Jesus’ Pre-Passion Prayer Pt3

Father, unity with others comes at a price. Unity with You comes at an even deeper price. Give us strength to sacrifice our pride, nailing it to the cross with Jesus. Give us the strength to die, to see with eyes of one looking back over their life as we draw our final breath, so that we might have eyes to see those things that would fill us with regret, and let us lay those sinful inclinations down to die so that we might live. Let us live in unity with You. Cleanse us, refine us and let us walk in Your glory through the sacrifice of Jesus. Amen.

John 17:20-26
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

This High Priestly prayer of Jesus is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of all of Scripture. Of all the gifts that God has given us in His Word, this shines out as a gem on the crown of the Gospel message. Jesus did not have to pray this prayer out loud, but He did, and He did it for our benefit. He speaks frankly with the Father, He speaks plainly for His disciples, and He speaks plainly for us. We see the desire of His heart, and we see our deep need for Him. And where we stand unworthy, He seeks simply to redeem us from our unworthiness.

Those days when we don’t feel worthy, when we don’t feel loved, lovable or worthwhile, Jesus calls out to us and says, “Listen to this! I asked God for you. I want you to believe in Me, and be drawn into this deep, abiding relationship with Me. You are worthwhile, and God will be glorified in this.” Because while it is ultimately all about God and His glory, we also see that God is glorified, and this pleases Him, when we walk in unity with the truth, and with Him. And this is what Jesus set about to do.

This relationship will stand as testimony to the whole world of His goodness, mercy, grace and loving-kindness. Your life and mine stand as a love letter, read out loud, just like this prayer was spoken out loud. God didn’t have to do things this way, but He chose to so that more and more might see and hear and be brought to salvation through Jesus Christ. He has made it known, and He will continue to make it known, because it glorifies God and it redeems us.

The world will reject us. They do not know Christ. Romans 3 reminds us:

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”


Even in the face of our sin, Jesus prayed this prayer. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. This is grace. This is the rhythm we walk in with Jesus as we seek unity, daily, with the Father, and the rhythm that brings joy into our lives. Let us pause, remember and seek His wisdom & glory for this day.

Father, unity with others comes at a price. Unity with You comes at an even deeper price. Give us strength to sacrifice our pride, nailing it to the cross with Jesus. Give us the strength to die, to see with eyes of one looking back over their life as we draw our final breath, so that we might have eyes to see those things that would fill us with regret, and let us lay those sinful inclinations down to die so that we might live. Let us live in unity with You. Cleanse us, refine us and let us walk in Your glory through the sacrifice of Jesus. Amen.

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Jesus’ Pre-Passion Prayer Pt.1

Father, with You there are places where distinctions exist for good reason & there are other places where You remove distinctions according to Your good will. When it comes to the distinction of being in the world, or being in unity with You, give us the strength & faith to be distinctly Yours & separate from the world. Let us all who are Yours walk in unity with You, with Christ as our only distinctive. Amen.

John 17:1-11
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,
since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

John 17 contains Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. It is a confession of deity & unity with the Father & a prayer of concern for unity within the people who would claim to walk in Him. This is a beautiful prayer of concern and it bears the stamp of the mission of Jesus Christ to save the lost for the glory of the Father. This is an evidence of the Trinity, and the relationship that God has with Himself, a direction toward eternity and the heart of God that exists there. There is depth and meaning and purpose in this prayer. There is mystery and wonder and praise in this prayer & I daresay that we cannot comprehend the whole of it.

So why does Jesus pray this mystery & praise out loud? Why does He speak of things that we cannot fully comprehend? Why give us this glimpse into the inner working of the heart of God? Well, whenever Jesus prays out loud, it is for our benefit. Every time.

The Lord’s Prayer? He was giving instruction on how to pray. The prayer over Lazarus at the tomb? Done totally and explicitly for our benefit (Jesus says so) so that we might see and hear what is going on. This prayer in John 17? This is a prayer of unity. And in the next section, Jesus is going to pray over all of us who would walk with Him from that time until He comes back. But before He prays about unity for us & over us, He prays to the Father and exhibits the unity that exists within the Godhead. He gives us an example of what He (God) desires to see within us (the Church) before He even prays about it. He is revealing the type of unity that exists between Himself so that we might catch a glimpse of the unity that should exist between us.

And why? Because God knew, before the church was even founded, that we would be prone to separate off into groups and cliques and teams of our own according to how we liked things, what our viewpoints were and how we would interpret scripture. And He didn’t want those distinctives to drive us apart like a wedge when His intention was that we would be united in Jesus Christ…the One who was praying unity over us to begin with.

Does ‘your’ church take communion every week? Do you worship in song with or without instruments, if yes, which ones do you use? Which are acceptable? What do you wear to church? What is the expectation? Does ‘your’ church family all look like you and live in the same racial/socio-economic bracket as you or not? What does ‘your’ church teach about baptism? The authority of Scripture? The marks of obedience and disciple-making? Do you all like pineapple on your pizza or not? We can draw lines all. day. long.

It is more important that people are brought to Christ so they might be restored to God than it is that I am seen as ‘right.’ We must trust in the truth & unity of the Gospel more than in the systems of man. As someone raised in the Restoration Movement, I have been raised with a few particular sayings:

  • We are not the only Christians, but Christians only.
  • In matters of doctrine, unity. In matters of opinion, liberty. In all things, love.
  • Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where it is silent, we are silent.

Jesus is praying for unity. We should pray for and actively seek unity.
If this is His heart (and it is) then it should be ours as well.
Do not seek to see what divides, but seek to see what unites.
Jesus also said that the world would know that we were His disciples by the love that we have for one another. Good doctrine is essential, absolutely, all day long, yes.
But we can also be like Priscilla & Acquilla were to Apollos and teach correction in love according to the Scriptures rather than draw a line in the sand and get defensive.Let’s lift up unity in Christ, and live it, as well.

Father, with You there are places where distinctions exist for good reason & there are other places where You remove distinctions according to Your good will. When it comes to the distinction of being in the world, or being in unity with You, give us the strength & faith to be distinctly Yours & separate from the world. Let us all who are Yours walk in unity with You, with Christ as our only distinctive. Amen.

God’s Plans & the Plans of Men

A brief Sunday morning devotional.

Lord God, we know full well that our ways are not Your ways, that we often take the beauty of what You intend and attempt to recreate it in our own image. Father, please forgive our broken motives, and draw our hearts toward correction in You. Only when we humbly bow & obey will we find true beauty, purpose and joy in You. Grant us Your grace again today, and give us strength to walk with our Master, Jesus. Amen,

Galatians 4:21-31
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
    break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
    than those of the one who has a husband.”

28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

We cannot seriously desire to trade the promises of God for the desires of our flesh. Yet, we hand over the eternal & holy for the temporary & twisted. We are given accounts like Abraham’s as a reminder of the consequences that come, the split allegiances that form, and the lives that are broken in the process. The life that attempts to pursue both God & personal desire is always going to deal with these problems. That is to say, we will all deal with these from time to time as our ability to follow God is still struggling with the desire to sin.

When we come to these daily crossroads, we need to remember that simple phrase that Paul uses here when speaking to the church in Galatia, “Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.” And we need to remember what that entails for us, and what He intends for us.

It is so easy to get caught up in the moment, and to struggle with those earthly pulls & influences. But God has something more, something better in mind for His children. We need to be intentional, take time daily, and bend our knee to the One who has paid the price for our salvation. A conscious surrender to Him is a conscious surrender to this better way, this simpler way, that honors God above self & promise over immediate gratification.

“So brothers, we are not children of the slave, but of the free woman.” We are heirs with Christ Jesus. Draw near to Him & leave the old ways behind.

Acts 3:11-26 // Seasons of Refreshing 

“11 While he was holding on to Peter and John, all the people, greatly amazed, ran toward them in what is called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Or why do you stare at us, as though we had made him walk by our own power or godliness? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you. 15 You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in His name, His name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.

17 And now, brothers, I know that you did it in ignorance, just as your leaders also did. 18 But what God predicted through the mouth of all the prophets — that His Messiah would suffer — He has fulfilled in this way. 19 Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah. 21 Heaven must welcome Him until the times of the restoration of all things, which God spoke about by the mouth of His holy prophets from the beginning. 22 Moses said:

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to Him in everything He will say to you. 23 And everyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from the people.”

24 In addition, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, have also announced these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring. 26 God raised up His Servant and sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”

Acts 3:11-26

Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah.”

This is the whole intent of this passage. Despite what they had just done, God still desires that they would be reconciled to Him. 

This is marvelous grace!  Even though they had been witnesses of Jesus’ ministry and still made the decision to have Him crucified, they were still being offered the chance to make things right with God. 

That is so far beyond what any of us would donor offer. That is so much more compassionate and loving than I have the capability to be…it boggles the mind. But  am thankful at the same time because I am a repeat offender myself, and in need of these seasons of refreshing. I need a refreshing this morning, and I’ll probably need another before the day is out. I don’t desire to sin to that I may be refreshed, that’s an abuse of God’s love. But I do need a refreshing from worry and doubt and fear and stress. That happens alongside of everything else. 

God’s sovereignty is a point of comfort just as much as His grace is for us. We can GoLove others in His Name in full confidence because of the refreshing He does in us. We should rest in Him, enjoying His mercies. We should trust in Him, and lay our burdens at His feet. We should run to Him, humbly confessing, and let Him do his good work in us so that He might be glorified and our hearts might be lightened. 

Psalm 99 // The King is Holy

“1 The Lord reigns! Let the peoples tremble.

He is enthroned above the cherubim.

Let the earth quake.

2 Yahweh is great in Zion;

He is exalted above all the peoples.

3 Let them praise Your great

and awe- inspiring name.

He is holy.

4 The mighty King loves justice.

You have established fairness;

You have administered justice

and righteousness in Jacob.

5 Exalt the Lord our God;

bow in worship at His footstool.

He is holy.

6 Moses and Aaron were among His priests;

Samuel also was among those calling on His name.

They called to Yahweh and He answered them.

7 He spoke to them in a pillar of cloud;

they kept His decrees and the statutes He gave them.

8 Lord our God, You answered them.

You were a forgiving God to them,

an avenger of their sinful actions.

9 Exalt the Lord our God;

bow in worship at His holy mountain,

for the Lord our God is holy.”

Psalm 96 // The King is Coming

“1 Sing a new song to the Lord;

sing to the Lord, all the earth.

2 Sing to Yahweh, praise His name;

proclaim His salvation from day to day.

3 Declare His glory among the nations,

His wonderful works among all peoples.

4 For the Lord is great and is highly praised;

He is feared above all gods.

5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols,

but the Lord made the heavens.

6 Splendor and majesty are before Him;

strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

7 Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples,

ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

8 Ascribe to Yahweh the glory of His name;

bring an offering and enter His courts.

9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness;

tremble before Him, all the earth.

10 Say among the nations: The Lord reigns.

The world is firmly established; it cannot be shaken.

He judges the peoples fairly.

11 Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;

let the sea and all that fills it resound.

12 Let the fields and everything in them exult.

Then all the trees of the forest will shout for joy

13 before the Lord, for He is coming —

for He is coming to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with righteousness

and the peoples with His faithfulness.”

Psalm 73:1-17 // Impressions of the wicked

“1 God is indeed good to Israel,
to the pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet almost slipped;
my steps nearly went astray.
3 For I envied the arrogant;
I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have an easy time until they die,
and their bodies are well fed.
5 They are not in trouble like others;
they are not afflicted like most people.
6 Therefore, pride is their necklace,
and violence covers them like a garment.
7 Their eyes bulge out from fatness;
the imaginations of their hearts run wild.
8 They mock, and they speak maliciously;
they arrogantly threaten oppression.
9 They set their mouths against heaven,
and their tongues strut across the earth.
10 Therefore His people turn to them
and drink in their overflowing words.
11 The wicked say, “How can God know?
Does the Most High know everything?”
12 Look at them — the wicked!
They are always at ease,
and they increase their wealth.
13 Did I purify my heart
and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?
14 For I am afflicted all day long
and punished every morning.
15 If I had decided to say these things aloud,
I would have betrayed Your people.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it seemed hopeless
17 until I entered Gods sanctuary.
Then I understood their destiny.”
Psalm 73:1-17

I understand Asaph’s concerns at the beginning of this psalm. In the remaining 11 verses, he is reminded of the fate of those who stand apart from God and what is in store for those who oppose Him. But here at the beginning, Asaph’s sees what so many of us see and struggle with.
It seems that the wicked receive no punishment for their deeds. They live life, fat & seemingly happy, content and even doing quite well for themselves. And while so many of us suffer in different ways, it seems like such a contradiction. Those who follow God, we think, should be the ones who see the good things of life and this world. We should be the ones sitting fat & happy while the wicked look on wondering what’s wrong with their lives. We want prosperity and ease to be the market of a life of faith.
And that’s our flesh talking. It is self-idolatry and self worship that fills our hearts and our concern is for our flesh and not the things of God.

The life and destination of the wicked is not an acceptable alternative to living for God and seeking His glory first. This life is not about us, neither is the one to come. Eternity with God is not going to be about us sitting at ease under a shade tree sipping iced tea and having snacks hand delivered to us by the Angels. That would mean that the focus of heaven would be on us, which is again self-idolatry and a desire for self-worship.
Everything is about God. Everything is pointed at Him. And if we see the wicked sitting apparently fat and happy, we can be very sure that their lives of self-worship are going to end in destruction because they placed flesh above spirit and lies above truth.
Their end, their ‘date’ is sealed unless they repent and turn to God.
That is one of our tasks as we GoLove in Jesus’ Name. We must open the Word, share the truth and point their hearts toward true worship and the real meaning of life. None of this is about us. Our highest calling is to honor God, glorifying Him above all, and showing others the way that leads to the salvation that He has provided for us in Christ. No earthly ‘pleasure’ should take precedence over that calling. Our greatest joys come when God is glorified.