Quarantine Devotions at Home

                                                                                                 May  16+17,  2020  — 5th  past Easter

JOHN 17:16-21

      They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.  As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

       I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 

ON  THE  SAME  PAGE

We will soon come together again  for worship!    Now,  imagine if  the first  hymn on that day  were  #200, the powerful  Easter hymn “I Know that My Redeemer Lives!”   But some were singing #100, some #300, some #400.    And those  actually singing the same hymn were singing different verses!  Plus the organist  played  yet another hymn, and the pastor was reading  aloud.   Chaos, absolute chaos!   How much spiritual benefit would  come from such a gathering??   Precious little.     That is the direction of our text for today.

            The setting  is the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.    He ate the Passover meal with His disciples.  At the end of the meal He took some of  the  unleavened bread and the grape wine  and  gave it to His disciples.   His words were clear.   Miraculously He gave them with the bread and the wine His body and His blood—to assure them that through Him  they had relief and pardon from their sins suffocating them to death.    He  drew them to Himself  with  rescuing love–each of them, to Himself  together with the others.    

            As a shepherd  prepares to leave his flock, as a teacher prepares to leave her students,   He was preparing and  concerned for His disciples.  He spoke most sincerely with them after the meal.  He told them that He would be leaving and going to the Father.   He told them that He would send them another Comforter, coach, adviser, the Holy Spirit.  He prayed to His Father  that they would remain one—in Him—all on the same page.

            He knew where they would  live—in the world—not the perfect and pure world of Eden, but the post-Eden  world,  where the devil with his lies parades as prince.   It is  a wicked and hard place.   At Noah’s time, of all the thousands or  millions of people populating the earth (remember lifespans were 700-, 800-, 900-years),  only eight were believers.   Only eight were  righteous by faith, trusting  God’s promise of the Serpent-Killer, the Satan-Crusher,  announced in Eden to Adam and Eve’s joy and relief.    At Abraham and Lot’s time,  Lot was besieged by the vile homosexual men of Sodom who wanted to teach him a lesson for daring to correct them.  Lot, Lot’s wife,  and their two daughters alone were spared from the city.     At Jeremiah’s time,  hard-hearted officials in Judah, despised Jeremiah’s  words from the Lord which proclaimed  that the Lord  would destroy Jerusalem,   They threw Jeremiah into a mucky cistern to die.  

Jesus’ disciples would likewise face such a world.   James died at Herod’s hands.  Peter was crucified.    They were persecuted and punished.   And what about you?   Jesus knows you live  in that same world.  How does it go when you  tell even a relative  that moving-in without marriage is not acceptable to  God,  in fact,  that sexual intimacy is for the  married only?   How does it go when you tell others that homosexuality is displeasing and a perversion,  before God?    How does it go when you inform  someone that  religion apart from Christ the crucified and risen  Son of God and Son of Man is a worthless religion and is displeasing to God?    This sinful world is a hard place to live with no ears for  the Truth.    Jesus also  prays for you.      

            What is His prayer?  What is His antidote?   How do you survive such treatment?    By immersing yourself in the Truth of God’s Word.    Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.   The way to recognize counterfeit money, I’ve been told,  is  to become thoroughly and repeatedly familiar with genuine money.    The way to combat the lies of Satan in this hard world is to turn to the Truth of Scripture often.   The  Truth of the Bible  is twofold—that  you indeed are a disappointment to God, you miss the target,  cross the line,  and do not  measure up;   BUT  God  in His mercy, sent His Son,  with whom He is One in heart and one in being, (yet separate—the mystery of the Trinity!)  to reconcile holy God to guilty man by being tormented for you.  

Do not let the world coax or entice you away from these Bible Truths.    Do not buy the world’s line that sin is ok.   Read the Bible.  Do not buy the world’s line that life is all about pleasure.    Read the Bible.  Do not buy the world’s line that lies are the way to get ahead..    Read the Bible.   Do not buy the world’s line that you are the victim.   Read the Bible.   Do not buy the world’s line, you’re “good with Him,”  if you’re a good person.   Do not buy the world’s line that all roads lead to God.   Do not buy the world’s line that  hell does not really exist, or the devil.    Do not buy the world’s line, that  Jesus simply  taught love, and that He did not really rise.

It is Christ and  the Bible-proclaiming-Christ that “sanctifies” you.  That makes you a saint before God!   To endure in this bleak world you need to be a saint. And the washing of Christ’s blood makes you a saint.   In Ephesians Paul writes to the “saints”  saying “ In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”  (Ephesians 1:7).   In Jesus, you have been redeemed,  freely bought back from condemnation and destruction.   Through faith in Jesus’  blood shed for you, you are sanctified and a saint.   You are holy as God is holy, as Adam and Eve were holy before sin. 

Some in the world will challenge you.   “How do you know your Book is Truth.  I say mine is.  Now, prove it!”    What do you say?   You can’t take a Bible into the lab and do a test on it to show them it is Almighty God’s Truth.    We read it and learn from it and let the Holy Spirit prove it in our hearts.  I mean, how do you know the sun is hot?   Because your parents told you?  Because you read it?     Go out and stand in it.   Let it warm you.   So with your challengers.   Invite them to read the Bible with you,  or with me.  Let its message work in their  heart.

Jesus knows that for you to make it in this unfriendly world, you need to be one with Him.   To be one with the Savior also means to be one with fellow believers in Christ.   That’s what a congregation is all about.   One encouraging the other,  children of God in Christ     Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching    (Hebrews 10:23-15).   It’s easy  for your heart to go astray from the Lord, when you are not bolstered by fellow Christians being refreshed in His Word.

If Jesus so clearly says we need to be one with Him as He is with the Father,  and that we need to be one with each other, why do we act so separatistic from other Christian church groups and denominations?    There is also another great Truth:  The  Savior  instructs us,  Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves  (Matthew 7:15).   What is false always works to erode the Truth.  That’s Satan’s game.   He is a liar and the father of it  (John 8:44).   Strive to cling to the Truth of God’s Word.   To “hold  hands” spiritually with others who do not teach  the same from Scripture, is not being  one with each other, or with Christ.   Christ is Truth.   He  instructs:  Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them (Romans 16:17)

It is sad that we cannot be one with all Christians, but on this earth we cannot.   On earth sin corrupts even in ourselves.  In heaven there will be no sin or lie or falsehood.   We will be one.   On earth  let us first  be one, in confession and in heart.   Then our worship and our lives before the Lord will be useful for us and for those who hear our witness, leading them to God’s Truth that He sent Christ to save sinners.     Then we will all be on the same page!      AMEN!