March 16, 2013

Kept by the power of God

One thing I’ve learned is that when God repeats something, it is important. A few days ago, He took me through this passage below and showed me what it means to be kept in His name. Today, He repeats it and I (who am always looking for new truths) realize that I need to mull this over again.

Jesus is praying. He asks the Father for things concerning His followers because He knows that we will need the keeping power of God against whatever this world throws at us.
And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (John 17:11)
What are some of those missiles? What do I need to be protected from and kept from? Sin and its ravages are obvious. As the author of today’s devotional reading says, without the power of God, “how else (is my) soul preserved amid temptations — assisted and aided by (my) own corruption?”

Yet Jesus is more specific concerning the needs of His people. This passage and the verses to follow reveal His concerns for us.

Unity. Being united in heart and purpose with other Christians is an important provision of God to preserve us. Even with the spats and disagreements that happen because of our fleshy sinful natures, the fact that the church of Jesus Christ continues (and is imitated) is evidence of God’s keeping power.

Joy. Verse 13 says, “… that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” Jesus wants joy for His people, even as His greatest sorrow loomed over Him. The devotional author paraphrased His prayer: “Father, I am to leave these dear ones in a world of troubles and perplexities; I know their hearts will be subject to discouragement. Let me obtain the restoratives of divine joy for them before I go. I would not only have them live, but live joyfully…”

An Old Testament verses says “… and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Joy keeps me strong in temptation and gives me power against the onslaughts of life. When I am kept by the power of God’s joy, I am able to face anything.

Sanctification by truth. Verse 17 says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Sanctification means that I am set apart by God for Himself. It is about holiness and knowing why I am here. It is also impossible without the saving power of God. Who can be holy? Only those whom God blesses with His keeping power. Jesus knew that we would need this as well as provision to ensure it would happen in an ongoing way. He provides truth in the Person of Jesus Christ (“I am the truth”) and in the pages of His Book. What great gifts of grace to a needy soul that so easily fights against His lordship. Without the Word of God, I could never persevere, stay in union with others, or be joyful.

See His glory (verse 24). The world is blind to the glory of God and the beauty of Jesus Christ. Instead, they curse Him as easily as they breathe. For those who belong to Him, He gives us the mercy of knowing His presence and seeing His glory. This is so important. I’ve had days where I could not go on except that I know His great love and abiding presence. Without having His face before me and His arm around me, I could never keep myself from the arrows of my enemy or the lures that the world dangles before me.
Lord God, I’m so thankful for this prayer of Jesus and for His continued intercession. I cannot be what You want me to be or do what You want me to do without Your sustaining power and grace. You have provided all that I need in the provision of Your Son. Thank You.

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