Tag Archives: Evidence

Wednesday with John – Yet

  • John 7:1 After this, Jesus went about in Galilee; he would not go about in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. 2 Now the Jews’ feast of Tabernacles was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples may see the works you are doing. 4 For no man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his brothers did not believe in him. 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil. 8 Go to the feast yourselves; I am not[other ancient authorities add yet here] going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 So saying, he remained in Galilee. 10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him. RSV

What is the general theme of the passage?
The end is near.  Jesus is guarding His time and activity.  He’s under pressure from those that are closest to Him to be more aggressive about his ministry, probably because of mixed motives.  They want Him to be protected by recognition and they have their own doubts about why He continues to withhold Himself from that protection which seems so obvious to them.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus knows the fallacy of the Feast is the fickle heart of people having decided the public display of worship is what pleases God. 

What does it say about people?
The fickle heart of people demands evidence and then decides what that evidence is supposed to be. 

Is there truth here for me?
Three words are the truth here — After this and yet are almost all that needs to be said about this passage: “After this,” is like “moving right along” and Yet,” is like “pause to take note.”  Chapter 6 ends with “After this.”  Moving right along, Jesus spoke hard words to what was left of His disciples, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?”  He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray him.” 

Moving right along in Chapter 7 John writes  “For even his brothers did not believe in him.”   That’s a shocking statement. The brothers knew what Jesus had done and like everyone else they believed in that!  Still they wanted Jesus to give more evidence to validate His time…and theirs!  That would certainly be evidence of a fickle heart I could recognize…deciding how Jesus should use His time and what He should do to prove Himself.  

When Jesus says “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here” was He gently chiding them because they were trying to manage His time and not making use of theirs?  Was that somehow the subtle evidence John saw of their unbelief?  After all their intimate experiences with Jesus…after what they knew to be true from their own time walking, working and watching Jesus…After this…they still wanted Jesus to do more.  

The truth for believers to ponder about unbelief being subtle,
“Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.”  

Wednesday with John – Daily

John 5
34 Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved.
35 John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message.
36 But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me.
37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face,
38 and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you.
39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!
40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. NLT

What is the general theme of the passage?
This is Jesus’s harsh indictment of apathy. Avoiding the witness of His life and the evidence of His teachings and miracles while searching for alternatives is going to end badly; they’ll miss life altogether. The negative response of human nature to judgment and authority is unbelief.  The error of that plan is the two-sided mystery of faith; you don’t believe because you don’t have God’s message in your heart and you don’t have God’s message in your heart because you don’t believe. 

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
God has testified about Jesus.  Jesus has accomplished the work God has given Him.  His teachings and miracles are proof of God’s own witness that He has sent Jesus for a specific purpose, “so you might be saved.”

What does it say about people?
V37 & 38 from The Message says it so clearly: The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.

Is there truth here for me?
Many years of hearing “read your Bible every day” seems like a good esample of just what Jesus is saying.  It’s easy to believe that reading Scripture is a good alternative. It’s also easy to avoid it because it’s hard to force my mind to accept that daily reading isn’t just an exercise of faith but is meant to challenge it. “Daily” is part of that two-sided mystery of how difficult, AND how infinitely valuable it is to allow Scripture to transform “what I believe I know” into personal evidence of “what I know I believe.”

“Real”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real”and “because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to every one.”
…the quotes are from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

This Christmas I was reminded of the book The Velveteen Rabbit, first published in 1922, and discovered the quotes above woven into it’s tender story.  I know it’s not a perfect comparison but I saw a likeness to how God becomes real to His children and how in that relationship those children become real.  “It’s a thing that happens to you…because he loved you.”  The notable thing that caught my attention is that the caps in both quotes are not mine, they are the authors. Those capitals are the gift that pointed my mind to these other timeless Words that are a “Real” check about ”Real” love.

o you are a teacher of Israel,” said Jesus, and you do not recognise such things? I assure you that we are talking about something we really know and we are witnessing to something we have actually observed, yet men like you will not accept our evidence. Yet if I have spoken to you about things which happen on this earth and you will not believe me, what chance is there that you will believe me if I tell you about what happens in Heaven? No one has ever been up to Heaven except the Son of Man who came down from Heaven. The Son of Man must be lifted above the heads of men—as Moses lifted up that serpent in the desert—so that any man who believes in him may have eternal life. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that every one who believes in him shall not be lost, but should have eternal life. You must understand that God has not sent his Son into the world to pass sentence upon it, but to save it—through him. Any man who believes in him is not judged at all. It is the one who will not believe who stands already condemned, because he will not believe in the character of God’s only Son. This is the judgment—that light has entered the world and men have preferred darkness to light because their deeds are evil. Anybody who does wrong hates the light and keeps away from it, for fear his deeds may be exposed.  But anybody who is living by the truth will come to the light to make it plain that all he has done has been done through God.”              John 3:16-21 J.B. Phillips NT

 

 

Of The Spirit

Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. NASB

Circumstances bombard us with “the things of the flesh” and they do have a negative impact on our mindset.  Paul has reminded me about Jesus’s promises of blessings that have a positive impact “if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.”  I share my own words written back in 2016 because right now I personally need to remember “the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Use the underlined links below to read them and then the back button to return.  I hope your Spirit might be refreshed today and…

• Blessed by knowing it’s not our spirit that sustains us. Self has Fallen Through the Cracks of life and in the process caught a glimpse of a promised new kingdom of heaven.
• Blessed by realizing that in the Unfamiliar Reality of the emotions of mourning God is replacing the need to cope in unbearable circumstances with the release of comfort.
• Blessed by an undeserved and unearned inheritance and an eternity to explore and understand what submissive, yielding and obedient is. Meek is the mystery of God moving us into position to fulfill his plans as we learn the difference between Be-ing vs Choosing.
• Blessed by Jesus using something as basic and daily as our body’s craving for nourishment to remind us there’s Another Kind of Life to crave: long for, yearn, desire, want, wish or need – a life of righteousness.
• Blessed by the mercy of Jesus and The Perfected Golden Rule: “Do unto others…as I have done unto you.”
• Blessed by the power of God and the life of Jesus to create pure hearts by chiseling away stony pieces to bring us One Pebble Closer to being able to see God.
• Blessed by peacemakers who go Beyond Just Fixing to create opportunity for those in conflict to explore the reality of truth as God means it to be: a path to unity not separation.
• Blessed by a new perspective on Jesus words and the fullness of one Greek word, diṓkō.  The blessing that overtakes persecution is two-fold for “those who live according to the Spirit [and] set their minds on the things of the Spirit;”  righteousness and endurance.   In Each Case the reward is the kingdom of heaven.

Purification

John 11:54 As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples.  55 It was now almost time for the Jewish Passover celebration, and many people from all over the country arrived in Jerusalem several days early so they could go through the purification ceremony before Passover began. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, but as they stood around in the Temple, they said to each other, “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will he?” NLT 

The Jews carved out a convenient and workable system of government for themselves even though they were actually under Roman rule.  It’s a system dependent on being able to exercise their authority by maintaining a low profile.  People are coming into Jerusalem from “all over the country” to ceremonially purify themselves before Passover begins.  The stories of Jesus and his miracles are being repeated and many believe.  Jesus has become an inconvenient attention-getting detail that has too many people talking.  

They gather because this preparation is a necessary prerequisite to their eligibility to participate in the week of Passover.  There are ceremonial washings in small pools filled by “living waters” fed by a nearby spring or well.  In a land of dust and heat that baptismal-type of cleansing has become both a sign of their repentance from ceremonial pollution and an official pardon for their separation from God.  They have evidence from their own Scripture that God has acted on their behalf.  They have awareness of needing purity.  They have the desire for holiness. They have firsthand stories of miracles people have seen Jesus do with their own eyes.  They have the right question: “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will he?”  Only one right response is missing in all their devoted preparation …Come, Lord Jesus!

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24 NLT

Shield, Fortress, Hiding Place

John 20:
8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

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These verses reminded me of this screen shot I took last Easter from the live broadcast of Gracepoint Church in Sturgis, Michigan.  That empty tomb for those closest to Jesus resulted in fear, not hope.  Hindsight has proved God’s plan for the salvation of many, became a reality despite those frightened people caught in desperate circumstances.  Jesus’s body had disappeared from that fortress of stone.  How could that possibly be anything but bad?  “(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)” 

That parenthetic verse 9 has become a modern-day lesson for me.  As odd as it is to type this sentence; doubt and fear have always been a part of faith, even for those closest to Jesus.  Even the “other” disciple, the one Jesus loved, hesitated. “Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.”…and

“Thomas felt a surge of shock and unbelief…Then he felt regret for having left. Then he felt isolated. He was the only one who hadn’t seen Jesus.  He had seen so many things that would have been unbelievable if he hadn’t seen them. Most haunting right now was Lazarus.  And then it happened. Thomas was staring at the floor, sinking again under the fear that maybe Jesus had rejected him because of his stubborn unbelief. If so, he knew he deserved it. Then someone gasped. He looked up and his heart leaped into his throat! Jesus was standing across the room looking at him. “Peace be with you”a

Faith is what gives us the courage to come out of our hiding place, confront our fears and doubts and to believe Jesus’s words are meant to shield us today, too –  “peace be with you.”  These two verses have become my reminder that recognizing the reality of an empty burial tomb is more than evidence of my faith…it’s evidence of God’s faith in me!  “Finally” I “saw and believed” and He turned that stone cave into a fortress of hope that “the LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”b

When it’s Hard to Believe
b Psalm 18:2

The Recipe of Man

2 Peter 2:1…there will be false teachers among you…3…these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories…4…God did not spare angels when they sinned…5…did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood
7…he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless
9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. NIV

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Genesis 2:7 tells us “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  Dust + the Breath of God combined to become the recipe of man.  Consider this – God Himself created two separate natures in the soul of human life; the physical [dust] and the spiritual [His breath].  The God of all creation designed us to be evidence of His love, not puppets.  

Those two natures were at war even in that first perfect environment.  That first sin was a shocker.  Clearly the soul of human life has the dual ability to respond to the instincts, passions and impulses of the physical nature at the same time it has a longing to respond to God’s love with the instincts, passions and impulses He breathed into us. We need to be shocked by that realization. “Our great security against sin lies in being shocked at it.”a. 

Peter doesn’t sugarcoat the consequences of the physical nature of sin or neglect to remind us God breathes within the spiritual nature of the righteous.  IF this is so, THEN the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.”

aJohn Henry Newman

Living Evidence

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. [NRSV]

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If you “accept and act in accordance with” Jesus what He says will establish a relationship of life between Himself and you.  What makes that matter is this reality: Jesus IS God.  The first assurance of John 15:7 is when you “abide” with Jesus, God Himself is alive within you and He understands the reality of whatever you ask.  That makes His answer perfect for what He knows you need.  The second assurance is God’s answer comes with a greater blessing “if you abide in” Jesus and let his words “abide in you.”  Your relationship of life with Jesus makes you living evidence of the glory of God. 

Backwards Cliff Notes on Layers

Hebrews 13 – 9
Throughout the book, we are also challenged to remain faithful to Jesus and follow great models of faith from the Old Testament despite hardships and persecution. These challenges will make us uncomfortable but instead of fearing them, remember that rejecting Jesus is foolish.  Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God’s love and mercy and is worthy of all our trust and devotion.
[The Bible Project]

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All of Scripture is God letting us look into the past to show us how to build our life of faith today.  Usually I read as if chapters are layers that pile up one after another to result in the truth of the book.  Reading Hebrews backwards is like peeling those layers back, one a time, to discover for myself truth that can be built into everyday life AND the future.  So these are cliff notes from my writings on chapters [13 – 9] each numbered and listed without further editing in that same “backwards” order.  My goal is to discover confirmed evidence the Holy Spirit is working through these layers of God’s word to teach me exactly what I need to learn.

         [13] Outside” is where Christ receives your brokenness and disgrace and makes them his own.  It’s the plan of God that we who are outsiders can go to where “new” begins, the Cross.  [12] God has saved the unmerited favor of His Grace IN us.  Living with the reality of that forgiveness is the discipline of Grace that turns faith into action.
          [11] Those ancestors made it into this “By Faith” chapter because their faith reached into the future of US.  That past and their faith has reached beyond time to strengthen our present with the promise of completion for US all as the future unfolds.  US is God’s version of “outreach” at it’s most creative. [10] Today we have God’s incredible exception to those annual sacrifices.   The blood of Jesus and the Grace of God have provided a way to remove the guilt of our sin from God’s memory forever…but our memory is still a natural consequence of sin.   [9] Circumstances are where God begins. Right from the beginning God desired to be present with us because of love.  Right from the beginning when circumstances might have denied that truth, God began.
          √ Confirmed

Second [and last} Chance: Revelation 2

Revelation 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:  These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first…7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

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I’ve looked for evidence in these second chapters of God’s continuing desire to replace and repair what is worn out, run-down, or broken.  That word “broken” has been a part of every post. God created life to be an unending circle for those first two people but they broke the circle because they violated the rule of one unique tree. “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  Why two unique trees?   I know what the results of that break are and I know Revelation 2 is the answer that repairs that broken circle.

Despite our best efforts here on earth perfection is still lost.  God has noticed our desire has changed from being content to know His perfection to the confusion of trying our best to sort out the knowledge of good and evil.  “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…you cannot tolerate wicked people.” I know “that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.” I know “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary…Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. ” 

Here’s the Good News from Revelation 2 about that other unique tree.  “The tree of life” is still standing, untouched, and we still have it’s promise of that first love.  There is repair and renewal for that worn out, run-down, or broken circle.  “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’