Friday 27th May 2022

JOHN 17

Now we are eavesdropping on a private conversation between Jesus and his Father.  The Holy Spirit – through scripture – draws back the curtain and reveals to us some of the secrets that the Old Testament kings and prophets would have given anything to learn.  Within an obvious face-to-face, person-to-person relationship, the overriding sense is of the unity of the Godhead; the Father and the Son are one

In verse 2, Jesus has authority over all people, in order to give eternal life to those people ‘given to him’ by the Father.  And what is eternal life?  v3. It is knowing God and knowing Jesus.  That is the purpose of our creation and our salvation.  Before Jesus first came to earth, born as a baby to become a man, he had great glory with his Father in heaven.  The kinds of scenes we read about in passages like Isaiah 6 are really visions of the pre-incarnate Christ.  Jesus now prays that he will again have that same glory in God’s presence that he once had.  Having first prayed for himself, he now prays for two distinct groups of people…

He prays for those first disciples – the Eleven – and acknowledges that their inclusion was not a random event, nor even the choice of the disciples themselves, but rather by God’s choice, operating through faith.  “Children born, not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” – as John has previously described in 1:13.  God chose them and gave them to Jesus, in order that they might obey him.  An obey him, they did!  Notice how, in verse 9, Jesus reveals that he prays for them (and by extension, for us) simply because these disciples are God’s and have been given to Jesus.  The prayer is for their/our protection from the Evil One and for them to be kept safe and never lost again.  Judas was the one named exception to this.  Verse 17: “Set them apart by your word of truth”.  As we hear and understand the word of truth, and then obey it, we are kept secure as God’s “Special Ones”, fit to rule and govern on his behalf in this world.

And he goes on (20 to 26) to pray for all of us who are believers – present and future – specifically that we all may be united as closely as Jesus and God the Father are united.  This great unity of Christ’s future bride is a matter of huge importance for the church.  We can, and should, all pray for the unity of believers worldwide and in our local churches; that is a prayer that is 100% in the expressed will of God.  We are also to be joined to God and to be full of his glory.  When that happens, when a church is completely united, then the world will know that we are loved by God.  Then we will be where he is and we will see his glory, given him before the world’s creation.  And he will live his mighty loving life through our lives, as we allow him.  It is really very simple, if you think about it!  “Where brothers dwell together in unity, there God pours out his blessing”!  (Psalm 133).

1 SAMUEL 18, 19 and 20

Jealousy!  When this dubious quality resides in your heart, it charges you very high ‘appearance fees’ and never lives up to its promises either.  Saul discovered this to his cost.  Things started so well after the battle, and Saul, Jonathan and David were all one happy family.  David lived permanently at Saul’s court and became such good friends with Jonathan, and so close to him in spirit, that they made a covenant with one another – you could say that they became soulmates.  David and Jonathan went off to battle and were wildly successful in all they did.  David’s military prowess made him the most popular man in the land and soon the ladies were publicly singing his praises – rather too loudly for Saul’s liking!  And from that point, a spirit of jealousy came on Saul and plagued him throughout the rest of his life.  Normally, David’s lyre-playing had a calming effect, but this time it provoked Saul into rages, plus at least two attempts on David’s life.  Seeing how God was with David in every aspect of his life, made Saul afraid of David too.

If we permit jealousy, bitterness, or rebellion to take root in our lives, we too leave ourselves wide open to invasion and attack by evil spirits, which will then magnify those qualities and make us behave irrationally and unreasonably.  If the very thought of someone makes you fall into a rage or act strangely, then you need help from some gifted and experienced men and women of God.  Saul so resented the apparently effortless way that David walked with the Holy Spirit and was used so effectively by Him, that he became insanely jealous, afraid, and threatened.  We, too, can become jealous and irrational towards anointed men or women of God, just because they are in a position of authority and just because the Lord is using them for his glory.  There is only one way to break the vicious circle of anger and that is to confess your sins of jealous resentment to the person themselves, to ask for God’s forgiveness, and to repent, to change your mind about your future actions.  Confession, as James 5 tells us, leads to healing.

Saul – with impure motives – gave his beautiful daughter, Michal, to David as his wife; the only bride-price required was a hundred Philistine foreskins.  These unfortunate enemy warriors could have saved their own lives if they had done a deal with David and agreed to be circumcised – but David the warrior took them by force.  In fact, he paid Saul double the original price by killing two hundred Philistines.  It is amusing to speculate how the bride-price was actually checked; do you suppose that David demanded some kind of ‘receipt’!  Anyway, Saul’s original purpose of achieving David’s death in the process of accomplishing this goal was thwarted.

Jonathan argued for a long time with his father, to get him to see sense about David and, for a while, Saul agreed, making an oath before the Lord that had all the resilience of tissue paper!  Only a short time later, Saul was attacking David with his spear again; once an evil spirit gets a grip on your life, it forms ingrained habits that you revert to in times of fatigue, weakness, or extreme provocation.  Only specialist deliverance, followed by supervised discipline can usually shift such an influence.  David realized that he now had to flee Saul’s presence and he made good his escape with the help of his wife.  The situation went from bad to worse, until Saul could not stand the sight or sound of David; he even attacked his own son for taking David’s side.  So Jonathan realized that his dearest friend had to leave court for good and, by a covert method of signalling, informed David of the blunt truth.

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