“From Age to Age”

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

Have you ever had the experience that the Holy Spirit is leading you to something or have you ever looked back in your life to where things didn’t really make sense at the time, but have since shown the Holy Spirit’s direction in your life when you put all your life events together?

I get these feelings all the time. Most of the time these feelings get me excited because the Spirit is filling me with hope and a sense of anticipation. Other times these feelings get my anxiety working overtime.

Lately, the Holy Spirit has led me to His Word and to prayer. My prayer life seems to be in overdrive and my Scripture reading has taken on a whole new meaning as I search for specific clues as to how the Spirit is calling me. What am I to do next? Where can I make the greatest difference?

Sometimes the Holy Spirits directions are incredibly obvious and other times they are much more vague. In the end, I am incredibly blessed that the Holy Spirit has time for me at all and I know that, even in those times like now where I feel a sense of anxiety, that the Holy Spirit is working with me in an incredibly intimate way.

It seems that lately, I have been bombarded with the need to pray and, in many cases, it’s at the most unusual times. It seems that the Holy Spirit is calling me into a deeper relationship with God and I am learning that His intimate call on my life is what I need more than anything else in the world.

In our lesson this morning we hear Jesus priestly prayer which He prayed the night before His death on the cross. He addressed His Father in heaven asking that His disciples might remain faithful to the world that He had given them. He also asked that they would remain faithful to the Father and that they might remain together as a group of devoted believers. This prayer is named His priestly prayer, because Jesus was praying on behalf of His disciples to His Father in the same way a priest in the Old Testament would offer up his prayers on behalf of Israel.

We can look to Christ when we question the importance of prayer. Several times we read throughout Scripture that He took the time to pray and in His prayer we clearly hear one who is intimate with the Father. His prayers run the gamut in emotions from joyous to incredible anxiety. No matter how they are spoken, however, they are spoken with deep affection and confidence. Christ clearly found His strength in the Father just as we should.

This impassioned prayer laid out all the final requests both on His behalf and in His disciples behalf. It was His final plea to the Father that He would bless those who had followed Him in good times and in bad. He is taking an inventory of sorts on what He has done to prepare the disciples for the difficult journey ahead. He mentions how He had prepared them even as the Father prepared the Son.

Jesus had to rely on His disciples to carry on the work He had begun. In His time with them, He had invested much in them. He had taught them and guided them and had imparted on them everything He was sent to give. He had held nothing back and had followed His Holy Father’s directions to a tee. He poured out Himself on His disciples because He knew that one day, now only a few days away, He would have to leave them and they would then be required to carry out their calling to spread the message of salvation to the ends of the earth. Just like Christ’s church today, He was trusting in them to work together for the cause of the kingdom, to spread the Good News as they had learned it from God himself. He was passing the baton to them and it was now their time to teach and guide as they, in turn, would be called to bring up future leaders of the Church of God when their time on earth was done. They were called to carry on where Christ had left off and to reproduce themselves in others to carry on further. And so it goes to our own generation both proclaiming the Gospel and preparing others to do the same under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.

 

This intimate call was not for His disciples alone, it was for all of us who have committed our lives to Christ. But how many times do we look back and find opportunities lost or how many times has the Spirit led you to do things in the name of Christ only to have you deny the request. How many of us have built a wall between ourselves and the Holy Spirit out of fear, ignorance or complacency?  So many of us are afraid of the intimate relationship that God is offering us because we don’t want to be embarrassed or we don’t want to offend. Or maybe we’re afraid to give of ourselves completely because of past hurts, past wounds and past relationships that have ended badly. If the truth be told, it all boils down to our selfish fear of getting hurt either physically or emotionally.

But, even though we resist it at times, our Father in heaven is ready hear our pleas and give us of Himself. The Lord wants us to come to Him like Jesus did so that He might provide us the same healing and deliverance He gave His Son. He wants to tear down those walls between us so that we are no longer separated from Him and He wants to work in our hearts to do what He has called us to do so that future generations will benefit. He longs for an intimate relationship with us so that He can reproduce Himself in us so that, in turn, we can be used to reproduce God into others.

The church is the bride of Christ and His calling to us is a calling to an intimacy that can never be matched by anything or anyone else. Our calling to service is the same as it was for the disciples and for every disciple throughout the generations.

Our Lord doesn’t want us to miss the appointments He’s set with us every time we are in need or we find someone else in need. He wants us to understand and listen when He tugs at our hearts. He wants to spend quality time with His children so that they may grow from infants to adults in their faith. He is struck with sadness every time we brush Him off because He knows how vital the relationship is between us. He wants us to follow Him because He wants us to be with Him for all eternity, that’s how much He loves us.

It amazes me how so many Christians find such satisfaction in spending far too much of their time complaining, bickering, backbiting, gossiping and dwelling on the negative. We see it in our own synod sometimes between people who have heard the Word and should know better. Don’t we understand how much God hates this?

He calls us into intimacy with Himself and with fellow believers. Wouldn’t it be better for us to spend that time in relationship with the Father? Are we not called to respond to this call to intimacy?

I believe the Church would be much more powerful if she would just listen more closely to our Father’s plea for peace and devotion.

I believe the next generation of Christians would be better served if we would simply listen to Christ’s plea in our Gospel lesson. We are to imagine these words spoken in the passion they were first presented. We have been prepared just like the disciples were to carry on the greatest of callings so that many more might experience the love of the Father forever and ever Amen..

I believe the church would have less eternal problems today if we would simply learn to respond to God’s call to intimacy. The Spirit of God longs for His bride to be transformed into His image. He longs for His Church to be delivered from division and strife. He craves our relationship, He aches for our obedience, He hungers for our love and to know how much He truly loves us.

He wants to be first in our lives, not just for His own gain but also for ours. He wants us to work together to prepare the next generation to know and understand Him with all the same intimacy as Jesus Christ had with Him.

We need to ask ourselves, are we putting God first in our lives? Are we really devoted to Him or are we just playing church? Are our desires for Christ genuine or are we simply going through the motions?

Our God is real and He is putting His trust in us to tell everybody that He is waiting for them. He wants to change us and those that will follow us into His image. He wants to work through us to make a true difference in the world in our own generation and for all the generations to come.

So let’s respond to the call. Let’s not ignore Him when He tugs at our heart hoping we have the faith to carry on. Let’s daily go to Him in thought, Word and prayer so that we might be intimate with Him in a way that is much more fulfilling than worldly intimacy. Let’s get our relationship right with God so that His love and grace might be seen in us. Let’s recall Christ’s prayerful plea to the Father for His disciples to remain faithful and true to God’s own Word.

As we face the world and all its rivalry, let us give thanks to God that He would love us enough to give us a better option. As we face worldly temptation, let us remember that Christ continues to act on our behalf. Let us thank Him for His prayer and guidance, that we might find our power in Him to carry on.

 

 

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