132. Words of glory and truth.

[John17]

In the very beginning of the study of John we have marveled at the miracle of a word becoming flesh. If I may repeat myself: St Augustine said in everything he ever knew about the world, everything he read and regarded as worth studying, he had never heard of a word becoming a man. [Pebbles 84]

If a word can become flesh, we must think hard and deep about the power of a word. God spoke the world into being. Prophecy, Holy Spirit-inspired words, declares the works and mind of God, today as always in the past. Just think of the mighty words of the prophets and Psalms that stayed with us through so many centuries, still bringing peace and miraculous outcome to our lives.

Worship-words describe the character of God and call the presence of the almighty God into our atmosphere. When we speak God, we build up, encourage, calm down, heal and convey the power of the invisible to transform for good. When we speak the slander, jealousy, greed, guilt and pride of our flesh, we break down in our own lives as well as those of everybody around us.

Words spoken become agreements with the powers of the invisible world. Words of confession will heal our inner being. Words of forgiveness will free our thinking and those who have wronged us. Words of celebration will defeat our jealous hearts and become the prayers of gratitude for the great works of God in us and for us.

How we look determine our words. Our perspective can defeat us, before we even venture out for the day. Jesus talked about our eyes many, many times. Let me quote just one example to illustrate our perspective.

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22,23)

It calls for great reflection on what we speak. Jesus said:

But those things which proceed out of the mouthcome from the heart, and they defile a man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Matthew 15:18-20)

Our vile words become agreements in the invisible world with everything bad and invite the destruction of darkness into our lives. On the other hand, agreements with the Word of God is a force for good and invite the Holy Spirit to work powerfully on our behalf to build up and restore.

In the light of this enlightened understanding about the power of words, hear the words your Jesus prayed for you.

Hear, precious Pebblepal, and live!

These verses are awesome. (John 17:9-19)

If we could ever grasp the full meaning of these words we will have a heavenly life on earth.

We are given to Jesus by God. The Holy Spirit moves in our hearts to come to Jesus. (John 6:37,44)

Through the disciples (including us), glory comes to Jesus. Our redeemed lives give Him glory. We are given a task, a commission. We lead the world back to God.

We are the instruments of God in action.

Does this not put your whole life in another perspective? Place your circumstances into heavenly perspective and “see” how God deals with it according to His plan and for His glorification.

Jesus offers complete joy even while He is warning them about the stark contrast that their lives will be to the world around them. It does not matter how fierce our struggle is, it is full of His joy.

Jesus claims that all that He has is his Father’s and all that his Father has, is His. He declares His oneness with the Father. Jesus is the incarnation of God Himself.

Jesus prays further for His disciples:

There is no escape from the world, but there is victory in every struggle. We do not bury ourselves in monasteries. We live our Christian life in the rough and tumble of life in the storm waters of evil. We do shut the door for prayer and meditation, but just to be strong to face the world.  We are not to withdraw, but to be God in action in the world. We do not get release from problems but get to solve them through Christ.

We do not abandon the world; we win it for Christ.

He prays for unity.

Division implies exclusivity. Unity is a decision. We cannot “feel” one. We are to be made one. We change our hearts to love unconditionally, to forgive and to include. We follow the lead of the Holy Spirit to discern the spirits, which could be demonic deception or discord.

The unity for which Jesus prayed is not administrative or organizational. It is a unity of personal relationship, love and a heart to heart conversation with Him – ongoing and inexhaustible that would impact our relationship with our fellow humans.

Churches as organized religion may differ as much as the variety of the people that God created. People are different and the differences and variety always amaze me. God’s creation – mankind – is always expanding and always more than can be understood in a single take. So is the church. Only love for God and each other can tear down the barriers of hostility between the denominations.

It is after all more human to be divided; more natural to be hostile. Our unity will prove God’s work in our hearts. True unity can only be supernatural and be explained supernaturally.

He prays for protection from attacks of evil.The Word, the Bible as we have it, spells out all the strategies of the devil. Our enemy is not creative and he comes cunningly with the same things over and over. Learn and know how to resist. Rely on the protection of this prayer.

He prays for consecration by truth.

Consecration (Greek=hagiazein) means separate or different:  to be set apart for a specific purpose, an appointment by God.

 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.(Jeremiah 1:5)

(See also Exodus 28:41 where Aaron’s sons are anointed)

It also means: to be equipped with the necessary qualities for the task.

Jesus will not leave us. He gives us everything we need to come into victory.

In John 17:20 – 26 the prayer progresses. He prays for Himself and the cross.

He prays for His disciples and for the distant future, the ages to come and all those who enter the Christian faith. This is US!

Jesus has complete faith and radiant certainty in the future. He conveys His unshaken confidence in His mission and His men. He knew they did not fully understand the full implication of their chosen path, but He knew His father would empower them for the task – and also all who come after them.

Jesus gives us God’s glory. WOW!

The cross was Jesus’ glory. It was His honour to suffer.  It was not punishment for sin. It is a great effort to bring glory into evil. When a surgeon saves by difficult surgery, his glory is so much bigger than a prescription in a consulting room.

Perfect obedience was Jesus’ glory. To do the will of God is our glory. Our will leads to sorrow and disaster. His will leads to victory.

Jesus’ glory was grounded in His special relationship with God the Father. It was clear to all. So should our glory shine from our relationship with God. Glory is a word with a fullness of meaning, difficult to express. It is the substantial or “heavy” honour, splendour, power, wealth, authority, magnificence, dignity, riches and excellency of God – an effort with words to describe the indescribable.

Jesus said that the disciples (us included) shall see His glory in heavenly places.

 …and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6,7)

 We share the Cross of suffering, but also share the glory of victory.

This is a faithful saying:

For if we died with Him,    We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,    We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,    He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,    He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
(2 Timothy 2:11,12)

Our joy now is just a glimpse of heavenly joy when we see Him face to face.

 Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

This prayer was the words before the betrayal and crucifixion. Precious last words of the greatest of men.

Words of glory and truth – words to live by – words to change us forever.

 

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109. And you? What do you have to say?

Talk is cheap, says the old saying. I know it refers to promises made in words and not kept in deeds. For me, it also implies the gossipy chatter about something or someone in the public domain; the safe talk of anonymity that could never commit any person to an opinion that might be quoted or published. Simply put, gossiping about someone famous.

Shakespeare was first to call a person a gossip, describing a person who delights in idle talk; also called a newsmonger or tattler. Very soon the word came to mean the talk about others as news in a small community almost always involved other people. Going so much further back than the times of Shakespeare, one can just imagine the talk in Judea. Maybe news travelled along the tell-a-woman-network, before the telegram or telephone and long before our cable news networks and smart phones with information overload today. The tell-a-woman-network was one of my dad’s favourite jokes.

Whatever we call the chatter, the babble, the prattle of people – it was alive and well in the first century and one of the most important news sources. No wonder Jesus was literally the “talk of the town”. There was just no escaping the lengthy conversations as well as the shorter “have you heard”-versions of any move He made.

People and their opinions were even more so during the times of Festivals. The Festival of the Tabernacles, mentioned here in John 7 took place at the end of September, beginning October, one of the three Fall festivals. Every adult male within a radius of 15 miles of Jerusalem was under obligation to go and all devout Jews from all over. The festival lasted eight days. Jesus’ brothers wanted to convince Him to go, but He was not doing anything He did not see fit for the moment.

He talks about “My time”. There are other places in John where he talks about time and uses the word ōra, which means God’s designated time. (John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:27). Such a time was not moveable or avoidable. Here He uses kairos, which means the opportune time, the best time, the fullness of time. He is saying this is not the time, which will give Him the best opportunity for what needs to be done.

So much of life is measured in time. It is luxury to have time off – literally. It gives us a few hours or days for relaxation. Our lives are truly “wound up” in time like old-fashioned clocks and “winding down” is what relax really means. We decide about time. Days are marked on the calendar for holiday, for birthdays, for weddings and other special occasions. That is our chronos time, countable time.

Jesus decides about His time on a much deeper level. His calling and ministry determines when He does something. He does not mark it on an earthly calendar. He lives according to God’s calendar – the best time (ōra). When God’s timing determines the outcome, it is in the fullness of time – kairos time.

Jesus goes to Jerusalem in His own time. He diligently attended the Festivals. He knew that everyone of them would be fulfilled in His life, death, resurrection and second coming. He went privately, avoiding public scrutiny by arriving late. By choosing His time and He will not be pressurized into anything He does not feel works the best for His mission.

This is important for our dedicated and full trusting relationship with our loving Father.

  • It is impossible to force the hand of Jesus. His disciples wanted Him to show what He can do in the greater Jerusalem. Jesus does not win people’s approval, but the people themselves. Jesus works God’s way.

 

  • It is impossible to treat Jesus with indifference. His brothers were in tune with the world and did not find it uncomfortable. Jesus’ life was a condemnation of the world and His presence would make a big difference in the ordinary ways of things.

In the next verses (7:10-13) various reactions and responses to Jesus are recorded.

  1. His brothers treat Him with tolerant contempt, almost mocking Him.

 

  1. The sheer hatred of the Pharisees and priests shows. Jesus eposes the rivalry between them. They are so desperate to unite against Jesus, they suddenly stand together. They loved their own systems and hated anything that could diminish their standing in society. The Sadducees were political. All the priests were Sadducees. They did not observe the Pharisaic rules. They collaborated with the Romans and lived very luxuriously. Their interests were much more important than God.

 

  1. The deep desire to eliminate Jesus (John 7:30,32) develops within the various groups. Every person can either submit or destroy. Christ is higher than anything else. Neutrality is not possible.

 

  1. An arrogant contempt for His teaching is expressed. Jesus had no right to lay down the law. He did not know the culture, no training in the rabbinic schools. They were academic snobs. We have to remember how many of the great poets, artists, writers and evangelists had no training at all. We never look down on training and studies, neither elevates it to superiority to save and redeem. It is not always the key.

 

  1. The reaction of the crowd is mixed. Some show interest (7:11) and some initiate discussion (7:12).

To argue the good and bad of a matter can shape your thoughts. Could a person progress from discussing to knowing? Religion can often be a matter of argument. There is an important difference between gossip and discussion.

What is gossip? Is it always negative? Maybe just that change of tone in the voice could make the tale your telling a lie. Do we always convey the words of others truthfully in the same spirit it was said? Difficult!

We should stay away from idle talk says Timothy (1:6) and Titus (1:10) and categorize the idle talkers with the deceivers.

Not everything we say about other people is necessarily bad. I have often complimented someone knowing that it will be repeated to that person. It was my way of showing appreciation for someone. Words could be so wonderful and encouraging, building up instead of breaking down. Please read James 3.

One of my favourite verses in the Bible is on talking about the Lord and the magnificent consequences of “good gossip”. A wonderful action by the Scribe of Heaven when the Lord listened in to a “good gossip” – for sure not idle talk, which is defined as foolish and irrelevant talk.

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
And the Lord listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the Lord
And who meditate on His name. (Malachi 3:16, also 17,18)

Let us go back to John 7 and look at the outcome of the discussion and the verdict. Some said:

  1. He is a good man (7:12). He was so much more than that.

 

  1. He is a prophet (7:40). A prophet says: God says. Jesus says: I say. Jesus was not acting in delegated authority. He was indeed God Himself.

 

  1. He is a deluded madman (7:20). He was either the only sane person or mad. He chose a cross over power. He was a suffering servant instead of a conquering king. He turned the world’s standards upside down. He brought supreme sanity into a mad world.

 

  1. He was a seducer. He was leading people away from true religion. He was accused of every crime against the religion of the day: Sabbath-breaker, glutton and drunkard, having disreputable friends and destroying orthodoxy.

 

  1. He was a man of courage (7:26). He defied convention and was different. He had the physical courage to bear pain. He had the courage to stay the course when people abandoned Him. When He entered Jerusalem triumphantly, He knew He was entering the lion’s den. He feared God so much; he never feared the face of any man.

 

  1. He had a most dynamic personality (7:46). He went into His arrest empty-handed. Power flowed from Him. His arresting contingent was more bewildered.

 

  1. He was Christ – the anointed One. It is a fact – plain and simple.

 

There were other reactions as well:

  1. The crowds reacted in fear (7:13). The word used for talking is literally “murmuring”. It was muttering, jumbled speech just like the grumbling of Israel in the desert. We should not be afraid to speak out.

 

  1. A certain number of the crowd believed (7:31). They could not deny the evidence. They overcame the prejudice and fear.

 

  1. Nicodemus defended Jesus (7:50). He was a lone voice. If we stand up for Jesus it is for our own strength, not for Him. God does not need us as His vindication. Our own testimonies as well as those of others strengthen us. When we talk about the Lord, our own spirit and soul benefit.

 

The words of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:

Listen, for I will speak of excellent things,
And from the opening of my lips will come right things;
For my mouth will speak truth;
Wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

All the words of my mouth are with righteousness;

Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.

 

Pray with me the words of the Psalmist (19:14):

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

 

 

 

 

 

40. How is your wall coming along?

Most conversations consist of sharing opinions; those personal conclusions we come to in the privacy of our own minds. Unconsciously and consciously we test our views against others or comments we read or listen to. The sharing and testing influence us and shape our thoughts. We grapple for solutions to put order in the chaos and bar the evil and destruction of a world in need.

World news so often shows the chaos and tragedy going on. Most people agree that we live in a world crying out for love, constructive politics, sharing and caring of resources and peace on every level of society – homes, communities and states. Nature cries out for our responsible actions. Every conservationist and every doctor in every hospital in the world, fight against evil to hold back the devastation threatening our existence. Every one of us that cleans up our dust, mud and pollution, fight against the garbage that defile our environment. On a psychological level we fight against the assault on our values and culture. In the media and even in the arts, our most core values in relationships, marriage, family and friends are being made ridiculous or unimportant.

It is clear that the enemy has an agenda, strategically hitting our mind and thought patterns to sow fear and frustration so that we miss out on the life of abundance that Jesus promised in John 10:10. A life of anxiety and depression is not His plan. He promises peace and joy and it is not possible to fake peace and act joyful when our hearts are heavy and our burdens painful to bear. Peace and joy are born deep within by the working of the Holy Spirit in our inner being. To the measure that we enjoy the peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), we live in abundance.

The sustained attack on our thoughts is part of the global wickedness that rules the cursed earth so that we would surrender to negativity and defeat. We are under the impression that all the negative thoughts we think are a product of our own twisted minds, but in actual fact they are thoughts sown by the enemy. Only when negative and defeatist thoughts are rooted in the fertile soil of unbelief, fear and hurt, they become our thought patterns and determine our decisions and opinions.

Evil seed can be discerned with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and should be rejected and discarded.

We change the nature of our mind -“soil” by faith in the promises of God. His Word, spoken into our hearts with revelational knowledge and a daily experience of the presence of our Father, equip us for building up our wall from the ruins of fear and doubt.

Just like the returning exiles many centuries ago, we cannot build the wall before the altar of personal worship and relationship with Jesus is in place and the Temple of good teaching and fellowship is restored. Only by emerging ourselves in the Word of God can we join Nehemiah’s teams to build with the trowel and the sword strapped around our hips, ready to build and fight.

I am amazed at the shameless abuse and open insults in the public domain these days, as if good manners and weighed words were buried with our grandparents. Performances in talent shows, business ideas of new entrepreneurs, game shows and even chefs in cooking competitions are humiliated and insulted, as if the general anger of our society is vented live on reality television. Speaking negativity and destruction is the new entertainment.

Pebble pal, life and death are in your words.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words. (Proverbs 18:21, NKJV)

James 3 paints a frightening picture of the power of the tongue and the evil, which it can breed. The full impact of this description should compel our hearts and minds into submission to the Holy Spirit to enable us to overcome our wicked words and speak victory.

 And the tongue is [in a sense] a fire, the very world of injustice and unrighteousness; the tongue is set among our members as that which contaminates the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life [the cycle of man’s existence], and is itself set on fire by hell. (James 3:6 Ampl)

Hear the Word of God, church, and listen, so that you will know how to speak words of life.

 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. (1 Peter 4:11, NIV)

See in your mind’s eye how your wall crumbles by your negativity and gossip. Go to the website http://www.biblegateway.com and type the word “tongue” into the search function. God’s word is clear on the standard of speech to live full lives in the fullness of God Himself.

So much of our life is a struggle to maintain our moral values. Gossip is entertaining – magazines full of it. Do you feel free to speak revenge over somebody who has offended you? Do you share the wave of wallowing in the failures of celebrities and prominent figures with a good dose of “schadenfreude”, condemnation and word slaying flowing freely as they are comfortably distant?

Do you talk like somebody who has been richly forgiven?

“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

You will cry for help, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

If you take away from your midst the yoke [of oppression],

The finger pointed in scorn [toward the oppressed or the godly], and [every form of] wicked (sinful, unjust) speech. (Isaiah 58:9, Ampl)

In the next chapter of Isaiah the warning comes again. (59:3, Ampl)

For your hands are defiled with blood

And your fingers with wickedness [with sin, with injustice, with wrongdoing];

Your lips have spoken lies,

Your tongue mutters wickedness.

I am convinced that a lying spirit is active in gossip and without conscious effort to relay the facts of the story accurately, our speech is prone to be negative, especially in anger and offence.

Nehemiah’s response to mocking and gossip is prayer and a confession of the truth. In chapter 6 Sanballat makes a serious accusation: (6:6)

It is reported among the [neighboring] nations, and Gashmu is saying that you and the Jews are planning to revolt, and that is the reason you are rebuilding the wall. And according to these reports, you are to be their king.

Although Sanballat invites Nehemiah to talk, Nehemiah declines to stop working, knowing that the work on the wall is of absolute importance and finishing the work is priority. Nehemiah’s answer is a mixture of speaking the truth and prayer. (6:8,9, NKJV)

“Such things as you are saying have not been done; you are inventing them in your own mind.”  For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, [O God,] strengthen my hands.

 It is of utmost importance to discern lies from truth and cling to the Truth that we have in the person of Jesus. (John 14:6, Msg)

Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life.

Only with the Father, through Jesus, will we be able to discern truth from lies and will be strong against the lies surrounding us. Jesus said that the whole world lies in the realm of the father of lies, the devil. (John 8:44)

Nehemiah prays to God to vent his revenge and anger – not really the calm, pious little prayer so often “expected” of a “good” Christian. God knows the turmoil in your heart! You do not need to hide the flaming hatred in your inner being from Him. Fall down and hit the floor in your secret place of prayer and get it all out. Read David’s prayer in Psalm 109.

Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders. Nehemiah 4:4,5, NKJV)

Listen carefully to his words – they have provoked You. I am a child of God and my Father will take on my enemies on my behalf. Nehemiah knows this and prays it out loud to build his faith. We are the apple of His eye.

For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. (Zechariah 2:8, NKJV)

Your enemies will be upset by your success (4:7); they will plan to attack and sow confusion (4:8). You will make your plans to set up armed fighters and watchmen to sound the alarm.

He made an inspiring speech to all the nobility, officials and people.

And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” (Nehemiah 4:14, NJKV)

This is “normal” for the rest of the project. Just do what it takes. (4:17,18)

Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.

We are living in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities of darkness and all its demons. We are clothed with Christ in baptism (Galatians 3:27) and filled with the Holy Spirit so that we are armed with His armour for every good fight, equipped with everything we need. (Ephesians 6:10-18). It is all the armour we need to defend our wall. We are not called to the struggle to take territory. All the territory possible was already taken by Christ on the cross. We need to defend what He has already given us. Praise God!

Let us speak out our victory which is guaranteed in Christ (Jude 24).