Each week during Lent we are reflecting on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in preparation for celebrating Easter together.
A LENTEN DEVOTIONAL BY SCOTTY SMITH
The Holy Spirit — the Spirit of Adoption
SCRIPTURE: JOHN 14:15-27
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
As Jesus prepared his disciples for his imminent departure via the cross, he spoke to them about the coming of the Holy Spirit. The grief of his leaving them would be superseded by the joy of a greater intimacy with God through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Far from being orphaned, the disciples would enter an even greater relationship with God after Easter. Mourning would become dancing, as Jesus’ death segued to his resurrection, and Jesus’ ascension would lead to Pentecost.
Indeed, the lament of Lent leads to the laughter of resurrection, as believers, like us, come more fully alive to the finished work of Jesus and the ongoing work of the “Spirit of adoption” in our lives. The more we are convinced that God is our loving Abba Father, the more fully we will give ourselves to a life of worship, service and obedient love.
As we move steadily towards this year’s celebration of Palm Sunday and Easter, how’s your heart? How do Jesus’ promises to his disciples, in this portion of Scripture, encourage you? Take a few moments to thank God for his commitment to deepen your experience of him as Abba Father. Hallelujah, God doesn’t leave us to be weighed down with the spirit of fear, the spirit of slavery, or the spirit of fatherless orphans.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:4-7
Lord Jesus, thank you for making our relationship with God one of perpetual favor and filial affection. However, there are still stretches when we revert to thinking, feeling, and acting like we’re spiritual orphans—as though we don't really have a heavenly Father who loves us deeply and who is involved in every detail of our lives.
When we get sucked back into this downward spiral, our spirit shrinks and our fears enlarge. Our peace says, "Bye-bye," and our control issues say, "We're back." We get defensive and we go on the offensive. In short, we’re no fun to be around. Instead of the life-giving aroma of the gospel, we start exuding the stale smell of unbelief.
Jesus, we come to you now, preventively. We don’t want our circumstances to "grease the track" towards one of the downward cycles of Abba-less thinking. So we choose to preach the gospel to our hearts right now. You are our comprehensive forgiveness and our perfect righteousness; and you haven't left us as orphans. As you promised, after your death and resurrection, you came to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Adoption, the very Spirit by which we now cry, "Abba, Father." You will never leave us or abandon us.
Instead, we abandon ourselves to you and to the resources of the gospel. You are working in all things, for our good and your glory. Nothing, and no one, can separate us from your love. As one hour gives way to the next, may the beauty and power of the gospel override the ugly and lethargy of our unbelief. So very Amen we pray, in your compassionate and triumphant name.