Jesus prayed for us

This post is written by our curriculum editor Nannette Elkins, wife of Douglas Elkins, our North America Regional Coordinator.  Nannette also spent a year in Latvia helping launch Revival by Design. She is the author of The Daniel Fast, A Devotional available here! You can get acquainted with her writings at her blog Hope in the Healing and also at Internet Cafe Devotions, where she is a monthly contributor.

 “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” John 17:15 ESV.

 Jesus prayed for you. Yes, you.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is praying to the Father before He went to Calvary, before He was glorified. He was praying for His disciples at the time. Here are some things that He asked God for:

That He would be glorified
For their protection
To  make them holy
To teach them His Word
That they might be one with Him
For Perfect Unity
That they would be with Him..

Then in verse 20 He says something that should make us jump for joy!

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.”

It wasn’t just for the disciples, it was for all who would believe.

He didn’t pray for God to take us out of this world, He didn’t ask Him to remove the evil from this world. He prayed for Him to keep us from the evil one.

Why?

We are familiar with good and bad, right and wrong. But what about evil? Is everything that is bad also evil? We couldn’t have this discussion without consulting Mr. Webster:

Evil: As an adjective: Having qualities tending to injury and mischief; worthless. Having or exhibiting bad, moral qualities.
And the dictionary actually quotes Matthew 18:  “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.”
As a noun: Moral badness, or the deviation of a moral being from the principles of virtue imposed by conscience, or by the will of the Supreme Being…. “The heart of the sons of men is full of evil.” Ecclesiastes 3.

Evil and sin are two different things. We all sin but we are not all necessarily evil in doing so.

To sin is to miss the mark, seemingly of God’s standard of righteousness and holiness.

To be evil means to purposely inflict harm or injury upon another or to use sin to wound another.

Evil is joining in agreement with someone else to cause harm or slander another. This breaks the heart of God.

Evil is always sin but sin is not always evil. Evil is preconceived sin; planned sin, even conniving sin.

The Bible says we were “born into sin”, it is inherently in our nature. But through the cross we now have forgiveness of sins, an advocate in Jesus Christ the Righteous! We can go before Him when we sin (and we will) and receive His mercy.

Why didn’t God do away with our sinful nature when Jesus was nailed to the tree? Why, when we are buried with Him in baptism and our sins are washed away, do we continue to sin, even unwillingly or unknowingly? Jesus could have taken that sinful nature from us and made us perfect, obedient creatures, couldn’t He?

“God created things which had free will. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity

Because we have to serve Him and love Him with our FREE WILL. We love Him for what He has done for us and out of hearts of gratitude and thankfulness; not because we are forced to do so. That wouldn’t be love!

So we are in the world. An evil world. We cannot change it, for the most part, and must walk in it each and every day. So, what to do about it?

He knew we would sin, that things would happen throughout our day that might trip us up. An unkind word, a rolling of the eyes, a lie that just seemingly slips out without thinking, cutting someone off in traffic, criticizing when we should be uplifting. If we are filled with His Spirit then we regret those things, are sorrowful and repentant.

But evil.

1 John 5:19.”We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one…”

Jesus prayed for us that we would be kept away from the Evil One, from Satan who would devour our souls if we would stray too far away from God. Jesus was also tempted by the devil and He knew that we would face temptation of the same kind.

He also knew that as the day of His return would draw near that there would be even more evil in this world. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:12, 13.

jesus prayed for us

He prayed for us, He sent the Comforter as strength for us, dwelling IN us and giving us power from On High that we might overcome.

Then He gave us even more promises and protection in His Word.

“The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.” Psalm 121:7.

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3.

And we just keep doing what we know to do.

Nehemiah did that. While rebuilding the walls of his beloved Jerusalem he wouldn’t stop for anything, even when they were being attacked!  In Nehemiah 4:17, we see how Nehemiah continued doing good in the midst of a battle,  “…The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon.” 

He just kept on doing good. You can read more about Nehemiah’s story here in an earlier post.

“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21.

Evil will remain in the world until Satan is bound. But we do not have to let evil overcome us or become a part of us.

Jesus prayed for God to keep you from the Evil One. Today, through prayer and study of His Word, through relationship, Christ IN you, He has left you with the power to live an overcoming life!

“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.” John 16:33 NIV.

 

We Don’t DO The Church Thing…

This post is written by our curriculum editor Nannette Elkins, wife of Douglas Elkins, our North America Regional Coordinator.  Nannette also spent a year in Latvia helping launch Revival by Design. You can get acquainted with her writings at her blog Hope in the Healing and also at Internet Cafe Devotions where she is a monthly contributor.

It was one of those conversations that you could have any day of the week.

You could be in the grocery store, doctor’s office, on the playground, it doesn’t really matter. You’ve just met a stranger, easy to talk to, you start with small talk about your families.

I had one of those. It was life-changing.

She was a sweetheart. A mother of two, she worked five days a week, came home, cooked dinner and helped with homework. Then spent the rest of the evening doing the usual chores; baths, packing lunches, laundry, normal things we all do, day in, day out.

She talked about how blessed her children were to have such a wonderful school to attend. They still said the Pledge of Allegiance…she stressed the real Pledge of Allegiance with under God! They were even still allowed to attend a weekly, church-sanctioned, afternoon Bible class! Yes, this is a public school. She went on and on about how safe they felt there, how her parents lived just up the road, life just couldn’t be much better.

Then I guess I backed her in a corner, without meaning to, when I said something about church. With everything she had just described about her life I just assumed she attended.

She said, “Oh, we have Bibles in our house, but we don’t do the church thing.”

Church-Thing

And before I had a chance to say anything she stumbled, mumbled and said, “Well, we are just busy on the weekends and all…” and with that she found an excuse to make a quick exit.

Now, before you fill my comment box up with “We don’t have to go to church to feel God…”, you are correct, we sure don’t. I will get to that in a moment. Bear with me here, I was actually more saddened by the “We have Bibles IN our house….” because I could tell by the way she said it that those Bibles probably didn’t get read any more than the children were getting taken to Sunday School.

It was wonderful that she was so happy her children were in a good school that paid honor to God, and in a good community that still allowed God in the schools, a rarity in our country! But for all of her commendations to her school and her community, she had left the King of Kings out of her home. The Bibles are there but they aren’t being used.

That may be true of many church-going Christians and that is a dangerous place to be. The Word truly is a “lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path”. Without it we stumble and fall and blindly lose our way.

I may be taking a few liberties here since I do not personally know this stranger but “We don’t do the church thing” is speaking a mouthful to me. Has she been hurt somewhere before? Disillusioned? Lost her faith along the way? Can’t bring herself to trust in leadership?

Or is it laziness? The American “sleep-in-on-Sunday” culture, or the attitude that says, “I’ll do it my way.”

Because, my friend, we need the Body of Christ, we need the community and the unity that comes from the assembling of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:25)

We must hear the preaching of the Word of God! “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”

And in answer to those that have been hurt, abused, lied to, and misled in a church house somewhere on this planet, as a former pastor’s wife, my sincerest apologies. That should never be in the House of God. But Jesus did not do it. People did.

People are just people and unfortunately they are still people in the church too. You will find the complainers, the naysayers, the gossipers, backbiters, liars, chew-you-up-and-spit-you-out-haters. I’ve seen them all and still had to hug their neck the next Sunday! And let us not forget the good ole hypocrites. Yes, they are there too. Where else would they be but in church?!

It would be a terrible shame to let people keep you from coming  face to face with Jesus of Nazareth.

Don’t let a few busybodies keep you from your worship of the King.

(If you are one that has offended people, hurt them, caused them to leave the church, there is no excuse for this type of behavior in the church. God is not pleased.)

There are plenty of great churches that preach Truth. Go find one!

It’s worth it to be able to stand up in service with tears streaming down your face, hands raised in worship and actually feel the presence of Almighty God as you offer Him praise, just because He is worthy!

My friend, one day we will all stand before Him. It does not matter who you are, or your social status.

You will be there.

You won’t be late. We will all be there.

We will call Him Lord then, we will all call Him by Name.

For some, He will return the favor.

Others He will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you…”

I wonder if they will be the ones that had Bibles in their homes but didn’t DO the CHURCH THING?

 

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