The Living Word for Sunday, May 22
Psalm 67 — Setting the scene
John 14:23-29 — Jesus gives future vision of the life of the Spirit
AActs 16:9-15 — In a vision, a man from Europe begs Paul for help
RevRev. 21:10, 22-27, 22:1-5 — View of a pure, holy heavenly community
• See also this week’s linked article and video How God Guides Us in His Way (about 11 minutes)
Psalm 67 — Setting the scene
1-2 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine on us — so that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.
3 May the peoples praise You, God; may all the peoples praise You.
4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.
5 May the peoples praise You, God; may all the peoples praise You.
6 The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.
7 May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear Him.
John 14:23-29 — Jesus gives future vision of the life of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit coaches us in living devoted to Jesus and His way of love
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching. My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make Our home with them.”
“Loves me… obey” — reiterating earlier vv.15 and 21“If you love me, keep My commands”. How? With the help of the Holy Spirit, v.16.
“Make Our home with them” — as Stephen explained in Acts 7:45-48. Jesus is pointing ahead to Pentecost, Acts 2, when this happened.
24 “Anyone who does not love Me will not obey My teaching. These words you hear are not My own; they belong to the Father who sent Me.
“Does not love me” — emphasis from the double negative.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you.
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
“The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send” — the sending is by Father and Son together, John 15:26.
“Will teach you” — in the Greek, “He (not it) will teach you” conflicts with with the neuter Pneuma, Spirit (also in 15:26 and 16:13-14), emphasising that the Holy Spirit is a person.
27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
“Peace… My peace I give you” — Jesus gives the common greeting a special emphasis, repeating “My peace” or salvation, rest of spirit, fellowship with God; by contrast with the so-called Pax Romana.
28 “You heard Me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
“The Father is greater” — Jesus accepted a subordinate role in His incarnation, but returned to that first glory.
29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.”
“When it does happen” — His disciples would continue to be able to call on Jesus by the Spirit of Jesus.
SUMMARY ‘Obey’ might sound like blind obedience, but that is not the post-resurrection life Jesus is teaching here. The original word, tereo, has the primary meaning of keeping or guarding or practising. So “anyone who loves Me will keep on with and practise My teaching” encourages us to live by making informed choices.
APPLICATION How do we do this against the world’s pressures? The Holy Spirit is the divine coach who reveals the Way of Jesus, reminds us — and enables us to exceed our limited capabilities.
QUESTION Why does holding to Jesus’ new way of life require more than our own abilities?
Acts 16:9-15 — In a vision, a man from Europe begs Paul for help
Paul crosses to Philippi and finds a Gentile woman who is open to the gospel
9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
“A man of Macedonia” — after being prevented by the Holy Spirit from completing their plan to take gospel west and north in Turkey, vv.6-8, they felt constrained to stay at Troas, with its frequent sailings to Macedonia. Then the vision came.
10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
“We got ready at once” — to go to this place of Greek Gentiles. The ‘man of Macedonia’ was not Luke, because at this point he joins Paul, Silas and Timothy and embarks with them.
11-12 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. From there we travelled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.
“Samothrace” — a sheltered anchorage on route to the port for Philippi, Neapolis.
“Philippi, a Roman colony” — self-governing with tax exemptions and privileges which attracted many military veterans, but home to very few Jews.
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.
“A place of prayer” — without enough Jewish men to form a synagogue, the few Jews or God-seeking non-Jewish women met for prayer on the banks of the river.
14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
“Woman from… Thyatira” — a city famous for its crimson dye, in the Hellenistic kingdom of Lydia, so her name could mean the ‘woman from Lydia’.
“The Lord opened her heart” — emphasising that however persuasive and true the preacher, it is the Holy Spirit who opens hearts and draws people to Christ.
15 When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
“She and her household” — clearly a woman of some means with servants and a house that eventually became a gathering place for Christians, v.40.
“If you consider me a believer” — suggests that she, and others of the household able to voice their own response to the gospel, would have been baptised.
SUMMARY Paul’s revelation — perhaps a dream — is extraordinarily vivid, leaving him in no doubt as to how he should respond.
Now, as after a check by the Holy Spirit against travelling west, or north into Bithynia, the port of Troas was the only way. Paul’s vision there prepared him for a historic turning point, a big step of faith for these Jewish Christians to take the Gospel into Gentile Europe.
APPLICATION Keeping on with the Way of Jesus and the help of the Helper requires vision, a sense of trajectory and target. Often God will give us specific direction — especially if we ask Him. We can assume that Paul and Silas and Timothy were doing just that, but they had never been to a place without a synagogue to share the truth about Jesus and His Good News being a light to Gentiles.
QUESTION Do you expect God to guide you? Has He ever given you a ‘signpost’ of something extraordinary?
Rev. 21:10, 22-27, 22:1-5 — View of a pure, holy heavenly community
Those who have made Jesus their Lord will enjoy God’s presence as in Eden
10 And He carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
“Carried me away In the Spirit” — a vision of the Holy City, contrasted with unholy Babylon.
“Coming down out of heaven” — showing God’s life received as a gift, not by striving to reach up.
22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
“I did not see a temple” — no temple needed: Jesus Himself is now the ‘temple’ in which God lives among His people, John 1:14, 2:19-21.
23-24 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it.
“Glory of God gives it light” — language which echoes Isaiah 60:19-20. Ancient cities were poorly lit, but new Jerusalem is a community full of light because God promised that He would be their glory in the restoration.
25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.
“No day… gates… shut” — cities of the Roman Empire shut their gates at night, but the New Jerusalem has open gates and no enemies.
26-27 The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
“Nothing impure will… enter” — only those whose names appear in the Book of Life showing that they belong to Jesus, Rev. 3:5.
22:1-2 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
“Down the middle” — the tree of life was central in Eden, but after mankind’s fall into sin, access was lost; now the stream of blessings and joy flow through the people of the city.
3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him.
4 They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.
“See His face” — Moses and others knew they could not see God’s face and live, but made holy by the Spirit, God’s people will look on His face.
5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
“The Lord God will give them light” — because the glorious light of God’s presence marks the end of night, Rev. 21:25, Zech. 14:7. “And they will reign” — together with Jesus their king believers will all worship as priests and also reign over this new earth for ever, Rev. 5:10.
SUMMARY The third example of God revealing something of His eternal purpose comes from the end of John’s series of visions of heaven. This final picture of heaven reminds us to live for what will be very good, and lasting for eternity!
APPLICATION We can experience the kingdom of heaven now, as a foretaste of the order and peace of heaven. But how? The devil’s trick is to confuse us about God’s gift and deceive us into expending our spiritual energy by working for it. The truth is, we cannot earn by any good works, religious or other, what Jesus has secured for us to receive freely. We can, however, honour Jesus and trust Him with our lives — and receive assurance of our names being in the Book of Life.
QUESTION One day we shall reign with Jesus — but how can we experience something of that, now?
PRAYER Lord God Almighty, You promise us that by choosing to receive Jesus as Saviour and Lord, we can be assured of one day being in the light of Your glory.
I turn again to Your Son Jesus, recognise my pride and rebellion and agree that I am not able to make any kind of restitution.
I believe that Jesus, dying on the Cross, took my sin, past, present and future. I ask Him again to take my life, and rule and reign in it as Jesus my Lord.
Thank You so much for the offer of new life, and life eternal, through faith in Jesus alone. Amen.
The Living Word for May 22, 2022, is a non-denominational Bible study which relies on the Bible explaining the Bible, uninfluenced by any church’s traditions or preferences, and following the Bible’s own sequence of progressive revelation. Read the whole passage first and let the Holy Spirit begin speaking to you through it, then go deeper with the verse by verse commentary and reflections. The week’s readings are as set by the Revised Common Lectionary, an inter-denominational resource shared by many different churches and chapels. The Bible version, widely used in contemporary churches, is the NIV © Biblica. Ref. TLW20C
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