Tag Archives: Life

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

Poetry by the Book – Galatians 2:11-21

Poetry: Literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style, structure and rhythm.a

When Cephas came to Antioch,
he used to eat with the Gentiles.
Certain men came from James.
When they arrived,
he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles.
He was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
I opposed him to his face,
he stood condemned.
The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy,
even Barnabas was led astray.
They were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel.

I said to Cephas in front of them all,
“you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs
yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew.”
We Jews find ourselves also among the sinners,
doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? 

Absolutely not!
A person is not justified by the works of the law.
Through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.
If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker
because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles,
we too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus
that we may be justified by faith in Christ.
Do not set aside the grace of God!
Christ died for nothing
if righteousness could be gained through the law.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

a Structure taken from the NIV Bible

Practicing Truth

I John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

__________❤️__________

MANIFEST;
To show or demonstrate plainly; reveal.  Clearly apparent to the sight or understanding; obvious. Evident to the senses, especially to the sight; apparent; distinctly perceived, prove or make something clear.

Practicing truth requires an understanding of the purpose of light. On the very first day of His creative masterpiece God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”  He knew it was light that would separate night from day.  In the beginning that was the truth.   God began with light and then He practiced His own truth and life came into being.  Jesus was practicing truth when He spoke to us, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  Paul was practicing truth when he wrote “when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. 

It took me a beat to catch the incredible truth pulled out of Paul’s Word.  What might have seemed too simple to catch became very personal.  Light is not a reflection of anyone else’s intellect or truth.  We’ve been given all the visible signs of light around and in truth we ARE light.  That’s truth that takes a lot of practice to become personal experience. I wonder if the reason so many of us do our Bible study early in the morning is because intuitively we understand daybreak is a perfect object lesson.  Those early hours are when we clearly see the difference between artificial light and “real” light.  We are in fellowship with God as we see light come to life before our own eyes and experience practicing truth that really does overcomes darkness.

Obligation

Romans 8:10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.  12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Jesus’s Part:
…to give life to your mortal bodies” that overcomes sin because “the spirit [of Christ in you] is alive because of [His] righteousness.”

Our Part:
…“We are under obligation” to live being “led by the Spirit of God,”

What does that look like to you?  I’ll bet you dollars to donuts you’ve fallen into the same trap I have – it looks like doing the right thing at the right time in the right place. That’s certainly a good look but it’s the least valuable part in God’s eyes.  Remember all the venerated people from the Old Testament who did the wrong thing at the right time and in the right place?  God led them and saved them despite the evidence they were often careless, broken and flawed people.  They have their place in the Bible because of one simple thing; they were willing to be reminded by God of their need to pursue their relationship with Him despite having only the slightest inkling of what He really desired from them.

For most of us that’s still the reality of what we have to offer God today.  It’s true we have much more knowledge, we have the Bible and we often have true shepherds who lead us.  Sadly, we have have turned those things into our “obligation” instead of recognizing our magnificent and determined Creator has given us those things as His graces.  Our obligation is still the same simple one from long ago; that we be willing to pursue our relationship with “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead” and He will lead us and save us despite the repeated evidence we too are often careless, broken and flawed people.  

Power

John 8:51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death. 52 At this they exclaimed, ‘Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?’

These verses are such an odd exchange.  It reminded me that the politics of power is nothing new.  It can even impact faith.  No I’m not talking about the “R” or “D” kind of politics but the dictionary kind: “activities associated with governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having, or hoping to, achieve power.” 

Jesus’ words: “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death” challenged the Jew’s power over their people and that was the real conflict they had with Him.  Their political authority gave them the ultimate power to end life, but Jesus continued to proclaim He had the ultimate power to end death. 

Believers in Jesus Christ already have been given the promise of the power over death wrapped in the mystery of being “born again.”  Born again is the indefinable personal moment of  recognition that Jesus Christ guarantees your “new” life will not see or taste death.  That life has already begun in you.  You are living it right now.   It doesn’t promise you won’t die but that by obeying His word in this life you will be able to see and taste the power of life that continues beyond death.

The Purpose of Light

John 1:6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 , who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. NLT 

I don’t think there has ever been a time when I have more clearly seen the “Light.”  I really can’t even understand it myself.  As odd as it is to write these words in the midst of grief over my husbands death, I feel the power of love, life, and thankfulness and light more completely than ever before. 

This is my important testimony to you: The Light that has broken through the darkness of grief reminds me the “birth that comes from God” does so much more than overcome the darkness of death.  You can depend on Jesus’s promise to give light to every circumstance of life…even death…so you can be comforted to continue.