Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Blessed be God…Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
Ephesians 1: 3
“The Land of no need! Oh, how good to be there!
To tried, weary pilgrims how blest!
No need – but to worship and rest.”
J. Danson Smith
Today’s Study Text:
“Father, I desire that they whom You have entrusted to Me, as Your gift to Me, may be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory, which You have given Me, Your love gift to Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O just and righteous Father, although the world has not known You and has failed to recognize You and has never acknowledged You, I have known You continually; and these men understand and know that You have sent Me. I have made Your Name known to them and revealed Your character and Your very Self and I will continue to make You known, that the love which You have bestowed upon Me may be in them felt in their hearts and that I, Myself, may be in them.”
John 17: 24-26
“Learning To Pray Like Jesus” – Part 10
“God’s Character Revealed”
“I and My Father are one.”
John 10: 30
What are the characteristics I believe define who God is?
How do I think Jesus, in His life on earth, helped to reveal God’s character to me?
“God is best known in Christ; the sun is not seen but by the light of the sun.”
“Christ’s humanity is the great hem of the garment, through which we can touch His Godhead.”
Let’s just say for a moment that you wanted to know me better. You wanted to know, not just my physical attributes, but what I was down deep inside, when nobody else was looking. Where would you go to find out such information?
In a world where we are bombarded by every type of invasive “social media,” you might start with something like “Facebook.” The problem is, I don’t use my personal site much at all. What’s worse, somehow, my personal “Facebook” site was hacked several years ago and a very suggestive picture was loaded onto my “Facebook” site. I can’t begin to tell you what it was like receiving dreadfully, nasty letters from people who called themselves “Christians” accusing me of being a fraud and demanding immediate removal of their email from my Transformation Garden devotional list. Evidently, in seven years of reading devotionals or at least having them available, some of these individuals had not taken a moment to step back and think to themselves, “Does this picture really reflect the Dorothy I think I’ve come to know over the years? Is this picture a true image of her character?”
Obviously, the picture image wasn’t about me at all. And with some expert assistance from my webmaster, the offending picture was removed and then I had to spend time sending apologies out to those who had been so quick to jump to the conclusion that what they saw, was a mirror image of who I was.
This painful experience, though, provided me with a wonderful lesson on a personal level, in several ways. Most importantly, it got me to thinking about the snap judgments I have made about individuals I may not have known personally. Sometimes these assessments have been based on nothing but hearsay or the opinions of others. And then, sad to say, my judgmental appraisal has ended up being way off base.
I ask, “Has this happened to you?” You thought you really knew somebody, and then to your utter surprise, you found out you were completely wrong. Maybe our critical analysis of another was based only on a photo, for example. Thus, with a quick, physical once-over you found yourself instilled with a completely false picture of a person. This is why it is important to get to know those around us on a deeper level. And it is here where a word like “character” becomes absolutely critical.
In Webster’s Dictionary, character is described as, “The combination of emotional, intellectual, and moral qualities distinguishing one person or group from another.” Further definitions continue with these words: “A distinctive feature or attribute. Characteristics such as moral or ethical strength and integrity.” But in order to find out, with more clarity how God’s Word describes the word “character,” I decided to take a look at the Greek definition of two words which the beloved disciple John recorded in Jesus’ prayer from John 17.
We find that as Jesus ended this prayer, which I have repeatedly read and found it may take five or six minutes to pray, He finishes with these touching words: “Father, I desire that they also whom You have entrusted to Me, as Your gift to Me, may be with Me where I am” (John 17: 24, Amplified Bible).
As I read this passage, I thought to myself, how dear of Jesus. He wanted His friends, not only those eating supper with Him on that momentous night, but all His children down through the ages, to be with Him where He was going.” Wasn’t it like Jesus to think of others – those He dearly loved?!
But to think that Jesus just wanted us only to enjoy the restful glory of a heavenly home would be to miss the point of this entire prayer. From the moment Jesus began to speak with His Father, until the very last words recorded by John in Chapter 17, there is a cord of gold that starts with the words Jesus spoke in John 17: 3, Amplified Bible, “This is eternal life: it means to know, to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand You, the only true and real God, and likewise to know Him, Jesus, Whom You have sent.” Jesus then continued in John 17: 4 by underscoring the fact that He had finished the work God gave Him to do…and He laid out clearly what this work was in John 17: 6 when He stated: “I have manifested Your name, I have revealed Your very Self.”
Throughout the prayer in John 17, Jesus reiterates that the goal of His life was to, as He sums up in John 17: 26, “reveal Your character,” or as the King James Version states: “Declare Thy name,” or as the Greek translation notes: “to reveal with surety and truth who God is.”
However, my all-time favorite translation in the Greek for the word “reveal” is the phrase, “to take off the cover.” Now as I have shared with you before, I love to cook. Just the other day, I was watching a program called, One Pot Meals. I thought I’d try one of the concoctions. You were instructed to put a wide-variety of ingredients into a durable pot and let it cook very slowly on the stove with a lid on. Then after about one hour, the recipe said to put the pot, with the lid still on, into the oven for another hour. Let me be clear, during the time of cooking and baking, aromas of all types were escaping from that pot. Some were absolutely delicious. Others were quite unusual. But I didn’t really get the full impact of how that dish would taste until all the cooking was completed and I took off the lid which revealed a phenomenal meal. However, and this is extremely important, there were several vegetables as well as certain spices in this recipe that without actually looking at what had been served and tasting the food with your own mouth, you’d miss out on completely. The revelation of the dish came step-by-step, until finally, at a time when up-close-and-personal, my guests and I were able to savor the whole dish, to really find out what was in that “one-pot-meal.”
This is really the way Jesus closes His prayer in John 17. His personal desire was for the day to come when the lid was finally removed and God’s family, His children on earth as well as His children above, unite in harmony together and we would spend eternity seeing what Jesus had witnessed, the beauty and perfection of the character of His Father.
And just so we will be prepared to be one with the Father and Son as Jesus prayed, we find that in the Latin, the word “character” means to bear an inscription. In the gift of Jesus to this earth, our heavenly Father loved us so much He gave His only Son that whoever walks with Jesus and believes on Jesus will surely be inscribed with the seal of the family of which God is our Father.
Just as we are inscribed with the signet of God’s family, so as Jesus prayed, His presence will be with us as we share God’s character of love with those we touch each day.
As Michael Phillips noted though, it is impossible to know God…if we are thinking incorrectly about who He is.” This is why the Son invited His followers to walk beside Him everyday. For as Jesus told His disciples, “He (she) that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14: 9, K.J.V.). There’s the picture, we need to see. The lid has been taken off so the Father’s character can be revealed in truth to you and me through the life of Jesus. In the words of Angela Ashwin: “O Wisdom, mysterious Word of God, coming forth from the Father and filling all creation with Your life-giving power; come and show us the way of truth…O Emmanuel, God with us, hope of the world, and Saviour of all, come and live in us, now and for ever.”
“It pleases the Father that all fullness should be in Christ; therefore there is nothing but emptiness anywhere else.”
“I beseech You, merciful God, to allow me to drink from the stream which flows from Your fountain of life. May I taste the sweet beauty of its waters, which spring from the very depths of Your truth. O Lord, You are that fountain from which I desire with all my heart to drink. Give me, Lord Jesus, this water, that it may quench the burning spiritual thirst within my soul, and purify me from all sin.
I know, King of glory, that I am asking from You a great gift. But You give to Your faithful people without counting the cost, and You promise even greater things in the future. Indeed, nothing is greater than Yourself, and You have given Yourself to mankind on the cross. Therefore, in praying for the waters of life, I am praying that You, the source of those waters, will give Yourself to me. You are my light, my salvation, my food, my drink, my God.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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