Wow, the last three days have been busy ones. Tuesday was my City Council day. Wednesday I left the house before 7 a.m. and returned for good by 7:00 p.m. I found that I can’t handle the 12 hour days like I used to. That was even with some a few breaks in my schedule that I tried to use for some naps. Yesterday, we left mid-afternoon for a wedding in Westminster of a family member. Christian performed the ceremony and did a great job.
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God….But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.” John 16:1-4 ESV
Being a “faithful follower of Christ” can come with some real challenges. There are those who can “deny the faith” (1 Timothy 5:8) and whose “faith can become shipwrecked.” (1 Timothy 1:19) As Paul wrote to Timothy he told about spiritual companions who had deserted him. (2 Timothy 4:10)
Part of Jesus’ final preparations for the cross was to provide His disciples what they needed to “stay true” to Him and their faith. He warned them about being “put out of the synagogue.” For a Jew that was the act of public disgrace. We see it happening with the parents of the man who was born blind that had been healed by Jesus. (John 9:22)
Not only that we see that one day it would be considered, “in season” to kill followers of Christ. We see this reflected in the activities of Saul of Tarsus. As Jesus predicted, Saul believed he was doing a “righteous” deed against those who had turned from the “true faith” of the law and by those who claimed forgiveness of sin by faith in Jesus.
Jesus took the approach that “to be forewarned, was to be prepared.” So He tells His followers when these things happen remember that I told you. But Jesus’ approach was more than just warning. When he says, “I have said these things to keep you from falling away” it causes us to go back to His discourse of John 15.
In John 15 we see Jesus provides His disciples with these keys that would empower them to remain strong in their faith in the face of persecution and opposition. He tells them to “stay connected to me.” He tells them, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers…” (John 15:5,6 ESV)
Jesus then tells them to love each other, to love God and to obey His words. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:12-14 ESV)
Alone they would be vulnerable. Together they would be strong. You can experience today, you can observe it. When you are in the consistent fellowship and encouragement of other believers you grow spiritually and are strong. When people struggle in their faith and “drop out” it is because they have separated themselves from the fellowship of others and have become isolated in their spiritual lives.
Finally, Jesus points to the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26,27 ESV)
The Holy Spirit would not only remind them of Jesus words and give them strength. The Holy Spirit would empower them to do the works of Jesus. Real peace, real strength, real security comes not from the world around, but from a God who is above it all.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)
Prayer for today…. Lord thank You that You give us to the resources and strength to not only “keep the faith” but also to give it away and to share with others the source of true peace and life.