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Friday, December 21, 2012

The Terms of The New Covenant Part 10 - The Love of God

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

John 15:21 There is no greater expression of the love of God than gift of His Son which we celebrate at Christmas.

John tells us that God is love (1 Jn 4:8). I'm sure most of us don't grasp quite what that verse is saying. It is not talking about the God who loves, but the God who is love.

Love is at the core of His nature. He cannot help but love us.

This is not an abstract concept. It is more than something we know about. For those who show their love for the Lord Jesus by being obedient to the terms of the New Covenant, there is a revelation of the experiential love of God.

In John 15:21 Jesus promises to show Himself to us. Since He is God in bodily form (Col 2:9), He is love in bodily form and any revelation of Him will be a revelation of love

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph 3:17-19

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Terms of The New Covenant Part 9 - The Holy Spirit

If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father - the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. John 15:26

The promise of the Holy Spirit to those who are included in the New Covenant is so precious. The Greek term translated advocate above is parakletos meaning he who comes alongside. It can also be translated comforter or helper. Without the Holy Spirit we could not live the Christian life or fulfil our side of the Covenant.

The Ministry Of The Holy Spirit
These verses tell us a lot about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. Simply meditating on these will bring us great comfort and joy.
  1. Jesus asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit to us. Here is a beautiful example of the Trinity working together for our benefit.
  2. He will help us. Sometimes it may feel that the whole world is against us. But the Holy Spirit is always on our side.
  3. He will be with us forever. He is not some fair-weather friend who only hangs around when we are doing well. Despite our weaknesses and failings He is always there closer even than our own breath.
  4. He is not a stranger to us but a familiar companion.
  5. As the Spirit of truth He will not lie to us or deceive us.
  6. He will be our teacher. We need not worry about being led astray as long as we look to the Holy Spirit to open up the Bible to us and do not rely too heavily on human teachers for He will always speak of Jesus.
  7. He will bring to our minds the words of Jesus as we need them.
The Gift Of The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is given to us as a gift. He is the present who is always present.

In an era where much emphasis has been placed on the other gifts which may accompany the Holy Spirit it is important that we do not make the mistake of valuing those gifts above the giver.

Signs and wonders, or even fruit, which are byproducts of His ministry should not distract us from the wonders of this precious friend in our lives. They are baubles on a Christmas tree compared with Emmanuel, God with us in the person of the Holy Spirit of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Terms of The New Covenant Part 8 – Whatever You Ask

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:13-14

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 15:7

In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:23-24

Some people take these verses to mean that they can have whatever they want. They treat God like a giant vending machine. As long as the prayer goes in the slot they can choose whatever tit-bit takes their fancy. Answered prayer is one of the terms of the New Covenant, but there are conditions attached.

In The Name of Jesus
In John 14 the condition is that we ask in the name of Jesus.

That does not mean simply tacking "in the name of Jesus" to the end of our prayer.

To do something in the name of another is to act on their behalf, such as a police officer acting on behalf of the law or an executor carrying out the requests of a deceased person.

So, to ask in the name of Jesus is to ask according to His will. We need to find out what Jesus wants. When we pray in line with His will, our prayers will be answered.

In Line With The Words of Jesus 
In John 15 the condition is that we remain in Jesus and His words remain in us.

This is how we know what the will of Jesus is - we get as close to Him as we can and we fill ourselves up with His word. In simple terms, we fellowship with Him in prayer and we spend time reading the Bible.

The apostle Paul put it this way:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Rom 12:2

Kingdom First 
In fact, the words of Jesus are very clear:

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matt 6:31-34

Prioritise the extension of the kingdom of God and pursue righteousness. These are the chief things for which Jesus would have us pray.

The purpose of prayer is not to see our desires met, but God's plans fulfilled.