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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gleanings - John - Chapter 11

In chapter 11 of John, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.  He finds out that Lazarus is deathly ill, but chooses to wait to go to him knowing he will die.  He has an amazing reason, but no one knows what His plan is.  All they know is that He let His friend die and did nothing to stop it.  They knew Him as a miracle worker.  Why wasn't He doing anything?  He did say, 'This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it. (v4)'  But they could not comprehend why He was saying that.

Both Martha and Mary say to Him, when He finally does come, 'If You had been here, my brother would not have died. (vv21, 32)'  The crowd says, 'Could not He Who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying? (v37)'  This was all true, but He had a plan they did not know.

He wanted to help them know Him better.

He wanted to reveal the Father's glory and His glory through an amazing miracle, the biggest one yet.

He wanted to reveal His resurrection power.

He said to Martha, 'Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? (v40)'

Then He proceeded to have the grave stone removed, despite Martha's protests.  Then in verse 43 He said:

'Lazarus, come out!'

This chapter is SO exciting!  Not just because someone was resurrected from the dead, but because we see Christ's amazing power in a seemingly hopeless situation.  I mean death is FINAL, isn't it?  Once someone has died we stop praying for them because it's too late.

But not for my Jesus!  He blew their minds and defeated even death.  Here temporarily.  Later, when He resurrected Himself, He defeated death's power over us FOREVER!!!

This story gives me such hope.  Hope to persevere in faith when I don't know what the plan is.  When my situation looks hopeless.  When I don't understand what He is doing or why He isn't answering my prayers the way I want Him to.  I can cling to His promise to Martha that if I believe, I will see His glory.  I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!

Glory!  Hallelujah!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gleanings - John - Chapter 10

The Gate.  The Good Shepherd.  The Son of God.  So many names for Jesus, and all of them wonderful!

He's the Gate, the 'Way' in.  The ONLY Way in.  Freely offering eternal life to anyone who will adhere to Him in belief and obedience.

He's the Good Shepherd.  He sacrificed Himself for the good of the sheep, even giving His Own Life.  He did it freely, willingly.  No one could have taken His Life; He had to give it.  After all, no one can over-power the Almighty.

It still floors me that the Almighty God of the Universe would humble Himself to come in the form of a baby, grow-up as a human boy into a man in a poor to average family, and then consent to die for sinners.  All for us.  Mind-blowing.  Especially when you consider Ephesians 1:3-7 which says that this was His plan from before He ever created man.  He knew He would have to do this for us and made us anyway.  Mind-boggling.

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life.
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death, and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart,
His wounds have paid my ransom.
(Stuart Townend, How Deep the Father's Love for Us)

I love how Jesus talks about sheep and how they will only follow their own shepherd.  That they know his voice and will follow no other.  He says this is how we should be as believers.  We should get to know His Voice so well that when an imposter comes, we won't be fooled.

I love the wonderful promise in this chapter that says, "No one can snatch them out of My Hand. (v28)"

Jesus says a couple of times in this chapter that He and the Father are One.  Inseparable.  What I think is astounding is that, in John 17:20-23, Jesus says WE are One with Them.  That's how I want to be.  Inseparable from God.  That just like with Jesus was with the Father, people can't look at me without seeing Him.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gleanings - John - Chapter 9

I absolutely love the story of the man blind from birth!
If you haven't read this passage for yourself,

What a marvelous picture of God's grace in our lives!  Everyone this blind man knew was sure that  his parents or he had sinned with blindness as the punishment.  Once again Jesus broke through their judgmental thoughts with a new one.  He said this man's life was purposely designed to reveal God's glory.  Isn't this true for each one of us?  We each have a unique set of circumstances.  We each have a special purpose, a part to play in bringing glory to the Most High.

I like how the Message says, "You're asking the wrong question.  You're looking for someone to blame.  There is no such cause-effect here.  Look instead for what God can do. (v3)"

"Look instead for what God can do!"  This is how I want to learn to approach EVERY situation in life.  Pray, trust, and wait with EXPECTATION that God will work.  I want to camp on the fact that God always is working for my good, no matter the appearance of the situation.  That He is listening and mindful of me, like verse 31 indicates:  "It's well known that God isn't at the beck and call of sinners, but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence and does His will."

Even with this amazing miracle of sight people were refusing to believe.  The former blind man is INCREDULOUS!  "This is amazing!  You claim to know nothing about Him, but the fact is, He opened my eyes!...That someone opened the eyes of a man born blind has never been heard of---ever.  If this Man didn't come from God, He wouldn't be able to do anything. (vv30,33)"  After this, they threw him out of the synagogue.

Jesus responded to this stubborn disbelief by saying, "...those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind....If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you're accountable for every fault and failure.  (vv39,41)"

O Lord, please keep my eyes open to Your Truth.
Keep my heart teachable and close to You.
Help me be bold in my proclamation of
all that You have done for me.

I also love how, when everyone else turns against this poor man for standing staunchly in faith, Jesus comes to him personally to comfort and minister to him.  My sweet, precious Lord is so tender with His people.

(All verses in this post are taken from The Message.)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gleanings - John - Chapter 8, part 2

Verses 31-59 focus on Jesus revealing the heart attitudes of His listeners.  Verse 30 indicates that many believed; but, from their response to the rest of Jesus' Words, I don't know how many were truly converted.  First thing Jesus points out that those who truly love Him obey Him (which can be hard for us old sinners to take).  We want to love Him and still do things our own way.

The advantage to knowing and obeying His teachings is that we will then "know the Truth, and the Truth will set us free.  (v32)"  I always like to capitalize the word Truth.  Because I think Truth is a Person, the Person of  Jesus Christ.  So, as we get to know Him, we know Truth better.  And as we know what is true, we know Him better.

Obeying also frees us:  from our slavery to sin.  "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed! (v36)"

All this was very confusing to the Jews who were listening.  They thought they had 'the corner' on truth.  They were the children of Abraham for crying out loud!  Jesus was telling them that while they were offspring of Abraham by physical descent, their spirits were offspring of their father, the devil.  As you might imagine, they were deeply offended, and the more He talked, the more they wanted to kill Him.  Jesus even says, "you seek to kill Me because My Word finds no place in you. (v37)" and "you seek to kill Me, a Man Who has told you the truth. (v40)"  We don't often think of Jesus in these terms, deliberately being an irritant to a person.  But truth irritates sin whether it means to or not.  Just being in the Presence of Holiness is hard to take when we are so far from holy ourselves.  I'm glad I am at peace with God now and do not have to feel this way.

Jesus' point was that Abraham believed God; and, that since these people were not believing Him, they could not be offspring of Abraham's heart.  As usual He is very blunt.  "Why do you not understand what I say?  It is because you cannot bear to hear my Word.  You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks out of his own character for he is a liar and the father of lies.  But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.  Which one of you convicts Me of sin?  If I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?  Whoever is of God hears the Words of God.  The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. (vv43-47)"  OUCH!!!

This made them so mad that they accused Him of being demon-possessed.  This conversation continues on for a little while longer until Jesus says something that astounds them even further.  "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see My day.  He saw it and was glad. (v56)"

With incredulity they say, "You are not yet 50 years old, and have You seen Abraham?"

Then the cru-de-graw:  "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.' (v58)"

His use of God's special Name for Himself pushed them right over the edge, and they started trying to stone them.  I say 'try' because "Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. (v59)"

Things were heating up in Jerusalem.  And the next story will only add fuel to the fire, for belief or for fury.