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John Chapter 16:  16-33 – Connolly (20) Title:  Peace in a Time of Trouble – Lecture Title: Organic Faith

In Abiding Faith, we learned the metaphor of the vine – branches, fruit, vine – this is an image of an organic union and it goes beyond the idea of intimate fellowship even.  The Spirit abiding in the disciples would teach them (14: 16, 17), hence Jesus’ words would remain in them (15: 7). As they continued in this union, they would know Jesus better (15: 15; 16: 13-15) and hence begin to reflect the ‘fruit’ of his character (15: 8, 9). This is organic faith – trusting and resting in Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit – this is what gives peace and fills us with christian joy, love for God and our neighbors, and increases hope.

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Lectio divina means divine reading, reading from the heart, to allow God’s Word to heal and transform us. It is one of the best ways to spend 15-20 minutes in daily devotional reading of the Bible. God’s Word is living and active and when we abide in it daily, we’re abiding in Jesus – imagine Jesus is saying the words to you. There are four steps: Read, Meditate, Pray, Contemplate (rest in God).

Prepare (choose your passage and let it be small – one or two verses rather than a whole chapter; withdraw to a quiet place; relax your posture and breathing; visualize a setting that calms you, invite the Holy Spirit; use a centering prayer to focus your thoughts on God, say the Trinity Prayer of Protection) – 3–5 minutes.

Step 1, Read: Read passage aloud – 1-2 minutes. As you read, listen for word or phrase that touches you – 1-2 minutes.

Step 2, Meditate: how is my life is touched by this word; what are the connections between this word and my life – 3 – 5 minutes.

Step 3, Pray: Offer these thoughts to God. Respond to God. Ask: Am I being invited to respond? Am I being encouraged to do something? – 2 – 3 minutes

Step 4, Contemplate: Sit in silence. “Be still”; “Rest” in God – 3 – 5 minutes.

Every time the mind starts wandering, read the passage and start the process anew. Close in prayer by offering thanks and praise to God – 2 – 3 minutes.

Close with the Our Father prayer that Jesus taught his disciples.

Hummingbird sipping nectar from a flower

Activity for Week 1 – Meditation and Contemplation of the “I AM” statements of Jesus

Spend 15 minutes each day reading, praying, meditating, and contemplating on the I AM statement and question for the DAY.  Several times during the day too, offer the statement to God and whenever you get a chance think about it. The statements are easily memorized.

DAY 1:

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6: 35

Is Jesus the Bread of my life?

DAY 2:

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8: 12

Do I live by his Light?

DAY 3:

“I am the gate.  Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” John 10: 7, 9

Do I enter through him as the Gate to salvation, or do I keep trying to rescue myself?

DAY 4:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10: 11 ; “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” John 10: 14

Do I trust him to Shepherd me?

DAY 5:

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11: 25-26

Do I depend on his Resurrection or do I keep trying to lift myself up?

DAY 6:

“I am the way and the truth and the life.” John 14: 6

Do I let him be the Way for me or do I keep asking for directions? Is he the Truth by which I judge all other lesser truths? Is he my Life or do I engage in career, entertainments, and posessions to give me life?

DAY 7:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15: 5

Do I abide in him, cling to him as a branch to a Vine, and draw all my spiritual nourishment from him?

Source: The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible, NRSV.

Hummingbird sipping nectar from a flower

Hummingbird sipping nectar from a flower

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13: 17

During Spring break and during this season of Lent, let us take some time to reflect on the state of each of our own relationship with God and find out: Am I a friend of God? Is my life free from compromise with this world?

In the Gospel of John we’ve been identifying the various entry points for belief in Jesus to non believers as well as mature ones. Belief is allegiance to Lord Jesus. Allegiance includes following Jesus. John advises us to know, believe, and receive Jesus – meaning experience Jesus. If you follow the schedule below you should be able to better understand how you are or are not experiencing Jesus daily. The Examen (Week 2) is a prayer tool, which takes a few minutes each day.  Please lift to God the areas of life that are life-draining, compromised or broken and in need of his healing grace.

Schedule for Week 1:  Tuesday March 24 – Sat. March 28

Meditation of the I AM statements (posted as Part 2)

Schedule for Week 2:  Sunday March 29 – Sat. April 4

Daily Prayer of Examen – use the Sleeping with Bread By Linn and Linn handout

Schedule for Week 3: Sunday April 5 – Sat. April 11 – Holy Week

Attend Holy Week Communion at IPC (morning or evening).

Schedule for Week 4; Sunday April 12 (Easter) – Sat. April 18

Daily Prayer of Examen – use the Sleeping with Bread By Linn and Linn handout

On one day this week do the Life as a Garden visualization

On another day please jot down, in two columns, the Books in the Bible that you like to read often and books that you rarely find yourself reading

Week 5: Sunday, April 19 – Worship, Rest

Monday, April 20 – Return to Monday Night Bible study for John 17 – Jesus prays for us

Sources: The Bible & 2008/2009 Monday Night Bible Study booklet (the one with the hummingbird on the cover) – Please read pages 1 – 6 (Introduction to Women’s Monday Night Bible Study: Covenant Groups in Celebration, Gratitude, and Discipleship)

John Chapter 16:  5-15 – Connolly (19) Title: Secrets of the Spirit – Lecture Title: Charismatic Faith

Charismatic faith is the faith in and of the Holy Spirit. John has already mentioned the Holy Spirit 3 times thus far in the Farewell Discourses:

The Spirit as Helper – 14: 15-17

He Spirit as Interpreter – 14: 25, 26

The Spirit as Witness – 15: 26, 27

Fourth Paraclete saying:  The Spirit as Prosecutor – 16: 4b – 11. In vv. 8-11 – The Spirit as helper, advocate and will act as counsel for the Defence in the case of Believers and counsel for prosecution in the case of Non-Believers – Greek word elencho meaning refute, expose, convince or convict)

Fifth Paracelete saying – The Spirit as Revealer – 16: 12 – 15. In vv. 12, 13 – declare – anangelei – Paraclete will bring out the fuller implications of the revelation embodied in the Messiah and apply them relevantly to each succeeding generation.  In 14, 15, the fifth and last time in these Paraclete sayings the emphatic demonstrative ekeinos – masculine in agreement with parakletos – is used of the Spirit.  He and no other

Will teach the disciples everything 14: 26

Will bear witness to Christ 15: 26

Will expose the world’s error 16: 8

Will guide the disciples in the way of all truth 16: 13,

And now it is he who has as his supreme mission the glorifying of Jesus 14: 14, 15

As the Son has glorified the Father by his work on earth (7: 18, 17: 4) so the Spirit by his coming will glorify the Son.  In making known the Son, the Spirit makes known the Father who is revealed in the Son.  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit abide in us. This is how we’re able to live joyfully, peacefully, lovingly, right now – we experience eternal life right now and these are the secrets of the Spirit – the more we surrender to Christ and keep our eyes on Him and are obedient to God’s will, the more joy, love, peace we will find experiencing, ourselves giving it away, and the more joyful, loving, peaceful we become in turn.

John Chapter 15: 12 – 16:4 – Connolly (18) Title: The Cost of Friendship – Lecture Title: Sacrifice is the Love Passion of the Holy Spirit

Rev. Barbara Buck taught us today and here are my brief notes: Sacrifice, a spiritual discipline, is the cost of friendship –we willingly give up things for our friends – when we don’t there’s no friendship. Similarly, as people who love God and follow Jesus, how are we friends of God and Jesus? The commandment of Jesus to love others as ourselves is a difficult one to follow but he also gave us the Holy Spirit to help us make the sacrifices with “exuberant joy” (not pain) needed to be a friend of God. This requires self-surrender. To be a friend of God is to give our sovereignty to God. Instead of putting ourselves first (what do we want) we desire and seek God’s will (what does God want for me/this situation in my life).

Barbara gave us three questions to reflect on:

1) Am I a friend of God?

2) Who’s in charge – me or God?

3) Is my life free from compromise with the world?

John Chapter 15: 1-11 – Connolly (17) Title: The Secrets of the Vine – Lecture Title: Abiding Faith (Obedient Faith)

Jesus is the vine; God, the Father is the vinedresser; disciples (we) are the branches. Abiding faith is faith that is filled with the mutual indwelling, the coinherence of Christ and his people. Christ lives in us – this is grace and will.  “Charis is grace, the given passion that flows from the self offering of Christ and is given that we may learn to love.” We will, choose freely, to follow Christ.

Side note: Grace is beyond our control – its grace of God – but our free-will is indeed under our control. We could get totally philosophical and say that will isn’t either but I think we modern people won’t seriously accept this :).