Happy To Welcome You To The Hallelujah Chorus

I will exalt you my God, the King, I will praise your name forever and ever. Every day I will praise you and exalt your name forever and ever. Psalm 145:1-2

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"The FOREVER Presence"

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor (comforter/encourager) to be with you (stand alongside) 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." John 14:15-17 NIV

Over the last twenty or so years I have slowly come to realize that the pronoun "YOU" in this passage includes me! Although I also realize that much of what Jesus says in John 14-15-16 is addressed directly and uniquely to the Apostles, the context always indicates how the personal pronouns should be interpreted. In this passage the word "FOREVER" extends Jesus' promise far beyond the twelve and even the early disciples.

Luke reports at Acts 1 that following his resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days with them explaining the details about the kingdom of God and finally instructed them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Father to send them what he had promised, the Holy Spirit. In giving them his final command to "go and make disciples of all nations", he told them "I am with you always, even to the end of the world". To me, "always" and "forever" are the same definition with possibly only a slight variation.

Much later, Paul told some Christians in Rome "The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men". Romans 14:17-18

All of my young and middle adult life I hesitated to embrace the Holy Spirit in the context of Jesus' promise in John 14. As I think back over it now that hesitation was fueled by the teaching I heard from early childhood. The tone underlying all I was exposed to allowed no room for God's Spirit to do anything directly in the lives of Jesus' disciples today, EXCEPT through the medium of the written word, the Bible. I heard that in my local church, in the Christian colleges I attended and in my relationships with fellow preachers and teachers. Slowly, that interpretation has been replaced by the words of Jesus and his Apostles.

We still need that comforting, encouraging presence with us and in us. The brothers and sisters in Rome and Corinth and Ephesus battled with the same enemy the Apostles had to overcome. Nothing has changed. Like those earliest disciples of Jesus, I too serve him with, as Paul said, great "peace" and daily "joy in the Holy Spirit". Thank you my heavenly Father for this abiding gift!  HALLELUJAH!

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