22.5 John – Going along vs. being a target

Is it enough to know and believe what is right?

That is a challenge Christians have always faced and one that we face today.  “The crowd” in whatever form or name you choose to give it (popular opinion, the state, the authorities, the man, the world) is always going in a direction and, let’s face it, in a big picture view, it is pretty much always going in the wrong direction.  Without the influence of the church, the world becomes more and more immoral.

We know, as Christians, that we are not to “go along with the crowd”.  But, taking a stand, speaking up, makes you a target for trouble.  That trouble may be disassociation.  It may be labeled as “hating” (which is ironic, since it is normally an act of love and caring for others over self that prompts one to take a stand).  It may mean financial, verbal, legal or even physical persecution.  In some parts of the world, it may mean imprisonment and even death.

But where is the line between silent protest and silent acquiescence?  Where is the difference between staying and fighting and shaking the sand from our sandals and moving on to where people are listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit?

As we look at the words Jesus told to the disciples, that in their own ways each of them would abandon Him, we are convicted in the ways that we too abandon Jesus in our approach to the world of “get along, go along.”

But, I think the answer to this is also provided in these same verses.  We are called to pray by “asking in Jesus’ Name.”  I think that has far less to do with the words we pray and more to do with what we pray for.  We have a very big tendency to pray for ourselves.  I’m not saying that is not allowed, but it isn’t the entire picture.  What if more of our prayers were for Jesus to be glorified?  What if more of our prayers were for Jesus to be made known to non-believers? What if more of our prayers were for other sheep to be found?  What if more of our prayers were for the missionaries who are dedicating their lives to their calling?  What is more of our prayers were for our pastors, our leaders, our judges, our courts, our teachers, our civil servants, our doctors?

What if we stand firm not in spite or to make a point and not with thoughts about becoming a target or raising the attack of others, but because by standing firm we provide strength to that other believer who thought they were alone?

Speaking up and taking a stand always brings troubles.  But, nothing can be brought to bear that Jesus has not already overcome.  Not only has He overcome it, but, by the presence and seal of the Holy Spirit, He has already overcome it in our lives in our situation in our time.

My Answers:

11.
a.
To ask for the things that Jesus would ask for and for them to come for His recognition and glory.

b.
Steadiness.  A solid daily witness through words and actions.  Help and guidance in the things he has entrusted to me (particularly the people, i.e., family members).  For a giving heart.

12.
Any level of persecution is a test.  Also the temptation to “go along with the crowd” when others are acting or saying things that are not Christ honoring.

13.
There is nothing here that is stronger than Jesus.  He has overcome not only His own death, but also all the problems and troubles the world may ever dish out to me.

22.4 John – OK to Ask

My daughter recently changed to a new school and there was one particular problem or topic in chemistry that wasn’t clicking for her.  She went through the practice exercises in the homework.  She read the textbook.  She asked other students.  She asked her parents (not that I was any help in that regard).  She even looked on line.  But, there were still questions.  Then she stayed after school one day and asked the teacher.  The teacher very patiently and thoroughly went through it with her in different ways and perspectives, even to the extent of basically giving her a copy of the upcoming test and coaching her through it.  And, now she understands it (and aced the test!).

In our verses today, Jesus reminds us that it is OK to just ask the teacher.  We can read the bible.  We can fast and meditate.  We can seek counsel of others.  But, we can also just ask God.  He is patient.  Just as we saw in verse 12, he is not going to burden us with more than we can bear.  He wants us to grow and learn and understand.  This is not some mystery or riddle that is a trick for us to go decipher.  Jesus wants us to know and understand it.  He wants our eyes to be open and our thoughts to be clear.

I am not saying to throw out your bible and cut ties with other believers just to rely on divine inspiration.  Reading the bible and talking to others, just like reading the textbook and discussing with other classmates, provides a foundation and basis for the Teacher to pour understanding into our lives.

 My Answers:

8.
The time when He is dead and in the tomb.  The time of His resurrection.
While Laz was in the tomb they did not see, Him, but He came out at Jesus’ calling and was seen again and ate and lived with them.
Could also mean the time between His Ascension and Pentecost.
Could also mean the time between His Ascension and the Second Coming

9.
Jesus showed his compassion by answering their unasked questions.  He said they would morn, this is their time of mourning, they would have grief and would weep, but it would pass and a time of joy would replace it, a time of rejoicing

10.
I ponder it and sometimes as others.  He says to ask God in His name.

22.3 John – VoJ

In theater and stage the unseen voice of an announcer or narrator is often referred to as the V.O.G. or Voice of God.  In our lesson today we learn that the Holy Spirit also speaks as the Voice of Jesus.

In verse 13 we read, “He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears”.

Don’t miss the depth of the love and self-sacrifice that line of scripture tells us about the Holy Spirit.

It brings to mind Team Hoyt, the father who has pushed his disabled son through more than 30 marathons for the joy on the son’s face.  Or even a translator or interpreter who gives up the things they have to say purely to sign or say the things being spoken by another.

The Holy Spirit is God, just as much God as the Father or the Son.  Yet, He purposefully and intentionally gives up His own words in our life to relay the words of Jesus.  He is the voice of Jesus in our souls, in our day to day lives.  He is the model of trust and reliance of our Lord for the words.

Why?  To bring glory to the Son and to the Father.  Verse 14: “He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.”

Wow!

My Answers:

5.
We know the Bible is true because Jesus promised the Spirit of truth would guide the disciples who wrote it.

6.
He does so through a self sacrifice.  Instead of speaking on His own, He speaks to men only what Jesus tells Him and Jesus tells Him the words that belong tot he Father.  In this way, Jesus is eternally glorified.

7.
speaks to us in the words of Christ.  I need Him for every part of life but in particular daily direction, guidance on how to pray, work on my heart to be more submissive to God and patience to wait for God’s timing.

22.2 John – Coaching: Right Things, Right Way, Right Path

The Holy Spirit is truly Amazing.  The Holy Spirit is God and has all the attributes of God, but the way He interacts with our life is in such a deeply personal and “pouring into” fashion, that He truly reshapes our lives to make us into something and someone we could not be otherwise.

Our passage today discusses the special job that the Holy Spirit holds to “prove the world to be wrong.”  Furthermore, it goes on to explain this is specifically in the areas of sin, righteousness and judgment.  But what does mean?

In this regard, I think of the Holy Spirit as our perfect coach.  First He convicts us and teaches us about doing the right thing.  What is the right thing?  It is the opposite of the wrong thing.  The wrong thing is sin.  It is “doing” in all ways, in actions, in words, in thoughts.  He not only shows us what is sin, but more vitally, He teaches and coaches us to not sin, to do the right things.

Doing the right things is a good step, but it is not enough.  Every coach knows, it is not practice that improves, it is proper practice that improves.  Doing the right thing the wrong way is not going to make you better at a sport, at life or at eternal life.  The Holy Spirit shows us that our “righteousness”, the way we think we are doing right and that right is “good enough”, is wrong.  He coaches us to put our trust not in our own wits and strengths and talents, but in “the Word.”

In football, a player who trains hard, runs the perfect pattern, catches the perfect pass, perfectly dodges the tacklers and remains on his feet while running at top speed finds that it is all for nothing if he is not also going the correct direction.  The Holy Spirit coaches us not only in the areas of sin (right things), righteousness (right way), but also judgment (right path).  We are all on a path to judgment, just as a football player is on a path to an end-zone, whichever direction he goes.

In the chaos of life, it can become challenging to know which path is the right path.  We can easily get focused on just doing right things.  We can lock ourselves away to attempt to avoid temptation.  We can also easily get focused just on doing things the right way.  We can dedicate day and night to our own spiritual feeding, to taking in the word and memorizing it.  Neither of these things are bad or wrong at times, but we need the Holy Spirit to remind and guide us to the finish line.  That finish line may not be all about us.  Our goal line may be about bringing someone else to faith.  Our goal line may be about strengthening the faith of another.  Our goal line may not involve words, but the kind act that we did to show someone the love of Jesus.  Every day we may have the opportunity to cross another goal line, not for our glory but for His.

My Answers:

3.
a.
He would send the Holy Spirit to them (also, they would be saved from the consequences of sin through His redemptive sacrifice)

b.
As today because He is fully glorified through the sacrifice that He made.  I have Jesus in me and He is simultaneously in millions of others, where at that time He was physically bound to one place and time.

4.
Sin: Convicts the world of the darkness of sin – all have sinned despite denial
Righteousness: To convict that our “righteous acts” are insufficient and incomplete
Judgment: A call to repent and open eyes to the path on which we tread – a path of sin