Explanation For Our Difficulties

…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us… —John 17:21

If you are going through a time of isolation, seemingly all alone, read John 17 . It will explain exactly why you are where you are— because Jesus has prayed that you “may be one” with the Father as He is. Are you helping God to answer that prayer, or do you have some other goal for your life? Since you became a disciple, you cannot be as independent as you used to be.

God reveals in John 17 that His purpose is not just to answer our prayers, but that through prayer we might come to discern His mind. Yet there is one prayer which God must answer, and that is the prayer of Jesus— “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22). Are we as close to Jesus Christ as that?

God is not concerned about our plans; He doesn’t ask, “Do you want to go through this loss of a loved one, this difficulty, or this defeat?” No, He allows these things for His own purpose. The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, and nobler men and women, or they are making us more critical and fault-finding, and more insistent on our own way. The things that happen either make us evil, or they make us more saintly, depending entirely on our relationship with God and its level of intimacy. If we will pray, regarding our own lives, “Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42), then we will be encouraged and comforted by John 17, knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom, accomplishing what is best. When we understand God’s purpose, we will not become small-minded and cynical. Jesus prayed nothing less for us than absolute oneness with Himself, just as He was one with the Father. Some of us are far from this oneness; yet God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him— because Jesus prayed, “…that they all may be one….”

I have no right to say I believe in God unless I order my life as under His all-seeing Eye. Disciples Indeed, 385 L

OSWALD CHAMBERS

The Holy Spirit: God’s Presence

Acts 2:1-4

The Holy Spirit did not make His first appearance at Pentecost. Students of the Bible will find Him mentioned as early as the creation account (Gen. 1:2). He is also shown to be doing the Father’s work throughout the Old Testament and Gospels. However, the Spirit arrived in the upper room with a fresh mission from the Father.

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit empowered individuals for specific tasks. For example, Bezalel’s God-given wisdom and craftsmanship enabled him to become the tabernacle’s chief architect (Ex. 31:1-5). The Spirit also settled upon leaders needing help in administration (Num. 11:16-17), warriors facing formidable tasks (Judg. 6:34; 1 Sam. 16:13), and men called to proclaim God’s Word (Isa. 61:1; Ezek. 2:1-4). When the Father chose a person for a task, the Holy Spirit equipped that individual to accomplish it. He gave power only to certain people and didn’t necessarily remain with them long.

Indicating that the Spirit’s involvement with believers would be different than before, Jesus told the disciples, “He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). God’s Holy Spirit had come alongside the disciples during their time with Jesus Christ. But following the completion of Jesus’ work on earth, He would dwell within them.

Since Pentecost, every believer has received the Holy Spirit. If Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, then the Spirit is the energizing sap that equips us for the Christian life. Furthermore, He no longer comes and goes but rather remains permanently. He seals us in Christ—proof of the promise that we are forever in God’s presence (Eph. 1:13-14).

Fear of Fire

“And others save with fear; pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:23)

This exhortation refers both to attempting to “save” unbelievers by warning them of hell and to warning believers against the influence of apostates.

The ultimate hell (Greek gehenna) is not the same as the present hell (Greek hades), although eventually all those lost souls now in the latter will eventually be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). Both are fearsome places of real fire. The inhabitants of Sodom, for example, have been “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7) for thousands of years, though not yet in that ultimate hell. Also, the rich man mentioned by Jesus was in Hades and yet was being “tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:23-24).

Both “hells” have literal fires, but it is hard to understand how material fires could torment non-material souls. There is a clue in James 3:6, which calls an unbridled human tongue “a fire, a world of iniquity: . . . set on fire of hell.” Since the tongue is not literally on fire but can be extremely destructive in human relationships, the implication is that hell itself is a “world of iniquity.”

This aspect of hell makes it even more fearsome than literal fires could ever be. The existence there of billions of unredeemed souls, eternally separated from the holiness and love of God, where all who are “unjust” and “filthy” will continue forever to increase in their unrighteous and filthiness (Revelation 22:11) and in the constant presence also of the devil and his angels, is unspeakably appalling. Yet that was their choice when they rejected or ignored the infinite love of Christ.

No wonder that Jude urges us to warn them of such awful fire and seek to save them with fear if they won’t respond to the compassionate love of Christ. HMM

God Is Here; God Is Now

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. —Psalm 90:12

It is a wonderful thought that God has already lived all of our tomorrows. God has no yesterdays and no tomorrows. The Scriptures say, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8), but it’s not His yesterday—it’s yours and mine.
Jesus Christ the Lord is the One who came out of Bethlehem, out of Judea, whose goings forth have been even from everlasting. He can’t have yesterdays and tomorrows, because yesterday is time and tomorrow is time, but God surrounds it all and God has already lived tomorrow. The great God who was present at the beginning when He said, “Let there be” and there was, is also now present at the end, when the worlds are on fire and all creation has dissolved and gone back into chaos—and only God and His redeemed saints remain. Remember that God has already lived our tomorrows….

The Scripture says in Psalm 90:12 that because God is eternal, we must learn “to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” God is in our today because God was in our yesterday and will be in our tomorrow…. God is! And because God is, then God is here and God is now. God dwells in an everlasting and eternal now.

Lord, You are eternal, but I am of now. Teach me to number my timeoriented days, so I might use them wisely. Amen.

Sovereign God

We are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 5:20)

Oh, how I wish that I could adequately set forth the glory of the One who is worthy to be the object of our worship!

I do believe that if our new converts—the babes in Christ—could be made to see His thousand attributes and even partially comprehend His being, they would become faint with a yearning desire to worship and honor and acknowledge Him, now and forever!

I know that many discouraged Christians do not truly believe in God’s sovereignty. In that case, we are not filling our role as the humble and trusting followers of God and His Christ.

And yet, that is why Christ came into our world. The old theologians called it “theanthropism”—the union of the divine and human natures in Christ. This is a great mystery and I stand in awe before it!

The theanthropy is the mystery of God and man united in one Person—not two persons but two natures. So, the nature of God and the nature of man are united in this One who is our Lord Jesus Christ!

A Christian ought to be a comforter

A Christian ought to be a comforter, with kind words on his lips and sympathy in his heart; he should carry sunshine wherever he goes and diffuse happiness around him. If you see Jesus and abide in the light of his countenance habitually, your faces, your characters, your lives, will grow resplendent, even without your knowing it. If the tender mercy of God has visited us, and done so much more for us than I can tell or than you can hear, let us ourselves exhibit tender mercy in our dealings with our fellow-men. He lives most and lives best who is the means of imparting spiritual lite to others.