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What Did Jesus Pray About? (Part 17)

During these posts we are looking at the Lord Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17.  Jesus says much about THE WORLD and the believer’s “place” in the WORLD.  Sometimes that word cosmos means the physical planet, sometimes the people of the planet, and sometimes the pagan system opposing God and the things of God.

We’ve looked at thirteen of the seventeen uses of that word.  Let’s continue our study by looking at #14 found in verse 21 ….

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before 1the world began.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of 2the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for 3the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in 4the world no longer, but they are still in 5the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in 6the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and 7the world has hated them, for they are not of 8the world any more than I am of 9the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of 10the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of 11the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into 12the world, I have sent them into 13the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that 14the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then 15the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of 16the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though 17the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

 

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2017 in unity

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #10- SINNERS) (con’t)

This is my last message/post on the topic of being STUCK!  These messages were/will be preached at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta (website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com).  How do we Jesus-followers sometimes get STUCK on the issue of SINNERS?

The reality is we are simply not like the Lord Jesus who was a friend of sinners.  Let’s admit it. We’d rather spend our time with fellow-believers than reach out to the lost.

Our text for this topic is Matthew 11 where we read:

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Both Jesus and John the Baptist were mocked by their contemporary culture.  John the Baptist was thought to be demonized because of his austere lifestyle. Jesus was charged with being a glutton and a drunkard because of His indulgence in food and drink.  Both austerity and enjoyment were areas of judgment for Jesus’ culture.  Jesus was neither a glutton nor a drunkard, but His social interaction with “sinners” opened Him up to such accusations.

I want to be like Jesus.  I want to be a friend of sinners.  If that is true, what steps must I take to get more like Jesus, to get unSTUCK in this area?  Please write out one step you will take in this area in the comment section below.  And thank you for sticking with me in this series!


 

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #10- SINNERS!)

If you have stayed with me through this series of posts, THANK YOU!   We’ve been thinking about areas in which the Jesus-follower gets STUCK!  Most of these messages were (or will be) delivered at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta (website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com).

The last area we want to consider is SINNERS!  We get STUCK on the issue of SINNERS!  What are we to do with “them”?  Are we to hang around them?  Avoid them?  Become like them?

This topic of our relationship to SINNERS has become a passion for me.  I’m a SINNER.  How about you?  Someone reached out to me with the gospel.  How dare I spend all my time with fellow-believers, eating only Christian cookies, listening only to Christian music, and going only to Christian meetings?  How dare I?

Our text for this topic is Matthew 11 where we read:

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
    and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
    and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

There is so much in this passage that we are going to take several posts to ponder it.  Please notice that Jesus is rendering a judgment on His generation.  He compares them to children singing mocking songs in the marketplace about Himself and John the Baptist.  “You’re like a bunch of kids pouting because we aren’t behaving the way you want us too!”, Jesus seems to be saying.  These “children” are inviting other like-minded kids to join them in their mockery and derision. What are they so hyped about?

The answer is that they didn’t care for the way either John the Baptist or Jesus lived among them.  And their only response is ridicule and mockery.  John the Baptist and Jesus didn’t dance to their tunes or mourn with their dirges.  And that ticked them off!  (to be continued) 

 

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #6- SHARING) (con’t)

Most of us Jesus-followers get STUCK when it comes to SHARING our faith with others!  These messages are being delivered to the saints at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta, GA (website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com).  My tenure there as preaching pastor will end on Sept. 24 (sniff).

In the issue of SHARING our faith with others, we need to focus on having conversations (not necessarily conversions) with others and show that we are open to listening to their stories.  The text we have been looking at is I Peter 3 which says:

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[b]; do not be frightened.”[c] 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

It’s a whole lot easier to SHARE our faith when we are asked about it!  And the questions that ought to come up (according to this text) would something like:  “How can you suffer so patiently?”  “Why aren’t you afraid of being harmed by others?”  “Where in the world do you get your hope?”  “I’ve heard rumors that you are misbehaving.  Are they true?”

Our lives ought to provoke questions!  If we are not provoking questions and stimulating curiosity, it might be argued that we are not sufficiently living Christian lives!

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2017 in christian growth

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel (Part 9)

None of us like criticism.  But criticism from those who profess to know God is especially painful.  Jesus (and John the Baptist) get criticized in Matthew 11.  John is throught to have been demonized because of his frugality (he wore a camel’s hair cloak and regularly ate a lunch of locusts).

The Lord Jesus is criticized for His indulgence.  He was charged with being a glutton and a drunkard, accusations which had no evidence to support them.  But He was also criticized for being “a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”  To this third charge, I believe, Jesus would have responded, “GUILTY AS CHARGED!”

We followers of Jesus need to be charged as well.  But the charge against most of us is that we are not like Jesus!  We eat Christian cookies, read Christian books, have Christian wallpaper, and hang around only with Christians!

There is a world of difference between being a “friend of the world” (James 4:4) and being “a friend of sinners” (Mt. 11).  One makes us enemies of God; the other makes us like the Lord Jesus.

We saw that THE MYTH OF GODLINESS is the commonly-held belief that the fewer non-Christian friends we have, the godlier we are.  No, the less like Jesus we are.  We saw from Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 that He has strategically left us in the world to continue His work.  Believers in Jesus are not called to escape the world, but to serve Him, protected by God.  We are to be IN the world but not OF the world. (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in discipleship

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel! (Part 8)

The Lord Jesus was criticized by the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Lk. 15:2).  Many, if not most, Christians are NOT friends of sinners. We have swallowed a lie that the fewer non-Christian friends we have the godlier we are.  No.  The less like Jesus we are.

What we believe, what we swallow, can spiritually kill us.  And we Christians have bought into the lie that we are to be anti-world.  And that means being no friend of sinners.  Afterall, doesn’t the Bible say that “friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4)?

But then we looked briefly at Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17.  Here is that prayer again:

Several conclusions are unavoidable if we take Jesus’ prayer seriously:
1. The word “world” can mean the planet, the people of the planet, or the pagan system opposed to God and the things of God. “World” must mean the pagan system in James 4:4 (“friendship with the world is enmity with God”) because God so “loved the world” (Jn. 3:16).  In fact, it is John who tells us in I John 2:15 not to love the world.  “World” must have two different meanings in John 3:16 and I John 2:15.  Friendship with the pagan system opposing God and the things of God makes us God’s enemies.

2.  John 17 is a perfect example of how “world” can mean several things.   For example, it apparently means the planet in verse 5 (“before the world began”).  It apparently means the people of the planet in verse 9 (“I pray for them.  I am not praying for the world”).

3.  Therefore, what conclusions can we draw about the Christian and the world from this prayer?  First, any efforts on our part to take ourselves out of the world of people run contrary to Jesus’ declaration in verse 11 (“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world”).  Jesus doesn’t pray for escape for His followers, but protection (see verse 11).  Second, followers of Jesus are to be IN the world but not OF the world (verse 14).  Our present geographical assignment is not heaven, but earth!  And we are to serve Him while we are here.  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in discipleship

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus Followers Excel (Part 5)

The Lord Jesus is to be our example for how we are to live out our Christian lives.  There is one major area where we often fail to follow Him.  That area is described in Matthew 11:

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Three charges were leveled at Jesus, according to His own testimony.  He was accused of being a glutton, a wine bibber (over-indulging in drink), and “a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”  In a court of law Jesus would have pled NOT GUILTY to the first two charges of gluttony and drunkenness.   But to the third charge — being a friend of tax collectors and sinners — I believe He would have declared, “GUILTY!  AND GLAD OF IT!”

We read in Matthew 9:13 that “the Son of Man did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  We have several occasions where Jesus spends time with tax collectors and sinners as evidence that their charge was correct.  One passage that immediately comes to mind is Luke 15 and the story of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son.  There we read, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”  Jesus then specifically tells the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son to illustrate the appropriateness of His welcoming sinners.

In my book DocWALK, I’ve written up my understanding of Luke 15 and it won’t hurt you a bit to read it now:

The late Dr. Francis Schaeffer put it this way: We Evangelicals, he said, “have in a real sense lost sense of the lostness of the lost.” Jesus drives home this lesson by using three examples of lostness in Luke 15.

In the parable of the lost sheep (vv. 3-7), the shepherd has a hundred sheep and one wanders off. He does not say, “Well, I’ve got ninety-nine others! Why bother myself about one stupid sheep?” He leaves the ninety-nine in the open country (perhaps putting them at risk in his determination to find the one missing sheep), and goes after the one lost sheep until he finds it. Upon finding it, “he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home” (vv. 5-6). He then throws a party and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep” (v. 6). Lostness provoked a pursuit which was followed by a party.
In the parable of the lost coin (vv. 8-10), the woman goes to a lot of trouble to find that one coin, lighting a lamp and sweeping the house until she finds it. And when it is found, she throws a party for her friends and neighbors, inviting them to “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin” (v. 9). Lostness causes a search to take place, followed by a celebration.

In the most extensive parable of lostness, the parable of the lost son (vv. 11-32) contains many lessons about lostness. Whereas the coin could not be blamed for getting lost and none would think to get mad at a dumb sheep for wandering off, the story of the lost son shows premeditated abandonment of his place in the family. His moral culpability is revealed as he essentially says to his father, “As far as I’m concerned, you’re as good as dead. I would like my inheritance now – in tens and twenties – if you don’t mind.” Not only does he turn his back on his family, but he quickly departs town and systematically does all he can to debauch himself. His resources eventually run out, hunger sets in, and somehow he comes to his senses.

With a repentant heart he chooses to go back to his father, preparing a speech of contrition which he will deliver, a simple confession of twenty-eight words: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men” (vv. 18-19). Coins and sheep make no speeches; rebellious sons have the ability to come to their senses and come back to their father.

Like the lost coin and the lost sheep, the lost son is sought, only in this passage the father sees his son “a long way off ” and is “filled with compassion for him” (v. 20). In a cultural context in which the father would have been well within his rights to count his son as dead (much as the younger son had counted his father as good as dead, v. 12), this father showed no such animosity. Instead he “ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (v. 20). Such unguarded and undignified emotion must have embarrassed (and outraged) the Pharisees and teachers of the law as they listened to Jesus’ story.

The father allows the son time to deliver only eighteen of his twenty-eight word confessional: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (v. 21). The father then throws a big party. This son had probably hocked all his possessions, and the father immediately has the best robe put on him, a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. The fattened calf (perhaps one which had been selected and purposely well-fed in hopeful anticipation of this day) is brought out to be barbecued. “Let’s have a feast and celebrate. Pass the barbecue sauce!”, says the jubilant father. “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (vv. 23-24).

But that’s not the end of the story. In fact, it seems to only be the introduction to Jesus’ primary point. Unlike the story of the lost coin and the lost sheep where the accounts conclude with a party, the story of the lost son switches gears and focuses our attention on someone else: the older brother. We learned nothing of him at the beginning of the story when the younger son abandoned the family, only that there were two sons and the younger decided to leave. We do not read that the older brother strikes up a search party to go to the “distant country” to find his younger sibling (maybe he was glad he was gone). Nor do we find him next to his father, looking down the road when the younger brother walks home barefoot and destitute. And when the party gets going in earnest, the older brother is not looking over the shoulder of the caterer to make sure things are in order; he is in the field working. He hears the music and dancing and has to ask what the celebration is all about. A servant informs him that his younger brother is back home, safe and sound, and that their father has fired up the grill. Apparently he was not specifically invited to the party, or the father simply assumed the older brother would, of course, join in the festivities, or the father knew that the older brother did not care to hear and celebrate the good news.

Instead of joining the party, the older brother gets mad and boycotts the festivities. When the father goes out to plead with him, the older brother shockingly rebukes his father, then begins to list all his own acts of faithfulness and obedience. He complains that he never got such a barbecue thrown in his honor, not so much as even a young goat! “But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” (v. 30), he says. In other words, he tells his father that not only has the father not shown appropriate appreciation for the older brother’s faithfulness, but he is going way overboard in his celebrations for the reprobate younger brother. And he reminds his father of his younger brother’s abominable conduct: squandering the father’s property with prostitutes! The older brother does not only feel slighted and taken for granted, he is repulsed by his father’s extravagant excitement about the squanderer’s return home. Such action on the father’s part, in the opinion of the older son, is a moral and religious outrage! Interestingly, the older brother does not refer to the prodigal as “my brother,” but as “this son of yours” (v. 30).

However, the older brother does not get the last word. The father who has temporarily left the party which he was throwing for his recovered son says, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (vv. 31-32). The father is indicating that the older brother’s problem is not what the father did not give him, but what the father graciously gave the repentant “squanderer.”6 The father indicates that the only appropriate response to the younger brother’s return was to throw a huge party. “We had to celebrate and be glad!” In a bit of a dig the father reminds the older brother that “this brother of yours” was dead and is alive again. He “was lost and is found.”

Although it is generally true that a parable has one primary point, and we need to be careful not to make a parable into an allegory by finding spiritual meaning in every detail, this third story of lostness certainly has at least two points. The first is the eagerness of the father for the return of the lost son. The second is the callousness of the older brother who not only refused to join the party, but felt he needed to set his father straight as to the inappropriateness that such a celebration should be held at all.
Both the story of the lost sheep and the story of the lost coin conclude with similar words. Regarding the lost sheep we read, “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (v. 7). Concerning the lost coin we are told, “In the same way, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (v. 10). No such expression is found at the conclusion of the story of the lost son, because the story is about a sinner who repents – and shows the absolute inappropriateness of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who were muttering against Jesus, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (v. 2).

When God says “Party!”, we’d better party! Like the shepherd, the owner of the coin, and the prodigal son’s father, God does not delight in lostness. He wants lost things and lost people found!

My mother-in-law, whom I love dearly, is the most organized person I know. She can perfectly tell you exactly what is in her walk-in closet, down to the last shoebox. While I don’t think her condition is pathological, I do sometimes kid her and say, “You know, Mom, you never experience the joy of finding something that was lost – because you know where everything you own is. That’s a sad way to live your life!” She laughs at me, and then changes the subject.

God delights in finding that which is lost, and the Good News of the Gospel is that you’ve been rescued from your lostness. God is holding a party in heaven because He just “had to celebrate and be glad” (Luke 15:32) because you came home!
One could ask a question of the older brother, “Who was really the ‘lost’ son?” The younger brother who abandoned his family and squandered his father’s wealth, or the older brother whose “faithfulness” to his father made him callous, uncaring, self-righteous, and unwilling to join the party? Who was the real prodigal – the one who left (and came back) or the one who stayed, thinking he had no reason to repent, and in the process lost his heart? (to be continued)

 


 

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2017 in discipleship

 

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