Today’s Thought and Text of Encouragement:
“The secret of the sweet, satisfying companionship of the Lord have they who revere and worship Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its deep inner meaning.”
Psalm 25: 14
“When we pray in the morning to be filled with the spirit, we may expect to be filled all day with thoughts of Christ.”
Andrew A. Bonar
Today’s Study Text:
“I have given and delivered to them Your word (message) and the world hated them, because they are not of the world (do not belong to the world), just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that You will take them out of the world, but that You will keep and protect them from the evil one.”
John 17: 14, 15
“Learning To Pray Like Jesus” – Part 7
“Keep and Protect”
“Keep and guard me as the pupil of your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”
Psalm 17: 8
Have I ever found myself in a position where I needed and longed for God’s protection and His deliverance?
What does it mean to me to be “kept and protected” by God?
“If we’re willing to let truth speak louder then our feelings, and long enough that our feelings finally agree, we can be far more than okay. We can be delivered to a place where the air is crisp, the energy whipped, and the view is magnificent.”
“For the Lord’s portion is His people…He found (them) in a desert land, in the howling void of the wilderness; He kept circling around (them). He scanned (them) penetratingly. He kept (them) as the pupil of His eye. As an eagle that stirs up her nest, that flutters over her young, He spread abroad His wings and He took them, He bore them on His pinions. So the Lord alone led (them)” (Deuteronomy 32: 9-12, Amplified Bible).
There are so many times throughout the Scriptures when I wish I could have been a silent, unseen witness to the events which are recorded. Events that leave us with a message that is meant to increase our faith and inspire hope.
If ever there was a time when I would have loved to be present to hear the words that Jesus spoke, it would have been on the Thursday evening we call the “Last Supper,” the night before Jesus’ death. Not only did Jesus speak words of immense encouragement to those dearest friends who sat near Him, but there in the presence of His closest associates on earth, He lifted His eyes heavenward and offered a prayer to His Father
As we have studied John 17, where the words of this prayer were recorded by the beloved disciple, John, we find that over fifty times Jesus referenced this world, our planet, as well as His children on earth. What strikes me about the words Jesus spoke was not only the tender way He referred to each one of us, but also the loving parental way He asked His Father to take care of each one of us. It wasn’t just for joy to fill our lives that He asked, it was also for a wall of protection to shelter us.
In our study text today, Jesus makes the distinct point that very soon He will be leaving. His life on earth was nearly at an end. But those who followed Him, the ones who were walking by His side, who would be left behind to carry the torch, would, as Jesus well-knew, face the same challenges He had faced. This is what happens when we accept the call of Jesus to help carry the cross. What’s more, Jesus knew the “Evil One” would literally target those who had boldly said, “I will follow You.” Thus, Jesus wanted the protective keeping and shelter that had been available to Him during the time He was on earth, to be afforded to the followers He left behind.
But here’s the beauty of what Jesus asked for. His was an expansive request. Not only made on behalf of the followers present in the upper chamber on that evening so long ago, but also His thoughts traversed down through history, to this very day, when His heart of love is bursting forth with this same message to you and to me: “You are kept and protected in a wall of love sent from the heavenly Father’s throne.”
One of the most touching outcomes of the cross, a thought that brings tears to my eyes whenever I contemplate this truth is that when Jesus returned to heaven, He carried with Him not just a remembrance of His time here on earth. Oh, no! He bore a physical witness to the words He spoke when He asked His Father to provide refuge for those precious members of His family He left behind. Drilled into the palms of Christ’s hands are nail prints – an eternal record of the harsh treatment heaped upon God’s Son. It is this “forever sign” that stands before the Father’s throne, carrying a never-ending message from the “One” who feels your pain…your grief…and the tremendous cruelty of life here on earth.
I can’t begin to properly find the appropriate words to express how it touches my heart to know that Jesus, who over 2,000 years ago at a supper before His death, loved you and me so much His thoughts on that evening, when we might think He would be worrying about Himself, instead were focused on ages to come when those who followed Him and were living in this tough old world, would need the reassurance that a voice of love and concern, forever echoed throughout the realms of heaven with this bulletin: “Father, life’s terrible down there. The “Evil One” is mean and vicious. We must protect and keep, forever and always, our family – Your children, for We love them so much.”
This truth, of heaven’s continuing care and protection for each of us is one the Psalmist David repeatedly wrote about and no place as eloquently as Psalm 40: 11, KJV, where he penned this request: “Withhold not Thou Thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth continually preserve (protect) me.”
But this is not the only time or place David refers to or requests the presence of God’s refuge. We find this sublime record in Psalm 32: 7, KJV: “Thou art my hiding place; Thou shalt preserve me from trouble; Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.”
As the author Mark Buchanan so expressively pens in his book, The Rest of God: “Once we begin to flee the things that threaten and burden us, there is no end to fleeing. God’s solution is surprising. He offers rest. But it’s a unique form of rest. It’s to rest in Him in the midst of our threats and our burdens. It’s discovering as David did in seasons of distress, that God is our rock and refuge right in the thick of our situation.”
Whatever the “thick of your situation” is today, please do not forget that those nail-scarred hands of our Friend and Redeemer have transcribed a message to the Father’s throne: “It’s tough…it’s hard…it’s merciless…it’s sorrow-filled on earth. I’ve been there. I know what I’m talking about. Oh, Father – protect and keep them.”
I want to share the profound way author Matthew Henry, in his commentary on John 17, expresses Jesus’ words: “Christ’s intercession for us is enough to fulfill our joy in Him; nothing is more effectual to silence all our fears and mistrusts, and to furnish us with strong consolation, than this, He always appears in the presence of God for us.” Praise God!
“My dearest Lord,
Be Thou a bright flame before me,
Be Thou a guiding star above me,
Be Thou a smooth path behind me,
Be Thou a kindly shepherd behind me,
Today and evermore.”
“Withhold not Thou Thy tender mercies from me, O Lord:
Let Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth continually preserve me.”
Psalm 40: 11,
“O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home!
Under the shadow of thy throne
Still may we dwell secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guide while life shall last,
And our eternal home!”
Isaac Watts, 1719
“Now I am returning to You.
I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing
So my people can experience
My joy completed in them.
I gave them Your word;
The godless world hated them because of it,
Because they didn’t join the world’s ways,
Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways,
I’m not asking that You take them out of the world
But that You guard them from the Evil One.”
John 17: 12-15
The Message Bible
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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