June 23, 2018

Prepared for a place . . .

Jesus was leaving. The disciples were upset. He knew what they needed to hear.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1–3)

I was a new Christian the first time I read this. I thought, “Oh good, Jesus knows what it is like to be a homemaker!”

That is not a silly thought. Jesus knows what I need to hear. The Bible talks about Him relating to our lives in every say, except that He didn’t sin. I cannot imagine Jesus doing my household chores yet have even a more difficult time imagining me doing my chores without sin! For one thing, I grumble and complain, either about the chore itself or about the aches and pains it might cause. Jesus did not do that nor is He doing it now as He prepares a place for me.

Instead, Jesus is patient in His work. I know it because while He prepares me for that place, He does it without grumbling or complaining. Those times that I mess up, forget His grace, act as if I am running my own life, or just neglect my responsibilities, He puts His arm around me and encourages me

Tozer asks if I miss the love, mercy and grace of God in this life, who is to be blamed? Certainly not the God who sits on the throne! He made full provision for my salvation. Jesus died for my sins and rose again for my justification. He sent the Holy Spirit, so I have all that I need to serve Him, whether I’m witnessing to my neighbor or washing dishes.

This devotional reminds me that my complaints do not fit with my place. I’m not yet ready for the perfection of eternity. I need to think more about God’s work in me and be more cooperative.

These words also remind me of a friend who laid her hands on me and prayed for the health of my a-fib heart. Then she said, “God heals you. Now act like it.” We chuckle together yet there is great wisdom in acting according to what God says we are.

For instance, He says this . . .

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be.… Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.… And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.… And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:12, 14, 17)

Jesus, because You have given me Your great salvation, I need to act like it, to rejoice in Your amazing grace. I do have all I need — for all that You give me to do. The water of life is mine. Grace to obey is mine. I have access to all that You have provided for me. This life is worth the struggles. I will spend eternity in that place You are making for me because You have given me whatever I need to belong there.

June 22, 2018

Misunderstanding Jesus

The woman misunderstood Jesus on several levels, expressing them with questions. First, she could not understand why He asked her for a drink of water . . .

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) (John 4:7–8)

Jesus came to her like He comes to everyone — offering living water, a euphemism for eternal life. Her question was also the question of many. It could have been phrased, “Why are you bothering with me for you consider me a sinner?” She didn’t understand that Jesus came not to condemn but to seek and save sinners.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:9–10)

She didn’t realize her part in this offer of eternal life, first of recognizing that this is a gift and second that this is God in human flesh offering it to her. Who better qualified? But she didn’t get it.

The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” (John 4:11–13)

She thought that the offer was about temporary things, the good life here on earth with others willing to help her get it. How many people think God is like this, a genie in a bottle to grant their wishes? She didn’t understand this either.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13–14)

Now Jesus speaks directly to the nature of the gift and that water is really a metaphor for eternal life. She is starting to get it . . .

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:15)

But she is still thinking on the temporal level, about life here on earth. The eternal life part is beyond her grasp. What truth does she yet need to realize before she understands?

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. (John 4:16–19)

She, like all of us, first had to grasp and understand that she is a sinner in need of a Savior. As soon as she could see that, she was on her way to understanding who Jesus is and that her situation was far more important than water. She turned her thinking to worship and heard Him describe true worship. As the conversation went on, she finally got it. She dropped her water jar and ran to tell the people in her town that she had found the Christ.

I never noticed before the sequence in her confusion and enlightening. Jesus made the offer, but she didn’t get it until He pointed out her need for it. She was a sinner. Her thirst for water was a tiny picture of her thirst for love, for life, for completeness. She needed forgiveness and all that Jesus could offer her.

Lord, I know this woman. I know the confusion and the thirst, the questions and that final revealing of my sin. You came to me and changed my life. Since then, I’ve been trying to explain it to others who go through the same misunderstanding and confusion. But only the Holy Spirit can convict of sin. I am able to accuse, but that is not what You want from me. It doesn’t work. I get it. Thank You.

June 21, 2018

A ten-ticket ride!

Last week an enthusiastic friend repeated the simple gospel and said, “How many churches preach that these days?” He was convinced that no one did. I replied, “Every church that I’ve attended.”

Tozer writes something similar for today’s devotional that I think would be true of many politicians but not many preachers. He says that pastors today would rather give their congregations tranquilizers than preach holiness and have them fall under the conviction power of God.

Again, this is foreign to me. I understand that powerful leaders might be determined to control their people, yet this is not what I’ve seen in church leaders. I thank God that in all our moves and travels, He has led us to solid, Bible-believing places of worship with godly men and women in positions of leadership.

Yet I know that some are not so solid. Even in the early church, only one of Paul’s letters had very little to correct. While he praised most of them, they also had problems. Of special note, the church in Galatia received no praise, only the strongest rebuke for going off-target. It happened then; it happens today.
The book of Revelation begins with letters to seven churches. Most were rebuked for something, even the stronger churches like the one in Ephesus:

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” (Revelation 2:1–7)

These days, some may suppose that God either does not care or even know what is going on. However, as Tozer also writes, “Our Lord is a holy Lord, and His eyes are as a flame of fire. His X-ray eyes can see right through everything! We can hide nothing from God. He sees all and knows all.”

It is more often us who do not care or are unaware of our lax condition and lack of concern about holiness. As Tozer says, we can fall into thinking the Lord should accept our respectability as spirituality and be satisfied with the status quo.

For many church leaders, a congregation that behaves itself is just fine, but a congregation where everyone follows the leading of the Holy Spirit is scary. I know that unless I am following Him myself, I’m usually worried about what is happening or not happening in other Christians. But when yielded to the Spirit, trusting Him for everything, I know that He wants our good and Christ glorified, and that He has the power to make both happen. I don’t need to be anxious about leaders who are on power-trips either, for He is able to change their hearts as well as mine. The church does not need better preachers; we need to all be yielded to the Holy Spirit! It could be a wild ride, but it will never be sinful or regretted.

Lord Jesus, You want me to give myself to Your complete control, to give up all aspects of self-rule and trust You for everything. You want to fill me with Your Spirit so I will reflect Your image and be the person You created me to be. Only pride will have me on a power trip yet when yielded to You, I don’t want to go there. Keep me in the center of Your will and focused on Your holiness. Without You, I am nothing and can do nothing.