Monday, June 30, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

I just wanted to wish all of you a happy and fun-filled week, leading up to the Fourth of July holiday! I will be taking some time off to rest and recuperate, and I hope that all of y'all have some time to do the same.
Let's thank God for this country -- we can look around the world and see other places where people are not as fortunate as we. We can freely express our opinions and freely exercise our faith.
Other countries persecute and oppress citizens who do not fit in with their government's ideas of what should and should not "be."
We may have grave concerns for the future of the United States of America, but there is no other country that affords the freedoms we have -- let's bless God for all of this. Let's praise Him for His blessings, instead of demanding that "God bless America." He already has!
Praise Him!
And save some lemonade and cake for me, OK? (grin)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Slowdown

Ere you left your room this morning
Did you think to pray
In the name of Christ our Saviour
Did you sue for loving favour
As a shield today?

Oh how praying rests the weary
Prayer will change the night to day
So when life seems dark and dreary
Don't forget to pray.

When you met with great temptation
Did you think to pray
By His dying love and merit
Did you claim the Holy Spirit
As your guide and stay?

Oh how praying rests the weary
Prayer will change the night to day
So when life seems dark and dreary
Don't forget to pray.

When your heart was filled with anger
Did you think to pray
Did you plead for grace my brother
That you might forgive another
Who had crossed your way?

Oh how praying rests the weary
Prayer will change the night to day
So when life seems dark and dreary
Don't forget to pray...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

It's a disaster, part II

Continuing on in John chapter 11, we are studying and thinking on what to do when disaster strikes. We need our Father all the time; we should strive to walk with Him, trust Him, and rely on Him all the time.
When a disaster comes, we will have a shelter that can protect us from the storm. Our relationship is with the God Who will shield us and deliver us.
I'm sure that we have all heard the saying, "When the going gets tough, the tough get God." In this chapter we see two sisters who faced a horrific time in their lives, and they did just that. We can learn from what they did in a time of crisis.

Remember the story from chapter 11? Jesus was close friends with Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Lazarus got sick, and his sisters sent word to Jesus. But Jesus does not leave immediately; when He does arrive in Bethany, Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days.

Martha and Mary are distressed and grieving and ask Him, "Why didn't you come?" You have to imagine that tears were streaming as they said, "If you had been here, our brother would be alive!"
In the stunning climax to the chapter, Jesus tells them that this is not the end. He makes His way to the tomb, and prays, and Lazarus arises, coming out of the tomb bound up in the grave clothes. Jesus tells them to remove them so he can move around -- he's alive!

The first thing I think we can learn from this, and apply to our lives, is this: Our prayer-life must be a priority.

The first thing that Mary and Martha did was to send word to Jesus.
When the one we love is sick, or when a crisis hits our lives, the first thing we need to do is just what they did . . . send word to Jesus. Whether it is a death, an accident, a diagnosis, the breakdown of a relationship -- no matter what it is, the first thing to do is tell Jesus. You see, when a crisis hits us, and knocks us down to our knees, instead of struggling to stand up, we need to realize: we are in perfect position to pray!
Prayer changes things. Seriously. It does.
We are communicating with the creator of the universe, and things happen. We are calling on the greatest power in the world or beyond. But too many times we lack the faith that our prayers will make a difference.
Because many times, we fall into the trap of not praying until we have tried everything else. We should not use prayer as a last resort -- it should be our first option!

Mary and Martha could send word to Jesus because they had a close friendship, a relationship with Jesus. If they had not known Him, they would have been in an awful position. Where could they have turned?

If you are without Jesus as your Lord and Savior as you read this today; if you have not accepted His gift of salvation, then it is plain. You don't know Jesus. All of us must take Jesus as our Savior, and repent of our sins. We will have new life with Him, and we'll never be alone again. When disaster hits, we will have Him to help us.

If you are not certain that you've accepted Him, please look over to the right-hand side of this page and click on the link labeled, "What is Salvation?" Please read it carefully and decide for yourself to take Him at His word, and accept the gift of salvation. Pray and tell Him your desire, and then make time each day to talk with Him and to study your Bible. If you like, you can let us know of your decision, but you don't have to.
You can rest assured that He hears you, He loves you, and He rejoices in your coming to Him. And when disaster hits, He is going to be there for you!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's a disaster, part I

The following was written by Jack Jordan, newspaper editor, recording the events of April 3, 1974.

"An uneasiness nagged at me as I checked over proofs for the next day’s paper. It was Wednesday, April 3, 1974 about 4 o’clock on a gray afternoon. More than 100 tornadoes had been sighted to the southwest. We had had such warnings before the twisters had always missed Xenia, Ohio.

Suddenly the radio crackled: “Tornado! Southwest of town, expected in six minutes.” I leapt from my desk and hurried out into our office which faces the main downtown street. Police shouted “Take Cover” through bullhorns. Already white faced shoppers and business people were streaming into our new annex building for the protection of its steel beam and thick concrete construction.

Suddenly an ominous green darkened the street. A rumbling roar like a thousand freight trains crossing the ceiling filled the building with a grinding thunder. Our street doors flew open, I rushed to close them and found myself looking up into a black swirling sea of debris and giant tress. I fought my way back and threw myself down on the stairs among the other praying and sobbing people.

Then an eerie stillness filled the air. The monster had passed. My family and home were two miles away. I ran to my convertible, its windows sucked out, I sat in broken glass and drove down the street. There were no more streets , just mountains of debris and dazed and confused people wandering around. After making sure that my family was okay, I returned to the newspaper office.

The tornado had bulldozed a seven mile path half a mile wide right through Xenia, Ohio. 33 men, women, and children were dead. Almost half of Xenia’s buildings were destroyed. Nearly 10,000 people were homeless. Six of nine schools were smashed, nine churches, and 180 stores and businesses were destroyed.
In the coming months the city would pull together and begin to rebuild houses, businesses, churches, schools, and lives. One afternoon, seven months later I walked downtown and remembered the houses that owners had spray painted with the words “Oh God, why us?” and “Only God knows.” And I remember what Dick Pope, a minister, had said at an Easter celebration just eleven days after the tornado. “For the first time people are really going to understand what resurrection is about. You have to realize that Christ was even more effective after the resurrection than before. And this storm can be a turning point for this town. The Christian faith does not promise that we will not have suffering, but it does create the character in us that can face it and know how to use it.”

That is the end of the article excerpt.
In continuing to study this chapter of John's gospel, we are going to talk about our own lives, and how we deal with disasters that come.  Whether we are impacted by a natural disaster like a tornado, or perhaps a health disaster like a leukemia diagnosis, the death of a loved one, or even a relationship disaster . . how do we respond?  What do we do, to make it through the disaster?
Does God allow disasters?
How can we see disaster and "rejoice in all things"?  Can we "use" disaster in the way the minister in the article mentioned?
We'll be searching our hearts as we study. I'd like to encourage each of us to turn to II Corinthians 2:3-7, and read prayerfully those verses. Maybe we should even memorize them. They tell us that God is the God of all comfort, and that He has the power and the willingness to see us through all of the disasters that we may encounter.
The title of this post is "It's a disaster" but I don't think we'll be depressed when we finish our study!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Verses that inspire

Every so often, we pause to share verses that have meant a great deal to us. They may have comforted us, or inspired us, or answered a question from our deepest thoughts.

God's Word is a gift to us, a blessing that we simply can't take for granted. Try each day to spend time reading it. Ask God to guide you and show you what you need for that particular day. The Holy Spirit will help you as you read.

Choose a verse or passage and work to commit it to memory. Write it on a card to take with you through your day. Read it and try to repeat it, without looking at the card. You'll be amazed at how well you can do! And you will be blessed by both your efforts, and the times that the Holy Spirit will bring that verse to your mind, to help you. Or to help you help someone else.

This passage has meant a great deal to me recently, and I'd like to share it:

Psalms 5:11-12 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.

Please feel free to leave a comment with a verse that has inspired you this past week.

Monday, June 23, 2014

John 11 -- the love of God, conclusion

We're studying about our loving God, and winding up the passage today. We'll move onward in this inspiring chapter at our next "meeting" here in blogland.
Let's refresh our memory of these verses:
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Him saying, `Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.' But when Jesus heard this, He said, `This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified in it.'  Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

We talked about how it was difficult for our finite, human minds to comprehend that He was showing love in the verses above. To our way of thinking, He should have rushed over and prevented Lazarus from dying. But we are seeing as we study, that God shows His love by doing whatever is necessary to show us His glory, and to encourage us to be satisfied with Him.

We've studied how He deserved all honor, yet sacrificed Himself. We've seen that He is a happy Savior, and will share all His joy with us in heaven. Now let's look at His power and authority.
We humans are drawn to power like moths to the flame. We stand in awe and watch rockets, thrusters flaming, power their way into the atmosphere. We resist the efforts of emergency personnel who desire us to evacuate, and hunker down to experience a hurricane first-hand. We listen to the screaming wind, hear the pounding of sheets of rain, wince at lightning and thunder that seems too close . . . but we love the rush of adrenaline. Every year, some of us shake our heads in amazement at hardy (foolish) souls who stay put and "ride out" storms. The awe-inspiring power and force is something that we are drawn to. It seems to put us on the brink of eternity; it wakes us up to reality.
What it should do is reinforce the idea of Jesus having all power. He could speak one word and the storm would abate. He has the power and the authority to do that. And we love that about our God.

Here is another thing to consider about our God: He is all-wise and all-knowledgeable. Let's put that a little differently, just to make it more clear. He is infinitely wise and infinitely knowledgeable.
Remember the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz? He wanted people to look up to him for his knowledge and brain-power. He talked about how admirable it was for people to know a lot. Well, we humans do seem to love people who know a lot. We pay scholars and scientists loads of money and admire them. We put them in charge of universities and foundations, read their books and make much of them.  We seem to love to lavish attention on those people who know a lot.

Have we ever thought about what Jesus knows? Well, it's not enough to say that He knows everything . . . He actually knows everything there is to know. All of the scholars who have known deep thoughts and intricate theories? Jesus knows all of that; it's a first grade primer to Him, all of it. He knows all of the infinite creation that we are just beginning to peep around and explore. After all, He was there in the beginning!
When our kiddos were small, we enjoyed going out to see the meteor showers when the astronomers predicted good views of them. Late at night, bundled up in blankets, lying in the back of our pickup, we would count the meteors as they shot across the sky. Pretty amazing, don't you think? That they can predict what night the meteors will appear, and even what hours they will peak. That's pretty cool. But you know what? That's nothing compared to what Jesus knows about this universe and this creation. He is an infinitely knowledgeable God.
He's an infinitely wise God, who knows what we need.
And He's an infinitely loving God, who wants to give us the best gift ever.
The love of God for us is His work at great cost to give us the gift of Jesus to enjoy forever. It is to give us all that He is. It's not just about escape from hell, though that is far too precious to express with our mere words. It's not mainly about a conscience that is clear, though that is something truly incredible that He gives to us. It's not just about all the ways that He heals our bodies, our minds, and our relationships, though that again is something beyond words -- so precious to us. Here is the main thing:
            Christ suffered once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God.
            (I Peter 3:18)
His gift is to bring us to Himself! That is the love of God.  At great cost to Himself, it (that love) brings us to God! It brings us to something amazing, and full of splendor. If we think the Alps are something to marvel at, or the Grand Canyon, or some famous person . . . these are just faint echoes of splendor compared to the love of God.
We should admit, though, that there is a massive obstacle between us and God. We all know what it is -- sin. Some have said that the root of sin is this -- we exchange the glory of God for the blessings that He gives. Let me explain . . . we are offered the fellowship of God, the infinitely wise and loving Father, and it's FOREVER! And instead of accepting that, we lay it aside and take His gifts. We do this and it says to God, "No thanks. I'm not interested in fellowship with you. I'm not into that. Enjoying you and being satisfied with you? Nope. I want your gifts -- wife, children, the applause of men, fame, wealth. Yep, that's what I want."

God's love is His doing everything it takes -- even the death of His own Son in order to work in our hearts. He wants us to stop feeling loved by people making much of us, and start feeling loved by the enjoyment of making much of Him. Forever. In all that we do.

David said it gloriously:
                Whom have I in heaven but you?
                And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
                      My flesh and my heart may fail,
               but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.  Psalm 73:25-26

As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the children of God . . .  (John 1:12) And if children, then heirs, heirs of God . . . (Romans 8:17)

He is our portion, our inheritance forever. Let us be satisfied with Him, and in Him. Our joy will be full!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday slowdown

Two of our faithful readers mentioned this song early in the week . . .little knowing that it would be our Friday song selection!
Hope this is a blessing to all -- and a reminder to praise Him in the storm.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

John 11 - the love of God, continued

We are continuing in our studies from the eleventh chapter of John.....these are the verses we are focusing on this week:
 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,

We've been looking at the love of God, and also at how (and why) we should seek our satisfaction in Him.  Sometimes in our world we hear about opposites. Tears of joy. Tough love. The two concepts can appear to be polar opposites, or at least stark contrast from one another.
We see this in the Bible, too. Especially when we study our loving God.
Remember when Jesus is described in prophecy? He is called a lion. And He's called a lamb. How can that be? A lion is the king of all he surveys; he is regal and majestic; he has undisputed authority over other beings in his realm. The lamb? We see lambs as appealing but lowly creatures; they are very meek and follow their leader; they are at the bottom of the "pecking order" and get ordered about by the older sheep and the shepherd, too.
I believe that when we study our loving God, we are especially attracted to His mercy and His might; you might think these were two things would be mutually exclusive, but they're not! In Jesus, meekness comes together with courage, humility meets sovereignty, tenderness melds with toughness, and all power is included. He sacrificed Himself: He was deserving of all honor, yet He received all shame for us.
He understands us, and He disciplines us. He is infinitely worthy of our love.
And. He. Loves. Us.
He pulls things together that other people can't. I'm so glad that we have His Word, so that we can study Him and become more and more satisfied with His love.

Here is another thing we find, when we study our loving God. He is an untiringly happy Savior. He really is! Doesn't it lift our spirits to hear Him say things like, "I have spoken these things to you that my joy might be in you, and that your joy might be full."?  Isn't that uplifting?  His joy in us -- and He is so awesome and powerful -- His joy must be ever so much better than any other we can experience!

Here's another picture of our happy Savior: remember that wonderful parable in Matthew 25?  We are all gathered before Him, and the sheep and goats are being separated . . . the sheep draw near to Him and hear Him say, "Well done good and faithful servant. You were found faithful in little; you will be found faithful in much. Enter into the joy of your master."    Wow! What a fantastic picture of what heaven will be like: the joy of our master!
We serve a happy and triumphant savior, Jesus Christ. Let's not turn away from Him to ourselves. Let's not crave people making much of us. Let's make much of Him. Praise for us? No, praise for Him!
If we will spend time getting to know Him, He will satisfy us with His love.
Remember this quote from early in the week? I think it bears repeating:
God's love is His doing whatever needs to be done, at whatever cost, so that we will see and be satisfied with the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

Whatever God may do in our lives is whatever is necessary so that we can see His glory, and be satisfied with Him. What amazing love from the creator of all things!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

John 11 -- the love of God, continued

What's the definition of love?
We've touched on this in other studies . . .
The world would have us think that the definition of love is the kind of thing we see on the television; it's often purely sexual, very shallow, doesn't last long, has a lot to do with approval and being famous and wealthy, etc, etc.
Oy. The world misses the mark, right?
They really think that love is when people make much of you.
Here is what I mean by that phrase . . . making much of someone is when you cherish or take special interest in them, or you treat them as very special, and very important.  An adoring public that applauds your latest feat or accomplishment.  People who make much of you because of what you can do for them.

Have we taken this worldly definition of love (being made much of) and tried to fit God into that mold? Is the only way that you feel loved by God, is if He is making much of you? If you feel He is "blessing you real good" then you feel He loves you, but if you are hitting some bumps in the road, He must not love you as much?

Many of us have swallowed the line sometimes, that the most satisfying thing in life is to be made much of.  If I can just get people to like me, to approve of what I do, to clap when I finish singing in church, to give me a raise or award at work, to pay attention to me, oh, then I'd be satisfied.
You would not.
It ain't in human nature. At least not for long. Pretty soon you would be looking for your next time that people would treat you special, pat your head.
It's our human nature to say, "I can't get no satisfaction."
Sorry, but that is the unvarnished truth.

Well then.
How can we find satisfaction? Here is the plan: We will be satisfied when we forget ourselves and are swallowed up in Jesus Christ and His love for us. When He becomes our treasure, what we cherish and value, and what we spend the rest of our lives growing in our capacity to see and enjoy, we will be satisfied. We were made with a longing to know and delight in Him, and it will just keep getting better, the more we see and enjoy Him.

Now, if we need to see and enjoy Him more, logically we need to pay less attention to people making a fuss over us, right? We were made to behold Him, and to glorify Him. Let's look at this more closely.
Let's say that you have experienced a time when people made a big fuss and praised you. They said some awfully nice things, and some of them gushed about how they delighted in you and approved of you. Now, that is pretty cool in the short term, but is it right to be craving that kind of attention all the time? Uh, no. We need to be able to accept this type of thing graciously and move on. In fact, if they did that all the time, you'd kinda feel like it wasn't quite right . . . like this wasn't the way it's supposed to be. That kind of adulation, almost worship sometimes, is supposed to be what we give, not what we get. We humans can't take a steady diet of that without it changing us into different people!
Another thing to look more closely at: have you ever been to a place that is awe-inspiring, like the Swiss Alps, or the Rocky Mountains, or maybe Niagara Falls? When you are standing there looking at that magnificent site, does it make any difference to your self esteem? By that I mean, does it puff you up with pride? Does it make you feel better about yourself?  Personally, things like that make me feel truly tiny, in comparison to the mighty power that shaped those sites! We were created to be joyful and satisfied by the infinite power and authority that created those wonderful places.

I truly believe that the love of God should make us forget the quest for applause of men. The approval of mere humans should be so low on our priorities . . . the one thing that will truly satisfy our souls is the love and power of Jesus Christ -- that is what we should pursue. As we continue to study this awesome chapter in John, we will see how we can devote ourselves to seeing and enjoying our Lord.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Prayer requests

It's always a privilege to join in prayer with our sisters in Christ, and lift up requests and praises to the Father.

We've talked before about our prayers, and looked at verses that encourage us to come to Christ with our deepest feelings and needs. We know that He is our Friend as well as our Savior.

Some of us are dealing with physical and emotional issues. Illness is something that has been with us since the fall, and we are pretty fragile creatures. The Bible is full of accounts of people who came boldly to Jesus, and asked for healing. He encouraged them (and us) to have such faith, and He delighted in it, too.

Remember when a group of friends couldn't get into the house where Jesus was teaching? They made a hole in the roof and lowered their paralyzed friend to Him. Jesus forgave him of his sins, and then made him walk.
How's this for boldness: on one occasion as Jesus was leaving a town, two blind men sitting by the side of the road shouted at Him!

          The crowd rebuked them, and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" Jesus stopped and called them. 'What do you want me to do for you?' he asked. 'Lord,' they answered, 'we want our sight.' Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him." (Matthew 20:32-34)

We can learn from this . . . we must have faith in God, and be bold. If for His own reasons He does not heal our illness, we can be sure that He will answer our prayer when we ask Him for strength to endure it.

Share your requests and praises below, so that we may join you in prayer.

Monday, June 16, 2014

John 11 - The love of Jesus

There must have been millions of people who have preached sermons or given devotionals on the love of God. How many, many times have we heard about the love of Jesus? I bet that sometimes we even take it for granted.

There are many, many verses in the Bible that speak of God's love. There are still others (so familiar to us) that show the love of Jesus. Would we count this passage as one of them? Perhaps not. But we might change our minds after we study. Let's dive in!

Here is our passage:
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Him saying, `Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.' But when Jesus heard this, He said, `This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified in it.'  Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
We'll see much more in this chapter as we go, but for now I'd like to focus on those six verses. This is sometimes a hard passage for us as believers, for some of the things we read here seem to fly in the face of our perceptions of Christ. We think that He should act one way, and yet He acts in another way. We read here that Jesus chose to allow Lazarus to die. That is a little bit jarring to us, isn't it? Why did He do that?
He was motivated and chose to do this, so that the glory of God would be made known. That is something that might take sitting down and thinking about, ay?
OK, but we also need to realize that His motivation to glorify God is love, too. Look at the first of verse six: it's the word "so." Hmmmm, what came before it?

                   "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus."

SO, that is why He did NOT go to heal him, but stayed two days more where He was? I'm sure that John, writing his gospel, realized that we were going to be bewildered by this, so he is quick to explain why He stayed two days longer, why He almost seems to be making sure that Lazarus dies....he explains what could turn that decision into love:
             "This is not going to end in death. This is all about the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified in it."

Perhaps we need to define the love of God . . . John Piper says it this way:
God's love is His doing whatever needs to be done, at whatever cost, so that we will see and be satisfied with the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
Let me say it again. The love of God is His doing whatever needs to be done, at whatever cost to Himself or to us, so that we will see and be satisfied by the love of God in Christ forever and ever.
Wow. This is pretty important stuff, don't you think?
Remember when Jesus prays for us in (John) chapter 17? He is praying for us because of His deep love for us.
  "Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me may be with me where I am so that they may see my glory." (John 17:24)
He didn't pray for our path to be easy and strewn with roses. He didn't ask the Father for us to receive instant answers and just what we ask for every time. He asks that we may see Him. His prayer of love is "show them my glory, then they will have the ultimate in satisfaction."

Now let's look at another passage. This time, it's Paul talking to all of us:
". . . to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me - to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it would leave me. And he said to me, `My grace is sufficient for you . . . my power is perfected in weakness.' "Most gladly, therefore, I will boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.' (II Corinthians 12:7-9)

The first thing we notice is that the love of God didn't take the thorn away, just like He didn't rush to heal Lazarus. Also, love had something more important, and more satisfying to give to Paul (and us). Lastly, the all-sufficient power of Christ is the more important gift; it is the gift that is all-satisfying, too.
So when we cry out to God, to help us and love us and forgive us, what does God say? How does God respond? He says, "I am going to use all of my power and might, and I'll use the life of my Son, in order to give you what you need most -- me! Fellowship with God, a glimpse of God, and an enjoyment of Him.
Here are two other verses that reinforce what we are learning here:
 `For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

           `This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you
            have sent."  John 17:3

Why is it that we want to be loved by God? Oh, absolutely yes, not to perish. And to avoid going to hell. And to not have a huge guilt trip any more that destroys us. But is that all we want? Don't we want life? And what is life? It's to know Him and His Son. To have fellowship with Him, to catch a glimpse of Him, and to enjoy Him.
Until Christ becomes our treasure, the one thing that we most want, we cannot fully know what it is to be loved by God. When it is He who fully satisfies us, then we are on the right path to knowing what it is to be loved by Him.
We ought to be thankful for His love and mercy. Yes. Without any doubt. But not just for the relief of our conscience. Not only for the escape from hell. Not merely for health in our bodies, or reconciliation of family. It is for the mercy and love that says we can see Him and enjoy Him forever and ever.
This is the love that overwhelms us and makes us want to live for Him.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Slowdown

We studied this week about how Jesus will not let us go, will not let us slip from His hand. This song came to mind . . .

Oh, love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in Thee
I give You back this life I owe
And in Your ocean depths, its flow
May richer, fuller be

Oh, light that follows all my way
I yield my flickering torch to Thee
And my heart restores its borrowed ray
And in Your sunshine's blaze, its day
May brighter, fairer be

And rejoice, my heart
Rejoice, my soul
My Savior God has come to thee

Rejoice, my heart
You've been made whole
By a love that will not let me go

Oh, joy that seeks me through the pain
I cannot close my heart to Thee
I chase the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain
That mourn shall tearless be

Oh, cross that lifts and holds my head
I dare not ask to fly from thee
I lay in dust life's glory dead
And from the ground, their blossoms red
Life that shall endless be

Rejoice, my heart
Rejoice, my soul
My Savior God has come to thee

And rejoice, my heart
You've been made whole
By a love that will not let me go

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Heartbreak and hope

We are headed into one of the most amazing chapters yet in the gospel of John. In John 11 we will meet a cast of characters that will challenge and inspire us. Jesus' friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, will be the stars of this show -- and there is much to learn.

In preparation for our study, I would encourage each of us to read the entire chapter carefully, and consider these questions:
What is the biggest heartbreak you have ever experienced?
What are some of the different types of heartbreak that can come into our lives?
How can heartbreak ruin, or help, a Christian?

Have you ever experienced heartbreak? I know, I know, I see those hands, and I join you in raising mine. Many of us have lived through times and situations that we never anticipated. If we anticipated them, we probably never realized just how difficult they'd be.

And looking back on them, we probably can't imagine how we'd have gotten through without the Father's help.

Please read the passage below, and we'll start our study on Monday:

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then 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 have kept this man from dying?”
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.
55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” 57 But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

John 10:22-42, Conclusion

Today we will finish our study of this passage. There has been a lot for us to learn here. This last one could be titled "Escape."

[39] Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands. [40] He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. [41] And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” [42] And many believed in him there.

Once again, Jesus is "untouchable." These misguided people have been so frustrated, and so full of unbelief and fury, but now instead of using the stones in their hands, they try to arrest Him.
He once again eludes them.

Sometimes we have trouble believing that the hand of the devil is the weaker one. That we don't have to fear him. That the hand of the Father is the one that is mighty, and ready to protect us.
There are times when our flesh is in control, and we forget these truths. We should remember this passage . . .God's protection of His Son is visible here.

We should remember, too, that this was not a retreat in humiliation, but a safe retreat to regroup, to recuperate, to rejuvenate before the final weeks of His ministry. There is nothing shameful in a wise move, a step back. It is to prepare Himself for the return to Jerusalem that He retreats.

There is work to be done before what we term "The triumphal entry" into the city. And there are those who had heard and absorbed what John the Baptist said, who are ready to receive the Messiah now. They believe! And He makes Himself available to them.

Jesus has not lost control here; He is not retreating because He has been overpowered. Far from it!

No one overrules Jesus' will, nor will anyone be able to overpower Him. No one can erase what He has achieved, and no one can take away those He has bought.

Even if life isn't always easy, we can know with certainty that Jesus will keep us safe and secure. Whatever is set before us, whatever God calls us to accomplish, our safety has nothing to do with our immature, weak, tiny grip on Him. It has everything to do with His grip on us.
And He has us!
His grip is permanent, and He holds us tightly!
Have we thanked God for the power of Jesus lately?
We may look at our lives and see scars from our past. We might think to ourselves that those scars, though they may not be outwardly visible, are real reminders of times that the devil (or perhaps our circumstances) clawed at us, harmed us, caused us pain. Like the man in the poem, who noted that at the dark times of his life, he saw only one set of footprints, and wondered where Jesus had been? He was gently reminded that at those times he was carried in Jesus' arms -- hence one set of footprints.

Similarly, our scars are not only reminders of dark and painful times when Satan beset us, but they are also reminders that Jesus would not let us go. If He had allowed us to slip from His hands, there would be no scars. It is because He refused to let go, that He held on so tightly, that the scars are there and we have survived to tell the tale and to live for Him.
I hope this is making sense, because it is very real to me, and very moving. I hope that your heart is touched by the knowledge that He holds you, and will not let you go.

The Bible teaches us that God loves us. If we have Christ in our lives, we are children of God. He wants to protect us and provide for us in every way. But sometimes we foolishly wade into dangerous situations. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. That’s when the tug-o-war begins - and if you have the scars of His love on your arms, be very, very grateful.

He did not - and will not - ever - let you go.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What are you listening to

Where would we be without the gift of song?

We can sing of our joy, of our sadness, and of our praise to God. We can express the longing of our souls for His presence, and we can also give testimony to the peace of His indwelling.

God gave us this gift . . . are you exercising it today? What are you listening to?

Up Calvary's mountain one dreadful morn
Walked Christ my Savior, weary and worn
Facing for sinners, death on the cross
That He might save them from endless loss

Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer
Seems now I see Him on Calvary's tree
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading
Blind and unheeding, dying for me

"Father, forgive them," my Savior prayed
Even while His lifeblood flowed fast away
Praying for sinners while in such woe
No one but Jesus ever loved so

Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer
Seems now I see Him on Calvary's tree
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading
Blind and unheeding, dying for me

Oh, how I love Him, Savior and Friend
How can my praises ever find end?
Through years unnumbered on Heaven's shore
My songs shall praise Him forevermore

Leave a comment today about what you're listening to . . . it may be just what someone else needs to hear!

Monday, June 9, 2014

John 10:22-42, Part IV

I didn't mean to leave you last time with a cliff-hanger, but the Jewish people were about to try for an execution when we last studied . . .
[31] The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. [32] Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” [33] The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” [34] Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? [35] If he called them gods to whom the word of God came — and Scripture cannot be broken — [36] do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? [37] If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; [38] but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
Oh, so that is what they are thinking -- blasphemy. And they are so angry that they are going to take judgment into their own hands! No trial or defense here; no due process like in our courts today. They are in a tizzy, searching for just the "right" stones.

Look over at Jesus. Is He agitated? He doesn't show it. He is perfectly calm. He's not going to run away, though His disciples may be tugging at Him, gesturing, trying to get Him to walk away. No signs of fear -- He is going to talk to them. Discuss things.

He is going to use evidence and the Scriptures.
So, this is what He asks them: since He has done many good works, and many miracles and great signs, what is the problem?
John and the others must have been thinking, "In other words, people, you have seen so many good and positive things come from His ministry. Which of those things are you going to stone Him for?"
The testimony of His works and the transformation of lives are both very compelling evidence. But it's not evidence that would cause them to want to stone Him, is it? Shouldn't they want to thank Him?

Listen to their response:
"We're not stoning you for any good work."
"It's for your blasphemy."   "You, as a man, make Yourself as God."
This all just makes me wonder if they ever, ever stopped a moment to consider if it could be true? Do you ever imagine yourself in Bible stories?  I found myself imagining this one . . . I sure hope that if I were a Jewish woman then, that I would have started to "put two and two together" and realize that Jesus really could be Who He said He was!  Here's a nation of people anticipating a Messiah, and then seeing Jesus, hearing His teachings, and experiencing His works firsthand . . . they still didn't "get it."

So the evidence didn't faze them. To make His point, Jesus points them to Psalm 82:

[1] God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment.

[6] I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; [7] nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”

Jesus teaches them here that the psalm applies the word "Elohim" (which if translated literally is the plural word for God) to men. In this psalm, God is referring to the judges and leaders of Israel, who have demonstrated epic fails in carrying out their responsibilities as God's representatives. There are verses in Exodus where God refers to them this way; they were given authority over the people. God gave them the job of making and carrying out judgments in the nation of Israel. God's Word came to them in the form of the sacred scriptures, and in the form of prophecies by the particular prophets of their era. And then Jesus says,
“If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”

Attorneys would call this a special kind of logical argument, which says that "if A is true, then how much more is B true."
He points to the fact that He was sent from God, and He is the One Who can state, "I am the Son of God." Jesus says that even if they don't believe what He says, they can check the evidence of His works.
And He says that if they are willing; if they will look at and believe in the works, they will receive the insight that they need. They will understand.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Slowdown

One of our sweet followers, Cathy, told me about this lovely song recently. It blessed my heart, and I wanted to share it with all of you. Many of us deal with difficult and anxious feelings, and Satan can use these fears to prey on us. We talked in our studies about these "mind wars" and how Jesus can protect us with His power and comfort us with His love.
I hope it will be meaningful for you.

Jesus King of angels heaven's light
Shine Your face upon this house tonight
Let no evil come into my dreams
Light of heaven keep me in Your peace
Remind me how You made dark spirits flee
And spoke Your power to the raging sea
And spoke Your mercy to a sinful man
Remind me Jesus this is what I am

The universe is vast beyond the stars
But You are mindful when the sparrow falls
And mindful of the anxious thoughts
That find me, surround me and bind me

With all my heart I love You Sovereign Lord
Tomorrow let me love You even more
And rise to speak the goodness of Your name
Until I close my eyes and sleep again


Jesus King of angels heaven's light
Hold my hand and keep me through this night

Thursday, June 5, 2014

John 10:22-42, Part III

I mentioned last time that we would hear Jesus' explanation this time . . . let's get started!
I'm thinking the people still won't listen, but let's read what happens:
[25] Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, [26] but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. [27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. [28] I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. [29] My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. [30] I and the Father are one.”

What's He telling us? John wants us to hear Jesus . . .
He's saying that people don't believe because they DON'T WANT TO HEAR.

Sorry for the shouting. I thought it was important.
We have ample proof that they didn't believe, and that they didn't hear. The works and words of Jesus have been abundantly clear. The people lacked the right attitude, and they lacked faith, as well.
It's as if John is looking back over his shoulder as he writes, and telling us, "They never really came to Him; they didn't want to find out Who He really was. They didn't truly want to be a part of what He was doing, and many didn't care why He came."

But if they had taken their hands down from their eyes, they would have seen His works. Miracle after miracle has played out in front of them . . . He turned water into fine wine; He healed a man that was born blind, and transformed his life; He fed throngs of people (5,000 of them) with only what the disciples brought to Him from a little boy's lunch pail.
Were these void of meaning? Were they just play-acting? Were they staged?
They were shout-it-out-loud witnesses to the divinity of Jesus. They proclaimed to all that He was the Sent One, the Christ.

You know what?
They still refused to believe.
Not only would they not take their hands down from their eyes, they would not open their ears. It's as if they had big wads of cotton in them!

Ah, but don't lose hope here. Jesus' sheep hear His voice. They believe, and then they follow Him. And there are long-lasting, no, eternal rewards for belief.

He knows us -- does that give you chills of dread, or thrills of joy? He knows each and every one of us. And He freely gives us the greatest gift ever: eternal life with Him.

It's a constant battle for parents in this day, to give their children the right balance. You will hear many parents talk about "quality time" -- have you used that expression? Well, it's fascinating to think about eternal life, because it is not just about quantity . . . it's about quality. Quality time with the Father, and with the Son. It's Life with a capital L, the kind of life that nobody wants to miss out on, once they have a glimpse of it.
And this is permanent, too. Once it is ours, it cannot be taken away. It's a gift -- we don't earn it. So that means we can't lose it by doing something bad. It may lose its luster, or not be as joyful, but it is still there. He doesn't take back His gift.

So, in the midst of a world that is perishing, those who believe in Christ -- those who hear His voice and follow -- are given life eternal.
But notice something else in these verses . . . Jesus also tells us there is something going on here on earth. There is a force that wants to snatch sheep away from the Good Shepherd, to keep them from accepting His gift and continuing to follow Him. The false shepherds, He calls them.
They want to destroy the sheep, but Jesus will not allow that to happen.
Is it because we are so strong and we hold on to Him?
It's because of His firm grip on us!
Now, John will make it clear later on, that doesn't mean that life won't be difficult. Even dangerous. We can expect to have hard times, especially when we are trying our hardest to follow Him. But here is good news: we are never outside of God's care. His power is with us, and we are safe in His hands. He is all-powerful.

The Jewish leaders wanted a plain, clear statement.
Boy, do they get one!
He and the Father are one.
That was all it took. They decided it was time to execute Him.
We'll see how this ended, the next time we study together.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

John 10:22-42, Part II

[22] At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, [23] and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. [24] So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Bible historians, who know about these things, tell us that between verses 21 and 22, two months have passed. Now we are watching Jesus at the time of the Feast of Dedication.

Not familiar with that term? I wasn't, either, and it turns out that this is called Hanukkah these days. This time of celebration was the newest of the feasts, and it has quite a history, as others do:
In 175 BC, there was a Syrian leader called Antiochus Ephiphanes. Apparently he tried to mix together the Hebrew and Greek cultures, but his misguided attempt had some pretty catastrophic consequences.
He desecrated the temple of God, forced the priests to eat pork, and even used the chambers of the temple as a brothel. He even caused sacrilege at the altar, making burnt offerings to Zeus.

A hero arose in the midst of the Jewish people -- Judas Maccabeus, the son of a village priest -- and he led a rebellion that fought and defeated the Syrian leader. After the successful rebellion, Judas Maccabeus led the cleansing of the temple and organized its rededication to the worship of the one true God. That feast of dedication lasted eight days with a candle to be lit each day, just like the traditional Hanukkah of today.

It's striking when we read this and realize that Jesus is in a crowd of people who are celebrating Israel's great victory over the Syrian who desecrated the temple. The celebration is for a great time in history, but they are missing what is right in front of them -- history being made! And an even greater victory is coming. But I'm getting ahead of the story.

Jesus is surrounded by unbelief. The verse says that they "gathered around him." We can see that it's a confrontation; He is probably encircled by these questioners. And they say they want a clear reply.

They are accusing Him of not making His position plain. Say what?
Does that surprise you like it did me?
Their line of questioning caught me by surprise, because Jesus has certainly NOT been evading the issue!  It's hard to believe that they don't think He has answered clearly. Have they not really been listening?  Yep, that's pretty obvious.
Jesus has been saying that He is sent from God. He has worked miracles that have left other people convinced of the fact that He is the Son of God. Yet these people haven't yet "got it."
We'll look at His explanation next time.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Verses that inspire

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103)

This verse is an inspiration to me; is it to you? David said that God's word was sweeter than honey; it was something to be sought after and savored.

Do we seek time in God's Word? Do we savor it and enjoy it? Do we spend as much time meditating on the Word as we do other things in our busy lives?

If a verse or passage has inspired you this past week, please leave a comment and share it with all of us . . . ya never know who might need to hear what you have to say!

Monday, June 2, 2014

John 10:22-42

Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

In this final passage in the tenth chapter of John, we will hear Jesus again using the metaphor of sheep and shepherd, and we will (again) see that the Jews are not ready to accept Him as God's Son.
We'll be looking at four things that demonstrate the authority and the power of Jesus. Ready? Let's dive in!

Have you ever wished that you had the power, and the authority, to straighten something (or someone) out? I'm indebted to Pastor Paul Decker for the following anecdote:

As the crowded airliner is about to take off, the peace is shattered by a five-year-old boy who picks that moment to throw a wild temper tantrum. No matter what his frustrated, embarrassed mother does to try to calm him down, the boy continues to scream furiously and kick the seats around him.

Suddenly, from the rear of the plane, an elderly man in a Marine uniform is seen slowly walking forward up the aisle. Stopping the flustered mother with an upraised hand, the white-haired, courtly, soft-spoken Marine leans down and, motioning toward his chest, whispers something into the boy’s ear.

Instantly, the boy calms down, gently takes his mother’s hand, and quietly fastens his seat belt. All the other passengers burst into spontaneous applause.

As the Marine slowly makes his way back to his seat, one of the cabin attendants touches his sleeve. "Excuse me, sir," she asks quietly, "but could I ask you what magic words you used on that little boy?"

The Marine smiles serenely and gently confides, "I showed him my pilot’s wings, service stars, and battle ribbons, and explained that they entitle me to throw one passenger out the plane door, on any flight I choose."
Of course, this is a humorous story, but aren't there some seeds of truth there?
There are times when we wish we had the power to fix something that needs to be corrected, aren't there? Sometimes it is a situation that annoys us. Sometimes it is a matter of justice. "It's the principle of the thing." We long for the situation or the person to be handled, rather than let go.
When nothing is done, it festers, and bothers us and irritates us.
Then we say, "Why doesn't somebody DO something?"
In the time of our scripture passage, the same cry had gone out from the people. The Jewish nation had been humiliated by its conquerors, the Romans. But to add insult to injury, they also were suffering from the hypocrisy and betrayal of their own religious leaders. They were far more interested in keeping their power than in doing the right things.

And now someone had come, that had the authority and the power to straighten everything out. His name was Y'shua. We might call Him Joshua, but in the pages of our Bible, the Greek form of His name is used: Jesus.
During Jesus' ministry, He consistently proved His identity to His listeners. We're coming to the end of the tenth chapter of John's gospel, and it is just about halfway through that gospel. John has been doing his dead-level best to give us evidence about Jesus. Remember? He wants us to "get it" figure out Who He is and why He came. And to do it faster than some of the folks who were there to see it all!

By examining what He does and what He says, we are finding out over and over again who Jesus really is.
And when one is truly ready to give this an honest investigation, with a desire to know the truth, the conclusions are startling.
For Jesus does not allow us any other conclusion…He is the Lord.
He is God made flesh.
The display of
His power, both in action and in person, does not allow for any other conclusion.

We'll continue in this passage on Wednesday.