Thursday, March 31, 2011

John 8:2-30 Jesus has something to tell us about judgement in this morning’s passage. Do you notice how quickly he disperses the crowd accusing the woman caught in adultery? He asks for anyone without sin to cast the first stone upon her. The only one there without sin is Jesus and rather than using his own judgement he uses the Truth of God to point out where people are wrong. Jesus doesn’t make judgements based on his own opinions like we do, he simply holds up a mirror of truth to those around him. Jesus makes the point that there is no room for judgement from those who are also in a position to be judged. Despite our sinful nature, however, we are not lost causes. God still wants to be in relationship with us. Jesus continues to tell the people around him that he is the way to life. Accepting that gift of life, however, comes with the responsibilty of a response. Once our sin has been pointed out to us (whether our enlightment (not judgement) comes from prayer, scripture or a friend), we have a responsibility to respond. We can continue in what we are doing or we can confess, repent and move forward in our lives, attempting with God’s help to not repeat that particular sin. It is a lot easier to point to other people’s sin than to our own. Take some time today to think about where you are in need of repentance and forgiveness in your own life. God, forgive us for being so willing to point the finger at others, rather than at ourselves. Help us to see where we are sinning in our own lives and help us to accept and repent of those sins. Through your power, we ask that we would be released from the hold that a particular sin has on our lives. Amen.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

John 7:25-8:1 Jesus is telling the people that he is the Messiah - the one that they have been waiting for - and yet the people are confused and frightened. Here is a man who performs miraculous signs and yet outwardly looks exactly like everyone else. The people do not know what to make of him. If he is the Messiah, then they should follow him. But what if he is just a crackpot with some ability to do miracales? What if they follow him and accept him as the Messiah and then it turns out that he is not? They will have violated their own beliefs and Scriptures. The religious leader’s must have been freaking out! What were they supposed to do with this man? They didn’t understand and because they didn’t understand they couldn’t accept him as many of the people were starting to accept Jesus. They were terrified of leading the people astray. Since Jesus didn’t come in a form that they recognized, they rejected him. What have you rejected because it has come in a form you did not understand or recognize? Have you refused forgiveness, love, peace, or joy? Have you rejected a gift that God has tried to give you because it was foreign and unnerved you? Father God, help us to accept the good gifts that you want to give us. Forgive us for rejecting you and the joy you want to bring into our lives. Help us to trust and to accept you into our lives and into our hearts. Amen. CS


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

John 7:1-24 In this passage we see that Jesus’ followers are starting to become disgruntled. Jesus’ brothers offer him worldy advice - they tell him to go do miracles in Judea where many of his followers will be found. It is basically the modern day adage that all publicity is good publicity. Jesus’ brothers were not seeing Him as the son of God, but as a miracle worker who wanted to have a following. At this point in John, the author is again reiterating that Jesus is more interested in speaking the truth than in being well liked. Jesus continues to tell the people that they are doing things they shouldn’t be doing (7:7). Jesus did not come to us because he wanted to win a popularity contest. On the contrary, Jesus came knowing that he would be hated, beaten, and crucified for saving us from our sins. Jesus highlights the people’s hypocrisy in today’s passage and urges them to make good judgements. What is interesting to note is that Jesus is not writing people off when they are make bad judgments or turn away from him. He tells them the truth and expects them to make good choices with that information. Jesus doesn't even leave them behind when they don't - he continues to witness to them in the hope that they will begin to understand what he is saying and change their lives. How wonderful that we have a Savior who is so patient with our foolish choices! What are some things that pressure you to make choices you know are not the right ones? How do you resist those pressures? God, give us wisdom to know how you want us to live and the strength to follow through and make good choices. Help us to honor you above the world and to know that the eternal is so much more valuable than the temporal. Amen. CS


Monday, March 28, 2011

John 6:25-71 Whoever thinks that the Bible isn’t offensive hasn’t been reading it lately. At the beginning of today’s passage, there are huge numbers of people following Jesus because he is caring for their earthly needs. As soon as he begins to tell them that they are being short-sighted in what they want from Him, they become offended. In fact, at this point in the story, everyone leaves Jesus except the twelve disciples. Do we understand that Jesus is the only way? That we really can’t do it on our own? We don’t like being told that we are going the wrong way when everyone and everything around us says the opposite. The people who were following Jesus and then abruptly left him when he began to speak with eternal authority were not looking for too much, they were actually looking for too little. They were asking for what they thought they needed and became angry when Jesus offered them what they truly needed. How do we respond when God speaks through those around us to tell us to change our course? Do we listen or do we become angry and turn away? God, please help us to hear your voice of wisdom through the roar of everyday life. Give us the ability and desire to change course when we stray and to look to you to keep us on track. Amen. CS


Sunday, March 27, 2011

John 6:1-24 Here are two of Jesus’ most famous miracles - the feeding of the five thousand and Jesus’ walk across the water. In these two miracles, we have God showing us that 1) He will provde for us and 2) He loves us enough to come to us. Lucky for us, He is not going to wait until we decide to come to Him. The people are drawn to Jesus. They know that there is something special about him but they can’t quite figure out what it is. Some think he is a prophet, others think he is the one that God has sent to restore Israel to greatness. The people are unable to see what is right in front of their eyes - that God has come to earth to be with them and save them. What would you do if you saw a man walk on water or feed 5,000 people with a meal meant for one or two people? Who would you think he was? Would you believe that he was God? Heavenly Father, open our eyes to see your glory and action in the world today. Help us to see with fresh eyes what you are doing around us. Help us to believe. Amen CS


Friday, March 25, 2011

John 5

There are lots of examples of someone being healed in John's gospel (he calls them signs).  Every one of them is more than just a quick story about a miracle.  They tell us something about who Jesus is.  In this one, there was actually a Greek god who the people living around Israel believed would "stir the waters."  The Jewish man we encounter today would do whatever it takes to be healed.  Otherwise, he couldn't work, and couldn't care for his family.  In some way, he didn't feel whole.  Jesus asks him if he wanted to "get well" - it seems like a silly question.  But Jesus was highlighting something more here.  It was like he was saying: if you really want to be whole, no other god can do that.  This morning, I wonder if there is an area in your life where you need healing?  Chapter 5 points out (like much of the rest of John) that Jesus really is God - the one who created everything and the one who is setting things straight.  Do you really want to be healed?  Are you trying to fix it other ways, or are you looking to Jesus.

Take some time this morning to invite Jesus into your most broken places.  Listen for his voice because he just might invite you to, "take up your mat and walk."

(Caz Minter)


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

John 4:43-54

John 4
 43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that prophets have no honor in their own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there. 46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
   48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
 49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”
   50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”
   The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”
 53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.
 54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.

As a parent, I really understand that you would do anything to save your child - anything.  In fact, I spend a whole lot of my time worrying about my kids even when they are fine.  Today I found myself all twisted-up because it seemed like one of them wasn’t doing well socially at school.  Tomorrow it will probably be that they aren’t on par with other kids academically.  I can’t imagine what will happen when they get old enough to realize they don’t have to do everything that I tell them!  I want every area of their lives to go well - really, really well.  In today’s story, we see a desperate father - he wants his son to be healed.  In this passage, the problem is a fever, but we all know of people or situations that we think need healing in one way or another.  What I’m amazed at is how easily he turns around to go home.  He just hears Jesus’ words and heads back.  Was it because he believed?  Was it because he gave up?  We’ll never be sure.  But John at least wants us to think about faith here.  Jesus makes a side comment to those gathered around him, “unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.”  Then Jesus reminds us that He is “sovereign” or in control.  He heals the boy - without even going to see him or touch him.  He just speaks.  John wants that to remind us that Jesus is the WORD and trigger in our memory that the whole world was “spoken” into existence - created by God’s words.  (Remember that Chesney talked about the significance of this Word / Logos title and how it identifies Him as God.)

I need that reminder - the reminder that my kids and the people around me are in God’s hands.  I need to be reminded that even if I’m worried, God is in control.  I need to know that when I’m talking to Jesus, I’m speaking to a God who heals - who created the whole world by speaking.  I need enough faith to hear Jesus’ words and just turn to walk back home.  May Jesus speak words of healing about your worries today.

Pray something like...
God, you know how much I’m worried about ____________.  I know I’m supposed to let it go but that is harder to do that it should be.  Could You remind me of who You are?  Would you give me faith when I don’t have it on my own.  And, would you heal my situation?  Please bring healing.

(Caz Minter)


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

John 4:1-42

John 4
 1 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
 4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])
 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
 17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
   Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
   21 “Woman,”[b] Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
 28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
   34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36Even now those who reap draw their wages, even now they harvest the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
 39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.
 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

I love this story - there are so many places to identify with what’s happening here.  First of all, she is a Samaritan.  They were despised by the Jews so much that most Jews would not walk through their region and to speak to one was scandalous.  Have you ever felt like an outsider?  Her relational life also seemed to be a bit of a mess - 5 marriages and now living with a man she isn’t married to.  Ever felt inadequate or broken?  Did you notice who started the conversation?  Jesus asked her for water.  It was awkward, but you know she would never have engaged him - she probably didn’t even realize she was looking for the fulfillment He had to offer.  Ever need Jesus to grab you because you don’t have it together enough to seek Him?  Then there is the whole idea of water that quenches the deep, deep void that we often approach in our souls.  How does this sound to you, “Those who drink the water I give them will never thirst”?

Read the story one more time.  Where do you find yourself in it?  What would your conversation with Jesus sound like?  What might Jesus point out in your life that needs filling?  He has offered you this water - will you drink deeply today?

Make sure you spend some time in prayer...
God, when I think about it, I’m trying to fill my thirst with so many things.  When I was a teenager, it was obvious, and at times I seemed desperate.  Now, it’s become so much a part of my life that I hardly notice.  I let my work, the success of my family, my house, my security, and all kinds of things define me.  It’s not that they are bad, but when I look closely, I realize that I use them to quench a thirst that I never really fill.  Help me focus on you, help me be defined as being your child, and fill me with your “Living” water.

(Caz Minter)


Monday, March 21, 2011

John 3:22-36

John 3
 22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” 27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”[h]
 31 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. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 The person who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God[i] gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

John really wants you to understand a few things, so he keeps returning to them...
1. Jesus is God - not just a human with a good message or great ideas about how to live life.  John says, “the one who comes from above is above all,” and just in case you didn’t get it, he repeats it.  There is no denying this claim in John’s gospel, no guessing, we’re dealing with God who (as we saw in the first chapter) moved into our neighborhood.
2. Eternal life comes to those who believe in him.  We saw this in yesterday’s reading and we’ll see it again in the future - John doesn’t want you to miss it.  Now this eternal life is also described as “new life” because he’s not simply talking about life after death (although that certainly is important).  No, John wants you to experience eternal life, starting now.  Life with God begins as we enter a relationship with Him through Jesus.

However, something else really stuck out to me in today’s text.  It made me think of how often I have had friends who were struggling but who I could not help.  I mentioned this in last Sunday’s sermon - I feel compelled to fix things.  I at the very least want to help.  When I can’t it’s very, very frustrating.  John’s perspective here is amazing to me.  He knows his role - he knows he is no savior.  Instead, his job is pointing.  He directs people to the Savior, he shows people the way.  That statement, “He must become greater, I must become less.”  Those are words I need to let sink in.  What really stuck out in this passage for you?

Take a few minutes to pray today...
God, help me to always be crystal clear about who you are.  Even when the things I read and people who are around me seem to doubt - open my eyes like John to know that you sent your Son for us - to know that you entered into our world.  
Father, sometimes I take the weight of the world on my own shoulders.  I think I need to “save people” and fix things.  Instead would you give me the right perspective about my role.  Would you help me point people to you?  And help me really live that out.  Prompt me, in the next day or two, to point to you in one of the conversations I have with a neighbor, friend, or family member.  And most of all, give me grace.

(Caz Minter)


Sunday, March 20, 2011

John 3:1-21

Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
 1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.”
 4 “How can anyone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
 9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
   10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 All those who do evil hate the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But those who live by the truth come into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Today's reading contains perhaps the most famous verse in the whole scripture - John 3:16. No matter how many times we hear it, those words inspire our ultimate hope. There is a God and this God loves us - completely, without reservation, in spite of our brokenness. In fact He loves us so much that He died for us... for you. If you missed it, we focused on this passage during our last series (Love Songs) with the sermon titled, "500 Miles" - you can listen to it here.

However, there is a lot more to this section of scripture than just verse 16. Notice all the attention paid to light. Nicodemus comes in darkness - hiding from who he is, and struggling to see the truth. We see again that Jesus is presented as bringing light - a light that shows truth, and a light that exposes us. Yet this light is also hope and in it we find grace. If you look closely, you'll see a conversation between a man who asks some fairly practical questions and Jesus who offers something we only dream of... new life.

What questions would you ask Jesus if you could talk to him today? How do you think he would respond? What might surprise you if Jesus was talking to you today? What do you think about the whole idea of New Life? Would you say that is your experience of being a Christ follower - do you need to ask for new life today?

Take a few minutes and just talk to God. Talk to Him like you were having a conversation. Give yourself permission to ask questions that are honest - even if they don't sound very spiritual (like how can a man go back in his mother's womb to be born again). Say something like this...
God, you promise a love that goes way beyond what I deserve. I don't always really understand it and sometimes I don't fully feel like I experience new life. Would you give me the light I need to see - to see me, to see You, to see hope? Help me really get how much you love me and make me new. Amen.
(Caz Minter)


Friday, March 18, 2011

John 2: 12-25

"12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

Jesus Clears the Temple Courts
13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”[a]
18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.[b] 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person."

There is a lot of powerful stuff packed into these 13 verses. First, we see Jesus angry for the first and only time in the New Testament. He is filled with righteous anger that the Temple is being misused and disrespected. It is a holy place, a place of worship and it has been turned into something much less than that by the sinful nature of humans. Second, when he is asked by what authority he clears out the Temple, he states that he can destroy and rebuild it in three days. The Jews listening to this obviously don’t understand, but it is obvious to us 2000 years in the future, that Jesus is referring to his crucifixion and resurrection. Third, the passage ends with an emphasis again on humankind’s sinful nature.

This passage highlights the urgency that is felt in the Gospel of John to make people understand who Jesus is - the messiah. Jesus knows, as highlighted in this passage, that we are in desperate need of a savior. We are helpless against our own sin and cannot do anything to fight it without the help of Jesus. While this passage is filled with sin and God’s righteous anger towards it, it also foreshadows the saving death of Jesus.

Do you know how deeply we are in need of the saving grace of Christ?

Father God, forgive us. We are helpless against the temptations that confront us each and every day without your help. Forgive us for failing to ask for that help. Forgive us forour pride when we try to make our own way through this world. Give us your grace and mercy and and the strength to be weak and depend upon you. Amen.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

John 2: 1-11

1 "On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[b]

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, 9 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 10 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.” 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him."

This is the first miracle that Jesus performs. It is significant that it is at the request of his mother and for something that could be considered a minor issue. The changing of water into wine is not a miracle that saves a life (like the resurrection of Lazarus or the little girl) or changes a life (like the restoration of sight, hearing, or speaking) but it is a miracle that signifies how involved God is in our daily lives and how much he cares for us. To run out of wine at a banquet would have been significantly embarrassing for the host but not life-threatening. God however, cares even about our embarrassment. He cares about the details. He cares about us so deeply that when his earthly mother asks him to save a family from embarrassment, Jesus does so.

Do you know that God loves you and cares about the smallest detail of your day?

Jesus – be with us all through the day. Help us to give you the smallest burdens of our lives as well as the biggest. Help us to know that we can come to you for anything and that you will always want to listen and be with us. Amen.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

John 1: 35-51

Click on the link to go to today's passage:

The Gospel of John doesn’t wait very long to put us right into the action. In this Gospel there is no nativity story, no re-telling of Jesus’ childhood - instead we are dropped immediately into the midst of Jesus’ adult ministry. Within 16 verses, Jesus has four of the twelve disciples committed to him. This always amazes me. Most of us walk pretty slowly into the river of commitment instead of diving right in and yet these men who were chosen as Disciples jump in with just a moment’s notice. They leave their towns, their jobs, their worldly goods all behind as they are moved by faith to follow this man Jesus. All of them acknowledge that he is the Messiah.

What would it have been like to be able to see Jesus face to face and know that you were in the presence of God? What would it feel like to have no doubts about this person called Jesus (Savior) who we also claim to follow?

Father God, give us the faith to know and see your Son for who he truly is in the midst of a world that tells us he was just a good man who lived a long time ago. Give us a knowledge and peace deep in our souls that allows us to pick up and follow you, in a moment’s notice, wherever you would lead us. Amen.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

John 1: 19-34

How much clearer could John the Baptist be in his witness to Jesus being the son of God? Here is a man who has enormous power and authority among the people as a religious leader and could easily create what is called in the modern day church, ‘the cult of the pastor’. Yet instead of falling prey to this temptation, John continuously points to Jesus rather than to himself. John refuses to take any pride in the calling God has placed upon him but continually works to do the will of God and testify to Jesus’ holiness and divinity.

Can we say the same of ourselves and the way we conduct ourselves in the world? How often does the sin of pride catch us and hold us, causing us to cry out “look at me, look at me” rather than point to the one who is truly worthy of praise?

Almighty God, forgive us for our pride. Help us to be confident in the gifts you have given to us but to always remember that they are your gifts and we are your children. Give us true heart-felt knowledge of your love for us that we might be able to fully stand in your love and point to you, rather than to ourselves. Amen.


Monday, March 14, 2011

John 1:1-18

In the first few verses of John we read a synopsis of God’s work in the world from Creation to Redemption. We see from the beginning the affirmation of the Trinity – that the creative work of the Father is the creative work of the Son and Holy Spirit as well. We also see that in our sin, humankind has failed to understand the redemptive love of God in Christ despite the many people (like John the Baptist) who point us towards it and hold it up for us to see. Lucky for us, God never gives up on us – no matter what we do or what dark corner of life we find ourselves in, nothing can extinguish the light of Christ in this world.

Where do you need to let the light of Christ shine in your life today? What part of your life have you tried to keep separate from Him?

Father God, help us to let the light of Christ shine in all areas of our lives, even the darkest, most sin-filled corners. Fill us with your grace and mercy that we can let go of the past and begin to receive you in every part of our lives. Amen.


Monday, March 7, 2011

L-O-V-E: Part 5

God loves us and has done all sorts of things to show that to us: from the primary act of creation to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. What do we do to show that we love God?

The only love that is a one-way street is unrequited love. Other than that, love is a two-way street. Relationships are two-way streets. They have to be nurtured. Time has to be spent with the beloved. Conversations need to take place.

How are you doing in holding up your half of your relationship with God? Do you talk to God daily (prayer)? Do you take time to read the letters God has written to you (scripture)?
Do you make choices in your life based on what will make God happy?
None of these are easy to do on a regular basis - just like all relationships take work.

One way to start working on your relationship with God over the upcoming season of Lent is to read the Gospel of John in its entirety with Live Oak church. Live Oak will be starting a sermon series on the Gospel of John this coming Sunday. Next Monday, we will be sending out a devotional 5 days a week (M-F) until Easter. The devotional will consist of a short reading from the Gospel of John, a reflection, and a prayer.

If you are looking for something to help re-kindle your relationship with God or to just help you keep doing what you are doing, this is a great opportunity.

Please join us in this Lenten journey.



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

L-O-V-E: Part 4

If you are a good Christian, you should feel close to God all the time, right? Wrong. It is too hard for us as humans, to maintain a close, emotional connection to someone we are physically close to all the time, let alone God, who we can't physically feel or see.

Mother Teresa, someone we would assume lived her entire life feeling incredibly close to God, revealed in letters that were published after her death that most of her career she felt alone and unsure of God's presence or leading in her life. There were times when she actual had serious doubts and questions about her faith. That should make all of us feel a little better about our spiritual temperature, right?
It is normal for our spiritual lives to ebb and flow. Sometimes we have those mountain top experiences and other times we find ourselves in "the dark night of the soul." Most of the time however, we find ourselves somewhere in the middle where it is easy to drift away from God because life is going on as usual - nothing too great and nothing too terrible is going on. It is in these 'life as usual' times that we need to work a little harder to connect to God.

It is really easy to fall victim to the belief that we don't need God in our everyday ordinary lives. Things putter along and when there is nothing pressing that we need help with, God sort of drifts into the background. Sort of like a friend we used to talk to every day but when things get busy we scale back to once a week or even less; eventually only talking once a month.

God loves us and God will meet us right where we are - but we have to put in a little effort. He will draw close to us but we have to respond. Our job is to hold up our end of the relationship - talk to God every day, read the Bible on a regular basis - and he will do the rest.


"For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:8