Hold On, Help Is Coming

When people hate us and treat us unkindly or cause us pain and grief just because we profess to follow Jesus, it can be overwhelming. I think part of what makes it so difficult is that we often find the greatest challenge from religious people who are convinced that, because we don’t see things the same way as they do, we are absolutely wrong, absolutely against the kingdom of God.

At the end of John 15, we see Jesus assuring His followers that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, was surely going to come and live within them. He would bring to mind all that Jesus had taught them and guide them in every step—even when the opposition was overwhelming.(15.26-27)

But (even though there is a chapter break there, which was added by well-intentioned editors to help us find things) Jesus underscores His intention in telling them these things:

I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.(16.1-4)

Jesus reminded His disciples that He was sending the Spirit so that they would not fall away and abandon the cause.(1) They would likely be ostracized from the center of religious and civic life (for indeed they were one and the same).(2a) People would even try to kill them with the firm belief that they were serving God by doing so.(2b)

Jesus goes to the root of the issue with these religiously zealous people. They did not really know the God they professed to serve. And because they did not know God the Father, they could not recognize the God the Son, Jesus.(3)

But Jesus was trying to equip them for what was ahead. He was preparing them for the hard days when those religious zealots would seem to be victorious over them.(4)

He reminded them that the Helper was coming. He was urging them not to let their fear pull them away from His call.

He told them to hold on.

Help is coming.

So you and I can take the same word, the same encouragement. Hold on. Help is coming. In fact, He is here, within the hearts of all who have believed on Jesus, bringing the very help we need.

It’s not always the way we want it. It’s not always the way we think it should be. But hold on. Help is coming.

I want to encourage you today. It you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, would you take a couple of minutes and listen to this song of encouragement?

Hold on, my friend. Help is coming.

The Haters Will Hate, But You’re Not Alone

Have you ever been hated simply because you were connected to someone important? I’ve seen it happen to teachers’ kids or the families of police officers or other public personalities.

We can only imagine what it must have been like to be one of Jesus’ inner circle of followers, a leader in HIs ministry, when Jesus left them. The same people that made it their mission to send Jesus to the cross were no less determined to silence His followers.

In John 15, we find Jesus’ teaching on this predictable behavior.

[Read John 15.18-27]

This is one of those places where Jesus used the word, “if,” but probably meant “when.” It’s almost inevitable that, if we are genuinely loving and serving people in Jesus’ name, someone is going to hate us for it. The really sad part is that this will most come from other religious people.

He assures them that the world’s hatred for them would come because of their hatred for Him.(18) He reminds them that it’s our nature to have animosity toward those who are starkly different from us.(19a) The fact that Jesus chose them to be His would just fuel that animosity.(19b)

He imparts an important principle:

Remember the word that I said to you: “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.(20-21)

Jesus was trying to prepare His followers for the reality that there would be people who were just angry with them because they were angry with Him. Today we would simply say, “Haters gonna hate.” It’s true. The haters will hate.

He went on to explain that His coming and His teaching were bringing a great accountability to those who heard Him—they were now without any excuse because of the works they had seen Him do and the things they had heard Him teach.(22-24) They hated Jesus because His holiness brought them face to face with their unholiness. And when they hated Jesus, they were hating the Father that sent Him.

But notice verse 25:

But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: “They hated me without a cause.”

They hated Jesus. They had no reason to do so, but they did.

And because they hated Jesus, they would hate Jesus’ followers simply because they followed Jesus.

But Jesus brings back the promise He had introduced in chapter 14.

But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.(15.26-27)

The Holy Spirit, Jesus promised, would come and help them by stirring them to remember, to understand, and to proclaim Jesus and His greatness.

Yes, the haters will hate. It’s inevitable.

But He has not left us alone. By His Spirit, He lives in the heart of every believer. That means we are never alone.

The haters will hate, but you’re not alone.

Today, if you encounter people who are hostile to the faith we hold so dear, remember that it’s not you that they hate but the One whom you represent. Pray for them. Love them in Jesus’ name. And take courage for you are not alone.

Surely the haters will hate, but you’re not alone.

Onboard Navigation

Sometimes it’s disturbing to see how dependent young people are upon their GPS guidance devices. Kids don’t seem to learn how to read maps anymore. They don’t learn to find their bearings or get around their surroundings without their phones chirping out their turn by turn directions.

Of course… I confess that I am pretty dependent upon such things in unfamiliar places, but I try to have a pretty good idea where I am headed before I start. I want to know at least the big picture of my route before I turn over the guidance to the GPS.

But the fact remains that in real life each moment that we face is new, often unfamiliar territory. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some sort of onboard navigation system to guide us through the hours and days ahead of us and show us how to live?

In John 14, we find the beginning of three chapters of teaching from Jesus that John relays to us. Jesus begins by underscoring His ultimate intention—that we might be with Him—and how we may truly experience that togetherness with Him by simply following Him and believing Him and finding our entire life in Him. (14.1-11)

But then Jesus begins to unfold one of the most powerful revelations of His teaching ministry.

[Take a moment and read John 14.12-27.]

Jesus whets our appetites with the indication that, by trusting in and pursuing Him, we “will do the works that I do’ and greater works than these.”(12) He even indicates that asking the Father’s help in Jesus name would bring sure response that would work to our good and His own glory.(13-14)

He begins to describe the live centered upon Him, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”(15)

But notice this powerful provision Jesus promises:

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.(16-17)

Jesus assures His followers that the Father will send the Holy Spirit to help them. This is in contrast to the world around us that does not know God. Notice that Jesus said, “You know him, for he dwells with you.” The Spirit was already dwelling with them in that Jesus, God in the flesh, was there and fully in communion with the Holy Spirit as testified back in John 1.32 that the Spirit descended upon Jesus and remained.

But Jesus said that the Spirit “will be in you.” He points to this idea of the Holy Spirit that would take up residence in the life of all who believe in Jesus. The Spirit somehow lives truly in every believer, though the Spirit had not been sent in that way just yet (which Jesus will explain later).

He goes on to express more of His design—that He was not going to leave them like orphaned children with no one to care for them or provide for them.(18) He would be gone for a little while, but return by the Spirit to live in and with us and that, as surely as He lives, they would truly live.(19)

Jesus describes the intimate relationship intended for us by promising His presence in our lives by the love of the Father and the indwelling Spirit.(20) That love will show in our lives through faithful obedience to all that He reveals of Himself.(21)

When Judas questioned how they would see it but the world around them would not, Jesus explains that our response to the Father’s love is to embrace the Son and to thrive in this beautiful, intimate love that flows from the very nature of God. He goes so far as to directly correlate our willingness to hold to Jesus or lack thereof as the litmus test of a genuine follower of God.(22-24)

Jesus gives more description of this promise:

These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.(25-26)

The Spirit will stir up what is in our minds and give us guidance in how to live out the truths we have received. He will remind us what we know when we need to remember it. He will show us how to walk in the Way. He will show us what is the Truth. He will empower us to live through His own Life.

And what is the result of this precious and powerful promise that Jesus expressed?

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.(27)

This assurance that the Spirit would come was intended by Jesus to be a source of peace to these men that followed Him.

I guess peace is the reason I turn on my GPS guidance when I am going to an unfamiliar place. I want to alleviate any anxiety about making a wrong turn without knowing it. Once I turn it on, I know that, even if I turn the wrong way or miss an exit, it will continue to reroute me until it successfully directs me to my desired destination.

The Holy Spirit is, in the life of a follower of Jesus, a lot like an onboard navigation system. He guides us through the turns and detours and challenges of life by helping us see where we are and directing our steps. The greatest skill for a mature follower of Jesus is to be… well, I guess it’s a lot like these kids that can’t find their way to the mall and back without their GPS. We are to just listen for His prompting and follow His guidance and turn when and where He tells us to turn.

Why is that so hard?

I think it’s hard because ultimately it means I’m not in control.

But then… there’s no pressure but to simply listen and follow.

Maybe that’s the point.