Devotional 103: I Will Not Leave You Orphans

John 14:15-18

Jesus Promises Another Helper

15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

We call it ‘the still, small voice,’ among other things, but it’s by far the most important voice we have, and the one we’re most prone to ignore. I have endured unnecessary struggles as a result, and have no one but myself to blame.

I remember the day Jesus sealed His promise of eternal life to me; that it took place on a mountain held a special significance for me then, but then I came back to the valley, and the clouds of the world rained down, and though the voice never stopped speaking, I stopped listening.

But the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do not break their promises, and they are not without understanding, and while the Spirit may yet be found, it’s in my best interest to not only listen, but to abide.

As Jesus said the Father sent Him, and He spoke not on His own, so it is too, with the Holy Spirit. Christ tells us:

John 16:12-15

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

The Word of G-d is not a scattered, random thing, for if Jesus and the Father are One in will and purpose, the reconciling of man to G-d by the Word and faith in Christ, the Spirit is of the same. So, taken all in all,  there’s no  disconnection in the consistency of the Word’s message: Repent, and believe the Gospel.

How fitting, then, that He who came down a King of humble birth, would use a ‘still, small voice.’ But it’s the most authoritative one we should serve without hesitation.

The miracles and signs were done in the presence of assemblies in temples, in cities, in villages, in front of hundreds and thousands, but in the quiet moments of mountaintop prayer, closet intimacy, nights of candlelight on your knees before the altar, the voice speaks to you, in your circumstances.

But our Savior was never ‘over the top,’ and the Holy Spirit, one on one, won’t be either.

We are on a difficult road to find a narrow path, to spend eternity with a promised king, guided by the Spirit with a still, small voice, while being pelted from the roadsides of the world with all manner of mockery and filth.

Do we, as He did, set our faces like flint as we set our sights heavenward, while doing His will on the earth?

No doubt it is a hard calling in unparalleled times. And yet, the Word of the Lord, higher than His name, has survived all attempts to blot it out, and we take it our hands today to read:

I will not leave you orphans; I will come to You.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Therefore I pray:

Holy Spirit, 

I repent of grieving You through doubt, disobedience, willful sins, rebelliousness, and faithlessness. You are spoken of the least in our churches’ earthly sermons, but You are as powerful a manifestation in the assembly of the saints as when the Father’s glory filled the temple.

And indeed, You glorify the Father as well as the Son.

Let us be reminded that You speak the words of our Lord to our everyday, modern day problems with simple truth, heavenly guidance, and eternal love, and that You also, like the Father and Son, can’t look on sin, and grieve when we give in to temptation.

But we thank You, also, for not abandoning us, for convicting us, and being constant in the message: Repent, and believe, and be reconciled to the Father.

Help us to know that it is not only You, but also the voice of the Father and Son that tell You what to say to us, though You have Your own realms of authority.

Thank You for not waiting for the quiet hours only to speak, but also in the midst of chaos, You impart that peace beyond understanding to us, that we may glorify G-d in word and deed among the faithless. 

As You continue to guide us and reveal the Truth of the Gospel, help us also to do the Father’s will by remaining humble, by noticing the still, small details among us that allow us to serve the Kingdom: to help the widow and orphan, and give a cup of water to a child, and restore our brothers and sisters who’ve fallen by the way, and to say what You would have us say, not speaking on our own authority, that we might bear fruit and reconcile others to Christ, that they too might be saved, walking the Narrow Way with us, fulfilling a hard calling in difficult times.

Let it be done to us as You have said. 

Amen. 

Devotional 16: They were Astonished at Him

The only story we have of Jesus as a child outside of the Christmas story is found in the second chapter of Luke, where Jesus was missing for three days after his parents had returned to Nazareth, each thinking He was with the other.

 

In Luke 2:46 – 47 we read:

    46) Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking questions. 47) And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.

These words come again with Christ as an adult in Luke 4: 31-32:

   Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. 32) And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.

The occurrences of the words ‘astonishment’ followed by ‘authority’ appear several times throughout Jesus’ ministry, because His authority, His claims to divinity and being the Son of God, never wavered.

Who He was, and why He came never changed in His preaching, despite the intense pressure the religious leaders brought to bear on Him to recant.

His words were consistent regarding the issues surrounding our salvation, and His call to it consisted of three essential parts:

 

  • Repent: God will not wink at sin or compromise on what His Word says. In Psalm 138:2 David writes that the Lord God has exalted His Word above His Name, therefore if His Name is above all names, how do we get to thinking that He will nullify or compromise His Word, and therefore it doesn’t apply?

  

  • Believe: The Father will not brook doubters, for we read in the Gospel of John 3:18: He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 

  • Follow: The Father will only acknowledge those who acknowledge His Son. In John 15:23 we read: “He who hates Me hates My Father also.”

And when Jesus was transfigured on the high mountain, we have the second manifestation of God’s approval of His work, as we had at the beginning of His ministry, when He came to John the Baptist.

In Matthew 17:5 we read:

     And while (Peter) was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

       We have other admonitions by Jesus to take up our crosses, count the cost, forsake that which we love for His sake, and to be ready for persecution.

These are admittedly not easy, but for the sake of our salvation, if Jesus teaches with astonishing authority, the uniqueness and consistency of His words are designed to penetrate, to reach us, to break down our resistances and remove our excuses for not doing them

In effect, they sift those who claim to believe from those who truly believe.

We have, interceding on our behalf, not only the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Chief Judge, but also a Master Teacher whose words are still being discussed some 2,016 years after His birth, even to the point of denying His existence.

Such is the manner of bold, authoritative teaching.

Take the Gospel seriously, because it’s not pick-and-choose, and it’s best you not be found lukewarm with one foot in the world.

Our Lord has overcome the world, and He is the Living Word.

As He overturned the money tables, so too, will He flip backwards and topple all who seek to wink at God’s mercy and say, “I’ll do it at the end.”

The ‘end’ may come suddenly, and sooner than you think, and you’ll have died in your sins, as well as your ‘sleep.’

Therefore I pray:

      Father in Heaven, make me to understand the neediness of my time, and give me what I need to change what has to be changed in my own life, and to affect the lives of others for Your kingdom.

      Help me, like Issachar’s sons, to understand the times, and know what to do.

     Help me to subject myself to the authority my Lord and Savior would wield over me as He teaches me to follow Him into Your Presence, in reverence to You, in faithfulness to Him, and in obedience to Your Holy Spirit.

     By the Power of His Blood and in His Holy Name I ask it, believing I have already received.

      Amen.