Resurrection and Whose I Am!

I would like to apologize to my lack of attention to this blog.  It’s amazing how adding one thing to your schedule can throw you off a pattern.  The church has sent me to the Pastor’s Institute run by Vision New England.  It meets everyother Tuesday and has been a true blessing: challenging me to prioritize as a disciple of Christ.  (oh don’t worry, it will begin to challenge you 🙂 )

Pondering the act of adding more and more activities to our lives is how most Christians crowd out their intentional walk with our Lord Jesus.  Soon, we don’t have any focused time with He who is risen from the dead and wonder where our joy, power and wisdom went.  Learning the disciplines in Christ and trusting in the Holy Spirit does give life and allows us to cherish each human relationship.

Peter learns this lesson in John 21.  Why is it so important that the one (Peter), who abandoned, denied and neglected Jesus, have a face-to-face conversation?

The Solution

JOHN 11-12:  The raising of Lazarus from the dead was the match that set things ablaze!  John, the writer of this book, wants us to understand this.  He also wants us to grapple with the question, “Am I looking for my solution or God’s solution?”   Because the people in Jesus’ day could not understand, they had their own solutions to what would have kept Lazarus alive:

 

Mary & Martha solution: If you had been here, our bother would not have died.  (vs 11: 21, 32)

Disciples solution: If he sleeps, he will get better. (v 11:12)

Some others solution: Could not He that opened the eyes of the blind not keep Lazarus from dying  (v 11:37)

JESUS’ SOLUTION:

“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.”” (John 11:4, NIV)

“So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”” (John 11:14-15, NIV)

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”” (John 11:25-26, NIV)

“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 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.”” (John 11:41-42, NIV)

Jesus was making a name for Himself and the leaders of the Sanhedrin (the jewish ruling council) was uncomfortable (jealous?)

The Sanhedrin’s solution: Thinking a dangerous magician was in there midst (Jesus), and if everyone begins to believe, the Romans will take fully over…  “It is better for one man to die…”  Caiaphis, the High priest: prophesied that year that Jesus would died for the nation and for the scattered children of God (11:49-53)

Thomas’, a disciple of Jesus, solution – Which was no solution, but just thinking about his own skin: Let us Go and die! (11:16)

In Chapter 12 of the gospel of John, Lazarus reclines at a meal in honor of Jesus (wow! What a God story Lazarus could tell!) 

His sister, Mary, had a solution:  show honor by showering Jesus with worship (pouring expensive perfume on Him)

Judas’ solution: Money from the sale of the perfume could have been given to the poor… (actually to his pockets because Judas was a thief)

JESUS’ SOLUTION:

““Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”” (John 12:7-8, NIV)

 

What are your solutions for life?  The people in Jesus’ day believed because of the last great miracle.  Some, took action against Jesus trying to kill Him.  Some just walked away. 

OUR PASSAGE leaves us with the questions:

 

My solution or God’s Solution?

Do I merely Agreement with His teachings?  Does my faith go further in Belief that He can heal the sick? Do I only Celebration at His last miracle, so my faith fades as I wait for His next miracle in my life?  Or, do understand that Jesus wants me (and you) to be Devoted to the One who will die in my (your) place?

Paul, the apostle, proclaims:  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

Many people had their solutions for Jesus (just like many people have their opinions these days).  In a mere week’s time, they would either fall away or they will holler “crucify Him” or they would actually put the nails to His hands.  Beware when we don’t get our way… or will we be devoted to God’s solution, Jesus!

Below are some scripture passages for your reading through Holy Week.  Read them with eyes, ears and heart wide open.  Next Sunday, we celebrate THE solution: life from death!

 

GOING THROUGH HOLY WEEK

Sunday: Chapter 12:20-50

Monday: Chapter 13-14

Tuesday: Chapter 15

Wednesday: Chapter 16

Thursday: Chapter 17

Friday: Chapter 18

Saturday: Chapter 19

Sunday: Chapter 20

The Gate and the Good Shepherd

In John 10, Jesus illustrates Himself as a Gate of a sheep pen and as a Good shepherd.  What comforting qualities does each  have for the sheep?  Whose voice do you follow?  To whom are you owned?  We’ll take a look at what is most comforting for those who hear His voice and obey.

The Bread of Life

A very simple post for you to think about for Sunday:  Focusing on John 6 (which builds on chapter 5), what does Jesus’ death have to do with life today?  I’ll talk about it on Sunday and we’ll share here on Monday.

ps  Lent is a journey, not a destination; the cross is a memorial and the empty tomb is a reality.

Amazement

Already through our reading of the gospel (which means “good news”) of John we have seen Jesus through the eyes of John the Baptizer, Nicodemus (a member of the Jewish ruling council), and a Samaritan women. To John the Baptizer, Jesus is the Messiah (translated ‘Christ’ in greek… the annointed one), the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Jesus told Nicodemus that He is the only one who who can speak of heavenly things for He has been there (John 3:12-13). He also spoke of everyones need to be re-born of the Spirit. The Samaritan woman sees that Jesus is a Prophet and Jesus reveals to her that He is more than that, but the Messiah. In the Spirit and in the Truth, one day those who believe will worship, and it will not be focused on holy places.

Jesus is truly amazes people by His presence, speach and healings. This week you are encouraged to read chapters 5 & 6. What amazing discoveries do you find about in Jesus? This Sunday, we will focus on John 5:16-30. May the Lord reveal to us the true nature of Jesus and dispell any myths.

Living Water

We enter John 4, but not before we hear John  the Baptizers (remember this is not John the writer-of-this-book) testimony of who Jesus is… it clarifies what the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus was about:

“”The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”” (John 3:31-36, NIV)

 Where John 3’s conversation was with a religious leader, John 4 is with a outcaste.  How are you, like the woman at the well, like an outcaste?  What are you substituting in place of the “living water” Jesus offers?
I hope to see you on Sunday.  And if you are reading this from afar, I encourage you to find friendship in a local church near you.
 
 

 

Re-Birth

Before I introduce this coming Sunday’s (3/13) scripture passage, I’d like to make a couple of comments on the chapter in between last Sunday and this Sunday (John 2).  The first section, John 2:1-11 describes Jesus being called upon to do some thing about the shortage of wine at a wedding feast.  What amazed me is not only that Jesus has the power to transform water to wine, but the faith of these individuals who drew the water from the new filled jars and gave to the master of the banquet (vs 8-9).  Did they think they were giving him water?  Or did they have faith that Jesus did something miraculous?  May we have faith in the Lord’s directions that when we do something ordinary, God’s extraordinary work takes us by surprise.  The second section, John 2:12-25, Jesus does something that we’d be arrested for disturbing the peace.  John implies the Jesus has special authority to do what he did and it’s wrapped up in Him being God’s on and only Son.  May the Lord turn over any tables in us that are not fit for godly living.  He does have the authority to do that, don’t you think?

This coming Sunday we will look at a conversation between a member of a religious council and Jesus which took place at night (John 3:1-21).  Imagine, being so scared of public opinion that Nicodemus had to keep this meeting quiet.  Though here, he asks some very important questions about not understanding re-birth or new life in the Spirit.  Take a look at his questions and how does Jesus answer his misconceptions?  What truths does John want us to know?

Of all the messages in the coming weeks, this Sunday and next Sunday (John 4) could change your life.

JESUS

A series of messages will begin this Sunday delving into the heart and words of John, the brother of James.  We will be reading in worship and at home the Gospel of John through Easter, and then after Easter begin the three letters of John.  After that, we will enter into the book of Revelation (starting in the Summer).  How long this series will take I am not sure, but we will get a glimpse of Jesus through the eyes of the disciple whom “Jesus loved” (cf John 20:2).  I am so excited to embark on this journey with you.

John’s purpose for writing the gospel of John  is spelled out in chapter 20:31:  “… these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31, NIV).  This challenges our thinking with the questions: Why should I believe in Jesus?  What does ‘believing in Jesus’ even mean?  What is the ‘life’ that I can have ‘in His name?’ 

I invite you to journey with us in worship and on this blog.  In John chapter 1 we read that Jesus had the unique quality of having the “fullness of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)  After reading all of John 1, what do you suppose that means? 

Click to read John 1:1-51

End of Self

We’ve heard of ‘coming to the end of your rope.’  Have you ever felt like you were coming to the end of self?  People are taking every bit of you; your childrenask a little of you; your spouse asks a little of you; your friends…, neighbors…, work…, etc.  Well, in the passage we will look at on Sunday, February 27, Jesus seems to press these boundries.  If you are frazzled or have ever been ‘at the end of self,’ meditate on this passage and I hope you find your “self” in worship.

Luke 6:27-31    “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Beginning Small, Loving Large

This Sunday (2/20/2011) we will read from what is essentially an essay about Jesus’ life by writer identified by the name Mark.  Specifically, Jesus use of the parable of the mustard seed.  Jesus told these parable to convey good news to His hears, “as much as they could understand.”  It was to His followers that He explained it more fully.  What kingdom quality is Jesus trying to convey to the crowd?  Why is this good news?  What questions about the parable would you have for Jesus is you wanted a better understanding? 

Mark 4:30-34

30Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
33With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.