I Saw You

Posted by admin on April 2, 2014 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

363We continue the Journey Through John.  For previous meditations on John chapter 1, scroll down to earlier articles.

Read JOHN 1:43-51

Once in a while we hear that some infamous person has “found God.”  We rejoice, for it is true–God can save anyone, just as He saved us from our depravity.  But later, we may hear that the penitent has returned to his old ways.  “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” (Proverbs 26:11) Perhaps the end of that person is worse than the beginning.  (Matthew 12:43-45)

Not so for those who are truly repentant, called of God, chosen before the foundation of the world!  “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)  However much we may despair over our own repetitive sins, we know the Lord is at work in our lives.  We did not find God without His leading or choose Him without His invitation, but He found and chose us.  Now it is our responsibility to respond and follow Him, as an obedient child.  “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God who is working in you, enabling you, both to will and to act for His good purpose.”  (Philippians 2:12b-13)

Jesus found His disciples in the middle of their ordinary lives, fishing, collecting taxes, sitting under fig trees.  But He had already prepared their hearts to recognize Him.  So when Andrew found his brother Simon, he exclaimed, “We have found the Messiah!”   Then Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law . . . Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth!” (John 1:40-45)

We can almost hear Nathanael’s scoff.  The Messiah was supposed to come from Bethlehem! (Micah 5:2) “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael exclaimed.  But at Philip’s urging, he got up to find out.

“Then Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him and said about him, ‘Here is a true Israelite; no deceit is in him.'” (vs.47)

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. (vs.48)

“Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” Jesus replied.

Astonished that Jesus could see him from afar, Nathanael replied, “You are the Son of God!  You are the King of Israel!” (vs. 49)

What a wonderful story this is!  The Lord sees us where we are, while we are unaware, in our sins and disbelief, and chooses us.  We may think we are doing good works, we may be zealous for our beliefs, we may be religious.  We go about our business like Saul of Tarsus, until the Lord stops us in our tracks.  (Acts 9)  He calls us to repent and follow Him.

I have spent so much time sitting under the “fig trees” or circumstances of life, sitting in shadows, lingering in disbelief.  But Lord, You see me, just like Nathanael the doubter or Jonah the pouter under his plant.

Heavenly Father, thank You for always seeing me,  from  the moment of conception to my last breath on earth.  You see all I am, think, and do.  You see me in my disbelief  and discontent– and You still love me!  Give me the faith to recognize You at work in my life,  for You are the Living God, the One who sees me.  Be King of my heart and mind, and help me follow You in joyful obedience and contentment.  Thank You for seeing me and my needs today.   In Jesus’ gracious name  I pray, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look! The Lamb of God

Posted by admin on December 29, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

The Anza-Borrego Desert Wilderness

The Anza-Borrego Desert Wilderness

     This year’s late November Thanksgiving plummeted us into the season of Advent, looking ahead to Christmas, perhaps before we were ready to celebrate it.  Now the New Year advances upon us.  Maybe if we had celebrated Advent as a season of reflection, maybe if we had rested in the promises of Christ’s coming, maybe if we had not gotten tangled in Christmas preparations, just maybe we might feel ready for a new year.  But are we ready?  Am I ready to see Emmanuel and follow Him?    

Read John 1:29-42.

     John’s mission was to prepare the way for the Lord, to turn hearts in repentance toward the coming Messiah.  He himself did not know Who this might be, although he and Jesus surely met as boys at Passover in Jerusalem.  Two serious young men, devoted to the Scriptures, strong in the Lord, might well have looked forward to their annual reunions. Did they ever discuss the stories related by Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, and Zechariah, tales of miraculous births, mysterious prophecies, and angelic proclamations of their very names and destinies? 

     Perhaps, but there in the wilderness, baptizing at the Jordan River, John was not at all sure Who was coming.   Crowds surged to hear his message of repentance and be baptized; Pharisees questioned his identity and authority.  He was sure of his calling as forerunner and herald.    Yet, like all of us, John needed the Spirit of God to open his eyes.

     Then Jesus came to be baptized, and, suddenly, John saw Him, saw his cousin for Who He really was–the One who never sinned, the Son of God, the prophsied Messiah. He protested, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” (Matthew 3:14)  Jesus insisted; He wanted to identify Himself with sinners, a first step in obedience to God’s plan of salvation.  And so He was baptized.  The heavens opened up, the Spirit of God descended on Him, and the Father proclaimed, “This is My beloved Son.  I delight in Him!” (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34)

    “Look! The Lamb of God!” John exclaimed.  “Here is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I told you about.”  So enthusiastic was his witness that some of his own disciples left to follow Jesus.  That was all right with John.  He was totally prepared to be eclipsed by the Messiah.  He was filled with joy and kept on baptizing, telling everyone that the Son indeed had come. (John 3:22-36)

    Lord, once I walked in darkness, no, cowered in darkness.  Darkness consumed me until You came into my life.  Then I saw You, Lamb of God, Savior, Lover of my soul!  What a relief, what a joy to turn my eyes to You, and walk in Your light!  Help me see You at work this year in my life and all around me.  Give me that holy enthusiasm of John to point others to You, even in my present circumstances and season of life!  For You are with me, Emmanuel, ever present, Faithful and True. 

    Thank You, Lord, for Your words of assurance from Scripture, even as You faced the cross: “Your heart must not be troubled.  I go to prepare a place for you.  The world does not see me, but  you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:1,2b, 19 paraphrase)

     Look! The Lamb of God!

 

Grace After Grace

Posted by admin on November 22, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

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Spring Puppies


Read John 1:14-18

What is this grace to which John refers–Jesus “full of grace and truth” (vs. 14)? John says, “Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness” (vs. 16). “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (vs. 17).

This grace came into the world at Christmas. “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us” (vs.14a) The Word, the Logos, the incarnation and revealer of God the Father, lived among us in order to die for us.

John “observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (vs.14b)  John walked with Jesus day by day.  What must it have been like to follow the Man Without Sin?  To eat with Him, to sit at His feet as His student, to witness His miracles, to look in His eyes? 

John saw Him transfigured on the mountain, when His face shone like the sun as He talked with Moses and Elijah.  John heard the voice from the cloud proclaim:  “This is My beloved Son.  I take delight in Him.  Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:1-6 HCSB). 

John also saw Him disfigured and dishonored on the Cross, only to rise again in His new, immortal body and later ascend to heaven.

Yet those of us who have not seen Jesus but still believed are blessed too.  The Son has revealed the Father to us in all His grace, truth, and glory!

 God is love.  He is continually pouring forth His love, grace, mercy, and truth.  Like the sun, He cannot stop emitting His light, or else the universe would go dark.

In a great mystery, the Father revealed the Son, His Word to us; the Son revealed the Father.    This is the “grace after grace” which we have all received, ours to accept or reject.

Lord, I am amazed, thankful, and blessed by this grace.  You gave me Yourself.  You have shown me the Father’s love and forgiveness, poured out like Your blood.  You have not forsaken me, but You live in me by Your Spirit.

What a difference You have made in my life!  You satisfy my longings; I do not feel deprived when I focus on You.  You free me from the bondage of destructive habits and self-deceit.  Your truth has set me free.

When I slip back into compulsions and focus on my wants and anxieties, I remember the greater reality of my relationship with You.  I don’t have to “be all I can be” in the world’s eyes.  I don’t have to “get everything done.”  I can “abandon the outcomes” to God.

My relationship with You is primary, next are family and friends.  The cares of this world–work, finances, time management, illnesses, troubles of all sorts, and those everlasting chores–are far down the list of priorities.   Only a few things are necessary, and I long to choose the best.

I hear Your affirmation, Lord:  You are My child, and I have given you grace after grace.  Rejoice!  I give grace to the humble.  My grace is sufficient for You.  You are weak, but I am strong–strong to save you, strong to love you, strong to work in you and through you for My good purpose.  For by grace you are saved, justified before Me by grace.  You will have suffering in this world, but be courageous!  I have conquered the world, and You will see My glory.

What grace!

JOURNEY THROUGH JOHN

Posted by admin on November 14, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

     Here I am again writing on my much-neglected blog. The Lord has brought me through a year of challenges that required a lot of time and attention.  
     Since February I have been reading and meditating on John, using the ancient lectio divina method. Though I have read  John my whole life, since I first turned to that wondrous phrase, “In the beginning was the Word,” I am still captivated by his gospel. And I still maintain this website and receive encouragement to continue. So, from time to time, I will share some of my journal entries with you.
     The lectio divina method is not Bible study, and I don’t purport to be a Bible scholar or teacher. I am simply sharing meditations on certain passages that impressed themselves on my spirit. If you would like to learn more about lectio divina, see soulshepherding.org.

CHILDREN OF GOD

Read John 1:1-13

vs. 12 “the right to be children of God”

Thank You, Father, for sending Your Son, giving me faith to receive Him, and granting me “the right to become a child of God”!  Because of my sin, I had no right or even desire in myself to be included in Your family.  Like a helpless baby, I could not choose You, but You chose me. You adopted me and purchased me with Your life-blood.  You gave me Your name and filled me with Your Spirit.

I have not always appreciated this.  I focused on the rejection and abandonment I experienced as a child.

But You, Lord, fathered me and taught me to love You, to love Your Word, Your people, and Your worship.  You led me in the way of salvation.  I am so thankful, Lord!

Now I am Your child and will always be Your child.  I do not have to fear rejection or abandonment.  You will never be too busy for me or deceive me.  I don’t have to compete for Your approval, attention, or aid.   You call me to follow, and You lead me on the way. 

Your Word says to me:  I am the Lord God Almighty, your Creator, the Word Made Flesh, rejected by men yet offering Myself in love for their redemption. I have drawn you to Myself with an everlasting love.   I have called you, given you a new heart and name, and adopted you forever. Rejoice, child of God!  Be not ashamed; your sins are forgiven.  Fear not!  Rest in My love.  Trust Me to provide and shelter and lead.  I will never leave you or forsake you.  And at last, you will live in My presence forever and see My glory.

So be it, Father.  I believe and rejoice!

 

 

Oops!

Posted by admin on January 7, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

The number on the digital scale flashed up at me–Oops!  Even though I worked out on the treadmill in the icy atmosphere of the garage, those two fig bars and the extra handful of nuts confronted me. Not to mention the bread sticks and salty soup at the Olive Garden.  Or the extra piece of cheese.  Or . . . .

I wrote down every calorie I consumed, but  I missed my weight loss goal for the New Year.  Alas!  I was too confident, even cocky. 

I have lost 80 lbs., donated my plus-size clothes to charity, and trashed a chocolate cake that tempted me.  But I still ate too much during the holidays. 

That ominous verse reverberated in my head: “Therefore, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall!” (I Corinthians 10:12 HCSB)

For the past two weeks, I let go of my support system–the weekly report and phone call with my weight loss counselor.  I can do this on my own, I thought.  As the days progressed, I regressed from taking thought to being thoughtless.  I lost my focus on the Lord, self-discipline, and healthy, balanced living.  Celebration turned to self-indulgence, self-pity, and self-deprecation.  Self, self, self, the prison of self.

Like a toddler who has fallen on her head, I can only crawl back to the Father.  Take my hands, Abba.  Help me up.  I can walk again with Your guidance.  With my eyes on You, I can reach the goal.

Some time in the future, when I lose all my fat, I won’t need to report in every week to a counselor.  My healthy habits will be more habitual.  But I will always need a support system of family, friends, and wise counselors–and I will always need to rely on my Daddy.

Maybe you too are experiencing frustration over goals, resolutions, habits, sins, and failings. 

The Lord is compassionate.  “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity.  God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.” (I Cor. 10:13)

What is that way of escape?  The renewal of our hearts and minds.   

“Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth. . . put on the new self who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of his Creator. . . And let the peace of the Messiah control your hearts.  Be thankful.” (Colossians 3:2,10,15)

Ah, that is the key.  Be thankful.  Be content.  The Lord is in control.  God-power, not just will-power.  I am satisfied in Him. 

So be it, Father, so be it.  Amen. 

 

      1. Kids Sing For Every Prison There's a Door
  a song about the way of escape!