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Sunday, March 22, 2015

John 17 - A Savior in a World of Challenge

Oh, friends, the time is just flying - taxes, finances, work, church, challenges!  I have missed looking at John!  Tonight I uncovered John 17 and want to write about it.

John 17

Read through John 17.  Jesus  is really prepping his followers for his departure.

John brings in Jesus’ words which certainly clarify His role on earth and our ability to be saved through HIM.

Check out the first verse and see how Jesus gives us salvation and eternal life:

 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.  
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.  -- John 17:1-5

I looked up the word, “glorify” in my trusty dictionary. I love this definition:

Glorify: “to honor; extol; to give glory to, as in worship”

When I read on, I felt like Jesus was talking to God about me.  I know He is referring to His disciples and followers, but read the rest of the chapter as if He is talking to God about YOU.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, 
and to see my glory, the glory you have given me 
because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, 
I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  
I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known 
in order that the love you have for me may be in them 
and that I myself may be in them.” -- John 17: 24-26

The words of Jesus calm me and let me know -- Jesus is asking God to cover me when I am in the trenches of this world.

That’s a good thing to know.

God can only protect me if I am reflecting Him in the world.

Jesus is also saying HE will supply us with the love we need and also be IN us… when we invite Him.

I don’t know how people face the problems of this world without Jesus.

I’m so glad Jesus helps us -- He brings meaning to suffering and focus to confusion.  He equips us for this crazy world with His LOVE!

I LOVE Him and pray you do, too!

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

John 16 - Falling into Jesus' Arms

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”--John 16:33

Drat.  I had really hoped I would sail through this world without much trouble. 

When I was in my 20s, I thought I could outsmart trouble.  I lived my life boldly and bravely, skirting the edges of problems and thumbing my nose at consequences.

Then trouble hit me, full force, flat in the face.  I lamented my predicament. I figured God must not be aware of my struggles.  

Then I read John 16:33.  Just WHY did you have to guarantee trouble, God?

As I've walked this journey for 50+ years, I've begun to understand why. Now that I'm facing cancer, I cling to the reality of this verse. 

Without darkness we would not see light, without depth, no sparkling shallows, without pain, no healing solace, without struggle, no roots of faithful strength. 

In John 16:33 Jesus tells me HE is the only source of peace.  Key words to this verse are:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace."

Being "in" Christ is a lot different than my typical Sunday morning check in.  

I have given my life to Jesus.  I remain in Him and He in me as I struggle through my day.  When I run away from Jesus' presence, however, I get lost in trouble.

What I need to do is fall into the loving arms of Jesus.  There, nestled in the warmth of His love, I will discover the promise of John 16:33:

"But take heart! I have overcome the world."   

WOW! That is the best news of all!  All this stuff the world throws at me is no match for the Savior who loves me!

Jesus overcomes long as I REMAIN IN HIM!  

I should NOT run away from Jesus to my own anxiety, fears and earthly whining. 

Cancer is no match for Jesus.  

In the end,  I know....with Jesus... I can overcome the world.   

Thursday, February 19, 2015

John 15 -- Staying Connected

I woke up this a.m. and read John 15 -- BEAUTIFUL!  

Jesus' imagery of  a vine really pops out at me!  Matter of fact, I wrote a newspaper article about this verse. I'll share it with you below.

First, however, take a moment to pray for God to reveal His personal TRUTH to you.  

Then, read John 15: 5-8 below.

These verses tell us about staying connected to the source of our strength.

When I read this, I realize I need to focus, stick with Jesus and....LOVE.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." -- John 15:5-8

My vine was getting to be a nuisance.  It snaked its way up our brick wall and covered the water spout.  I tried pulling it off and gave up in a huff.  This vine had to go.

I pulled my trusty clippers out and systematically cut each tendril at the base.  Then I got distracted. Weeds called my name and I walked around the corner to the garden.

It did not take long.  Next time I turned the corner, I was shocked to see a mass of wilting vine leaves.  The rootless branches were limp and weak.  They had been disconnected from the life source.  I yanked the vine down with no problem.

Hmmmm.  This vine reminded me of my life sometimes.  I let myself get cut off from Christ.  Then I wilt and wonder why. 

Enter: Jesus. In John 15:5-8,  Jesus tells me HE is the vine and I am His branches.  If I run away to my projects, my schemes, my plans and try tackling my frustrating  problems on my own, apart from my Savior, I wilt.  

It's pretty easy to pull me down on those days.  I lose my color and I'm all dried out on the inside.

John 15 tells me Jesus is my life-giving Savior.  I need to stay connected through prayer, quiet time and Bible study.  Truth be told, if I've cut myself off from Jesus, I'm really not accomplishing much.  

You can't get much fruit from a shrinking vine.

Lest I get discouraged, however, God told me "the rest of the story" in John 15:9-17.  I am forgiven and refueled when I run back to Jesus and experience His love.

What little kid does not want to be loved?  Suddenly, I feel revived. Check out the book of John:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  This is my command: Love each other. -- John 15:9-17

The vine by my house is gone now, but the stump remains - a reminder of what was once there.  When I hooked up the hose this spring, I noticed something interesting.  

At the base of the vine, tiny leaves appeared. This was not the end of  the vine. New branches were starting. 

God makes it clear: When we stay connected to the One who loves us, new life appears.

I need to fall into the arms of a loving Savior, ask for forgiveness and soak up some love.  Only then will I get the truly important things done.  

Only then will my branches reach out in love.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

John 14 - A Promise of Peace

Man oh man! This Chapter is SOOOO comforting and SOOOO clear!

How can anyone read this chapter and not understand Jesus is God and the only way to get to Heaven, which is a super place??????!!!!

Oh, how I love this Chapter and how clearly Jesus tells the TRUTH!

Setting the stage -- Peter (I always think I am just like impetuous Peter!) has just said he wants to die for Jesus in John 13:37

Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” - John 13:37

Jesus' answer is so sharp and penetrating:

Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! - John 13:38

Well, I would think Peter is feeling AWFUL about this. So Jesus gives him some reassurance as we start

John Chapter 14: 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled." You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”  
                                                                                                                - John 14:1-4

These verses remind me of walking up the hill with my daughter Brynn when she was 5 or 6. She was looking up.

"What you looking at, Brynn?"

"Heaven. God's sweepin out my room up der."

Haha! Love it!

Again, I LOVE how John captures the sheer humanity (and human frailty) of the people around Jesus.
It makes me feel so much better to know those folks did not always understand Jesus! Just listen to how confused the disciples were:

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 
 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” 

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. - John 14:5-9

WOW -- People still don't get this. Jesus says He is the Father -- How can we be confused????

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.  Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it - John 14:11-14

Zowee! Can I really do great things? Jesus says so, as long as I am doing "the works Jesus has been doing"

Also -- interesting -- Read verses 13-14 -- THIS is why we pray in Jesus name!

Does this mean He will always give us what we pray for?

Hmmmm I think sometimes He answers prayer in a different way. This is not always immediate.  We just have to figure out what Jesus is doing...and join Him.

“If you love me, keep my commands." -John14:15

You are pretty clear here, Lord, but how can I do this? I'm pretty weak.  I need HELP!

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and He will be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. - John 14:16,17

Oh....this must be that still, small voice that tells me..."Something is wrong here" or "You should do this..."

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." --John 14:18

I'm so glad I am NOT alone EVER!  I've got a Daddy.  I am NOT and orphan, even when my parents have left this earth!

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them - John 14:19-21

Judas does not understand why Jesus would not reveal himself to everyone. Remember -- Judas wanted to follow the SPLASHY - POWERFUL leader. He really is disappointed in this humble servant with poor Public Relations skills!

Again, I love the conversations John captures! Remember: HE was there!

Jesus is such a wonderful communicator -- He reassures his followers before all the craziness happens. Did you notice how He tells them he is going?

All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. - John 14:25-26

Thank you, Jesus, for the Holy Spirit! ALSO thank you for the following statement which helps me in so many circumstances:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. - John 14:27

Don't look to the world for peace.

Run into the loving arms of the one who understands you and loves you the most: Jesus.

See you next week in John 15!  Read and be ready!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

John 13 - Humble Servant

Hello, my loves!   

I had to make a mad dash out of town, so I'm a bit behind.  I thought we'd jump on over to John 13 and learn a bit more about serving. 

Last week in John 12 we looked at Mary washing Jesus' feet with perfume.  Today, we see yet another foot washing...this one done by the King of Kings...Lord of all.

Read John 13 and let's chat.

Jesus and his disciples have gathered for the Passover meal.  They enter the room with dusty clothes and dirty feet.  Usually, a servant of the household is ordered to clean the feet of the visitors.  

Today, however, something unbelievable is about to happen.  The King of Creation will take on the job of the servant.  He will remove his outer clothes and bend down with a basin of water. He will kneel at the feet of his disciples.  WOW!  I can't imagine the sight! 

 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.  Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;  so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet,drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. -- John 13:2-5

Jesus, the King of Kings,  became the humble servant...can we?  

Pay close attention to how Jesus treats the one who will betray him.... He washes his feet.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’  and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. --John 13:13-17

Let's follow Jesus' lead in humble service! Ask yourself -- Did Jesus also wash Judas feet? How are we supposed to treat those who persecute us?

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

ZOWEE! Jesus was really giving us guidance here!

Finally -- there is Peter -- How I relate to him! He's quick to speak, but often falls short. He claims he will always follow Jesus -- but Jesus knows better !  How often do I fall short?  

In spite of those faults, however, Peter is used in such a MIGHTY way by God!

I am glad God uses us Cracked Pots! Hooray!

See you in John 14!

PS -- Ask yourself:

___Am I growing closer to Jesus or am I distracted? 
___Am I willing to become the servant ?  
___Can I do the dirty jobs?  

I am asking this before work today! Now on to the task! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Poured Out and All In - John Chapter 12

I'm a frugal person.  OK, let's not mince words.  I'm cheap.

John Chapter 12 begins with Jesus back in the home of my favorite dynamic duo, Mary and Martha.  Jesus is preparing for the Passover with his friends, including Lazarus, who, by the way, Jesus just raised from the dead in John Chapter 11.

While Martha is busy getting everyone served at the gathering (The Bible tells us simply "Martha served"), Mary kneels (ever the contented one!) and pours a bottle of expensive perfume on Jesus' feet.

What?  Perfume on FEET?  Expensive?  

Hmmm. I think I (a typical Martha) would have over analyzed this thing.  Why waste a good product ?  Do you really want to use ALL of it? 

What would the guests think? How embarrassing! Besides, perfume on feet is NOT practical! 

Mary gives no thought to practicality.  Her heart is all in.  She not only empties the jar, she then wipes Jesus's feet with her hair

Did I mention everyone walked dirty roads with sandals back then? Yech! 

I would have over-thought this.  But Mary....

Mary, her heart full of love, does the right thing.  She pours herself out.

Why can't I?

Jesus tells the gathering Mary is giving him perfume to annoint His body for death (Is Jesus predicting something here?)  BUT, why wait til death?  

The Bible says the room was filled with the fragrance of the perfume....NICE!

Judas protests.  He says the perfume could be sold for the poor.  Truth be told, old Judas wants that money within his reach....You folks remember who Judas is, right??? 

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.  He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it
                                                                                               -- John 12:4-6

I'm ashamed to say, I can be like Judas sometimes.  I wait.  I analyze, I hesitate to spontaneously serve my Savior.  In some ways, I betray Jesus.   

Jesus tells me to stop waiting.  

Just like we shouldn't wait til the funeral to send the flowers, we shouldn't wait to do what God wants us to do.  Right now.  No excuses.  

 “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

There is more to John 12, but I want to stop here and savor.

I think I need to ask myself a few questions.  How about you?:

___What am I holding back?

___Is there something I need to "pour out" at Jesus' feet?

___Do I need to do something,say something,forgive something or ask for forgiveness RIGHT NOW?

___Am I waiting until the funeral to speak what I need to say to a person RIGHT NOW?

I love you, Jesus.  Help me be less cheap.  

Help me pour out my love on you and others...without hesitation.  

More on John 12 to come... Read Chapter 12 and pause to think about it.  

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Do you believe in Jesus? John Chapter 11 - We can triumph over death!

Happy and Blessed New Year !
I am so comforted by John 11!  When all seems lost...when life is hard...when time seems to have run out...JESUS COMES.  
What a wonderful message for a New Year!  

John 11 -- The dead will rise again!

OH, WOW!  Situations are really cranking up in my Journalist John’s account of Jesus life!
John reminds me so much of a newspaper writer.  He captures conversations and situations with a keen, sharp report in his Book of John.  As a journalist myself, I am so excited to read John's account!

Soooooo..... Here we go.  Be sure to read John Chapter 11!

Remember - in John 10 -- there was our Good Shepherd - The Jews were ready to stone Him.

-- Away He goes to the area where John the Baptist ministered.  Many believed Him there!

But, life goes on and problems are everywhere.

Remember Mary & Martha?  I LOVE their story.  I am so much like Martha.  I run around, worrying, planning, and fussing sometimes!!!!  In Luke, Chapter 10,  Martha was hosting Jesus in her home. Her sister Mary was sitting at Jesus feet listening to every word He had to say.

Needless to say, Martha gets angry at her sister.  She needed help.  She asks Jesus to tell Mary to help her.
Jesus stops and lovingly talks to Martha.  

I have to smile -- I like to think of Jesus putting his hands on my shoulders (like He did Martha!) and saying,  “Laurie, Laurie (Martha, Martha) -- you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed …Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be take away from her.” -- Luke 10 

Mary sat at the feet of Jesus -- Martha served.  Nothing wrong with that, but Martha missed an opportunity to LISTEN!

In John chapter 11, however,  it is some time after that Jesus visit.  A terrible thing has happened.  Mary & Martha’s brother Lazarus has died.

What’s worse, Jesus did not rush to the rescue.  Basically, Jesus let Lazarus die.  BOY - that was confusing to the sisters!

When Jesus finally gets to the sisters, Martha runs up to pour her heart out to her friend:

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” - John 10:21-22

Martha is desperate here.  She is begging Jesus for help.  Man, I have been there many times! 

 Just check out the following conversation. Jesus words are perfect here:

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. 

Do you believe this?”

 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” -- John 11: 25-27

I am so proud -- MARTHA got it right!  She believes in Jesus! She does not know it, but  Lazarus is about to come back from the dead!

NOW --

Do you have a situation you think God is running late on?  Have you asked and asked and not heard an answer?

Is there something dead in your midst and you have given up all hope? Are you hoping the new year will bring the answer you need?

Every person has questions he or she wishes Jesus would move faster to answer -- make things clearer -- take the pain away -- SOLVE THE PROBLEM.

Jesus may be waiting for a reason.

Are you learning to depend on Jesus in the depth of your despair?  Think about it.

Lazarus was dead, smelly and closed off in a tomb.

The girls had cried, grieved and probably given up.

ENTER: Jesus!

Notice the shortest verse in the Bible:

Jesus wept. -- John 11: 35.

You see, Jesus is so connected to us, he grieves with us.  What a beautiful, touching gesture!


Sometimes, we just don’t know what direction Jesus is moving us to … until we get to our destination and look back!

Things may seem dead and without hope, but Jesus is there beside us.  Perhaps He cries when He sees our despair -- BUT He always brings us LIFE -- not death.

I’m glad I’m a Martha who believes.

In spite of my flaws, I see ultimate hope in the RESURRECTION -- THE LIFE :  MY JESUS!

 This is a new year.  This is a new opportunity.  If you have not already done so, I pray you have stopped and asked Jesus to come into your life and take over.  

That, my friends, is truly the beginning of life.