Friday, June 24, 2011

More of Jesus

John 20:1-18

v. 1-2, 10-11:  Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.  So she ran… the disciples went away again to their own homes.  But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping….

Impression:  Mary went early—while it was still dark—to see Jesus.  He wasn’t there.  She ran and told the disciples.  Two of them went back with her.  The men saw the empty tomb, entered and believed (v.8) then went home (v. 10).  But Mary stayed and looked and waited and cried and wondered.  She was attended by angels, but could not be comforted.  Finally the Lord appeared to her, rewarding her perseverance.  She saw Him.  She rejoiced in Him.  He gave her a command and she obeyed.

She did not come to Jesus’ tomb for any reason but love and devotion.  Even in death, she wanted to serve and be near Him.  She had no expectation apart from seeing His body and ministering to it.  But He was not there.  When she could not find Him, she searched and wept and could not be comforted—even by angels!  I have never searched to that degree nor have I seen angels.  I cannot imagine the wonder it must have been, but she was not content.  She wanted Jesus.  Only Jesus.  When He made Himself known, she was overwhelmed with joy.  Her joy gave way to immediate, enthusiastic obedience (v. 17-18).

Application:  Wow.  How diligently do I seek Jesus?  Do I get complacent knowing He is always with me (Mt. 28:20) and fail to seek Him out?  Am I content with lesser things—hearing His Word in the background, listening to Christian music or speakers, looking at piles of books that disseminate knowledge about Him?  How often does my world halt so I can look intently for Jesus?  Only Jesus.  How often do I seek Him in worship—for no reason other than His Person?  How much of my day is spent in rapt wonder at His love for me?

This is the root of my disobedience—a disbelief in who He is.  When I fail to walk in the reality of His love and the wonder of who He is, I fail to be empowered to do His will.  My disbelief is evident in my selfishness, self-indulgence, self-sufficiency, self-focus.  How He desires to change me and fill my life with Jesusness, Jesus-indulgence, Jesus-sufficiency, Jesus-focus!

It’s time to fall on my knees worship.  Now.  Before the day begins.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ideas Anyone? (Help with Proverbs)

I'm continuing my study into Proverbs and had a great idea during Sunday's sermon (which, by the way, was from Proverbs!). One of the women who attends our weekly Bible studies brought in the book of Romans this last year to show us what she had learned in her personal study. She had printed each chapter of the book on one page in a column. She did a word study of each chapter, color-coding significant words. Then, she taped all the pages together sideways and began drawing arrows and connecting ideas and words. Her key word for Romans? Righteousness. The next day she was reading in Jeremiah and came across the words, " righteousness." It was a beautiful example of how God teaches us the riches of His Word as we seek Him.

So--I'm writing today to ask for ideas as I look into the book Proverbs to begin sticking it in my head. I am in the process of printing out the chapters. My question is--do I color-code specific words ("wise," "foolish," etc.) or do I color-code topics, ("speech," "marriage," etc.)? Perhaps I need to do it more than once....

If I do a topical study, what topics do you see in the book of Proverbs? These are the topics that come easily to my mind, I am looking for more: speech, marriage, parenting, work. I begin looking through the book and get overwhelmed. Thanks for participating with me!

In All Your Ways Acknowledge Him

John 19:1-30
v. 19, 21-22:  Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross.  It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”  So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews’; but that He said, ‘I am King of the Jews.’”  Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

Impression:  How easy it is to accede that Jesus is King without actually acknowledging Jesus is King.  Pilate did.  The chief priests did (they “slipped” and misread the sign—“THE King,” in their own words).  They could speak it with their lips, or write it on a sign, or put Jesus’ name before others, but they refused to bow the knee to His authority and lordship.

Application:  Again, again, again—how often I fail to acknowledge God in my daily life.  It is easy to quote Proverbs 3:5-6, but to acknowledge God with obedience in the decisions of life is a very different thing.  Most of the time I am simply unaware that I am making a choice and I fail to consider its eternal effects.  Some of the time I am aware that I am making a choice and follow my own natural tendencies.  A few times each day I realize I am about to make a choice that requires a different response, but I choose my own way anyway.  “Oh wretched man that I am!  Who will set me free from the body of this death?”

Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin (Rom. 7:24-25).


Lord, please empower the servitude of my mind to overcome the servitude of my flesh.  Fill my mind with the goodness of Your Word—of Your Spirit, of Your Person—that I might overcome the pull and guerilla tactics of my sinful self.  Help me to hate my selfish tendencies with the passion they deserve.  Help me to fight myself relentlessly, diligently, whole-heartedly. Help me to give myself wholly to Your ways, Your power, and Your work.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Slow and Steady

With summer here, I have more  time for more personal Bible study (as versus ministry-driven Bible study*) and my goal is to learn the book of Proverbs! 

The last couple of years I have been challenged by speakers who easily and firmly quote specific Proverbs for specific situations.  This week I contacted one of the speakers and asked for her "secret recipe."  Surprise, surprise--it isn't fast and easy.  She recommended reading daily from Proverbs, taking notes, and making flash cards.  This is what I learned today:

Proverbs 1:8-19
v. 16:  For their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed blood.

Impression:  The life of the Christian is a “walk” with the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit does not run.  But an evil intent comes with running and hastening. 

Application:  When I am tempted to pick up the pace and move faster into a situation, I need to keep my head up and be very aware of 1) my companions and 2) the destination.  There is a good chance they are headed for evil and wreckage. 
I tend toward either being stationary or moving too quickly.  To keep a steady walking pace with God is difficult (Galatians 5:16, 24-26), so it is easy to run and hasten toward evil.  Once I am running, it is more difficult to change direction as God does without crashing into an obstacle or backing up and turning around in shame.  As wise Aesop once said, “slow and steady wins the race.”

May I slow down and "take His yoke upon me", walking side-by-side, knowing that He will work out His obedience and abundant joy in my life.

* God has provided 14 different women to lead our weekly women's Bible study this summer!  Our summer study is entitled, "A Talk in the Park"  and has eight free week-by-week studies designed for sporadic summer schedules.  If you would like information for yourself or your church, comment or send an email to  . There are currently three topics available:  Assurance, The book of Luke, and Spiritual Disciplines. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Tight Connection

John 15

v. 4-6  “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As he branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless I abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”

Impression:  Jesus is talking about HIMSELF as the vine—and the removal of branches (individuals) from Himself.  Some have extrapolated this to see US as the vine and the things we do/invest in as the branches God removes or uses to produce fruit.  That’s not what Jesus said.  Sooo-according to Jesus, 1) we are the branches, 2) we must remain connected to the vine to retain any usefulness, and 3) the fruit that results is a direct result of God-connectedness (the fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23).

Application:  My greatest (dare I say only?) concern as a believer is to stay connected to—to abide in—Jesus.  Or, as James says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (4:8).  As I make His Word a priority, rely on Him moment by moment, day by day, with my hands and heart open, He will do His work in and through me.  It’s not my job to “make” Godliness happen.  It’s God’s (Eph. 5:26, 1 Thess. 5:23, Heb. 13:12).  
On the other hand, if I close the door to my heart or demand my own outcome the fruit subsides.  A lack of love, a lack of joy or peace in my life means there’s a kink in the hose of connectedness.  Am I impatient, brash, thinking evil thoughts?  It’s time to check the conduit for a hairball of sin.  Do I struggle with being faithful, or gentle or self-controlled?  To what or to whom am I connected?  Where am I placing my dependence?  Probably in myself.  How quaint.  Not. But, 
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
There's just something about that name
Master, Savior, Jesus
Like the fragrance after the rain
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Let all Heaven and Earth proclaim
Kings and kingdoms
Will all pass away
But there's something about that Name.
(Gloria Gaither)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Glorification Today!

Summer vacation is here--along with many new opportunities to indulge (did you hear the words, "ice cream" and "sleep in?").  I'm so thankful for God's Word, that His mercies are new every morning.  This is where I'm at today.
John 13:21-38

v. 31-32:  Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him;  if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately.”

Impression:  Jesus the Son and God the Father were glorified in the crucifixion.  It doesn’t fit with our idea of being glorified.  It didn’t fit the disciples’ idea, either.  But God is God.  If He glorified Jesus in His death and was magnified by it, He continues to be magnified.  What do I know about God that makes sense of this?  God is glorified when I depend on Him and when I choose to obey Him instead of self, just like Jesus did.   Jesus obeyed to the point of death, physical death.  The death I am called to is so much less.  Every decision I make that is reliant on Him and places His decrees above my own desires glorifies Him. (Ps. 37:4-6, 7, 23-26).

Application:  Whom will I choose to glorify today?  Even the smallest decisions and tasks are opportunities to glorify God.  How will I choose to put God ahead of myself?  If I set my mind to think ahead and choose God instead of self….but, oooh, it is so hard in that moment!  I need a Scripture verse for inertia.  So perhaps even as I come to a trying decision to say, “Now is the Son of Man glorified....”  If I can’t say it and mean it, it’s a “me” decision not a “Jesus” decision.  If God will work change in me today, just today, I’ll tackle tomorrow when it comes…