Pete Greig spoke in the Big Top tonight, carrying on our look at the Farewell Discourse from John’s gospel:
Thinking this week about confidence, and how we can make our faith more believable – both as we communicate us, but also as we believe it. In the evenings we’re looking at John 14, tonight verses 1-9b.
In John 14 Jesus uses the word 23 times in 31 verses. The central focus of Jesus’ famous last words, his farewell discourse, the central message that he is drilling into his disciples is the love of the father. He knows if they have the love of the father through him everything else will fit around it.
It is key to their effectiveness (v. 12), and key to answered prayer (v. 13). It isn’t just this one chapter that talks about this idea of the love of God as a heavenly father. St. Augustine says “The whole Bible does nothing but tell of God’s love” – that is such good news. That is the key that everything else in your life and eternity sits in. So whatever you struggle with, whatever baggage you carry with you, whatever you have, they key answer is the Father loves you. God loves you, God will not give up on you. You can’t be too bad, or too boring or too lost. He has counted the hairs on your head (easier for some than others), he tattooed your name on his hands. He will not give up on you, nothing can separate you from him.
One of his kids, a human child, not a human goat, have a sweet they really love called tongue tanglers. Sweet on the outside, bitter on the inside. Saw some in the BP services so though he’d buy some and let him eat them before breakfast without telling his mum! He tells son he has a surprise for him, child asks is it an Xbox 360 or an iPad. He tried not to look sad! The Xbox and iPad would be broken and outdated, the greatest gift is that his father’s love doesn’t die.
The greatest promise of God to you is not his provision but his presence with you. We always want God to airlift us out of the mess, he occasionally does that and we call it a miracle, but he normally parachutes in and walks through the myrie pit with us.
So many things we long for: healing, guidance, pray for a husband or a wife, pray to be free from a stronghold or addiction, pray for a loved one who is far from God. But the greatest gift of all is not the gift but the giver – the Father who so loves us.
When wife was at her sickest and regularly having MRI scans, quickly realised that the MRI scan is like the shadow of death, having to go in their with just a sheet, having removed your jewellery and watch for 30 minutes utterly alone with intense humming of the machine. She knew the presence of God in the MRI scanner. The prayer was for her not to be in the MRI scan at all, but God was with her in the scanner.
This weekend have to preach the biggest sermon of his life to one person. Going to preach to Daniel, his son, aged 13. Got this thing in his family were they created a rite of passage to claim the 3 peaks, just father and son, taking something from his childhood – his cuddly blanket – and after the third mountain he will bury it and consciously embrace his teenage years. The verse God has given to talk through is Joshua 1:9 “Be strong, be courageous, I will be with you wherever you go”. So whatever mountains Daniel has to climb he wants him to know his father will be with him come what may.
Did a training walk of 15 miles last weekend, they came across a nice English pub and ate chips and had a hot chocolate. Daniel fell asleep, Pete woke him after 10 minutes, Daniel said he won’t be able to do the 3 Peaks but Pete was able to talk about he will be with him. We find our strength with the presence of the Lord who walks with us.
Ask for the Spirit when you’re going through hard times
When Daniel was young, and his wife was ill, and so Pete became the primary carer saying no to speaking to events like this. Sammie was unwell, she was going to hospital lots, leading a prayer movement but his prayers aren’t working. He’s primary carer to two children and Daniel gets chicken pox everywhere. He was in such pain and had no way of understanding that he wasn’t always going to feel like this. His baby mind couldn’t express this, and so all Pete could do was just to hold him in his arms and pace up and down until Daniel fell asleep.
Our baby brains can’t understand why God is not able to do the miracle, we need to know the love of the father come what may. It is tempting in bitterness to separate from the Father, and Christian community as the Devil knows you need the Saints. This passage says in verse 1, do not let your hearts be troubled, and again in verse 27. How is it possible ot not let your heart be troubled when you’re in a difficult situation? We need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us – verse 16 and Romans 8 – our Spirits connect with the Spirit of God and we’re drawn afresh to his fatherhood and our childhood under God.
Jesus says he’s going to his Father’s house, as well as asking for the Holy Spirit, we need to push into Christian community and allow others to love us. There will be times when we won’t feel God’s supernatural love, but we can receive from others, press into your Christian family. As we do that the Father’s love is shown to us again and again.
If your human dad was absent, distant or abusive it is important to get help, to listen, to talk, to pray, to get the holy spirit. But these things take time and it is important we press into others in this process.
Video of dad and son playing guitar from youtube – don’t let me down.
The kid couldn’t play the guitar, wasn’t a great singer and didn’t really know the lyrics but he had his dad, and his dad wasn’t saying he couldn’t do it, but instead was loving the interacion. It is the same with your Father in heaven, he loves you trying to join in with his song, don’t wait until you are as good as him to join in as you never will be. It is about being with your Father.
Turn this information about his love for you into a revelation afresh for you about what that might look like in your situation.
Pete’s dad was driving the car. He was a great, kind man but he only did handshakes, not hugs, and wouldn’t say anything to puff Pete him up. Sheila, the family friend, loved shows of emotion. Sheila said “Brian you must be terribly proud of Pete”, she had brought her dad to a place where he might say something he always wanted to hear. A little pause later he said “yes, yes I am proud of my son.” Information he always knew became a revelation and felt like he could conquer mountains.
We need knowledge to become something defining. We need thing we know theoretically to encounter experientially. Creeds to become cries of the heart; insecurity to become a sense of confidence. The love of God is the answer to all the whys in the Bible.
The nature of life is the tendency to worry, to beat ourselves up, to think we have disappointed God. We want to move from a sin paradigm where we always feel guilty to a son paradigm where we know we are loved. Maybe you tonight feel hurt or isolated, the Father says I love you; hurt or ashamed, the Father says I am with you; afraid in evangelism, the Father says I am in you. I will never leave you or forsake you, I will be with you wherever you go.
Tonight maybe you want to receive a fresh wave of the Holy Spirit, to meet with God the Father; to commit to meeting in community to be helped by them even when you can’t feel God’s love; to meet with God as your Father for the first time.