We Are His Sheep

I am a visual learner.  Give me pictures, videos, or word pictures and you have my attention.  In todays reading of John 10 we get a picture of sheep.  The first 21 verses in this chapter are titled, The Good Shepherd and His Sheep.  For some reason I have always had a fascination with sheep.  I remember as a young child watching sheep being sheered either on Sesame Street or Mr Rodgers.  It was amazing how all of that wool comes off of them and they are completely transformed!  

Why does Jesus refer to us as sheep?  There are hundreds of references to sheep in the Bible.  God chose to use the word sheep to identify His followers. 

According to answers.com, here are some characteristics of sheep:

1. timid, fearful, easily packed 2. dumb, stupid, gullible 3. very vulnerable to fear, frustration, pests, hunger 4. easily influenced by a leader, by the shepherd 5. stampede easily, vulnerable to mob psychology 6. little or no means of self-defense 7. easily killed by enemies 8. the shepherd is most effective, calming influence 9. jealous, competitive for dominance 10. constantly need fresh water, fresh pasture 11. have very little discernment in choosing food or water 12. best water source is early morning dew 13. perverse, stubborn – will insist on their own way 14. easily “cast” or flipped over on their back, unable to right themselves will die of starvation if not turned over by the shepherd; helpless 15. frequently look for easy places to rest 16. don’t like to be sheered, cleaned 17. too much wool can cause sheep to be easily “cast” 18. creatures of habit; get into “ruts” 19. need the most care of all livestock 20. need to be “on the move”;need a pre-determined plan, pattern of grazing 21. totally dependent of shepherd for every need 22. need “rod and staff” guidance.

Wow!  That is quite a list.  Read through it again and see if any of those characteristics can apply to you.  I have to admit, I see myself in quite a few of those descriptions.  These are ALL the reasons why WE NEED A SHEPHERD!!

Sheep are simpleminded and totally dependent upon the shepherd who tends to them with care and compassion.  Shepherds are the providers, guides, protectors and constant companions of sheep.  

Sheep respond immediately to the care of their shepherd – and only their shepherd.  Jesus said, “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  After he has gathered his own flock, he was ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:3-4 NLT).

The sheep have a security and direction because they know their shepherd and respond to his commands.

We have so many similarities to sheep.  There are so many things in this world that can trip us up.  But we have a shepherd who we can turn to and will guide us.  Do you know Your shepherd?  Do you seek His voice daily?  Thank you God for directing our lives!

*If you are fascinated with sheep like I am, check out Ray Carmen on Facebook.  He has a page called Enjoy the Shepherd and he has short daily devotions pertaining to his sheep.  I enjoy them!

Our shepherd is Jesus and He is leading the way.

What Will You See?

Today’s Reading: John 9

He probably blamed himself.  Can you picture him?  The blind beggar, sitting, all alone.  Cold, hungry, and lonely.  He could hear people talking as they passed by.  They questioned what was wrong.  They mocked him.  They made up stories. Every conversation reminded him that he was useless.  Every remark reinforced his belief that he was bad.  For a while, the blind man fought it.  He wondered what he could have possibly done wrong.  Why, did he deserve this?  

In the moments that others engaged him in conversation, the answer was always the same.  “you must have done something” they would say.  “Think hard.  You dont remember doing anything sinful?”  As the blind man searched his heart, he would cry out, “no, nothing.”  “Well,” they retorted, “if not you, then it must have been your father.  Clearly, you are paying for someone’s sin.”

Most of the time, he was just alone.  Alone with his thoughts and heavy heart.  His hope for a normal life, productive and useful, was gone.  He would never be like everyone else.  Over time, he decided, they are right.  I’ll just accept what I have.  “There is no sense in trying harder, no benefit to leaning in.”  

I wonder if that is real for all of us.  The blind man had an ailment that kept him from experiencing a full and meaningful life.  It was something that he could not overcome.  Nobody else could help him either.   Like the blind beggar, we are unable to view the thoughts and actions that shape our lives objectively.  When we look closely, we will develop reasons why it just wont work for us.  Ironically, those reasons, become exactly what keeps us from moving forward.  They are the things that keep us from becoming who God created us to be.

Just like the blind man, we cannot find comfort or assistance from other people. We definitely cannot find it inside of ourselves.  We need someone to believe in us.  Actually, we need something more than belief.  We need someone that knows us, intimately, just like Jesus knew the blind man.  Jesus stopped and provided exactly what was needed.

I wonder, if the blind man knew what sight would bring him.  Maybe he thought about new and amazing opportunities, or maybe that it would open the door to love and companionship.  It could be that comfort and ease of life were enough for him.  Whatever it was, I wonder if he was surprised at what he got.  He didn’t get any of those.  Instead, he got Jesus, telling him to be a witness.  To tell the world of his experience.  It didn’t make sense.  Of course he would tell the world.  In fact, he wanted to shout it from the mountaintops. He would make sure that everyone knew it was Jesus Christ that healed him.  He is why he sees.

What the blind beggar didn’t know and didn’t think about was that this is who he was created to be.  Full of passion, full of love, hope and joy.  These were the fruits that had been hidden away for so long.  This is what Jesus unlocked in his life.  For the first time, he could see.

What do you want to see?  What will you use your sight for?  

The Truth

Today’s reading is John 8.

Jesus says in John 8:44, “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 does not stand in 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.”

Even Christians, often have trouble acknowledging the Devil’s presence in our lives and in the world. However, the Bible does not. In fact, the Devil or Satan is mentioned 90 times in the Bible. Jesus calls him the “father of lies” here which makes complete sense due the fact that the first sin started with his lie in Genesis 3:5 when he told Adam and Eve they would be like God if they ate the fruit. This is the first lie that Satan still tells us today…you are God.

This may seem silly, but when you take a step back it’s not too difficult to see in our own life and in the world today by what is found to be socially acceptable. Primarily it rears its ugly head when God tells us to do whatever “feels good” and that others should be able to do the same. We trade temporary satisfaction for joy and peace which God knows will come from following Him and restraining from what He calls a sin in the BIble. The “father of lies” also then furthers this lie by others telling us (which we then believe to be true ourselves) that we are judging others when we call what God calls a sin a sin and “that is not the Christian thing to do.” When we call a sin a sin and at the same time acknowledge that we ourselves are sinners as well needing forgiveness and that one sin is not worse than another sin (except for blaspheming the Holy Spirit) and all sin separates us from God, that is not judging..it’s speaking the truth.

The 2nd lie Satan tells us is God does not love you. Even when we acknowledge God exists and know that He sent His Son to die on the cross for us, this lie can subtly bind us from experiencing joy and most importantly keep us from truly being at peace through complete understanding God’s love . Up until the last few years, I found myself wondering at times if something didn’t go my way if it was because of a entirely unrelated sin I committed recently. While sin does have consequences in our lives and God often doesn’t stop the consequences, God does not make bad things happen to you because of something you did. Romans 8:1 says, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:31 then says, “…If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us, will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” God is not against us. He does not punish us for sins. He says here in John 8:11, “Neither do I condemn you.” He does also then say,” …go and from now on sin no more.” He came with both grace and truth.

Jesus says in John 8:12…”I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in the darkness, but have the light of life.” We all seek truth. That is what the world is looking for…truth. We find truth in the Word. John 1 refers to Him as the Word, and here in John 8:31 He says, “….If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Acting on how we we “feel” and the world telling us its ok for others to do the same will not set us free. This is what the “father of lies” tells us. But, Jesus tells us in John 8:34, “..Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” Sin (which is what God tells us is sin in the Bible..not the world) does not set us free as Satan tells us…it imprisons us. Jesus says again in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free in deed.” Read the Word. Run to His loving arms and be free. There you will find what we all need to have peace and joy…you will find truth and love.

 

The Feast of the Tabernacles

John 7

Today’s chapter is not easy.  I read and read it several times deciding on how to best break it down.  It is like a four part mini-series!

Part 1:  Jesus goes to the Feast of the Tabernacles

When we hear the word “festival” or “feast”, we often think of a carnival, a party or a celebration.  This festival was different than our current day festivals.  The Feast or Festivals of the Tabernacles was also called Booths.  It was held on the 15th of September.  I think of the booths they used at this festival to be what has evolved into our booths at things like the Sugar Creek Arts festival (a bit of a stretch I know).  Back then they were made of branches and thatches roofs (unlike tarps over metal contraptions of today).   These booths were like tents where people stayed for seven days to offer sacrifices to God.  This festival is said to have coincided with the autumn equinox which of course we just experienced here not that long ago (before this snow!)  This festival was known for “light” and also had a component of “water” asking that everyone in attendance prayer for rain to replenish the ground and the people.

All males were expected to attend this festival.  As Jesus’ brothers were trying to leave for the Festival, they asked an prodded Jesus to go with them.  His response:  Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do.The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not[b] going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”  It is an interesting back and forth, with Jesus obviously not wanting to go and feeling uncomfortable, if not at risk in this crowd.  This story made me think about how in our house we have a similar bantering.  Two people are always up for a festival, party, or social event and two are not in the mode of rushing out.  I’m sometimes with the latter camp, wanting to see how things go before rushing into what I know could be a crowded and uncomfortable situation.

In today’s lesson, Jesus let’s his brothers go on ahead.  They do not know that he will eventually attend.  We are told festival attendees are looking for him, some in a positive light and some not so positive.

Part 2:  Jesus Teaches at the Festival

Part 1 reveals that Jesus really didn’t want to go, but once there, he sees a platform for teaching.  We are not told what prompted him to start teaching but he determines it is the right place and time.  As he starts to speak, some in the crowd question where he learned this information and why he thinks he can or should be the messenger.  He reads the crowd well and replies: 16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 

His response elicits more questions from the crowd and more people challenge him on the information he shares.  It appears to be getting contention with a crowd of people not believing him.  He continues to share the word.

Part 3:  Division over who Jesus is

The scene is one of conflict.  Some in the crowd question who Jesus is and some do not believe.

28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”

Jesus tells them that he is only here for a short time, foreshadowing his own death and resurrection.  Does the crowd believe him?  No, they start to question where he would go that they could not come or follow him?

My favorite part of the entire chapter:

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”[c] 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Whoever believes in him will have living water flowing within them.  Admit you are thirsty, not just for water, but thirsty for the word, for healing, for help for salvation, and come forward.  How awesome for us!

We are told the crowd starts to question whether he is a prophet.  Is he the Messiah?  Disbelief abounds (instead of our reaction today of wanting to receiving this living water).

Part 4:  Unbelief of the Jewish Leaders

The Jewish leaders then become contentious.  They do not believe his teachings and want him captured.

47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 4No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”

The crowd is turning against Jesus, thus why he may not have wanted to attend in the first place.  We know the story from here on out.  The crowd of disbelievers grows.  Jesus knows he must be careful yet he also knows his time is coming.  An interesting balance.  He took a risk going to the festival knowing it could charge up the crowd and it did.  We know this event was not a party or a celebration; it was a step in the process leading to Jesus’ crucifixion.

As I walk away from this long story, I am thankful for Jesus taking the “risk” to attend and for using this platform to teach the crowd and us about coming to him when we are most thirsty to receive his living water.  Will you attend Jesus’ feast?


 

 

 

 

John 6

This past weekend was rough for me. I’ve been sick for two weeks, and was looking forward to rest. In the middle the day on Friday I received a message that I would be entertaining houseguests and that they would be at my house before I even got home from work that day. Then, three of four kids got sick over Saturday night with fevers and stomach virus symptoms. Not only was I tired and sick myself, I was now up through the night nursing sick babies and cleaning up the symptoms from beds, carpet, etc. Having to prepare food and be hospitable in the middle of everything (especially when this was an unplanned visit) was not an easy task for me. On top of all of that, it has been decided that I am to host a Thanksgiving meal next week as well. Instead of looking forward to the holiday, I’m dreading it. I’ll be working long hours straight up until the night before the holiday. Finances are tight, and trying to squeeze extra groceries out of the budget to host people here is making me feel very stressed. And, as commercials and marketing media are constantly reminding me, Christmas is right around the corner. Yet another holiday for me to spend working, cooking, cleaning, and trying to find a way to squeeze gifts for everyone out of a budget that is stretched to the max.

I cannot stop asking myself, “HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET THROUGH THIS?”

I am well aware how whiny and self-indulgent these thoughts are. But they’re real and they’re my current struggles.

So, reading John 6, here’s how the Holy Spirit spoke to me in my self-pity mode.

This crowd of 5,000 people has gathered to listen to Jesus. We don’t really know where they all came from, or why they all ended up there being unprepared to feed themselves, but for whatever reason that was the situation. The disciples – who have been watching Jesus heal the sick and perform countless other miracles – start getting all worked up about how they were going to feed this crowd. Jesus just has them get all the people sat down and commands that the five loaves and two fish be broken and distributed.

Can you even imagine this scene? 5k+ people and 5 loaves of bread with 3 fishes.

But after the food was passed around, there were leftovers.

He provided.

The people in the crowd, having eaten their fill of this miraculous meal, tracked Jesus down the next day. Jesus admonished them saying,

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Why is it that I continue to doubt God’s faithfulness? Why do I wonder how we will eat, or how we will make it through another rough time? Hasn’t he shown me over and over again that he provides for us? Haven’t I seen miracles in my own life and in my family’s lives over and over again?

Lord, thank you for providing our daily needs. Thank you for your abundant grace. Forgive my doubt and worry. Turn my focus to the food that endures and never perishes. Let me desire the bread of life more than I desire material things. Thank you for your words in scripture and for brothers and sisters in Christ constantly encouraging and praying with me.

Our Messiah

Today’s Reading: John 5

Good morning friends. I’m writing to you this week from my kitchen table as I watch snow flakes fall and the wind blow. The change of season is such a powerful reminder for me of God’s presence in our world. I’m appreciative of the quiet beauty as I study! Today’s scripture from John 5 has two major themes. First, we have the healing of a lame man, which is further evidence that John provides to show that Jesus is the true Messiah. The second major theme is Jesus’ claim to be the son of God. We begin with Jesus in Jerusalem for a Jewish festival. There he finds a man lying on the ground who has been disabled for 38 years. When Jesus sees him lying there he says,

“Do you want to get well?”

“Sir, the invalid replied, I have no one to get me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me!” John, 5:6-7

After 38 long years, the man’s problem had become a way of life for him. He was left with no hope of being healed as no one had ever offered to help him. How often do we decide that our situation is permanent? Do we give up hope when faced with hardship or continued defeat? No matter how trapped we may feel, God can minister to our specific need. When Jesus asks the man if he wants to be well, we expect him to respond with a resounding “Yes!” but he doesn’t. Instead he complains to Jesus that no one has helped him. When I read that, I was quick to judge the man. But when I really thought about it, I realized that I certainly have this kind of pessimism in my nature. It is often difficult to accept help even when you know that you need it. Are there moments in my day that Jesus is present and offering help? Are there times that I feel hopeless and helpless and Jesus is standing there ready to intervene? It’s tempting to think that God’s healing depends upon the quality of our faith. But the man whom Jesus heals showed no outward sign of faith. He was still worthy of a miracle.

Later, Jesus encounters the healed man in the temple. The man shares that it was Jesus that healed him and the Jewish authorities are enraged. When Jesus tells them that he is simply doing the work of his Father, it makes matters worse. Jesus was identifying himself with God. Although the Pharisees also called God their Father, they realized that Jesus was claiming the distinction of being equal with God. Jesus says:

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out-those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing, I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” John 5:28-30

With these words, Jesus establishes his true identity despite the inherent risk of persecution and what he knows will result in his eventual death. The Old Testament identifies three signs of the coming Messiah. John shows that Jesus has fulfilled all three signs in this chapter:

  • All power and authority are given to him as the Son of Man
  • The lame and the sick are healed
  • The dead are raised to life

Jesus is quite simply saying that to accept him is life and to reject him is death. He’s inviting us to enter in to a new relationship with Him in which we are obedient. It means that we accept a way of life that may be difficult at times and require sacrifice but will end in eternal life. As I prepare for a new week, I’m aware that I am often more like the man at the pool than I am a fearless and obedient Christ follower. I love that today’s scripture brings us the solid evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. He is our Messiah. I hope His words bring you joy and hope as you re-commit yourself to Him. Have a great week!

 

 

 

Jesus Knows Me, This I Love

I recently learned a silly (crazy) trick on my Iphone. If you open up Safari, and hold down those two little squares on the bottom right corner, it will tell you how many browser windows you have open. Apparently, I never close those browser windows – yikes – HUNDREDS open. As I was scrolling through them to close some out, I found quite the range of random searches, some I can’t even remember what I was searching for.

  • Laurel or yanny
  • How big is gas tank in 16 acadia
  • Pudgie pies also known as
  • The Eliot hotel
  • Marathon pace calculator
  • Why did Simeon & Levi disinherit the land
  • Common words that begin with e
  • Mollie tibbets
  • How to Block Calls on Your Iphone
  • Jesus witty responses in Bible
  • Loading personal Fonts in Klaviyo
  • Overpronating
  • Recipe for baked goat cheese dip
  • Jungle Book paw paw lyrics
  • Another word for abode
  • Duck boats
  • Chickpeas Nutrition Benefits

Truly, I’m sitting here scratching my head at all the things going on IN my head. Can anyone relate? And while I’m trying to make sense of it all – there is one who KNOWS it all.

The Creator of the entire universe knows what color socks I have on.

The Savior of the world knows what keeps me up at night.

The King of all Kings knows the thoughts I dare not say out loud.

Our God is bigger than we can imagine – so powerful that He can come to our level and intimately know each of us. And with that intimate knowledge of every thought, every word, every action, He loves us. Not just the random things, but the important things. The things that bring us joy, the things that make us afraid, the things that bring sorrow. From baked goat cheese recipes to deep pain points, He knows.

He knows what we did yesterday and the one before. He knows our present, and He knows what tomorrow will bring. He knows the joy we will have, and the internal eye rolls we will fight against. He knows the frustration we have for others. He knows when our motives are pure and we are judged otherwise. He knows when we judge with an unclean heart. He knows when we question His plan, He knows when we delight in Him. He knows it all – and with that knowledge He still loves us. Individually and perfectly. Unconditionally, He loves. We can’t trick him with fake remorse or a calendar full of acts of service but a heart void of cheer. He knows, oh HE KNOWS.

And with this knowledge, He calls us by name. He covers us with His banner of love, grace, and forgiveness, and He calls us HIS. He calls us KNOWN. He calls us CHOSEN. Romans 5:8 tells us that while we were yet sinners, God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us. Despite our today – He provides for our eternity.

“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did”.  John 4:29

This is all we know about what the Samaritan woman at the well went back and told the town. Can you imagine the moment when she put it together that the Messiah is in front of her, telling her about eternal life, all the while knowing her completely? She had to be so blown away, OVERWHELMED by His love, to be given this knowledge by the Messiah, despite being a Samaritan, a woman, and a sinner. The impact of Jesus sharing eternity with her and then staying with the Samaritans for two more days had to be huge for the disciples and the early church… making salvation available for all – not just the Jews. Our passage today, John 4, shows us several different examples of Jesus’ actions reflecting His perfect knowledge of the people’s hearts.

And God’s complete knowledge of each of us provides the perfect comfort, peace, and guidance that we need. The world cannot fulfill us because the world does not know us. What can be greater than being fully known and fully loved by the King of all Kings?

I love the mix up of the words in “Jesus Loves Me”  – He KNOWS me. Individual me. Imperfect me. And like the Samaritan woman at the well, I just LOVE IT that He knows me. No pretending, no faking anything – just being real and being known, and being loved through it all.

Wicked Things

Terezin (also known as Theresienstadt), about 30 miles from Prague, Czech Republic was a concentration camp during World War II. This camp was one of many tools in the Nazi’s scheme to deceive.

The world was told that Hitler had built “a city for the Jews”. In reality: 35,440 Jews died at this camp, and over 88,000 were deported to other camps to be murdered.

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:20)

“Arbeit Macht Frei” (work sets you free)

The Terezin camp was used as a staging area for Jews who would later be sent to killing camps. It was also a forced labor camp and ghetto but publicized as a retirement community. The Nazis intentionally created horrific, unsanitary conditions and starved the prisoners here in an effort to speed up their demise.

We toured Terezin and heard stories of deception such as:

  • People forced to write postcards to friends and family, saying how great it was and they should join them soon. In reality, people were dying from starvation, disease, and malnutrition.
  • A staged orchestra concert used to create a film to convey how wonderful and cultural Terezin was. Upon completion of the film, most of the “cast” were deported to Auschwitz to be murdered.
  • Weeks of preparation for a known visit by the Red Cross. To make sure it didn’t look too overcrowded, the Nazis deported 7,503 people to the Auschwitz killing center just prior to the visit.

Walking the grounds and observing the prison cells, crematorium, cemetery gave us better insights as to what millions of people went through during one of the most horrific events in human history. I cannot imagine the despair, loneliness, fear, abuse, and pain caused by these acts of hatred.

Through this experience I cling closer to the cross and the freedom, hope and promise it represents. Without the cross we are hopeless and lost. With it, we have hope, forgiveness, and a future with no more of the sorrow that comes with sin.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

For more reading on Terezin: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Today’s reading: John 3

Fun Hater

Today’s reading:  John 2

Do you believe the phrase “opposites attract”? After 24 years of marriage, I do.  My husband is a dreamer.  He is forever coming up with a grand scheme involving a new pet, a really expensive toy (think boats and jet skis) or an exotic vacation.  He sells the idea to my children and they proceed with a full court press to get me on board.  I, on the other hand, consider it my role to be a realist.  We don’t need to spend our energy coming up with plans for pets they’ll never take care of, toys they can’t afford or vacations for which they don’t have the time or money.  It will simply lead to disappointment.  Because of this very practical (and somewhat boring) perspective, my family has given me the nickname Fun Hater.

When you think about God, do you think he is a dreamer or a fun hater? I admit, I find myself thinking of the latter.  I generally look to places other than God for excitement and meaning.  Why do I often cast him as an all-powerful God who exists only to tell me no, rather than focusing on his extravagant creation, the many gifts with which he’s blessed me, and his promise of abundance if I follow his plan for my life?

Our scripture today in John 2 opens with the account of Jesus’ first miracle. Most of Jesus’ miracles involved a renewal of fallen creation – restoring site, making the lame walk, even raising the dead to life.  But this first miracle was a little different.  Jesus turned water to wine.  Not just a little plain water to average wine, but more than 100 gallons of water sitting in stone jars used for washing into choice wine.  All to help facilitate a marvelous wedding celebration, help the master of the banquet keep his job, and help a the bridegroom avoid embarrassment.  Does this sound like a Fun Hater to you?

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2:6-10).

I believe the perfect God we serve is both a dreamer and realist. He doesn’t flip-flop his position depending on the situation, rather he works through a variety of circumstances to accomplish his purpose in each one of us. Sometimes that sounds like dreaming of great things to come, other times it looks like saying no to things that take us away from his plan.  If you take one thing away from this post today, take this – God has our best interest in mind. Will you trust him? He won’t disappoint.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

A Voice in the Wilderness

Today’s reading is John 1.

John was one of Jesus disciples, another eye witness. He wrote the gospel “to build faith and confidence in Jesus Christ so that we may believe that He truly was and is the Son of God”. (John 20:30,31).
In this first chapter of John we learn that God sent John the Baptist to tell everyone about the coming messiah. His job was to prepare the way. He was the opening act for the savior. When the Jewish leaders asked John who he was he replied in the words of Isaiah: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘prepare a straight pathway for the Lords coming!’”John 1:23.
John the Baptist knew Jesus but did not know he was the Messiah until he saw “the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him” as it says in John 1:32. He was the first one to proclaim to the people that Jesus was the Messiah. He did such a good job pointing everyone to Jesus that 2 of his own disciples turned from him to follow Jesus (John 1:37). Which was exactly what John expected and wanted them to do.
John the Baptist was a man with a mission. God gave him a job and he did it. He was bold and convicted. May we be like John the Baptist and always point others back to Jesus. Our savior.
Shelly