I love a day like today when I can sit in my red chair by my huge window looking at the frozen lake and snow capped mountains in the distance under a sunny blue sky for as long as I want. Day off - woohoo!
Remember last year in many posts here I wrote about themes that pop up in the Bible as we read it cover to cover? Can you handle more?
For 2017 I decided to start with the New Testament for something different. After all, in December we celebrate the first coming of Jesus to the earth, why not jump right into the narrative on his life? Well, as always, it is not disappointing. Reading the Bible never is.
Being a word nerd, I can't help but pick up on frequently used words. My favorites this time around are believe and describing how the eyewitness of Jesus' life and ministry repeatedly responded, astonished, amazed, marveled, astounded, adding beyond measure, greatly, utterly and exceedingly to really drive the point home. That's a lot of enthusiasm.
I may have no choice but to add the spiritual discipline of marveling to my New Year's list. If you don't know what I'm referring to, catch up here.
Well, I can get off track pretty quickly. Ahem.
Anyway, I just finished the book of John. I do believe I have found a favorite section of the Gospels - John 14-16. These three chapters are jammed full of important truths and promises God has made to us through Jesus. Want to have a little nerd fun with me? (This is where you go get a cup of coffee and plan to spend 20 minutes with me.)
Notice the repetition and intimacy in Jesus' words:
14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”...
12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you...
15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 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. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full...
15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours...
26 “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. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning...
16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
I know that was a lot. But did you see it too? The Father in Jesus, Jesus in us, the Spirit in the Father and Jesus, the Spirit in us. Mine. Yours. Ours. With you. Never leave you. Make our home with. In you...and on and on. Brings a song to mind, "We're all in this together....".*
God is not a far away God looking on from a distance, wishing us well, hoping we figure it out. No, He is close.
Tangled. He wants to be tangled up within us and has made it possible so many different ways. (study passage above) If we put our faith and trust in Jesus as the only Savior from our sins and hope for eternal life, we are all tangled up. Tangled up with the Father. Tangled up with Jesus. Tangled up with the Spirit. There are no gaps. No separations. I love the image of this so much.
Taking all this in a few words come to mind. Marvellous! Utterly and greatly amazing! Astounding beyond measure! I'm exceedingly astonished!
I've been tangled up in quite a bit of junk in my life. None of it offered this closeness. This intimate involvement. This love. It's everything you and I have dreamed of and longed for.
The Bible says everything God has He gives to us. Everything. We are joint-heirs with Jesus, our brother. The Spirit dwells within us to help by reminding us of everything Jesus has taught, to convict us of sin and to comfort us in our times of need (among many other things).
Confession. One of my pet peeves is when a fellow believer tells a great story of how God has shown up and then declares it a 'God thing'.
Based on the passages above, everything is a God thing. To God, the distinction between secular and sacred doesn't exist. He's in it all. For us.
Which once again makes Him trustworthy. Loving. Good.
If you already know Him, imagine in your mind how tangled up God wants to be in every area of your life. Don't compartmentalize what you think He is about or not interested in. He wants to be in all of you. Receive this reminder especially for you today.
If you don't know Him yet, I dare you to believe and get tangled up in the greatest love you'll ever know.
*(poor High School Musical reference)
And now, by special reader request, gratuitous grandbaby pitures.