"But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you..." 1 Corin. 12:9

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gleanings - John - Chapter 8 part 1

After the disagreement between the Pharisees and Jesus in chapter 7, the people returned to the their homes.  "But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. (John 8:1)"  Why?  It doesn't say.  The very next verse has Him coming back into the temple court to teach.  So I am thinking He went to 'refuel' by being with the Father.  It doesn't say He took anyone with Him.  And He was ready to go again 'early in the morning'.  What a great example!

After emptying Himself all day to the people, He disappears to rejuvenate and then goes at it again the next day.  I know I need time with the Father to prepare myself for each new day.  My energy is ZAPPED at the end of most every day, and I only have to deal with 5 people generally.  He had to be ready to go in CROWDS which would exhaust me in a matter of seconds.  I like to deal with others one-on-one or in very small groups.  CROWDS are right out.

morning verses

It's a good thing He took a respite, because He was put on the spot quite quickly.

vv2-3  "He sat down and was teaching them, when the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery."

He knew their intent.  They wanted to trap Him with their questions.  He turned the trap back onto them.  I am always struck with His brilliance in handling 'the powers that be'.  He is AMAZING!  They wanted to know what He would do with Moses' words.  His answer did not refute Moses, but still got His point across.  "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. (v7)"

The other thing I pondered in this story of  "What shall we do with this wicked woman?" was her and what this situation was like for her.  Being caught in this sin would be mortifying enough.  Especially with the penalties they had in those days.  But then to be dragged into the center of the temple court and made an example of.  YIKES!!!  I feel so sorry for her.  Besides all that, then she hears the Pharisees bring up stoning.  I'm sure she was terrified.  I would have been holding my breath for Jesus' answer.

Imagine what was going through her mind when she heard His Words.

What do think her reaction was when He spoke directly to her?  

"'Woman, where are your accusers?  Has no man condemned you?'  She answered, 'No one, Lord.'  And Jesus said, I do not condemn you either.  Go on your way and from now on sin no more.' (vv10-11)"

I bet she could hardly believe her ears.  No condemnation, even in private?  Only mercy.  He allows her to go free with the admonishment to 'sin no more'.  Reprieve.  Relief.  Deep gratitude.  A desire to be different and to know this strange, merciful Man and to follow One such as this.  Freedom on numerous levels.  These are the things that I think I would be feeling.  We aren't told her reaction.  But it is interesting to think about.

Her situation reminds me of a quote I copied from a book written by Janette Oke and Davis Bunn called The Centurion's Wife.
"In the darkest hour, when there is no reason to go forward, no possibility of a better tomorrow, He is there to comfort, to guide, to heal.  He brings with Him the gift of hope."

In verse 12, Jesus makes His next 'I AM' statement:  "I AM the light of the world."  He says we don't have to walk in the dark when we walk with Him!

Verse 13 begins a conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees which challenges Jesus' authority that goes on through verse 29.  Jesus basically says, 'I have authority because I AM God, but you don't have a clue.'

Verse 15 stands out:  "You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one."  If anyone has a right to judge anything, it is Him.  "But if I do judge, My decisions are right...'  He knows EVERYTHING, all the why's and the nuances, inside out.  I know only what I see from the outside looking in.  So my judgment is faulty at best.  I am incapable of judging accurately, and I am ordered not to.
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)"

Jesus then transitions into trying to get them to realize that He is the perfect picture of the Father.  "If you knew Me, then you would know My Father too."  (v19c)  I have always found this such a comforting thought.  We can not see the Father (or even Jesus physically), but we have Who He is displayed out clearly for us all through the New Testament.  We can know Jesus personally because of His Word, and He says the Father is just like Him.  So if we know One, we know Both!  THRILLING!!!

In verses 21-30, Jesus talks about Who He is, where He is going to return to, and how He is going to get there.  "Then many who heard Him say these things believed in Him. (v30)"  Every time Scripture records people believing God, it is a MIRACLE.  We sinful humans just can't come to that on our own.  We have to have HELP!  Thank You, LORD, for every person that You help to believe You.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gleanings - John - Chapter 7

I've been reading Chapter 7 for awhile now.  I am having difficulty sinking my teeth into it.  I have been more focused on standing on some Scriptures to deal with 'life', so the intensity with John hasn't been there.  But, I am not throwing in the towel.  I am pressing on.  I'm a little off schedule, but I set the schedule.  So I can modify it!  :)

Verses 1-9 are a conversation between Jesus and His natural brothers.  It is time to go up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles.  The brothers' unbelief comes out as they almost taunt Him.  When I first was reading that they did not believe Him, I thought it was a little comforting to know that these guys who had been around Him His whole life were having difficulty perceiving Who He was.  But, as I thought about it this morning, I decided that believing Who He is and not taking Him at His Word is worse.  That is SO humbling.

Verse 7:  "The world...hates Me because I testify that what it does is evil."  This statement is proved out in the remainder of the chapter with all of the arguments about who He is and wanting to arrest or kill Him.  He was not taking a neutral stance.  He was revealing His relationship with the Father, and the 'powers-that-be' didn't like it.  (In verse 16, He clearly states that His teachings are not His Own, but the Father's.)  Others seemed to be genuinely trying to figure out whether or not He was Who He claimed to be.  These thoughts are threaded throughout the chapter, but most heavily from verse 30 on.

Verses 10-13 show that Jesus does go to Jerusalem, though He refused to go with His brothers.  He went alone "...as if He did not wish to be observed."  People had been looking for Him and discussing Him.

Verses 14-29:  Jesus went to the temple court to teach.  Some people were getting angry with Him and wondering at how He could teach with such authority, not having been trained in the Word as a priest.  He pointed out that He was just doing what the Father had sent Him to do.  And He reasons with them:
Verse 18 "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He Who is seeking the glory of the One Who sent Him, He is True, and there is no unrighteousness (Amplified--falsehood, deception) in Him."
This verse points to Him and the Father being One. "He is true."  Back in chapter 1, it says, "God is true."  And in verse 28 of this chapter, it says, "the One Who sent Me is true.", plus, He indicates later in verses 29 and 33 that He has come directly from the Father's presence and will be returning there again.

Verses 30-53 show the growing animosity of the religious leaders, as well as the curiosity of all the people about who He really is.  Some are angry enough to want Him arrested or killed.  Others seem to be genuinely trying to puzzle through what He says and to decide if He might be the Messiah.  They even try to recall what the prophets say about what town Messiah will come from.  Nicodemus tries to defend Him and gets 'put in his place'.  Things are heating up.

Verses 38-39 are my favorite verses in the chapter.  These verses are a description of what I want to be like.
"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'  But this He spoke of the Spirit..."  (NASB)
 "'Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.'  By this He meant the Spirit..."  (NIV)

I want to be a conduit of the Spirit!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gleanings - John - Chapter 6, part 2

Verse 29:  "Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this:  to believe in the One He has sent.'"  (NIV)

"Jesus replied, 'This is the work [service] that God asks of you:  that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust in, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger].'"  (Amplified)

 rely:  to be dependent for support, help, or supply; to place or have faith or confidence; bind fast

Psalm 84:5  "Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage."

Over and over again, the theme God is teaching me is "BELIEVE ME!!!"  It started back in January and hasn't let up yet.  I think the entirety of 2011 will continue in the same vein.  And my prayer?  "O Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"  My hope?  That by the end of the year, my belief and total trust in His Word will have ground by leaps and bounds.  Victory is on the horizon!

I do not want verse 36 to ever be true of me (though final victory comes when I enter the heavenly realm)
"...you have seen Me, and yet you do not believe."

I know this is referring to salvation, but it echoes in my heart.  I have seen Jesus work in my life so many times, in so many ways.  Yet, when a new circumstances threatens my security, I find myself in a tizzy of anxiety.  AND IT OUGHT NOT BE!  If I had the confidence in Him I should, that He deserves, I would not be worried.  And my prayer?  "Lord, grow me, help me.  If You don't change me, I will never be any better than I am.  I believe; help my unbelief!"

Instead of wondering, "Will He come through for me this time?", I need to be shouting:


Psalm 54:4  "Behold, God is my Helper (every present moment); the Lord is the Sustainer of my soul."

Psalm 46:1  "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

My goal is for confidence in Him
to be like breathing,
both natural and

In the remainder of the chapter, Jesus is talking about being the Bread of Life.  And teaching that we must fully partake of Him, just as if His flesh were our bread and His blood were our drink.  This teaching was taken literally and was too hard for most that were following Him.  The majority left.  It came to the point where Jesus asked the 12, "You do not want to leave too, do you? (verse 67)"

I love Peter's answer!

Verses 68-69:  "Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the Words of eternal life.  We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.'"

Peter may not have known what to think about this current strain of teaching, but he knew Jesus was the Way.  We need to know that as well.  I think of it when I am struggling.  I think, 'Well, where else will I go?  There are only 2 sides, and I'm certainly not going to trust the Liar.'

Hannah Whitall Smith: We must choose, without any regard to the state of our emotions, what attitude we will take toward God. We must recognize that our emotions are only the servants of our will.

 Another theme that stuck out was that God draws those who will believe in Him.  They don't come to Him as their own idea.  He initiates the relationship.

verse 44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws Him."
verse 65 "This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted Him by the Father."

I have quite a number of people I pray for that I hope are on 'the list'.  (And oh how I hope they are not in the path of this verse:  "For Jesus had know from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray Him."  v64)

The last verse that I meditated on was verse 63:  "It is the Spirit Who gives life; the flesh is of no avail.  The Words I have spoken to you are spirit and life." (ESV)  The KJV says the 1st part of the verse this way:  "It is the Spirit that quickeneth..."

This is my quest, the Spirit-led life.  I am working at denying my flesh daily and taking up my cross and following Him (Luke 9:33).  This is LIFE ABUNDANT!  I hope you are seeking it too.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future....You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with ALL your heart.  I will be found by you,' declares the LORD."  Jeremiah 29:11,13-14a

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gleanings - John - Chapter 6, part 1

Chapter 6 is all about the Bread of Life.  It begins with Him feeding 5000 followers.  It ends with so many of them leaving that Jesus asks the 12 if they are going to leave as well.

They were all on the far side of the Sea of Galilee: Jesus, the disciples, the crowd.  Then Jesus asks Philip where they could get food to feed these people.  Verse 6 says, "He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do."  Jesus likes us to participate in His plan.  He doesn't need our suggestions, many times doesn't even use them.  But, He still invites the dialogue.  It's all about relationship.  His and ours.

Verse 6 is a comfort to me.  Jesus ALWAYS knows exactly what He's going to do in my life as well.  My life is in His capable Hands.  It is not up in the air.  The Blessed Controller of ALL things has got me covered.  He is my security and safety.  Him alone!

"The Lord of Hosts--regard Him as holy and honor His Holy Name [by regarding Him as your ONLY safety], and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread [lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him].  (Isaiah 8:13 Amplified)"

The disciples threw out some thoughts, but no solutions.  My brain thought, in any situation like that, I shouldn't be trying to offer suggestions to Jesus.  I should be saying, "Well, Lord, I don't know what can be done about this, but You do and Your are my Helper (Ps. 54:4).  So my eyes are on You (2Chron. 20:12).  Please tell me how to pray about this."

"Faith is confidence in the character of God."  A.W. Tozer

God always takes care of things better than I can think of any way.  He not only handled the situation miraculously, but there were leftovers!  I feel like that was His way of showing that He could MORE than meet every need.  (Lord, please sink this truth DEEP into my heart.)

After the people are fed, the disciples head out across the sea, and Jesus retreats to pray.  Later on, a storm comes up.  And Jesus walks across the sea and catches up to the disciples.  They think He is a ghost and start to freak out.  But He assures them by saying, "It is I.  Don't be afraid. (v20)"  The Amplified adds, "I AM; stop being frightened."  That is assurance, not only of Who He was, but what He could do in their precarious situation.  When He got in the boat, they "immediately" reached the other side.  MIRACLE!!!

I translated this scenario into my life by thinking of the storm as a mental one (which I seem to have frequently).  A mental train of thought is like taking off in the boat across the sea.  If my thoughts get out of control, an emotional storm blows in.  And here He comes, letting me know of His Presence with some Scriptures that pop into my mind.  If I willingly receive Him into my 'boat' and think His thoughts instead of mine, the storm calms.  Sometimes it takes longer, because I have really allowed my thoughts free rein and have not put on His Mind quickly enough.  But if I catch myself soon, usually I will come peacefully to 'land' without much trouble.

The crowd followed Jesus across the sea.  They wanted more of His physical provision.  He encouraged them to see spiritual provision instead.  Then, even though He had just miraculously fed them the day before, they wanted Him to tell them what kind of 'sign' He would perform to show they should believe Him.  He went on with His train of thought and started talking about being the Bread of Life.

"Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this:  to believe in the One He has sent.'" (verse 29)