John Newlands - Mudgee Convention, New South Wales, Australia - 2017

John 14:1, Jesus, speaking to His disciples, sometimes called “the last supper.”  He must have seen a troubling in the eleven disciples that were left.  They were in their place, they had stayed.  Judas had gone out and it was night.  Satan had filled his heart.  The eleven were troubled, they had kept the door of their heart closed, just allowing the things of God in there.  We read of Jesus, several times in the gospel mentioning that He would suffer at the hand of the priests and religious leaders and be slain.  He always finished off by saying He would rise again.  It seems they didn’t understand what He was speaking about.  We read of Jesus rebuking Peter.  Jesus had to rebuke Satan working through Peter.  They must have been troubled and maybe, human thoughts arising in their minds.  He has spoken about this before, but it seems now He is really going to go through with this.  We hardly believed what He said, but it seems now His purpose is to go through with it, willing to suffer at the hands of these political and religious people.

Verse 1,  it is easy to believe in God.  It is within our human nature to believe in a god, to worship something greater than ourselves, the way boys will be worshipping some sports idol or the way girls worship some pop idol.  Here, in Australia, aboriginals have this big rock they worship.  It is something in our human nature.  We want to worship something greater than ourselves.

Psalm 14 and Psalm 53, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”  People all around them will be worshipping something.  Paul said (Romans 8: 6-7), “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”  People will worship and look up to something.  They might even think it is something spiritual.  They are only worshipping the work of their own hands.  The more beautiful churches and temples are, the more they like them.  The basis of false religion is the love of money.  The basis of the Kingdom of Heaven is Divine love.  We, as the children of God, have need to guard against worshipping our possessions, anything that is taking up our time, the time we should be giving to God and following Jesus.  It is such a different thing to believe in Jesus.  Jesus, that wee babe born in Bethlehem.  God came down:   Immanuel, which means "God with us."  He sent His Son, in His humility.  Jesus was born in humility and lived a humble life and that shows how God is, a humble God.

As small children, we had the idea our parents were against us, when they were trying to correct us.  Sometimes, we get the impression that He is against us and He wants to try and help us be like Jesus.  Joseph and Mary, this couple, the angel spoke to Mary and Joseph and they knew this was the Son of God.  Such a great privilege, but they would be trembling too, thinking of such a great life.  Everything was true, they ended up in the stable.  Joseph and Mary were human like ourselves, faithful souls.  I am sure the little human thought came creeping into their minds when they saw the situation they were in.  We are in the will of God and we never thought it was going to be like this.  Christmas scenes show everything nice and clean in the stable, I am sure that wouldn’t be the case.  I am sure when the shepherds arrived, it was the most pitiful thing they had ever seen in their lives.  Jesus was the rejected king even before He was born, because Joseph and Mary kept knocking on doors, the only place was the stable.  Herod sent out his soldiers to slay those little children in the hope that one would be the King of the Jews.  I sometimes wonder when Joseph and Mary were looking about, knocking on doors, some of those women could have been in a similar state themselves.  They could have said, "We will curtain off a wee corner of the living room," but they didn’t, but God punished them.  These ladies must have been very hard hearted to leave Mary in that state.  Jesus was born into discipline from the word “go.”  From the minute He was born, He was born into discipline. 

John 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled.  Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.”  “The still, small voice of Jesus speaks to my heart each day, still follow in My footsteps – there is no other way.”  The disciples had come quite a way with Jesus.  Now they were coming to the crunch.  “Still follow in My footsteps – there is no other way.”  I thought of Jesus being born, wrapped up in swaddling clothes.  The mothers wrapped up their children and put them on their shoulders, just with its head sticking out, all it can do is breathe and cry.  It makes me think of a brother, David Olsen.  The first thing he saw was “the swaddling clothes.”   Where he was working, a friend worked there.  This friend didn’t “run with the hares,” separate from the others, and that is the way David put it.  “The first thing I saw were the swaddling clothes,” a disciplined life.  That was the beginning of days for him, when he saw the swaddling clothes in the life he was living, a pure life, a life separate from what they were doing.  That is the way Jesus started.  He grew up under the discipline of his parents and then under the discipline of His Father and now He had come to this point and the disciples could see something.

It is easy to believe in God, but the rejected One, the One Whom God sent down with His life, believe it is possible to live His life in the flesh.  Matthew 5:48, “Be ye there perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.”  Jesus had the same mind and the same temptations, yet He was getting victory in every battle.  John 6:66, “ … many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.”  That is what sends people away, putting into practise in their lives His teaching and His doctrine.  “They walked no more with Him.”  “There is no other way.”  The world thinks there are a thousand other ways.  There is no other way.   Jesus would be very thankful … they fled and must have gathered themselves together somehow, because John was at the foot of the cross.  Jesus would be very thankful for those who stayed firm.  Experiences will come, that might even shake us to the very roots, but we want to keep our eyes on Jesus and remember to keep our eyes on Jesus.  That is how we get understanding of the word, being willing to go through the experiences.  When we were studying at school, working out sums that would prove we understood the subject … we had the Bible, but there is only one way of proving we understand the Bible, that is being willing for it.  We don’t understand the Word of God until it is made flesh in our lives.  The disciples were getting into deeper waters.  Jesus would be very thankful that in all these troubling times, they were staying true, proving they had the life of the Father in them.

II Corinthians 1:15-18, “And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; and to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea.  When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?   But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.”  Paul’s desire to go and visit them… “Did I purpose according to the flesh that with me there should be yea yea, and nay, nay?”  That is our flesh, totally unstable, takes the easiest path.  Whatever way is easiest, the human spirit changes all the time, so it is sometimes yes and sometimes no.  Paul wasn’t guided by the flesh.

They could see Jesus going to the cross, was fixed in His purpose.  Good if people can see we are fixed to live for Jesus and to live for others.  II Corinthians 1:19, “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea.”  It is all gain.  There is no negative side to it.  Even with correction we realize:  this is all for my good and there is no negative side to it.  We realize if we continue in this way we will end up at the side of Jesus in His throne.

II Corinthians 1:19-20, “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea.  For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”

This was Jesus coming to the cross, to the crunch, but still in Him was, “Yea, amen.”  Matthew 26:42, “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, 'O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.'”  Jesus realized, "There is no other way."  The human being thinking of the possibility, but God has given us wisdom to realize there is no other way.  The further on we go, the deeper the sacrifice, and the deeper the cost.  But there is more grace and the more we are willing to go into the depths of God’s will, there is more depth to do our part.  As we are willing to allow God to do a deeper work in our lives, grace will abound to help us and the richer will be the reward.  

Jesus had come to earth to live on a daily basis, with this goal in view:  to give His life for us.  His life was broken, the ransom price could be paid.  The third day, God raised Him up again.  We want to go to the “amen” ourselves.  The only way to allow God to finish His work in our lives is to say “yes” every day and not say ”no” to His will.  Sometimes, we have said, “No, no.”  

This afternoon, I was thinking about the man asking two sons to go, one said, “No,” but the other said, “Yes,” but he didn’t go.  I have said “no” too often.  Another person says, "Why do you have to do it this way?OK, she does it.  She does what she is asked to do, but it’s not just the same.  OK, I don’t think God would be too satisfied with that.  We want to have this “yea” in our life, to all the will of God for our lives.  Abraham was promised that child, Isaac.  Finally, Sarah had this child of promise, then Abraham was asked to offer him up.  Abraham had a vision, he believed, “We will come again."  Abraham believed in the resurrection.  It was “yea” to the will of God.  He got up early in the morning and away he went to the mountain.  He really meant to do it.  The angel just called in the nick of time.  We would like to serve the Lord with that willingness, too, not dragging our feet, not serving God with less than our all, bringing joy to the heart of Jesus and to our companions and colleagues in the work, being used to bring joy to this weary world.