As most all of you know Janet and I will be grandparents for the first time in about 2 months. Lauren and I were talking the other night about how unprepared she felt to raise a new baby. We agreed that it would be great if babies came with an instruction manual, but that simply isn’t the case.
I remember when Lauren was born, we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. Janet was really excited and pleased to have her Mom come up and help us. There were so many new situations and things we needed help with. We had so many questions and new things we were supposed to be doing that we weren’t sure about.
It sure was nice to have someone who knew what she was doing to help. I know each situation is different and I guess no one’s a real expert, but at least she had raised 3 children by this time and had experienced what we were going through.
As you can guess, Janet plans to be in Mt. Vernon when Lauren’s baby is born and has offered to stay for a week or so to help Lauren and Gady get started. She has offered her help in any way she can just like her mom offered her.
I know I miss my Dad being around. He taught me how to do lots of stuff but with some things I wanted his help. When it got time to replace brake pads on one of the cars, I felt a lot more comfortable if he was there to help me.
If you ever come to our house we have a nice large deck in our back yard. When our kids were younger we bought an above ground pool that backed up to the deck on the back of our house. Dad came up and we expanded this deck to go all the way around the pool.
We have since taken the pool out but I didn’t want to get rid of the deck. That is a piece of my Dad I have to hold on to. We turned the inside portion of the deck into a patio which is one of my favorite places to be during the warmer months.
We have a little water fall on one end, we have tables and chairs and a grill. I have a fire pit and benches. I even have a 50’ TV behind a glass wall to watch all my favorite ball games on. This is my ultimate ‘man cave’and I owe it largely to my Dad.
I loved being able to call on my Dad and having him come help me. We took on quite a few projects over the years.
***And why wouldn’t someone accept help when it’s made available to him?
We are about to take on some renovations in our bathrooms. I guarantee you if my dad were still around I would call on him to help me. I will be…
- Putting down new tile on the floor
- Pulling out old counter tops and sinks
- Hooking up the plumbing for the new counter tops
- Who knows, once we pull out the old counter tops we may have to do a little sheet rock repair and replace some of the molding.
I’ve never laid tile before. I think I can take out the old counter tops and hook up the plumbing, but what if I had someone who is in expert with these things offer to help me? Why in the world would I refuse his offer? Especially if he was offering to volunteer his help and wasn’t looking to get paid.
***Why would anyone refuse help from someone who could help them do something much better than they could by themselves?
Jesus knew He was going to be leaving earth soon. He began to prepare His disciples for this. But He actually told them it would be better for them if He did go away.
Jesus told His disciples that by His going away that He was going to send them a helper who could help them do things much better than they could ever do by themselves.
This didn’t make any sense to them. “How can you go away and be more help then you can here with us?” But He obviously knew what He was talking about.
***Turn with me to John 16 and let’s spend some time tonight looking at what He said to His disciples…
John 16:1 “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. (You’re about to be without me, your Leader, so listen up…) 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. (Does this sound familiar, today?) 4 I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.
(There were things Jesus needed them to know but knew they wouldn’t comprehend as long as He was physically with them.)
5 “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor (I actually like the wording in the NKJV better as it says, “I will send a Helper for you. So for our purpose tonight, let’s read “Counselor” as “Helper”.) (Unless I go, the Helper) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
I think frequently how I wish my Mom was still with me. She never saw my brother and sister even graduate high school. She never saw any of us graduate college. She never saw any of us get married and she never met any of her grandchildren.
That’s very sad to me.
Jesus wanted us to know that His death was different. Of course they wouldn’t be able to touch Him, or see Him. Of course they would miss Him, but from the beginning of time He was a Spiritual being. He only took on flesh for a limited time to teach them, to form a personal relationship with them, to die for them.
Now that He was leaving the earth and going back to the Father, things were actually going to be better for them. He wanted them to understand this should be a JOYFUL time for them.
The way He described things to them was that His body was leaving but He was sending them a ‘Helper’ back.
When they learned to know and trust the Helper they would be better off than before.
***Instead of having to have Jesus physically with them He would be with them Spiritually at all times. When not confined by a body He could be at all places at once. He could be helping one person in one place and someone else in a totally different place at the same time due to His Spiritual ‘Omnipresence’.
They were beginning to understand that Jesus was of God. He wanted them to know the Helper He was sending was as well. He would just continue on what Jesus had begun.
Now that He would no longer be limited to a body, He was unlimited in what He could do and where He could do it. He could help everyone at once.
8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Remember when Jesus was crucified and the rumor had it that He had resurrected? Thomas said, “I won’t believe it till I see it.”
I don’t think he felt any real conviction about this statement. It made sense to him. He knew Jesus had been crucified, how could He be alive again?
But then Jesus appeared to him and showed him the scars in His hands and side.
How do you think Thomas felt then? (Conviction, I’m sure.)
Peter denied Jesus three times, then Jesus looked him straight in the eyes. Conviction was great at this moment.
My point? The disciples didn’t feel seem to feel much conviction unless they were in the presence of Jesus.
Now that the HS was coming He would bring conviction to the whole world. He would be God’s presence in their lives as Jesus had been before. Jesus wouldn’t have to physically be there with them for them to feel conviction.
(That’s kind of a strange thought. Helper will help us feel conviction. Do we really want to feel conviction? Is that something we enjoy? We should.)
After Jesus left and the “Helper” came, there was a whole new conviction to preach the Gospel to everyone.
Acts 5:27 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guiltyof this man’s blood.”
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead-whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Let’s go back to John 16
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, (The Helper) comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
There was a time when they could only learn from Jesus when He was there teaching. They knew from experience how powerful the teaching of Jesus was. He spoke words from God. How would they be taught, now? The ‘Helper” would take care of that.
Now HS would speak and teach them the things of God without Jesus being physically present.
Jesus told them His words were from God…John 8:28
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.
Now if they (Us) will listen, the HS will continue to teach them (Us) the same things…the words of God.
Back to John 16
16 “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
17 Some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” (This is what Jesus was talking about. Even with Him teaching them they didn’t understand. After He would leave the “Helper” would help them understand the answers to their questions.)
19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. (They will think my crucifixion has ended their problems…) You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. (After I am resurrected) 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. (Joy often doesn’t come without pain. There is nothing more joyful than the birth of a new baby. It doesn’t come without pain. If we want the joy of Jesus, understand it will include pain.) 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, (The time you won’t understand and your hearts will break. The time I will be crucified…) but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. (A child asks lots of questions. As they get older and their comprehension becomes greater these questions diminish. As we become more in tune with HS our questions diminish. We learn to trust Him to do what is best for us. “What does He mean ‘in a little while’ will be answered, as well as all other questions if you will trust me…HS.) I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. (You don’t even know what that means, but soon you will.) Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
What did Jesus mean, “You haven’t asked for anything in my name?”
They were ignorant disciples following the teachings of a great teacher that really didn’t have a clue about the ‘big picture’.
That time was soon to be ending. He was leaving and they were going to be exposed to another ‘Helper’. They would see the miracle of His resurrection and then the“Helper” would come and teach them all they needed to know. He was going to be available to everyone, everywhere, at all times, to do all things.
***Paul was one of the very ones that experienced the HS in his life. His life was changed greatly in one moment of exposure.
Paul would teach us how to experience the same kind of life for ourselves.
1 Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil. NIV
Let’s look a little closer…
If you are like me you would certainly need help accomplishing this. I could never do these things on my own.
The “Helper” that Jesus was talking about will help us… 1 Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always; (How can this possibly happen? Everyone is going to experience sorrow in their lives from time to time. Of course we are, but even in the midst of sorrow there can be joy. Joy comes from knowing God lives within us and will walk with us ‘through the valley of the shadow of death.’ He will ‘never leave us or forsake us.’ God, through His HS, the Helper, is with us at all times.) 17 pray continually; (We’re gonna come back to this one.) 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (This is back to the questions thing again. Every circumstance in our lives has at least passed through God’s filter. (Remember Job?) Nothing that happens to us catches God by surprise and is intended by Him to be used to draw us closer to Him. Don’t ask ‘why’ would a loving God allow this to happen to me? If you have to ask anything ask, ‘How do you plan to use this to draw me closer to You?’ It’s best not to ask questions of God, just trust Him. We may still not understand, but we can be assured that whatever it is, it is God’s will for us. It can be used to draw us closer if we will trust Him through it and not run from Him.) 19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; (At times what He is taking us through may not seem pleasant or may not make sense. Trust Him anyway. Don’t run away, run toward Him. Trust Him to work good in every situation. He is at work, His fire is burning, don’t put it out by refusing Him.) 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. (Prophesies, words from God. Don’t question them, trust them, live by them.) 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil. (How do we know what is good? It must line up with Scripture, it is spoken to us in ‘one on one time’ alone with God. If that’s not the case, avoid it. If it’s not of God it is evil.)
Now, let’s go back to verse 17. “Pray without ceasing…pray continually.
Does that mean we are supposed to go through life on our knees?
We tend to see ‘prayer’ as a time when we talk to God. That is prayer. No matter what else is going on around us we can talk to God about it.
We need to be sure we are following Jesus’ example and spending time alone with God and talking to Him. We must be sure we are listening and not letting the noise of the world conflict with what God is wanting to say.
We have the honor and privilege of talking with God any time we choose. We can take anything to Him at any time and learn from His response to us.
But prayer is much more.
Let’s define prayer as ‘communication with God’.
We have the privilege of stopping at any time in any place and calling on Him. We can call on Him about anything at any time and He will listen and respond.
Remember the idea of God’s Spirit ‘hovering’ over the face of the earth from Genesis 1:1?
He’s there for us at all times, anywhere we are, wanting to interact with us, while not forcing Himself on us.
Most of us have the concept of prayer that we can ask of Him at any time, in any place. We can pause at any moment of the day and ask of Him.
That is correct but it is also short of what He wants us to understand.
Prayer is our being able to go to the Father at any time about anything, but be careful. Prayer is not just us talking, we have to be listening as well.
It is COMMUNICATION with God.
And why should we always be the one to initiate the conversation?
He is there for us everywhere at any time? We call on Him and He comes to help.
But He is also there to speak to us at anytime, anywhere. When He needs to call on us to be involved in His work we need to be in tune with Him as well.
Prayer is more than being able to call on Him. It is also hearing Him call out to us…
It’s good to be assured He is there at any time we call out.
But what about the times He does the calling out?
If every circumstance in life is to bring us closer to God, wouldn’t we need direction (Help) knowing how?
What if my life is to be having an impact on someone else’s? What if He’s calling me to do something out of the norm, outside common sense?
I must be listening at all times to get it right.
“Pray without ceasing” is as much about listening as it is about being able to call out.
In communication, I have the right to speak out at any time… but so does He. And I MUST be listening as He speaks for communication to happen.
John 16:25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” (You asked me to teach you to pray. You have the right as a friend of God to speak directly to Him. I don’t have to pray for you. The Helper will help you know how.)
29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. (If we will listen and believe, that is enough.) This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “You believe at last!” Jesus answered. 32 “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. (After my crucifixion.) You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
It’s good to have a helper, someone who can help you do things better than you could alone.
Jesus helped the poor ignorant disciples become the very men God entrusted the furtherance of His kingdomto. But Jesus wasn’t meant to be physically with them for all times. The plan was for Him to teach and to leave.
But He also sent them a helper after He left. Someone to help all of them at the same time no matter where they were.
That same helper is here for us today.
- He teaches us
- He convicts us and helps us know right from wrong, how to get closer to God.
- He is here to help us every step of the way.
- We can call on Him at any time for help.
- We need to learn to spend private time with Him to learn how to get closer to God.
- But we must also understand that He is here to speak to us at any time He chooses as well.
- Pray without ceasing…be available tohear His voice at any time He chooses to speak to you.
- Understand you don’t get to initiate all the conversation, He will choose to speak to you as well as you speak to Him.
- Praying without ceasing is how He lets us know how He wants to use us in the lives of others.
- We will experience trouble in this world, but realize we are never alone. Jesus could only be in one place at a time, but the Helper is with all of us at once, no matter where we are and no matter what it is He is calling us to do.
- Listen, trust, respond.
Invitation: Do I understand HS is Jesus in my life? Do I let Him help me? He can do things much better than I can myself. I can call on Him any time I choose.
But I must be available any time HE chooses as well.
I am never alone. Call out at any time. Listen at all times for His voice as well.