The Great Teacher of Promise

“the Holy Spirit…
will teach you all things and remind you of everything…”
John 14:26 (NIV)

I well recall a couple of history teachers I had during my formal education. One was the most boring person I have ever met. “Monotone Malcom” we would call him. He droned on endlessly in class and many times each lecture my hand would finally draw a wiggly line as I went to sleep. If he could have bottled his style and marketed it as a cure for insomnia he would have made a fortune.

The other outstanding professor of history I had was animated and powerful. He would wave his arms like a windmill, shout here and whisper there, as he described the scenes he was seeking to get into our heads. He would have the heroes of the battle running up and down the lecture room aisles as the battle seesawed back and forth. It was sensational stuff and we loved it.

When Jesus spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit He never said the Spirit would be dramatic or sensational, or that those to whom He came would have ecstasies of emotion. But instead the promise was that this One would be a fantastic teacher and not only bring all the new information the disciples needed but would work on their memories to ensure they recalled all of Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus wanted all of His people to know the Holy Spirit would instruct in a most efficient manner. The disciples would be as well taught by the Spirit as they were taught by Christ himself. This is the legacy of Jesus to all of His people from the least to the greatest. All would have this Spirit of promise to travel with them through life.

It is good to go to church and listen carefully to the sermons preached and the great hymns sung. It is important also to read the Bible for ourselves at home. We need to pray every day to our Father in heaven. And in all of these spiritual exercises the Holy Spirit will work with us to make the discipline meaningful and full of blessings.

In your times of difficulty remember, if you love the Lord, you have this amazing Teacher as your constant companion to assist you in coming near to God. Ask for His help when you pray, read the Bible, worship, sing praise in church and He will open your eyes to marvellous things that shall sustain you in your journey.

The Holy Spirit will constantly guide and keep you through everything this life can do against you. You shall have the strength and wisdom to live the best life possible now and be groomed for heaven forever.

But you must believe in Jesus to have this Teacher of promise. May you come to Jesus today and find in Him everything that is necessary for your own unique issues in life. Jesus waits to give the great Teacher of promise to all who come. Come and come today.

Eternal Real Estate

“We will come to him and make our home with him”
John 14:23 (NIV)

The Jewish people wrote in a very rich and three dimensional manner. We who are Gentiles do not often speak in such vivid language as they did. For example, in the Old Testament, when the prophet wanted to speak of the action of an earthquake they might say, “the earth opened its mouth” Numbers 16:32 (NIV). Or in speaking of joy they might say “the trees of the field will clap their hands” Isaiah 55:12 (NIV). It is certainly a dramatic and engaging manner in which to speak and readily captures the reader’s imagination.

Our Lord employed this form of speech in His public ministry and we benefit greatly from His imagery as He taught eternal truths. In John 14 Jesus is seeking to comfort the disciples regarding His departure and also to equip them for their life’s work of proclaiming the Gospel to the whole world as they knew it. Numerous times in this chapter Jesus refers to places where the disciples will live with Him forever.

In the King James translation of our passage it uses the word “mansions” in John 14:2. From this word mansions people have long thought of their place in heaven being some spectacular piece of real estate. Imaginations run wild about the architecture of the homes we shall have in heaven. Some spiritual songs have been written about our mansions in heaven.

I am sorry to put a pin in anyone’s balloon but the Greek word that the King James Version translates “mansions” simply means a dwelling place without regard to the majesty or glory of the place. In the King James Version it translates the same Greek noun in our verse for today as “abode”. That is quite a come down from the idea of mansions. So Jesus really means that each disciple of His shall have a place in God’s house.

Now for those who feel let down by the idea that they will not have a mansion in heaven let me state that I am not saying that our places in heaven will not be spectacular. Indeed I believe that our imaginations cannot go far enough in thinking of the glory and wonder of what we will see when we arrive in heaven. All I am saying is that Jesus did not say they would be mansions, He just said they would be “dwelling places”.

You see, if you truly love Jesus and wish to see Him, the real estate we will have there is unimportant. Only the immature among us wish to be dazzled with the spectacular. Those who really know Jesus recognize that it is Jesus himself that is the centerpiece and glory of heaven. We will not be overwhelmed by the real estate we shall possess but rather by Jesus Himself.

How many people today live lonely and tragic lives in fabulous mansions. The annual property taxes on some of their homes amount to more than a lot of us earn in a year. We drive by these estates and muse on what it would be like to live in such a place. Perhaps we laugh and say that we would need a road map to navigate our way through them without getting lost.

What really will make heaven, heaven for the believer is not the “mansion” or “abode” but the person of Jesus Christ. It will not be a case of what we have but Who we have that will cause us to rejoice and be glad.

Anna Ross Cousins has put it well in a poem where she wrote:

The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom’s face,
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace –
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel’s land.

Is Jesus your great hope in heaven? Are you longing for His coming to take His people home to their dwelling places? Is the best thing about heaven for you the sight of Jesus Himself?

It is my supreme desire today that you be in love with this Jesus and that you desire His presence more than anything this world or the one to come can offer. Oh, yes, the places God’s people will live in, in heaven shall be spectacular enough. But their glory will fade when we look on the Saviour who died for His people and rose again to win them for Himself.

Seek Jesus for yourself today. Pray to Him and ask for His forgiveness for your self centered way of life, for ignoring Him in the past, for rejecting His offers of forgiveness. Come to Him and see that He is everything anyone could want in this life or the next. If you seek Him you will discover that He has already sought you. He will come and make His home with you. Come and come now.

“Love God and do as you please”

“If you love me you will obey what I command.”
John 14:15 (NIV)

St. Augustine was a leading Christian theologian of the fourth century and made the statement “Love God and do as you please.” This sounds reckless and dangerous given our sinful natures. We might ask for the wrong things all too easily. Why would such a responsible person make what appears to be an irresponsible statement?

Well, Augustine knew the teaching of Scripture and was using the word “love” in its biblical sense. Jesus defines love for us in the verse for today. You will note how different Jesus’ idea of love is from the common one today. In our society love is generally considered to be a powerful, overwhelming emotion of attraction towards someone or something. Someone has described it as an itch you cannot scratch.

When you look at Scripture for a definition of love you discover that it is not primarily an emotion. Rather it is a way of relating to another person. For example, one day when Jesus was explaining the idea of love to some people He told the story of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37)

The Samaritan was walking down a road and found a Jew lying beaten and robbed. He took the victim and bound up his wounds and placed him on his donkey and took him to an inn where he had a line of credit. He paid the innkeeper some money and asked that the man be cared for. He told the innkeeper that if the bill for the man’s care came to more that he deposited, he would pay the balance the next time he came by.

Now, according to Jesus the Samaritan loved the robbery victim. There was no emotion except compassion shown by the Samaritan. However the kind man did indeed love the beaten person simply because he did something helpful for the victim. So to love someone in the Bible means to act positively towards the individual.

We read various times in Scripture that God’s love is an active work of rescuing His people from the consequences of their sins. A wonderful definition of love is seen in 1 John 4:10 where it says (NIV),

“This is love: not that we loved God,
but that he loved us and sent his Son
as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 

In 1 John 3:16 we read (NIV),

“This is how we know what love is:
Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 

There are many more passages where love is seen as an activity of benefiting others.

In our title for today, if we insert the biblical definition of love, it makes perfect sense. The problem lies in the modern definition of love as sentimentality or shallow affection. When a person vows love to their marriage partner today it often means they will stay with the person until someone a little more interesting comes along. We refer to it as fickle love.

A lot of people today think of God’s love toward us as something we deserve merely because we are His creatures. He made us and owes us love and kindness is the way it works for many. But when you stop and think calmly about the matter we should ask ourselves the question, “Why should God love those who love themselves the most and only give God a fleeting nod until tragedy occurs?” “Why should God love people who ignore him until life gets to be too much and only then do they seek His favour?”

What we all need to do is realise that God should come first in our lives and all else should come a distant second. God’s message in Scripture is for us to love Him with all we are for all He is. God goes so far as to say He is jealous for our love and loyalty. In Exodus 34:14 we read (KJV),

“for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

If we love things, or family more than God it is wrong in God’s eyes. He gives us family, financial security, health, and so on as blessings but expects us to be thankful and make Him first in our lives.

Jesus made the remarkable statement in Matthew 10:37 (NIV),

“Anyone who loves his father or mother
more than me is not worthy of me;
anyone who loves his son or daughter
more than me is not worthy of me.” 

So we are to serve God first and family second.

In 1 Timothy 5:8 it says (NIV),

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives,
and especially for his immediate family,
he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 

So we are to make adequate provision for our loved ones, we are to love them in other words. But God is first.

So when Augustine said what he did so long ago it makes perfect sense. The one who truly loves God is the one who serves God, who obeys God and lives for God. Those who come to God for His forgiveness discover that doing what pleases God gives us pleasure and satisfaction in life. Hence we do what we please as Augustine said.

When we face trials in life we find strength in the knowledge that God our Father is with us and loves us. That is to say, He will make provision for us through all the alternatives in life and because He loves us He will never leave us or forsake us.

Do you have this assurance in your situation? Do you love God? His heart is open to all who will come to Him for the rest and peace He offers. If you come you will not be disappointed. You will learn to love God and discover yourself doing what both you and God please.

Safe In God’s Presence

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord,
“He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
Psalm 91:1-4 (NIV)

As young children most of us found security in the presence of our parents. We need to see them to be comforted and feel safe. As a 4 year old preschooler, I wandered a couple of miles from home one day and found myself lost. Nothing was familiar. I was full of fear. At last, a kind man found a way to connect with my parents. When my father drove up, I instantly found peace as I looked in our old blue 1930 Buick, saw my father driving it, and was joyful in his presence.

But how do we see God? Where do we look for Him? We can’t see Him in the way we see our parents. So, how do we go about finding Him? The verses today seem so serene and peaceful. They immediately attract us and cause us to desire to experience the same intimacy as the Psalmist did.

One way to draw near to our Creator is to see Him in creation. The Bible tells us that the universe around us makes a wonderful statement concerning the power and wisdom of the Creator. Many scientists who study the rules of the universe are convinced the universe had to have a brilliant mind behind all we see (It is theorized that about 95% of the universe is invisible).

Another way to come close to our Maker is through studying Scripture especially the Gospels. There we see the One who said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” We are amazed at how bold our Saviour is to make such a remarkable statement! Yet it is true. He puts His teaching on a par with Scripture in Matthew 5:21-48. There He keeps quoting Scripture and each time gives a teaching of His own on the subject making it equal to the Bible. He raised the dead, caused the blind to see, spoke and storms ceased, created a meal for 5,000 with one poor boy’s bag lunch, and so proved His authority over the world.

To draw near to such an amazingly powerful One gives us great peace and security. Do you have the peace that He alone gives? Listen to Paul telling believers to be peaceful: Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

“ Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In all situations pray giving thanks and bring your needs to your loving heavenly Father and He will come to you and calm your troubled heart. Why not draw near today and pour out your complaints, always giving thanks for blessings. God’s remarkable peace will flood your heart and mind as you find safety in His presence. Come to Him and come today.

Active Love

“Dear children,
let us not love with words or speech
but with actions and in truth.”
1 John 3:18 (NIV)

In the Bible the concept of love is closely associated with action. For too many today, love is primarily thought of as an emotion. Ephesians 5:2 (NIV) reads,

“…walk in the way of love,
just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…”

In our verse today a possible paraphrase could be, “Talk is cheap. Actions are what count.” We need to express love by being active in doing good to people in need. Sometimes, when someone criticizes the notion of a loving Creator with starving people on earth, I have countered as follows: “I am so glad you are concerned for suffering people. Let me give you detail on a couple of Christian missions that are helping starving people.” That causes the complaining person to cease. They had no intention of using personal resources to help the poor. My comment exposed their hypocrisy but did nothing to push them into loving action.

Some years ago, a preacher was parking his tired old car in the church parking lot when a wealthy Christian approached him. “Jim”, he said, “when are you going to get another car?” The man replied, “I have my eye on a nice one for $8,000.00.” “Buy it and I will cut you a cheque for the full price of it.” replied the man. So, the preacher bought the car and advised the generous man the car was his. The man responded that he thought he had pledged $1,000.00 toward the purchase price. “Give me what you wish.” the man replied. It took several years for the preacher to recover financially. The rich man boasted to others how generous he had been to the preacher.

The wealthy man was dishonest in how he dealt with the preacher. Honesty is treasured by the Lord and Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:3 (NIV)

“But when you give to the needy,
do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing…”

We are to give quietly without bragging or advertising our generosity.

There are many statements in Scripture of God’s active love for us. A lot of them deal with salvation. John 3:16 is a prime example. A paraphrase would be, “God loved the world so much that He gave…”

Christian, today rejoice in the Lord’s active love for you that sent His beloved Son to the cross. That love supplies all your needs en route to your eternal home. Come to Him expecting a generous supply of grace to allow you to overcome each situation. Your beloved Good Shepherd is to be fully trusted as the One to supply all your needs for time and eternity.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.