VIDEO The 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….”

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

The Christian Church should not be a secret society of specialists, but a public manifestation of believers in Jesus.  Facing Reality, 34 R


John 17 – Skip Heitzig

Something Deep and Binding

God created mankind in his own image. Genesis 1:27

Amina, an Iraqi immigrant, and Joseph, an American from birth, attended a political protest on opposite sides. We’ve been taught to believe that those who are separated by ethnicity and politics carry unbridled animosity toward each other. However, when a small mob accosted Joseph, trying to set his shirt on fire, Amina rushed to his defense. “I don’t think we could be any further apart as people,” Joseph told a reporter, “and yet, it was just kinda like this common ‘that’s not OK’ moment.” Something deeper than politics knit Amina and Joseph together.

Though we often have genuine disagreements with one another—substantial differences we often can’t ignore—there are far deeper realities that bind us together. We’re all created by God and bound together in one beloved human family. God has created each of us—regardless of gender, social class, ethnic identity or political persuasion—“in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). Whatever else might be true, God is reflected in both you and me. Further, He’s given us a shared purpose to “fill” and “rule” God’s world with wisdom and care (v. 28).

Whenever we forget how we’re bound together in God, we do damage to ourselves and others. But whenever we come together in His grace and truth, we participate in His desire to make a good and flourishing world.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Who seems to be completely different from you? What would it be like to spend time with them, sharing what you have in common?

God, the way the world is right now, it’s hard to believe that because of You every person shares something deep inside. Help me see this truth.

Sunday Reflection: The Promise of Comfort

God longs to comfort us when we are afraid, uncertain, or hurting.

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the scriptures referenced throughout.

The Bible is filled with God’s promises, and together they’re woven into a beautiful tapestry depicting His goodness. Among the greatest of all the threads is the promise of God’s comfort. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, we learn that He is “the Father of all mercies and God of all comfort.” Likewise, in Hebrews 13:5, the author reminds us of the Lord’s pledge: “I will never desert you, nor will I ever abandon you.” We are not alone in this life, left to muddle through it as best we can. We have a loving heavenly Father who walks alongside us through it all.

That means that no matter what you’re facing in life—whether it’s a financial crisis, a health scare, strained relationships, or even everyday hardships—God is your refuge and strength, able to protect and console you no matter what (Psalm 46:1). He understands your pain and fear, your anger and doubt, and He is sufficient to care for and aid you through even the darkest seasons of life.

Think about it

• Choose a book of the Bible, and as you read it, list the many promises God makes to His children. How do you feel, knowing the Ruler of the universe cares for you in this way?

Christ’s Strength

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)

This little verse gets quoted out of context a lot. It is used to justify bizarre plans and dreams, as well as to suggest that every Christian should be rich and healthy all the time. Not only are such applications without any support in Scripture, they are completely out of the context of this passage.

In the previous verses, Paul lists a variety of circumstances that he had faced, from poverty to wealth, learning to be “content” in each of these developments. Then he notes that he “can do all things” through the strength that the Lord provides during conflicting circumstances.

The “do” of this text is the prevailing of the power of God in which and by which we minister. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6).

The early church experienced a stunning growth in converts as it preached and testified of the resurrected Christ. This result, however, is due to the fact that the Word of God grew “mightily…and prevailed” (Acts 19:20).

Our fight is not a physical one. We wrestle against the great spiritual powers of wickedness that have their source in the heavenlies. The history of God’s people is replete with the battle that was begun in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve lost because they sought to deal with the issue on their own. We win or prevail only when we arm ourselves with God’s armor and become “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). HMM III

The Silent Dove

And, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. —Matthew 3:16

God waits for your faith and your love, and He doesn’t ask whose interpretation of Scripture you have accepted. The New Testament tells of believers who met and prayed together, the strong taking the burdens of the weak, and all praying for those who had fallen. The place was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.

“Pay no attention to that,” we have been told by “interpreters.” “That is not for us.” So it has been ruled out by interpretation and the blessed Dove has been forced to fold His wings and be silent.

Our hearts tell us that these modern scribes who are long on interpretation are wrong in spirit. Our own longing souls tell us that the old saints and hymn writers and the devotional giants were right! ITB119-120

Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,

With all Thy Quickening powers;

Come shed abroad a Saviour’s love;

And that shall kindle ours. HCL140

Easier to Pretend

You are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.—John 5:40

In Psalm 42:1, the psalmist states, “As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God.” Why do most Christians not long for God in this way? Because to long for God means we must get in touch with the deep thirst that is at the center of our being and acknowledge our basic helplessness—a feeling which our fallen human nature deeply dislikes.

Most of us instinctively draw back from dealing with this stubborn commitment to independence, pretending we are all right as we are. It is much easier to pretend we are thirsting after God than it is to face the challenge of giving up our commitment to independence.

I am conscious that the challenge I am putting before you is one I want to deny in my own life. There is something in me that would like to think—and would like you to think—that I have a heart that thirsts for God. But I know that if I stop short of identifying my independent strategies for finding life on my own and giving them up, I will never get in touch with the deep thirst for God that exists at the core of my being.

What is the answer? I must ask God to search my heart, expose my self-centered motivations, and help me see just where it is that I stop short of panting after Him.

You see, the more deeply we sense our thirst, the more passionately we will pursue water. But we will never sense that thirst until we are willing to face the fact that we may be drinking more from our own self-constructed wells than from the wells of God.

Prayer

Father, I tremble as I recognize this tendency within me to walk right past the fountain of living water and drink from a well of my own making. But help me to recognize it for what it really is—not just a terrible tendency, but a terrible sin. Amen.

Further Study

Ex 32:1-9; Isa 28:12; 30:15; 2Ch 24:19

How did God describe the children of Israel?

What is said of them time and time again?

God’s Manner of Forgiveness

“Now therefore, the sword will never leave your house because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own wife.”—2 Samuel 12:10

What is required for God to forgive sin? Repentance. But even repentance does not ensure the removal of the consequences of sin. The consequences often remain as a reminder of the terrible, destructive nature of sin.

David was forgiven for his grievous sins of lust, adultery, robbery, and murder. God forgave him absolutely and removed his sin from him completely (Ps. 103:12). God did not, however, remove the pain that David would endure as a result of his transgressions. The child born of David’s adultery died (2 Sam. 12:14). David’s son Amnon raped David’s daughter Tamar (2 Sam. 13:14). David’s son Absalom murdered Amnon (2 Sam. 13:28–29). Absalom brought the kingdom into rebellion (2 Sam. 15). For the rest of David’s reign, violence filled his home and his kingdom. Although David knew he was forgiven, he bore the painful consequences of his sin for the rest of his life.

It is presumptuous to assume that God removes every consequence the moment you repent of your sin. Do not think that the instant you show remorse God will restore everything as it was. He may not. Some sins, such as adultery, come from a flawed character. God forgives sin immediately upon repentance, but it takes longer to build character. It is character, not forgiveness, that determines what God brings next to your life.

Because we know the devastating consequences of our disobedience, let us diligently avoid every sin and “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1b).