Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stay Strong - John 17



John 17:14-26 "But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

Stay strong in the Faith

The harvest has not been too far gone, and for what they got off the ground it was decent enough. Bonnie and I were watching a show on the Food Network that showed how they grew certain seedless watermelons. As they are ready to harvest you have these workers walking through the fields and selecting the ripe ones and cutting them off the vine by hand. The tractor then comes along with a big trailer and the watermelons are hoisted up and packed in skids right away and off they go to the market. Modern farming has changed remarkably over the last hundred years, so much so that you can grow almost 10 times as much on the same parcel of land as before, by fewer people. Back in Jesus day He talked about the Sower (Matthew 13) who would throw the seed out by hand. It landed in 4 places: the road, the rocks, the thorns, and the good soil. When it landed on the road, it was quickly eaten by the birds. Jesus said this happens when we share the Gospel in a way the person can’t understand it. That is why we need a variety of ways and places to share the Good News. It is also why the most effective way to share Jesus is when you and I do it personally with our friends and neighbours. It becomes an ongoing dialogue so people can understand the Truth of Jesus Christ.

When the seed fell on the good soil it returned 100 fold, which is what the Lord wants to do with you and I. The other two places, the rocks and thorns, are where you and I live life today. Wealth and a failure to really root our faith make us vulnerable to having a shallow and weak faith, a faith that will not stand the test of time and adversity. Jesus says to us, “Stay strong”. He prayed that our heavenly Father would keep us from the evil one. Satan and the world system throw all kinds of things in our path to distract us, to depress us, to destroy us. We are in a spiritual battle, but if God is for us who can be against us? John said, “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!” Stay strong in the Faith by doing the little things. How is your prayer life? How is your Bible intake - both the reading and the meditation and memorization? Is it a habit, yet, for you to wake up each morning and commit the day to God before your feet hit the floor? Is the last thing in your mind as you fall asleep prayers of petition and thankfulness? How often do you think about the 2nd Coming of Jesus, rooting your Hope in the promise of God? How much do you prayer prayers of spiritual warfare, asking protection for people and confronting the Enemy with the Armour of God clad about your life? Do you dwell on things that are of excellence? These are all the little things that help you to be strong in the Faith. Most often victory is decided not in the big moments, but in the many little moments that preceded that big moment.

Stay strong in the Word

My dad ended his professional life as a firefighter. He has said he wished he had gotten into it years before he did. It didn’t pay well to start full-time, and before that he was on the volunteer department for quite a while. He had this radio by his bed that would go off when the call came of a fire or a rescue of some sort. He would carry his gear in the trunk of the car so even if he saw a fire truck going down the street all he had to do was follow and put his gear on and he was good to go. Have you seen the gear? I have the helmet, the coat and the boots. I believe they also have some shirts and other underclothing they wear that provides extra protection. The boots can be worn up to the knee, or pulled way up the full leg. It is actually somewhat bulky. It takes time to put on, and it does not always make a positive fashion statement. But is it worth it? Of course it is, because when you have it all on properly, it is a lifesaver. And so it is with the Bible. It takes time to put it on, to study and memorize. It takes effort to understand fully how to apply it today when it was written 2,000 - 4,000 years ago. To quote it in certain places is now even politically incorrect. But is it worth it? Absolutely, for when you have it in your life and properly applied. It is a life saver. It gives life not only to you, but to those around you. Jesus had a conversation in John 6 after some of His followers were leaving Him, and He asked His disciples if they were going to go away as well. It is Peter who replied and said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” This book is God revealing Himself to you and I and your neighbour. It has the words of eternal life. Get into it, and let it get into you.

Stay strong in Unity

It is time to say, “Goodbye”. I am going to die tomorrow, and this is the last thing I have to say to you as my friends, my disciples, my chosen 12. This is it, and with this I am done: “Stay strong in unity.” Bonnie opened our service with the verse in Ephesians that reveals how important unity in the church is; it is a witness to demonic forces of the reality and Sovereignty of God. We know it is a witness to the world around us; especially in the negative sense when there seems to be no unity. Rupertus Meldenius, a spiritual leader in the German Lutheran church coined the phrase that John Wesley loved to quote, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things charity.” The truth of this needs to be applied to every level of the church, starting with our own relationships within the church. As Nazarenes, we know what is important, that God’s purpose for us is to change us, to make us more like His Son Jesus through the work of the Spirit in our lives. Others apply it a bit differently, and that is okay, because we know God uses other people. We haven’t got the “corner” on good theology - we are not the only denomination to get it right. But we are who we are, and as we worship in our tradition and sincerity, we spend our time focusing on those who we can reach with the good news, rather than worrying about what or how the next church is doing. We even seek ways to partner with others. I have been in discussions with other men about forming a Saskatoon Men’s Fellowship that seeks to bring support and cohesiveness to the various men’s groups in the city. There are some 31 recognizable Evangelical men’s groups that have been identified.

On a more personal level, we are a family here. While unity is a function of the Spirit, our response involves openness, acceptance, and time. We have people here who have joined our community in the last few months, as well as ones who have been here for decades. One common thing we have is our faith, and that we are all doing our best to apply it effectively to our lives. We are seeking to know God, to become more like Him, and to live that sanctified life out in the world we live in. We take Jesus with us wherever we go and whatever we are doing. It is this vision that forms the basis of who we are and what we do.

No comments: