Oh my wonderful Jesus, he knows exactly what to say to make a point and to clarify and solidify what he’s saying to us. While reading the gospel of John the other day the very end of the book Jesus is talking to Peter. In John 21:15 Jesus begins to speak specifically to Peter and he asks him if he loves him, Peter would answer Jesus and then Jesus would ask the same question again. I can almost hear the frustration in Peters voice as he answers the question three times. Jesus was testing Peter’s heart before giving him the calling God had placed on his life. Jesus even went so far as to tell Peter what the end of his life would be like. I’m thinking that was part of the test also. To see if Peter would turn away, but Peter didn’t seem the least bit phased by what Jesus was telling him. There’s a song that comes to mind as I read the last part of what Jesus was telling Peter. The song is titled “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” one of the phrases goes ‘turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his glorious face.” In verse 19 Jesus said to Peter “follow me”. Then in verse 21 Peter was watching another disciple and said to Jesus “ Lord what about this man?” Jesus, full of grace and mercy and at this point I’m thinking much patience said to Peter, If I want him to remain until I come, “ What is that to you?” “ You follow me!” Oh what a wealth of descriptive knowledge we get in these scriptures. How many times do we hear “ keep your eyes on Jesus?” Peter was looking right into the eyes of our Savior and still he pointed to the guy next to him, basically saying to Jesus, “ well what about him, what’s he gonna do?” now that’s my own paraphrase but it fits. I’m sure Jesus gently but firmly made Peter look at him when he said, “ You! follow me!” Jesus points out that what he tells another to do has nothing to do with you, that person is my business not yours. These scriptures reveal how our sin nature is and how easy it is for us to take our eyes off of Jesus and look at someone else or even ourselves. We must turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full in his glorious face to follow him, with all our heart and strength. Jesus had that conversation with Peter and I’m sure he’s had that same conversation with each of us, I know he has me, as we fulfill our calling on our lives to “Follow Him.”
Today is a beautiful day. The neighborhood is quiet this morning even with the kids being out of school. The breeze is just right and the sun is bright and warm with no clouds to block her rays. I purposely leave the TV off in the mornings so I have that quiet time with just Jesus and me. All seems quite well in my little world today. All is well with my soul. Although, all is not well in the world around. The spirit of lawlessness has been released in our world and with it has birthed many children. The open hate and violence, the open demonstration of rejecting the values of family as well as the values of this nation that is was formed on. The blatant disrespect of elders, teachers, and those who have been put in authority on all levels in the home and in the country. The freedom that has been fought for and that has shed much blood, with it has given a freedom to individuals and this nation that has love, respect, independence, choice, safety, peace and yes a sense of well being. But the bloodshed that is happening now is giving individuals and this nation all the opposite. There is no love, respect, independence, choice, safety, and sense of well being in this state of lawlessness. I am watching lawlessness being addressed and apprehended and it is getting angrier and more full of hate. Its fight for no borders and territory is more aggressive and violent now more than ever before. I’m so very thankful for that what is raging on the outside is not raging on the inside of me. Galatians 1:3,4 says that “ The Lord Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins, that He might deliver is out of this present evil age.” And Galatians 5:1 says “ It was for freedom that Christ set us free”. Lawlessness knows no freedom; although it fights for a freedom it is actually bondage. A bondage in this life and in the next. Stand firm on the sure foundation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and all will be well with your soul no matter what is going on in your world.
Today is a milestone for me. Only those around me hit this milestone and one that is in the distant future in my mind. One that when it creeps up on you, leaves you in a surreal state of mind and may I add, being. My one victory in this milestone is that I’m told I don’t look old enough for such a state of being. You’ve probably guessed it by now. Yes I’ve just turned that golden oldie age of 65. When my medicare card came in the mail with my name on it I looked at my husband and said “ how did I get here” and “how is this even possible”? So here I am, with children in their thirties and forties, married grandchildren and yes a great grandson. Life doesn’t feel this old. The seasons of life have changed some. It’s just my husband and me in this house, laundry isn’t mounted and growing, meals have shrunk in size and there are many more quiet moments in a day than all the years of raising six sons. God says that life is but a moment and yes I have to agree once again with my all knowing God. Life is but a moment. Looking back in time it’s clear that time flies. But looking forward in time it seems forever. Yes I do take time to stop and smell the roses now. During the years with children home the roses got set in another room so we had room on the table for food. Their fragrance was a whiff as I flew by them to accomplish my mission in the house. The quiet of the morning, which is a frequent setting, now was few and far between as the boys were growing. It only happened; well I can’t remember it happening when they were home. But the noise of life happening was a constant in those days and surely missed today. Yes I have reached a milestone in this life. One that makes me reminisce more with thankfulness and yes makes me embrace this season with a surreal reality.
I recently have been asked a very interesting question. I love questions that make me seek the Lord. That question being “ What scriptures tell us that God spoke audibly to believers in the New Testament?” They seemed to be seeking more accounts than the baptism of Jesus and the transfiguration. So I first went to my trusty little Webster’s dictionary to define the word “audible”. Webster’s tell me that it means “ capable of being heard”. Dictionary .com says that it means “ capable of being heard: loud enough to be heard; actually heard. This adjective means heard or hearable. So with this meaning I began to seek scriptural confirmation. Since audible means heard or hearable, the first scripture I came to is in John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God, “ and the word became flesh and dwelt among us.” So now that we know that Jesus is God incarnate (God in the flesh) we can begin to recall the accounts where God audibly spoke to believers in the new testament. You see there were no believers in Christ except for John the Baptist, until Jesus called his disciples and started his ministry. The disciples were not true believers when Jesus called them, they chose to follow him. But it was through his love, his teachings, miracles of healing, provision and deliverance that produced believers. When one becomes born again their spirit comes alive and their spirit bears witness to the Holy Spirit. Since God is Spirit we become able to hear him speak. So we can say that every word that Jesus spoke was the audible voice of God. There are different forms of speaking or should I say different tones of a voice. In public you’ll sometimes here a mother with young children say to them to please use their inside voice. Which leads us to believe there is an outside voice. You’ll often hear Gods voice described as that “still small voice” in your spirit man. Sometimes you’ll even hear a believer say they wished God would just yell the answer to them so they could be sure to hear him. But then there is that audible voice of God that you sometimes hear about. It’s that voice that echoes in the room and you look around to see where that voice is coming from and who’s speaking. If you have ever been one of Gods children that has heard that audible voice and it does happen, you know without a doubt that it is God speaking. So whatever form God chooses to speak to you at any given moment can actually be considered “the audible voice of God”. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word. Jesus is the word of God whether it is written or spoken it is the audible living true word of God that brings life and love into your entire being.
For the past several weeks I have thought much about identity and names. This has me thinking about how important our name is and how much it’s linked to our identity. Proverbs 22:1 says that “ A good name is to be more desired that great riches.” Or in some translations “ a good name is greater than gold.” There are different scenarios in life concerning the name that seems to lead to the same equation of who you are and your identity. One scenario is a blessing for our family but at the same time sadness for another family. One of my sons married a wonderful woman many years ago. In this marriage she brought with her two beautiful young children. We immediately embraced them as our own and now they are grown adults. When our grandson was about to be married he came to my son and asked him to adopt him. This totally took us all by surprise because there is a bio father alive. Without hesitation my son began the process of adoption. It was not difficult because of our grandson being an adult. The adoption went through right before the wedding and we now have a grandson and granddaughter with our name. Soon another adoption went through and it was for our great-grandson who was our grand daughters son when they married. I have often thought about how traumatic of a choice that was for our grandson to relinquish his biological name to bear the name of his step father. All seem to be very happy and thriving in their new identity. Another scenario is a young adult who went through great trauma as a very young child and continued on through their early teens. The two people who gave them their name at birth left this earth when they were still a preschooler and then ended up in a very abusive home until their early teens. I have watched this person struggle in ways that tell they are holding on to the things that they think gives them their identity and security but at the same time they are so insecure and unhappy. These wounds were put on them by others in their young life and now as a young adult they bears the scars. My prayer for them is that they will cry out to the one who can give them true identity and security and that is Jesus. Another is a young teenager who has again been abandoned and neglected all through their formative years. They have an opportunity to be adopted but they aren’t sure about changing their name. They seem to be holding on to the only identity they know. My grandsons decision to change his name was a willful and thought through choice. He isn’t struggling with an identity crisis. The wonderful thing about him is he knows who loves him. The others however are struggling with who they are and they are needing to know they are loved. They don’t’ know what love feels like, looks like and seem to be holding on to a false love. Philippians 2:9 tells us that the name of Jesus is above all names. In him we will have first eternal salvation but peace and security. We will be one with him. In Jesus we will have a name, and know who we are, he tells us we are His. I pray for the walls that have been built up around these hearts, to keep true love out, will begin to crumble. So that they can begin to receive true love, identity and purpose that they were birthed for. To watch an identity crisis play out in one’s life in heartbreaking. It truly takes the love of God in one’s heart to break through the wall and let that person out. 1 Peter 4:8 says“ love covers a multitude of sins.” In these people I see deep wounding and rejection. It’s Gods love that covers sins but it also fills the heart. Opening ones heart to receive love from another human and even God is often a very difficult thing to do when one has been abused. But once we choose to love and be loved and choose forgiveness that love that Peter talks about covers those sins of abuse. Accepting Jesus as your savior is the beginning of eternally knowing Gods love and who we are in Christ and who he is in us. Then we will come to know who we are inside and out.
While reading John chapter 4 I was struck by what happened to the woman at the well. I know much has been said about the woman at the well, but when scripture comes alive in you its worth talking about. It was while she was talking to Jesus a couple of things stood out. One that was when Jesus told her “ that whoever drinks from the water that I give them shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.Then, she asked for that living water. But then the second thing is, He brings her to the place of confessing her sin. Oh how I love Jesus, he is truly the way, the truth and the life. He presents life eternal, brings us to repentance and we confess our sin accept Jesus as savior and lord and are saved. Then the third thing that really struck me is that he filled her with that living water she asked for. Jesus said that the well of living water would spring up to eternal life. That eternal life welled up in her and then she went back to the men in her city and told them all that Jesus had said to her. The interesting thing about that to me is that her words were living water springing up to eternal life to those men and then they went to find Jesus. They said they believed because of the words of the woman, “ He told me all things that I have done.” Oh but then after they found Jesus they said to the woman. “ It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the savior of the world.” That living water, full of life and revelation that leads to eternal life. That’s what our lives say to those we speak to about our Savior, out Lord, our Jesus. For our living lives, filled with living water that flows out of us to cause others to seek after the savior on their own until they find him is glorious and beyond human words to explain. Its eternal! And that’s living life.
The scripture in 2 Timothy 2:15 gives us great instruction if not a command. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”. There are many levels and directions of studying that we may choose from. And as a believer we have added unto us another that seems to be more important and eternal than any others, but bring all the other parts together. From the moment we are born we are constantly learning. Not necessarily studying, but learning. We study all through school until we graduate and then if we choose to go on to college for a degree in a certain specialty we study much more. But there is one form of study that is divine. When I became a believer I couldn’t stay out of the bible. I would read and be involved in bible studies and talk to other believers continually. But then 1 Corinthians 2:13 tells us “ Which things also we speak, not in the words of man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches: comparing spiritual things with spiritual”. Life itself is a continual learning process. From the moment we are born we are learning to become an adult we learn to speak and walk and show respect, and the list goes on and on. But then at the moment of choice to accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord we begin a new chapter of learning and that’s the things of God in the Spirit. We are a three part being. Body, soul, which is our mind, will, emotion and Spirit. As believers we spent the rest of our lives bringing our bodies and our souls into subjection to the Spirit of God and the very likeness of Christ. By allowing the Spirit of God to lead us in truth by his power and submitting ourselves to Him, we are allowing Jesus to become Lord of our lives. It’s a life time of submitting our will to God and allowing Jesus that place in us to become like him and not us. Growing up I didn’t have a great learning curve, not in the natural here on earth as a human being and definitely not in the spiritual. So when I became born again I was like a sponge. I couldn’t get enough of my Jesus; fortunately I still can’t get enough. I consider myself home grown both in the earthly sense and in the spirit. I am a new creation in Christ and still strive to allow him to change me into his image and take mine out. I am fearfully and wonderfully made and I am a child of the most high God. His daughter, his princess, his servant, his chosen generation, his royal priesthood, his holy nation, his peculiar people, who praises him for he has called me out of darkness into his marvelous light. Full of his mercy, grace and love. Home grown by allowing myself to be taught the things that matter here on earth and in the spirit for eternity. Oh his glory and majesty are yea and amen and worthy of all praise and honor.