesus! Let's discover what this means for us today…

READ: John 14:27-31

Peace can mean a lot of things for a lot of folks: Peace and quiet, peace like a river, a peaceful easy feeling, give peace a chance or some other meaning. However, here in John's gospel we begin to learn what the peace of Jesus truly means for our lives. We discover Jesus teaching his disciples about this peace and he teaches them that because of this…

I. Jesus gives us his peace! (v. 27)

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.

  1. Jesus had just gotten through telling his disciples that he would send them a "Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." And so he continued by promising them that this gift would also bring about a peace in life they had not experienced before. We have to remember that Jesus lived during a time when the Hebrew people were under the boot of the Roman government. They had not known a time of physical peace for centuries. They wanted physical peace so much that during Jesus' day the way the Jews would greet one another was by saying, "Shalom." It means "peace." Just as we face wars and rumors of wars, strife, poverty, and diseases, they faced all these things as well. However, the gift of the Holy Spirit would bring about a difference. Jesus promised, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives." The presence of the Holy Spirit, contrary to what some heretically think, is not simply a means to do extraordinary supernatural things. First and foremost it brings about the comfort of knowing God intimately and the peace of mind of understanding that no matter what the outside circumstances are, your life is eternal. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that, "Since the children (us) have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil--and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (Hebrews 2:14-15 NIV) It is a peace the world does not understand and that it cannot give the individual. Yet, because of this inner spiritual peace, we do not have to live concerned lives. Jesus succinctly states, "Do not let your hearts be troubled (agitated) and do not be afraid." Jesus gives us his peace!

  EXAMPLE: My brother and I used to battle one another all day long, all summer long. My mother would lament, "All I want is a little peace!" When she did, we knew we had better make a peace pact. Often it would last for a few weeks, days or hours, but we at least made the attempt. I remember that I had become so engrossed in building a railroad and my brother was reading comics that the house had become eerily quiet so my mother came looking for the cause, thinking we had perhaps finally either knocked one another senseless or we had died. When she found us in our room quiet, she declared, "What in the world are you boys up to!" She just knew it wasn't in our little boy natures to be at peace for such a long time. The same is true with our world. How wonderful to realize that Jesus gives us his peace!

If Jesus had simply died on the cross but had never been resurrected, he would have been seen simply as another fine teacher and few would have placed their faith or trust in him. This is why Paul would write, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." (1 Corinthians 15:19-20 NIV) This is why we learn…

II. Jesus' coming again gives us peace! (Vv. 28-29)

You heard me say, "I am going away and I am coming back to you." If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.

  1. In order for the Holy Spirit to come, Jesus had to finish why he had come. He was not going to leave them as "orphans." Jesus tells them, "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.'" And he knew this would concern and perhaps perplex them, so he promised them he would be back!  The Bible Knowledge Commentary states that "If the disciples had been more mature in their love for Jesus, they would have been glad for His departure. But their love was still selfish at this point." Jesus had humbled himself by coming to earth and then by dying on the cross for our sins, but by going back to the Father he would be exalted in glory! Loving Jesus is shown first and foremost by our willingness to sacrifice ourselves by giving him our lives! The disciples should be glad he was leaving them; it meant he was fulfilling the will of God. Jehovah’s Witnesses argue from Jesus' statement, "The Father is greater than I", that Jesus is a lesser god or that he is not God. But this would make Jesus a created being instead of the Creator and could lead to polytheism, which is clearly unbiblical. It clearly makes no sense whatsoever especially after Jesus bluntly stated that he and the Father were one, to see him was to see the Father, and that he was God! What Jesus meant was in his humbled state of being a man, God the Father was at that time "greater" in his glory because Jesus had not yet returned back to heaven. Jesus did not want them to be unaware or shocked about what would shortly occur. There was a Godly purpose and a plan. So he continues by relating, "I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe." Therefore, Jesus' coming again gives us peace!

  EXAMPLE: Some folks like pithy quotes or concise sayings that instill some sort of emotional fuzzy feeling. I am always kind of suspicious of such things. It is too much of an easy way out of a deeper understanding of reality. Therefore, Jesus is not some wonderful guy who taught great things so we could "all just get along" or "walk a mile in his shoes". His death, burial, and resurrection ushered in a whole new way of life and the promise of eternal life. Because he lives we too will live! And, he is coming back to take us to the place he prepared for us! Jesus' coming again, gives us peace!

The evil of this world is sometimes hard to figure out. Some blame society, some blame poverty, some blame lack of parenting or other things. Yet we know that no one has to teach little children to be disobedient, disrespectful, or downright ornery -- we choose to be so! And we cannot blame every bad thing on Satan; however, it is good to know John related that…

III. Jesus' peace conquers Satan! (Vv. 30-31)

I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave.

  1. Jesus' death would throw the disciples into a funk to say the least. They would scatter, run away, and hide in the upper room where they were now celebrating their last Passover together. For over three years they had traveled with one another, laughed with one another, and ate with one another. They had been close and connected and now Jesus would be ripped from their lives in a horrendous set of circumstances. It would stretch their faith. It would cause some of them to question what they would do now with their lives and where they were to go. They would feel like the forces of darkness were conspiring against them and they would be correct. Jesus would remind them in a bit, "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." (John 16:33 NIV) Jesus knew they would be frightened, confused, and in shock so he tells them, "I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming." Satan, the Prince of this world, may think he has his way now, but shortly his scheme of betrayal and death would be thwarted. Satan was coming to do his preordained part, but it would be short lived and end in ultimate victory. They, the disciples, had to realize that Satan, while seeming to have won a battle here and now, did not win the eternal war. Jesus bluntly states, "He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me." This is something that believers can fail to realize as well. Satan has no power in the life of a Christian -- when the Holy Spirit enters in, the Devil exits. Jesus' peace conquers Satan!

  EXAMPLE: When we experience things like the shooting at Umpqua Community College there are those who wonder where God was and how he could allow such evil to exist. While trite answers of compassion may not always hack it in the cold light of reality, we can find peace. Evil has not won because of one incident, whether a horrendous shooting or a crucifixion. Evil exists because sin exists. To give Satan credit for all the evil in the world is to believe a myopic view of spiritual reality. This is why Paul would write, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39 NIV) How comforting to learn then that Jesus' peace conquers Satan!

Conclusion:

Each of those believers at UCC who willingly stood for their faith and faced eternity knew what we are teaching here today: Jesus gives us his peace! Jesus' coming again gives us peace! Jesus' peace conquers Satan! Do you know this peace for yourself?

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The gift! - John 14:15-26

The gift! - John 14:15-26
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 4, 2015

Gifts can be very personal things depending upon the giver, the getter, and the gift. We are entering the season where folks begin to think about gifts, with the celebration of Christmas just around the corner. Some gifts last past their original giver and receiver and are handed down from generation to generation. Generational gifts can carry with them not only the significance of the original gift but the memories of all those it was given to as well.

Jesus left all of his followers an indescribable gift. One that never fades fails, is out of date, grows old, or breaks. In fact it lasts a lifetime! John has been giving us clues to this gift all along in Jesus' ministry and teaching and now during the Last Supper, Jesus reveal what this gift is and what it means for his disciples and future followers. Let's take a look at the gift…

READ: John 14:15-26

It is always good to have someone who supports you no matter what. Good parents do this with their children even when they mess up. Jesus now relates that he is giving us a gift that will never leave us or forsake us. In fact…

I. His gift is our advocate! (Vv. 15-18)

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

  1. I included verse 15 again because it is a pivotal statement within John's gospel. If we love Jesus, we will obey his commands. Remember his commands were not burdensome but far easier than the millstones the Pharisees and others placed around the necks of the Hebrews. His commands were, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31 NIV) God's love, his sacrificial love, is the foundation in which we are to live our lives. So, if we say we love him we will be willing to sacrifice. The first sacrifice we are to give is ourselves to him! Without this willing sacrifice of trust we will never experience the gift he has promised: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth." Another counselor literally means one alongside of like an advocate or encourager forever! Jesus told Nicodemus, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." (John 3:5 NIV) When we receive Jesus we receive God and when we receive Jesus we also receive the Holy Spirit! They are all one in the same! This relationship is "forever" and cannot be nullified in any way. He walks with us because he is with us, the Spirit of truth. This is why Jesus immediately tells them, "The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." The ungodly world can never understand the things of God. Paul would write, "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV) This is why Jesus could promise, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." His gift is our advocate!

  EXAMPLE: We all like it when someone is willing to stand with us during good times but it is even better when they stay by our side during difficult times. I remember when my father died; I would have given anything for someone to come along side of me, just to be there. It was a very difficult time. How wonderful to know that his gift is our advocate!

The gift of the Holy Spirit lives in each of who trust Jesus with our lives. This was a new concept and a little bit frightening to the disciples because the Holy Spirit up until Jesus had only been present when his people were in complete loyalty to God. Sin immediately separated him from their lives. We now learn from Jesus that…

II. His gift manifests himself to us! (Vv. 19-22)

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"

  1. Jesus knew his promise to be with them forever would become extremely important because he was going back to his rightful place. "Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me." The ungodly world cannot see or hear the things of God and soon Jesus would not be physically in their midst, he would die on a cruel cross, be buried in a stone tomb, and then rise again! However, they would see him again, not just his resurrected form but the promise of himself as their advocate! And because of this, they would know for certain, "Because I live, you also will live." Jesus' resurrection proves our eternal existence! "On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." Not just on the day they saw him alive again, but on the day his promised advocate came upon them to prove that he now lived in them eternally! Those of us who have placed our lives in his hands know he is the Father, he is the Son, and he is the promised Holy Spirit! Only our spiritual insecurity or sin makes us doubt this truth. Again, Jesus reminds them, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." Loving Jesus is seen in how we obey his commands of love. Therefore, "He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." Literally the world will see Jesus in them and Jesus will display himself in their lives! But then there are those who do not quite get it and "Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, 'But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?'" Perhaps Judas, Thaddaeus, thought that Jesus only meant to show himself as Messiah to them and not the rest of the world. That prospect disappoints him. However Thaddaeus need not have worried because it is so much better because his gift manifests himself to us!

  EXAMPLE: It saddens me that there are those who live their entire lives never knowing the intimacy of having a close loving relationship. My wife and I have been married long enough that we almost know what the other person is thinking. Sometimes we can just look at each other and just smile and nod. As close as we are the relationship we enjoy pales in comparison to that which any believer has with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. How wonderful to know his gift manifests himself to us!

Mentors in life are important. These are men and women who can teach us the sacred wonderful things of God that they have discovered within Scripture and how they have applied them to their lives. However, the most important mentorship a believer can have is God himself and Jesus has provided away for each of us to have this relationship. We learn that…

III. His gift is our teacher! (Vv. 23-26)

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."

  1. The importance of obedience is not lost on Jesus. He understood that it would take a lifetime commitment in order to follow him after he had returned to heaven. So, he again stresses, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching." In fact Jesus relates, "My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." The idea here is that God will be with the one who is obedient and will live with them! Jesus would go and prepare a place for us and he also promised to abide with us here and now if we are obedient! The reason so many do not have a deep relationship with God is because they are unwilling to obey him. "He who does not love me will not obey my teaching." God will not manifest himself to those who do not obey him. Disobedience has consequences. Jesus makes it clear that "These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." Jesus has taught all along, "For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it." (John 12:49 NIV) Jesus told his disciples this truth because he would not be with them for much longer, "All this I have spoken while still with you." However, three things needed to occur for those who would follow him: his death, his resurrection, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." The Holy Spirit will perform a couple of functions for the disciple's future lives in him: he will teach them about "all things" and he "will remind [them] of everything" Jesus ever said! This truth is for us here and now as well when we abide in him his Spirit becomes our teacher. His gift is our teacher!

  EXAMPLE: At the elementary school I work at we have some really excellent teachers. It is easy to know who truly cares for the kids and the ones that are there just to collect a paycheck. The children know this as well. Working there has made me think of the teachers who made an impact in my own life. Usually it was those who took the time to make sure I understood the subject and came along side me to help me. How wonderful to know that his gift is our teacher!

Conclusion:

His gift is our advocate! His gift manifests himself to us! His gift is our teacher!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.