“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
These words of Jesus are meant to be very personal but personal is different than private. This is the year in which my husband of nearly 63 years was killed in a tragic accident, and life continues despite the confusion of learning all the things I must now do alone, AND, life is still impacted by a relentless pandemic. The temptation has been to let grief lure me into believing that isolation must be like rest, right? Not so! Over this last year I have learned a “new” thing about the reality of grace. The less private I’ve allowed my awareness of grace at work in my life to become, the more personal it has become to me.
In this “New” Year of my life I am not relying on a New Year’s resolution, but on the revolution of recovery that Jesus offers me keeping company with Him and other people of faith. We can learn to live the “unforced rhythms of grace,” together, walking and working with Jesus, watching how He does life so we can make living “freely and lightly” both personal and possible. I hope you will join me in this New Year’s Revolution to “recover your life” and to “take a real rest.” Love, Shirle
1 John 4
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. NIV
God is love
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them
In this world we are like Jesus
This is how love is made complete among us
so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment
The one who fears is not made perfect in love
because fear has to do with punishment
But perfect love drives out fear
There is no fear in love
We love, because he first loved us.
I John 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he [Jesus] appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.
Excerpted from God’s Deliberate Sacrifice
first Posted on September 29, 2019
“…the Jew was always quite clear, when thinking at his highest, that the sins for which sacrifice could atone were sins of ignorance. The deliberate sin did not find its atonement in sacrifice.” William Barclay
None of the diligent and and rigid rules of sacrifice had the power to deal with the full capacity of a broken human being to choose to sin on purpose. Jesus was appointed by God to represent the people in matters related to God in place of those sacrifices. He became God’s deliberate Sacrifice that could remove the deliberate guilt of all sin when He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our[your] joy complete. NIV
Forest Gump said “life is like a box of chocolates.” I say life is like an Oreo cookie. Life’s days and experiences are like the two pieces of cookie that surround the best part – that sweet center. Have you noticed how carefully Oreos are packaged to protect them between production and consumption? Have you noticed that even when the cookie has crumbled, the cream in the center can still hold the cookie together?
Have you thought about how carefully protected your life has been because of God’s faith in all your days and experiences that you would finally taste His goodness? Have you noticed in your life of faith that your brokenness doesn’t have to separate you from the sweetness of His faithfulness to you? An Oreo cookie has become a sweet lesson about the center God has provided to protect us through all our days and experiences from His production to our consumption. Jesus is that “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life .”
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one
who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8 NIV
John 21:12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. NIV
What caught my attention in this last chapter were these three verses. I recognized in them both the devotion of these disciples and their humanity. Even when they had trouble recognizing Jesus out of context, not looking their “Sunday” best and not daring to admit they might have any questions, Jesus was waiting to provide His nourishment for their devotion AND their humanity.
John 20:30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe [or may continue to believe] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
“Jesus comes to us and gives us his peace with God. Then he gives us power to do the kinds of things that mere humans can’t do — like defeating our own selfishness, and loving other people, and treasuring Christ above all. And then with that peace and that power he gives us our central purpose for existence” John Piper
John 18:1 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
It is not an enemy who taunts me —
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me —
then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
Psalm 55:12–13 RSV
What do you think about Judas? This is one of the saddest passages of Scripture because of Judas’s betrayal of Jesus.
Did Jesus mistakenly choose a betrayer to be one of His disciples?
Did He purposely set Judas up for this awful betrayal?
Was Judas’s mind lost in a battle with “the” enemy?
Did Jesus grieve these words of Psalm 55 over Judas?
What about Peter and his three denials?
Did Jesus grieve these same words of Psalm 55 over Peter?
……………………………WHAT ABOUT YOU?…………………………………
John 9:1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” 3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.” NLT
Real life is less than a perfect display place but
The purpose of Jesus was not limited by “dis-ability”
“so the power of God could be seen.”
“But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world”
“You are the light of the world.
—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden…
so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”a
John 6:28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
Every person of faith is told we should read the Bible, pray, love, serve and meet together. We’ve prioritized those more tangible expressions of our faith as requirements God has given that will lead us to Jesus. Many of us could truthfully confess at times we’ve experienced those foundations of faith as the burden of works, the “shoulds.” Even the faith that is a gift of God does not make us immune to the flaws of a human nature that wants an answer to the wrong question; “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
It’s entirely possible the purpose of the struggle we have with those foundational parts of our faith is to help us recognize we are unable to do the work God requires. The right question for us to ask is: WHO must do “the works God requires?” And the answer is right there for us…”The work of God is this: to believe in [Jesus] the one he has sent.”
John 1:1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. [NLT]
It’s almost a month since my husband was killed. I have been so blessed and comforted by my family. They have buffered the reality of my loss with their presence. They’ve flown in from around the country to help me navigate the unthinkable reality of death with the basics of life; food, activity and the practical and legal details that are now a part of my life. What was previously “normal” activity has now become a reminder of being alone but they have been the hands-on proof of God’s assurance that is not the case. One by one they’ve returned to their own homes and this week I finally have to face learning to live alone in mine.
It’s scary because I’ve realized I have never actually lived “alone” before. I moved from my parents home to my marital home nearly 63 years ago. I chose this book of John to read and ponder in these next weeks because it was important to my husband and the book of John is where my life of faith began long ago. I wasn’t physically alone then, but it was the place I first read the words that revealed Jesus gives life that spans all time, circumstances and relationships. What was true then is still truth now. “The Word already existed…with God… The Word gave life to everything…and the darkness can never extinguish it.”