Theme: Prayer and Peace
In these lessons we look at some of the final instructions Jesus passed on to his disciples, and see how they are also given to us for living godly lives even in the midst of difficulty.
Scripture: John 14
In verses 13 and 14 Jesus talks about prayer, saying that prayer is effective. Notice the way He puts it: “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
I find that very comforting. Jesus did not say, “I want to recommend prayer to you as a spiritual discipline because it is good, periodically, to quiet your mind and heart and meditate on spiritual things. You will find that it will do you good. If it doesn’t, try yoga!” Jesus did not say that about prayer. He said, “Prayer is communicating with God; and when you pray, if you pray in My name, you will receive what you ask!” 
In other words, prayer is effective. Prayer works. When you find yourself in the midst of trouble and pray for peace, God will give you peace. When you find yourself in the midst of difficulties and pray for a solution, God will work through the difficulties to bring a solution. If we feed upon the Scriptures so that the character of Christ is before our minds, and if we are trying to please Him so that what we pray for is for the glory of God (which was His aim in life), then when we pray, God will do what we ask. 
One of the great texts on prayer is 1 John 3:21, 22 where John the evangelist says categorically, “We have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask.” 
“Anything, John?”
“Yes, anything.” 
Then he explains why. “Because,” he says, “we obey his commands and do what pleases him.” That is the formula for having your prayers answered! Obey all the written commandments of Jesus Christ, which is the way in which you demonstrate your love for Him. (As He said in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”) Then pray for those things which, so far as you know, will please God. When you do that, God will do those things and prayer will be as effective for you as Jesus Christ says it will be.
In the rest of the chapter Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit who, he says, will be with us forever (v. 16). What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit with us? We must understand that when we talk about the Holy Spirit, we are, first of all, talking about a personality, the third person of the Godhead, and not a power. That makes all the difference in the world. If the Holy Spirit is merely a power, like electricity or dynamite, then we must want as much of it as we can get—so we can use it. But since the Holy Spirit is a personality, then it is not a matter of our getting it, but of Him getting us. And when the Holy Spirit has us, He uses us to the glory of Jesus Christ. 
The second thing we need to understand about the Holy Spirit is that we are talking about a divine personality and not a creature. You can manipulate a creature. You can bargain with a creature. You can say, “I will do this for you if you will do this for me.” But you cannot do that with God. Therefore, the work of the Holy Spirit in us has to be on God’s terms. 
The chief work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus. He does this by regeneration, as He draws men and women to Christ in salvation. He does it by sanctification, as He molds us day by day into the image of Jesus Christ. He does it by glorification, as He perfects this work in the day of our death or at the coming of Christ. 
When our Lord gets to the end of this chapter, He says in v. 27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Do you see how this comes back to the beginning? What did Jesus say in verse 1? He said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Then, when He gets to the end, He says, “I give you my peace. And because of this you do not need to be troubled.” Jesus did not promise that life will be free of difficulties, but He did promise the means of living in the midst of our difficulties.
Study Questions:

What is to characterize our prayers, and our lives, so that they are effective?
What is the chief work of the Holy Spirit?  How does he accomplish this?

Reflection: How has the Lord given you peace during troubled times?  What lessons did he teach you?  How did you glorify him in ways that you perhaps could not have done if the difficulty had never come?
For Further Study: To learn more about how the character of God enables the Christian to stand secure amid the storms of life, download and read for free the PDF version of “A Shield for You,” by James Boice.  (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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