Posts Tagged ‘John 17’

Free of Guilt—Prayed for by God

Saturday: Day 4 of Lent

Free of Guilt—Prayed for by God

I don’t know where the Spirit is leading me this Lent, but it is starting out with a very serious departure from my previous seasons of penance, contrition, and somberness. I have several devotional books that have been labeled specifically for Lent and I’m following the Daily Scripture readings from the Book of Common Prayer, providing evidence to me that I have not subconsciously planned or contrived the direction my heart is drawn.  I will continue my practices and devotion, and follow where God leads.

I began my morning with reflection on Psalm 30 and 32. I came away from that reflection with the following as my prayer:

I will exalt you, LORD, for you rescued me—you restored my health, and brought me up from the grave. O LORD, you have kept me from falling into the pit of death. Weeping and my tears may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. You are the morning, my LORD, You are the Bright and Morning Star! You are my Joy! The Bringer of Light and the Giver of Life! You have turned my mourning into a morning of joy-filled dancing! I will sing joyful praises to you and not be silent. O LORD, my God, I will give thanks to you forever. (Personalized from my heart from Psalm 30)

My disobedience is forgiven. My sin is put out of sight. The LORD has cleared my guilt. He forgave me! All my guilt is gone! I will give thanks to you, My God and King, I will praise you forever! (Personalized from my heart from Psalm 32)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything… God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7 NLT)

The past three days, the Gospel reading has come from John 17. This passage of Scripture is among the most influential passages found in the whole Bible for the context of my spiritual development and continues to be one of the most formative passages of Scripture no matter how many times that I read it. There is something mysterious and divine about the energy that soaks into my soul each time I encounter Christ Jesus, the Living God, through this text. It is the prayer of Jesus, perhaps that is part of its mystery. I find this prayer always challenging and always inspiring. The promise and intercessory petition of God (Jesus) for us, his disciples, is mind-blowing.

Excerpted from John 17:9-26

My prayer is for those you have given me… Protect them, so they will be united just as we are… Keep them safe from the evil one. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. I am praying not only for these disciples, but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message—I have given them the glory you gave me. I pray they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. I am in them and you are in me…May the world know you love them as much as you love me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so…

Simply an amazing passage of Scripture. This, prayer of Jesus, is this God praying to God… himself? And praying for humanity, not only for his immediate disciples, but all those who will believe in him/Jesus through their message. Yes, that will make me inclusive in that prayer!!! One of the things that I find so moving about this prayer is how it reveals the heart of God in it. Jesus says as much; “I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so…” (John 17:26). It seems safe, then, to me, to assume that what is happening in this narrative account  of Jesus in the Garden is Jesus revealing God the Father, his heart for us, the loved ones who will follow him and believe in him.

I am so grateful for this “reveal” of God to me… it seems fitting for this season of my life. The “Type-A” personality I am, I can often be tempted to guilt over performance issues where I feel I am not ready, studying, writing, or praying enough (as far as Christian disciplines go). I sometimes feel my thoughts are dark, evil, and unholy… There is no shortage  of stuff that can bring me down and I can be tempted by the darkness and doubt to accept a false image of God—not unlike the false image  that was offered to Adam and Eve during their Garden Temptation, which they ultimately accepted. I can see where that has brought us. I don’t want that image or the catastrophe it brings; no thanks!

What I continue to learn and constantly affirmed is that the Father is far more loving that I can ever imagine. And this loving Father, according to the prayer of Jesus, loves me as much as he loves the Only Begotten Son (John 17:23). Out of this world AMAZING. How can I not praise HIM!!! How can my heart not be joy-dancing-Glad!??!

Here is what my heart sings today:

I am flesh, but I am Divine because Christ is in me.

I am mortal, but my soul is immortal, promised by God to be with Him forever.

I am broken, but in the process of being restored.

I was the son of Adam, but now am the adopted son of God through the Son of God

Glory be to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Easter is Coming – What Do We Hunger and Thirst For?

Easter is Coming – What Do We Hunger and Thirst For? 

The season of Lent to Easter is an active reminder to me of what my soul hungers and thirsts for, unbroken or untainted union and fellowship with the Godhead. As I reflect upon the death and resurrection of my Lord, I mourn over the brokenness of my own spirit. There is joy in my life, to be sure; however, my union with God through Christ is still impure and still wanting. I see the world around me in disarray. The changing cycles of the seasons: spring to summer—autumn to winter are reminders of the circle of life to death that I believe may have been unheard of before the Fall of Man. I am also reminded of the Revelation writing of John; “Nothing accursed will be found there any more… And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:3, 5) when I am awakened each morning and I witness the dawn sun chasing away the darkness of night to remember this too is a sign the world (and I) are still broken. These thoughts remind me of how deep the brokenness of man truly is. Resurrection is the hope for the end all brokenness and this is my hunger.

I am joyful for the gift of God’s Holy Spirit indwelling; my mind has been renewed, my heart changed, and my sins forgiven. All these things are true, but the memories of my past still haunt me and my sins, while forgiven, still remain as scars that remind me of not only how far I once was from God, but how far I still am from him. I rejoice at my reconciliation with Messiah Jesus, but my rejoicing remains bittersweet. I wonder how it might have been for Adam, before his fellowship with the Godhead was broken. According to the Genesis account, Adam would have had no memories of sin… no knowledge of good and evil. The concept of corruption was nonexistent. Adam’s fellowship with God was untainted; allowing for unquestioned trust, love that was pure, and sacred union with the Trinity free from shadows of the false selves. I thirst for this union.

I realize the significance of Jesus’ atoning work for mankind; I receive the fruit of this work in my own life through the merciful grace of God. Daily are the wonders of this renewing force in the outworking of my life; even still there remains the tension between what is and what is yet to be. I hunger for resurrection. I thirst for untainted union with God. As Jesus prayed for us—for me—I long to be in glorious communion with Him as it was always meant to be even before time existed.

20 ”My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23 NIV)

I long for the Kingdom of God in full because I know when this comes, the memories of all sin will be forever erased and my union with Jesus finally whole and untainted. For now, I will continue to live between the clay and the glory…some days closer to the dirt from which I was made and some days closer to the glory that gave me life. Perhaps this is part of what Jesus meant when he pronounced blessing on those who are “poor in spirit” and those who are “pure in heart” that we recognize the liminality of our existence while we wait…realizing our brokenness, even though reconciled, and willing one thing: to be absolute and complete in our holy unity with You, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning and so shall it ever be; world without end. Amen.

The First Time

Sunday night reflections:

I’m still somewhat at a loss for words; today was special…for many reasons. Reason number one was our first Sunday worship gathering of Trinity Community Church took place today. We had fourteen souls present to raise unified hearts, hands, minds, and voices to praise, worship, reflect upon, and glorify the One True God in the person of Jesus Christ. And, it was a wonderfully beautiful and incredibly special time. Reason two, very much akin to reason one, was the mysterious experience of partnering with the Trinity. God is present with us…all of us, but there is something very mysterious and very special when people come together with the express purpose and intent to elevate the name of God. I won’t speak for the rest of my community’s experience today, but I sensed something very wonderful. I sensed an intimacy and bonding taking place that I had previously not experienced in our times together. I am convinced that the Spirit was knitting us together in a fashion that will prepare us for this next chapter that has begun today for the church community known as TCC Olympia. I am excited… my heart is giddy, bubbly, and freshly inspired. I enjoyed every moment of our time together today; there was something raw and real about our worship that I have missed for a long time now. God’s Presence was sweet and affirming. I look forward to where He will lead us in the coming weeks, months, and more… I am hopeful that we will help make His name great in this community of Olympia, WA.

“I have revealed you to the world…” (John 17:6) –God was, and is, found in the person of Jesus Christ. Our reminder is that the entire human community needs to know the love and the hope found in Him. Jesus prayed that we would be unified in the same fashion and manner as He was—with humanity and the Godhead, so the world might see Him and know Him through us and our acts of love. (John 17; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

A few other reasons that I really enjoyed today was hearing how God is being recognized in the lives of some of my new family. Not only am I privileged to hear how they are relating to the Godhead in their daily lives, I am blessed to hear the Spirit of God in them speak to me, nurturing me, and teaching me about His ways. It is the mystery of the Incarnation making Himself known through His children and through His Bride, the Church… Trinity Community Church – Olympia is His Church and part of the larger body that is His Bride. I am speechless at the thought, humbled with the reality, and flat-out blown away with the glimpses of potential for the things God might have planned for this group of people and their role in advancing His kingdom. Awesome.

So I offer a thanksgiving prayer and a prayer of blessing and hope:

Lord, God of all Creation, may Your Indwelling Spirit be our guide and comfort. Help us, O Lord, that our fragile attentions may not be distracted from Your working in and through the daily situations and circumstances that surround us. Mighty God, You have entrusted the mysteries of Your kingdom to us, Your people… You have extended the privilege and the glorious opportunity to partner with You in this, Your Redemptive Work, of reconciling and restoring Your fallen children and broken world.  I pray, You, O God, will continue to empower us, guide us, and teach us the ways to best reach those who are still far from You. May we always be hungry to know You more and conscious of whose Image we reflect. May You always be glorified, Most High God. Amen.

“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one…” Jesus (John 17:22)

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