These are the answers to the Bible study for the March devotional in the Encourager’s Devotional Series. Where responses may vary, I have not listed specific answers, but I would love to hear some of yours in the comments.
In John 14:27, Jesus said, “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.”
This passage is set in the midst of a long discussion that Jesus had with his disciples, in which He was trying to prepare them for future events. What did Jesus know was about to happen? (see John 13:1,21,33; 14:2,19-20,28; 17:1-5,11)
- He was going to leave this world and go to the Father.
- One of the disciples was going to betray Him.
- He would not be with them much longer.
- He was going to prepare a place for them and would return to take them with Him.
- They would see Him even when the world could not because He would be in them.
- He would be coming back.
- He would be glorified.
- The Father would protect them.
Read the entire discussion (John 13:1-17:26). What things in this passage let us know that “peace” according to Jesus does not mean absence of trouble? (see 15:18-20; 16:32-33; 17:14-15)
- They would be hated and persecuted just as Jesus was.
- Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble.”
- Jesus prayed they would be protected from the evil one, suggesting that the evil one would be out to harm them.
You may remember from January’s study that the word for encourage in Greek is parakaleson (parakavleson). In that case, it is used as a verb and has a broad range of meaning – from exhort, admonish, and urge strongly to comfort and come alongside someone. The same word is used as a noun (parakletos) in John 14:26, 15:26, and 16:7. Depending on your translation, the word may be interpreted as advocate, counselor, comforter, or helper. In these passages in John, the word is being used in reference to the Holy Spirit.
We can learn a lot about what it takes to be an encourager by studying what the Holy Spirit actually does in His role as our helper, encourager, or paraclete. Look up the following passages (preferably in the NIV so it corresponds) and fill in the blanks:
John 14:26 – He teaches you all things and will remind you of everything Christ has said.
John 15:26 – He testifies about Christ.
John 16:8-11 – He convicts the world of sin.
John 16:13-14 – He will guide you into all truth. He will speak what he hears from God, and He will tell you what is yet to come.
Look over John 13-17 once again. This time pay attention to the things Jesus said in the way of comforting His disciples. Make note of any that are also comforting to you.
Lisa’s thoughts: Besides the things in the list above (He will be with us, God will protect us, He is coming back for us, etc), I also find it comforting to think on things like …
- He has overcome the world.
- We will have the power to continue the works He did and we will bear fruit.
- We are loved by God.
- We can know truth.
- No one can take away our joy.
- We can pray and know that God answers our prayers.
- We can have unity.
- We can take part in His mission to let others know about the love of God.
Read John 14:16. How long will the Holy Spirit be with us? always/forever
Ponder the question of whether or not you avail yourself of the Spirit’s help as much as you could. Do you pray that He will teach you and help you understand what Christ has said in the Word? Do you open yourself up to let Him reveal your sins to you? Do you pray that He will give you boldness to testify to others about Christ (see Acts 4:29-31)? As you think and pray on these things, jot down any thoughts, goals, or convictions you may have.
Read Philippians 4:8-9. Take time to think on anything noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy which comes to mind (and possibly write a few down).
One very “praiseworthy” thing is the fact that the Holy Spirit has been sent to “come alongside” us as we make our journey through life. Think on this for awhile and spend some time thanking God for your “silent partner” (as referred to in the March Devotional).
Read Philippians 4:6-7 again. What situations in your life might be making it hard for you to maintain a sense of peace? Take time to present your requests to God. Be sure to pray in thankfulness, knowing that He hears you. Then rest a few moments in peace, knowing that He is acting on your behalf.
Application – Just a reminder. This section is for you to “brainstorm” as to ways you might take action regarding this study. It does not mean that you will do everything you list, but it is good to get things on paper to help you explore your options and for future reference.
How does understanding the role of the Holy Spirit as our “encourager” effect the way you might think about encouraging others?
Lisa’s thoughts: As we continue to expand our concept of what encouragement includes, let’s remember to add teaching to our list of ways we can encourage others. Often when we think of teaching, we think of preparing lessons and doing public speaking and this frightens many people. Teaching, however, can be done through simply sharing what you know of God and the Scriptures in casual conversations. It can also be a matter of pointing out how the Bible applies to someone’s situation when you’re trying to help them. It can even be just telling someone how God has helped you or sharing Bible passages that have been meaningful to you.
What Scripture(s) could you memorize to keep in mind when you feel your peace slipping away? Some suggestions: John 14:27, John 16:33, Phil 4:6-7, Phil 4:12-13. You may think of others, and there are a few more below.
Who might benefit from reading some of the texts you’ve studied this month? Actually write down names and Scripture references.
Did anyone else come to mind as you studied this lesson (e.g., someone who needs teaching, someone who needs comfort, someone who needs to hear the Gospel)? Write down specific names and how you might come alongside them.
Looking back on the devotion, are there any of the “ways that God can bring us peace” that you need to incorporate into your life more? The means listed were: Bible reading, Christian art and music, the company of Christian friends and family, worship services, inspirational reading, and prayer.
Here are just some quick observations on a couple of those means of peace. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that you might have peace.” Knowing what He has said (i.e., reading his Word) helps keep us in peace. You might also note that, according to Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, music can be used to teach and admonish us.
All of these things help us keep our minds on God and Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” (NKJV)
What do you specifically want to do in response to this month’s devotion? I would love for you to leave comments to let me know what you plan to do. If you do, I will check back with you later to see how you’re doing with your goals.
Come again next Wednesday for the final post on this month’s Encourager’s Devotional theme. And email me if you’d like to receive the Leader’s Guide to this devotional series – firstname.lastname@example.org