Tag Archives: Life

Wednesday with John – Again

John 16:16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.  ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
In a little while I’m going away but then again in a little while you’ll see me. Things are going to be different then.  The sorrow you feel now will be forgotten because I am going to the Father.  I know you’ve got questions you want to ask.  The world will enjoy your weeping and lamenting but truly, truly I tell you your sorrow will turn into joy.  I will deliver you with the pains of labor that give birth to a new human being.  Again in a little while, your heart will no longer remember the anguish of your faith becoming your life.  Your heart will rejoice and be full and no one will be able to take that joy from you because you will know the Father has birthed it in you.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is going to the Father.  The Father is going to give you answers to whatever you ask in Jesus’s name.

What does it say about people?
We need to learn to trust “whatever” we ask in Jesus name is what prompts the Father’s desire to give us His answer, not that whatever we ask is THE answer.

Is there truth here for me?
Jesus knew the Father’s answer for my deliverance would have to be birthed inside me so my heart could have its questions answered and would be filled enough to recognize Jesus. “A little while” is the lengthy labor of finding the faith in my daily life is really finding Jesus, again, in a little while every day.

Sunday with John – Evidence

John 12:9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus and Lazarus are attracting too much attention. The people have heard of the power of Jesus’s life to destroy death and come to see for themselves.  They’ve believed. The chief priests have also seen…and believe death will preserve their power and have “made plans” to destroy life. 

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus is there.  He is part of the large crowd.

What does it say about people?
People have heard of Lazarus having being raised from the dead.  They have seen Lazarus.  He’s the confirmation of what they’ve heard and they are “going away and believing in Jesus.”

Is there truth here for me?
The phrase “going away” is what has alarmed the chief priests.  Going away…from obedience to a powerful, well-developed and highly refined legal system designed to be their evidence that God verifies them. “Many of the Jews are going away” to follow this man, who the priests have identified as an itinerant outlaw, because they have believed Jesus is their evidence that verifies God.

Sunday with John + Abundant

John 11:38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
The mourners are standing around at the tomb.  The tomb is the physical evidence of  the separation between life and death.  There’s been a proper burial so for Jesus to ask for the stone to be taken away seems shocking.  There are rules that must be observed once the tomb is sealed. These mourners are about to see Jesus challenge the power of death with the glory of God…life.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus has promised Martha that belief would let her see the glory of God.   Jesus prays aloud for the crowd.  They need to hear and understand the miracle Jesus is about to do is undeniable proof for them that He has been sent by His Father to overcome the defilement of death with God’s glory…life for Lazarus.

What does it say about people?
The people have come to mourn Lazarus.  There’s an unusual backstory here; moving that stone away is risky business.  Jewish law stated mere nearness to a corpse could render a Jew unclean [Numbers 19] and sometimes the tomb stone would be painted white as courtesy alert for passers-by to take a wide berth because the defilement of death was catching and one person could pass it to another. 

Is there truth here for me?
“Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb.”  It wasn’t the mourning of Lazarus that troubled Jesus, it was that death had the power to defile life that was meant to represent the glory of God.  Jesus came to this open tomb to prove He was both the Power of God that could raise Lazarus and the Glory of God, who by a simple two-word command “unbind him” could overcome the defilement of death with abundant life.

Wednesday with John — Blessing

John 11:28 When she [Martha] had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
This is a story of family and friends coping with the unbearable circumstances of loss when death has upended routines, emotions and actions.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus was moved in His Spirit, and greatly troubled…Jesus wept.

What does it say about people?
Lord, if you had been here…Both Martha and Mary spoke very similar words to Jesus.  Are they an expression of emotion or faith? Even the supporting cast of Jews knows about Jesus and, as He weeps, are wondering that same thing.

Is there truth here for me?
“Jesus wept” over Lazarus even though He knew what was about to happen. This is the same Lord that spoke about a relationship between mourning and comfort.  “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.”  These verses are the “Teacher” living out His truth so I can see His purpose in coming to this place of mourning and death, is still life.  Life is an abundant story that includes death.  Jesus wept, not because death will have any hold over those who will live in eternity with Him but to show me mourning releases the emotional hold death has over those of us who still need to find the blessing of comfort in our life.

To honor my husband, Conrad K. Bedient, July 16, 1933 — April 9, 2021

 

Sunday with John – Faith is a Verb

John 11:17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
This household has already observed the traditions of grieving for four days but there is a new intensity to their grief today. The Jewish superstition about the soul having stayed near the grave for three days hoping to return to the body has now passed and this day has become the mark of finality for Lazarus’s life.  Jesus has chosen this same day for His purpose – to mark this day as the finality of Lazarus’s death, for life.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
When death marks the finality of life the past tense, “Jesus came,” becomes the present reality Jesus chooses for all believers.  “I am the resurrection and the life, “Jesus came” becomes “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”  When everything else associated with life has become history…“Do you believe this?”

What does it say about people?
Faith changes our experiences with the mystery of death because of Jesus.  Jesus came…Jesus was coming, Jesus had come…Jesus is coming.  Those are the tenses of life and death that cause people to respond differently to the truth that sustains them.  Mary remained at home… because she knew Jesus was coming.  Martha went to meet Jesus…because she knew Jesus was coming.

Is there truth here for me?
I see that mystery in the patience of Mary’s grief.  Faith gave her the comfort to “remain seated in the house,” knowing Jesus was coming   I see that same faith do something quite different for Martha in her grief. She knew Jesus was coming and that she had to get to Him…now!  Grief has tenses too!  I think very few of us consciously spend much in our relationship with Jesus thinking about death.  I know that’s true for me.  My relationship with Jesus began with this promise; Jesus came…for my life. Life has shown me a new reality.  Faith is a verb that holds the answers to the mystery of life and death because…Jesus came…Jesus was coming, Jesus had come…Jesus is coming.

Wednesday with John – Expectant

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. 21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”ESV

What is the general theme of the passage?
This is a passage of contrasts: light/darkness, timing/location, testimony/witness, law/authority, and life/death.  Jesus purpose is to be the Light that reveals those contrasts are what make the difference between life and death. Jesus can rightly say “I judge no one” only because the Pharisees have already passed sentence on themselves.  Their human flaw was being willing to die by their own law rather than accept Jesus as the one God has sent to offer them life.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus spoke openly of the truth that His obedience to His Father would explain all those contrasts.  He purposely has chosen this time and this specific place; “I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”

What does it say about people?
The choice is simple.  If you let the Law be your judge, don’t blame Jesus if you feel judged.   An expectant heart will…

Is there truth here for me?
This passage is part of the continuing record of the  Feast of Tabernacles.  This week is filled with expectant hope that this very week may usher in the reality of the Messianic Kingdom. There is something interesting about Jesus’s choice to speak in the “treasury.”  The treasury was the same place he’d confronted the money changers previously. Neither the timing or that location was an accident.  It was still the place where people would come to deposit their offerings.  It was also one of the most public places in the Temple. Jesus would have access to a lot of people who had come with those expectant hearts.  It would also give Him the protection of crowd cover to speak truth in a place where there was an expectation of ceremonial respect.  It reminded me of Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The Twist

Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022
There’s a twist o this Palm Sunday story I’ve never noticed before from John 12:9
“When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. “ ESV

Lazarus is there with Jesus!  The twist is that this is a resurrection story but with a different cast!  The word of Lazarus’s restoration to life is in fact the catalyst of this growing crowd. V13 “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” V17 & 18 “The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him [Jesus] was that they heard he had done this sign”

Lazarus has been called out of the grave!
He’s walked with Jesus into Jerusalem, healed and able-bodied, ready to add his presence as verifiable physical testimony to the truth that Jesus is Messiah and has the power to restore life!

Today has become something new and personal because of that simple two sentence paragraph.  Of course! This day IS a celebration of the power of Jesus to restore life…then.  And here’s the miracle for this
Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022:
You are the verifiable physical testimony to that truth…
now!

John 12:26…”If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also,”

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.”

Wednesday with John – Life Now!

John 5:19 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise.
20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel.
21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
23 that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.  25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself,
27 and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man.

What is the general theme of the passage? Jesus loves His Father and only does what He is asking of Him.  Together they have a purpose; to give life that begins in this hour, now, and into eternity!  God has given Jesus His own power of judgment over life and death so that we might see in Jesus the deity of God lived out in the humanity of man.

What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
The Father loves the Son, and shows him all that He is doing.  Jesus does only what he sees the Father doing. The Father raises the dead and gives them life.  The Father has given all authority and judgment to the Son to give life “to whom He will.” The Father has life in  himself. The Son also has life in himself.

What does it say about people?
People honor a judge because they recognize He has the power to decide their fate.  What people hear from Jesus, now, will decide their final judgment later. Read verses 25 – 27 with a small rearrangement in the two phrases “Son of God,” and Son of Man . Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and NOW is, when the dead will hear the voice of [GOD THE SON], and those who hear will live.  Got has done HIs power handoff to Jesus “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is [GOD THE MAN.]

Is there truth here for me?
GOD THE SON is GOD THE MAN
who’s come to reveal He’s the identity of God’s life IN us “who do not walk according to the flesh but according the Spirit,” NOW.

“New” Year’s Revolution

“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