Thursday, May 4, 2017, 5:55 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 16 (quoting select vv. ESV).
Remember He Told Us (vv. 1-4)
“These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.”
Jesus had just finished telling his disciples that as he was hated, so they also would be hated by the world, meaning even by the worldly church, for it was the leaders in the temple of God who were Jesus’ fiercest opponents. And, they were the ones who put him to death on a cross. And we, too, will be hated if we are truly following the Lord Jesus, committed to him and to his Word (to truth), separate from the world of sin, and walking in His ways.
Yet, Jesus told his followers these truths, not to instill fear in their hearts, but to keep them from stumbling when the reality of what he had just told them finally came to fruition. For, opposition and persecution are not for the fainthearted. We have to be spiritually prepared to endure such a time as this. We must be certain of what we believe, standing on the truth, not compromising the gospel of our salvation, and be walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, or we won’t be prepared to stand when real persecution comes, which it has for many, and which it will for even more.
We, who stand on the Word of God, who do not compromise with the world, and who hold to the gospel, as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it, are presently on the firing line, even in America. For some time now, many pastors of local congregations, or those thinking of church planting, have been being trained in the ways of the world in how to grow their churches (businesses) through human marketing schemes and techniques. Many of them are being taught how to manipulate, lie, trick, and use gimmicks to draw in large numbers of people from the world into the meetings of the “church.” So, they are also being taught how to target certain people groups and how to discourage participation from those with “strong convictions.”
Basically, for those of us with such “strong convictions,” which come from God and from his Word of Truth, we are outcasts in many of today’s modern churches, which are being run just like businesses. And, some of us have already experienced being pushed out, forced out, or encouraged to “go someplace else” where we will be a “better fit” because we “don’t fit” within the framework of their human goals and objectives, i.e. with what their marketing books are teaching them they must do to grow their churches. And, I know, because my husband and I went through the training, because we were church planters, and because we tried many of these churches, so we learned first-hand how this is being played out in today’s modern church.
And, the hour is now upon us, in the world, where many are being killed for their faith in Christ, and by many of those who call themselves Christians, too. If you have followed the speeches of Obama, the Pope, and even some by Trump, and by many who call themselves ministers of the gospel, you will learn that their goal is to convince the Christian world to deny their Lord, to reject his gospel, and to adopt a false grace gospel and a false Jesus in their place. They want us all, across the globe, to join hands and hearts in singing “Kumbaya.” They want us all to put aside all which divides us as a people, which includes the gospel as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it. And, they want us to accept that all religions are viable, and that the gospel is nothing more than just doing “good deeds,” and that we should all be tolerant of everyone who is different from us, including being accepting of evil.
Grief Turned to Joy (vv. 20-22)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
For those who were followers of Jesus, when he walked this earth, it was a sad moment for them when he was crucified on a cross, a glad moment for them when he was resurrected from the dead, but then another sad time when he left them to return to the Father, but then a glad moment when he sent them the Holy Spirit to indwell, to comfort, to encourage and to empower them. And, it will even be the happiest of moments one day when he returns for us, his bride, and we will all be with him forever. Amen!
Here he encouraged them with these words, that even though they would weep, for a time, because of his death, their grief would be turned to joy when he was resurrected from the dead. Yet, his death had to take place in order that we might be saved from slavery to sin and be set free to walk in his righteousness and holiness. He had to die that we might have life, like a woman in labor must go through terrible pain in order that her child might have life. And, like the new mom is consoled in her pain by the birth of her child, so they would be consoled when they saw Jesus alive once more.
During this hour, which is now upon us, we will weep and lament, not just over the suffering of God’s holy people, but also over all the evil and wickedness and deception that is in the world. We will weep, too, for the deceived, and for those who have strayed from their pure devotion to Christ, and for the unsaved. And, we will pray for revival, and for hearts to be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (purified, made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18).
While we are weeping, though, the world will rejoice, yet not in the joy of the Lord, but in their own revelries and debaucheries. And, this is happening today. So many people think of life as mainly about being entertained continually, and so that is how they live their lives, for their own pleasure and enjoyment, and not for the pleasure of God. The sad reality is that many who call themselves Christians live just like this, too, so that it is barely distinguishable between the world and the church anymore.
Yet, the pain and suffering, and the weeping and grieving which we go through in this life has and will have its rewards. If we grieve and pray over people’s sins, and over the suffering of the saints of God, and we share with them the love, mercy, grace, righteousness and justice of Jesus Christ, we have the hope that many of them will one day turn their hearts to Jesus, or that they will return to their first love, their Lord, with pure devotion and with hearts that are true. There is always hope, and in that we can rejoice, that there will be fruit in people’s lives for our labors in the Lord. Amen! And, of course, we have the hope that one day Jesus will return for us and we will be with him forever, and our crying and pain will be no more.
Take Courage (vv. 31-33)
Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
In this context, Jesus was speaking of how, when he was to be arrested, that his followers would scatter, and they would leave him alone. Many today, who claim to be followers of Jesus, are also deserting him and are denying him by how they live their lives day in and day out, without much regard for him at all. Yet, as more and more of us separate from the world of sin, and we grow closer to our Lord, and in our commitments to stand on the Word of Truth, and to walk in his holiness, we, too, will be deserted (abandoned), and people will deny their relationships with us, and they may even betray us into the hands of those who will persecute and kill us. And, our betrayers may even be our own leaders, our friends or even family.
Yet, even if we are abandoned and betrayed by those who are supposed to love, protect and care for us, we are not alone, for our God will never leave us or forsake us. Amen! In addition to this, he is all powerful and he is absolutely sovereign over all that he has made, so nothing is going to happen to us but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose, to purify, strengthen, and mature us in our walks of faith, and to get us ready for his return and for the consummation of our marriage to him. So, even though we have, and will have even more so tribulation in this world, we can take courage, because our Lord has overcome the world. Amen!
O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go
George Matheson / Albert L. Peace
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.