Summary: The Lord Calls Equips and Comforts his servants
John 14: 23-29
A HOLY CALL A HOLY CITY A HOLY COUNSELOR
In scripture God is referred to as HOLY, HOLY, HOLY.
He is God in three persons, the Holy trinity.
When I looked at the scripture passages for today in preparation for writing this sermon, I saw that we also have a connection to this idea of three times Holy.
Let’s look at the Holy call, the Holy city, and the Holy Counselor in these passages.
Paul knew he was called by God to preach the gospel and he depended upon God to open or close doors of opportunity for him. We know according to Psalm 37:23 that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, but have you ever thought about that the “stops” are, too? In just a few verses previous to this one, Paul had felt “forbidden” by the Holy Spirit to speak in Asia. Now he feels led by the Holy Spirit to go to Macedonia, Greece.
In his conscious waking moments Paul had prayed for guidance and he expected to hear from God. He was prepared for God to speak to him or make His will known to him in a number of ways. So when Paul had a vision of a man calling to him to come, then he concluded God was opening a door for him there.
So, what happened as a result of Paul’s obedience this time? He went to Macedonia and stayed a few days and on the Sabbath he went to the riverside where he expected to meet with other worshippers.
(I was intrigued when I read some commentaries that said the word “synagogue” originally meant riverside!) Imagine Paul’s surprise when it turned out to be just a few women there that day! In the vision it was a man extending the call. Was this obviously the wrong place? No, it was a Holy Spirit setup… perfectly orchestrated by God.
Lydia was there. She was already a worshipper of God….a seeker, or god-fearer as they were called, and just needed to hear the word proclaimed so that she could be saved. The scripture says when Paul preached, God “opened her heart” to pay attention and she was baptized and her household as well.
Lydia was a business woman, a dealer in purple. The dye for purple was made from a juice found in very minute quantities in shellfish. It took thousands of crustaceans to make a yard or two of purple cloth. So it was very expensive, worth its weight in silver. Lydia had become wealthy from her sales in purple cloth. And as my Baptist pastor used to say, when folks are baptized their pocketbooks get wet, too. Lydia felt a Holy call to serve God with her finances and because of that, God’s word spread.
You see, she opened her home to Paul’s group to show her gratitude, and from this small beginning grew the church at Philippi, the strongest and most generous of all Paul’s churches.
Suppose Paul had not followed the Holy call in his vision? Suppose he had been so disappointed at the small congregation made up of “just a few women” that he had not gone ahead and preached the gospel to them that day?
God had a plan and God called a man and a woman to complete the plan. Many were blessed because they both obeyed their Holy Call.
There is a divine call on our lives, too. Are we sensitive enough to hear God’s Holy “No” as well as his Holy “Go”? (Don’t worry if sometimes you get it wrong, the providence of God is flexible enough to include our free choice, but forceful enough to prevent the ultimate failure of His will.) The thing God is looking for is our action and obedience to what we perceive as His will.
Now we go over to the second passage of scripture and see God speaking to John in a vision, too. This time it is to encourage an exiled preacher (and us), that this is not the final home for God’s servants.
Whatever culture you stumble across, whatever time period of history, you will find some sort of belief in the afterlife. God has set eternity in our hearts.
Like the little boy flying his kite and the kite was out of sight and someone asked him where it was and he pointed up to the sky. They asked him how he knew it was there if he couldn't see it and he said, "I know it is there because I can feel it tug." We can know in a similar way that there is a Heaven, because we can feel the tug of it in our souls.
John sees the Holy City, that Louise sang about this morning. The hymn writer used this scripture passage to describe the perfect city and its perfect provision and perfect population. Its splendor is compared to jewels. But the gold and precious stones are being used as just beautiful and serviceable building materials for its walls and streets.