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Posts Tagged ‘John’

It seems like I am all about some bittersweet moments lately. I don’t know if that is a sign of a softer heart for me, or just more of an awareness of my own messy heart.

It is bittersweet when I find myself in those times where the same bible story seems to be every where I go, and in every other sermon. It always takes about three times before I stop and wonder why I am hearing something on repeat. That particular topic seems to creep into conversations out of no where. Now I am just at the point of chuckling.

Right now I have a top three-topic list going on right now. Among those three is the topic of God as father.

I have been camped out in John for a while. In John chapter five, Jesus has just finished healing a man on the Sabbath. Leaders in the Jewish community were not happy with what Jesus was doing. Jesus stuns this Jewish group by referring to God as his father. The Jews were outraged by the fact that Jesus would claim to be God’s son. They were also mad because Jesus was considering himself equal to the father.

Every time I have read this passage, I have just glazed over these words. Not this time. I can’t shake the fact that I think Jesus was redefining yet another relationship aspect with God. Jesus was modeling an intimate label with God. Not only that, I think Jesus was telling us that it is okay for us to call God, father. God calls us his children.

This is a bittersweet statement for me. I am so thankful for a God who wants to be known by me as father, but I have no idea what the word father really means. I don’t have good associations at all with the word “father.” This statement from Jesus feels overwhelming to me. I desire to know God the way Jesus describes him to be, but this is a relationship I just do not get. My heart feels the weight of my loss

In the past there have been great glimpses of “father figures” for me. To be honest, at times, I get so ticked that I even had to have “father figures” in my life. It reminds of the loss of a father who should have been, well a lot of things. Nonetheless,  I have been blessed with great male mentors, counselors, and second homes. These are just glimpses. I still mourn the loss of knowing what father really means. I mourn understanding healthy intimacy from my father. I hate that.

I know God as provider, gracious, forgiver, savior, perfect love, leader, powerful, beautiful, and faithful. Father will always be a hard one for me.

My prayer has been for him to open my eyes to that side of who he is. I am praying for God to show himself as father to me.

How do you know God as father?



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My heart feels prayer consumed. I can’t seem to talk to him enough. I don’t want to get to the point where I feel like I have talked to him enough, but this is where my heart is.

Praying means a lot to me. I pray using the model of John 17.

Jesus prays for himself.

-Jesus prays for his friends.

-Jesus prays for all believers.

Maybe you are feeling like you need some talk time with him as well. I would love for you to pray with me or even take some space on here to pray for you.

Father, my heart is heavy. I feel heavy with conversation. I feel like we haven’t really talked in so long. I feel like there is so much to catch up on with one another, but you still know all things. You have seen my every day and every moment. I have left you hanging and sidelined in me for too long. I wonder why I am tired. Thank you for your grace and patience with me. Thank you for forgiving me every time I just take information about you and run with it without abiding. Forgive me for my walls of control and protection. I never need protection from you. I never need control when it comes to you.

My heart is tired. Well, all of me is tired. For the first time in a while, I feel like my soul is waking up. I feel like I have been telling my heart over and over to wake up, and now new dawn seems to be peaking through. What does that mean? Help me to trust.

Father, I pray for my friends. I pray for the dreams and hopes of my friends. I know I try and step in too much to where you are supposed to be. I love those you have given me so much. I know I forget you are the one who gave them as gifts. Forgive me for holding too tight to them. Forgive me for the fears and jealousy that comes out of holding too tight to them. Forgive me for the places that they fill me where you are wanting to. Thank you for gently restoring my failures. Help us to love each other with healthy and open handed love. Help us to forgive much so we can love much. Help us to speak in times of speaking, whether tough love or tender, and help us to listen when silence is needed. Thank you for your gifts.

Father, you know all the temptations that threats to your church. Provide strength, joy, and courage to speak your truth. Give believers a real hunger to want you, to crave intimacy with you. Give us means and wisdom to know how to stand up for intimacy with you. Let the lies of this culture be silenced. Give us a voice that sounds and looks like one. Jesus desired that we would be one like you are one with each other. I pray that. I pray that we would value greatly knowing you and making you known. Show us your favor Lord. Help us give you space, time, value, and authority. Help us to pursue the life of just believing in you.

Thank you for knowing me. Thank you for your love, grace, and gentleness. I love you, father. In your sons name, amen.

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Yesterday, I talked about settling for a fig tree kind of faith. The Gospel’s are full of faith resulting from seeing God by way of proof. To be honest, I don’t think that faith accompanied by proof is faith at all.

Jesus’ response to one of those “proof” situations was stating that we will see “greater things than these.

In just skimming through the gospel’s, I saw “greater things than these” just at a glance. Maybe it will fire you up too!

Just in the Gospel of John:

– Changes water into wine

– Causes a scene at the  temple

– Healing at the pool of Bethesda

– Healing an official’s son just by giving the word

– Feeding 5,000 people with a loaf of bread and two fishes

– Walking on water

– Heals a man born blind

– Takes on hard conversations from the Pharisee’s every other day

– Changed the whole outcast village of Samaria

– Raises Lazarus from the dead

– Washes his disciples feet

– Predicts his death

– Arrested, flogged, and crucified

– Three days later he rose

These are some seriously great things! Just at a glance! Imagine if you read the details behind these greater things. You just might experience the greater things of forgiveness, salvation, grace, his timing, boldness, courage, redemption, restoration, and love. Those are some great things.

Now imagine all the tabs God wants to make with your life…..

What are your greater things?

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I have referenced before that trust is hard for me. I am pretty skeptic when it comes to taking a step in faith. My first instinct is to protect myself. My logic assesses the situation and then weighs the trust level. This mentality makes faith hard for me. It would technically be called “controlled faith.

The gospel of John is my go-to book in the bible. When I want to read about Jesus, it is John’s perspective that I run too. When I want to read about God’s love, John is where I start. When I just want to be reminded of a man who believed and understood that God loved him, John is my boy.

I am always drawn to the faith of the first twelve disciples. I love reading about their questions, skepticism, and remarks, when they were first introduced to Jesus. I also like watching their responses shift to being blown away by Jesus.

Lately, I have been stuck on Nathaniel. Nathaniel was the brother of Philip. Nathaniel was a skeptic. His response to his brother’s claim of finding the Messiah reminds me of what I might have said. Nathaniel’s response was one of question and maybe of self protection.

What draws me into this story is how quickly the shift in trust and belief happens. Jesus takes Nathaniel’s skepticism head on. Jesus calls out Nathaniel in personality and truth. Jesus describes Nathaniel as, “one without deceit.” Nathaniel, I’m sure taken aback, responds with confusion. Jesus simply states, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.

It took one way of being known by Jesus. One thing shifted the faith of Nathaniel. Skeptisim melts to embrace. Protection changes to trust.

It took something tangible for Nathaniel to believe. Mind you it was not something big, but something. It took a fig tree kind of faith for Nathaniel to believe.

I started reading on and in the proceeding two chapters there are numerous stories of people believing after witnessing a miracle. People would also demand a miraculous sign before they would believe what Jesus was saying.

I had to ask myself, do I have fig tree faith? Do I only let down the walls of self-protection if I see something tangible regarding God? Do I settle for fig tree faith when God is telling me, “you will see greater things than these?

I want to believe in the God of “greater things.” I know my trust comes with proof. Where is the faith in that? Honestly, there is no faith. Faith happens when we are waiting in hope in the unseen. Faith believes in the not yet and hopes in the dream of some day. God is known in those places. Faith is the place of “greater things.

Are you settling for fig tree faith?

How are you hoping in the unknown?

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It’s just time for some prayer. I love me some prayer. I feel like it’s a good time in the week to just focus on praying.

My model for prayer comes from John 17. Jesus prays to the Father in three ways and in this order: himself, his close friends (disciples), and for all believers. I would love to pray for you and with you today.

Let me know what I can be talking about with him for you today. I would love this to be a place where you feel like you can pray as well. I would love for you to take a minute and pray with me.

Father, sometimes I don’t even know where to begin with my own heart. I feel like my heart is a messy place. I feel like I don’t know what to even say sometimes. You know my heart. You know my struggles, fears, and weakness. Please be present in all of those areas today. Please teach me how to abide in your great invitation to stay with you. Please show me your kindness and gentleness as we work, slowly, through the caverns of my deep heart. Only you know my dark places. You know them more than me.

Father, I am scared of what could be revealed by asking you to work out my fears. I’m trying to believe you are enough. I know I don’t always respond in that belief, but I want to try.

I pray for my character. I ask that you would teach me to be a woman after your own heart. I am knee bound by the weight of that desire, but I believe you can teach even me. Thank you for your love for me. Thank you that you are patient and grace filled. I mess up. I ask for your forgiveness in those areas. Thank you for the humility of your grace. Help me to not take on condemnation for myself.

Father, I also pray for my friends you have given me. They are such gifts. They make my life so rich. Help us push each other towards you. Help me keep your gift of people as gifts and not possessions. Teach us how to love one another with the model of you and your son, Jesus. Lord, I know I can place these friendships in place of you. Help us to keep you there. Teach us to forgive one another. I so desire these friendships to be models of right relationships. I crave my friendships to show your character, grace, unconditional love, commitment, gratitude, and selflessness. They are yours Lord. Help us to keep that perspective with one another. Your word states that “others will know we are your disciples by how we love one another.” I pray that these rich friendships of mine would do just that. Thank you for the gift of friends.

Father, I love people, and thank you for them. I pray for the families around me that might know you. I pray for my family, that they would soften their hearts long enough to hear you and catch a glimpse of your goodness. I pray for protection over missions and people traveling overseas to be your word. I pray for strengthened faith for the community of believers as this culture rapidly decreases with any sense of life. Father, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Give your people a boldness to stand up. Give us a hunger to follow after your, truth. Your desire is that all experience being one as you and the father are one. I pray for that to grow everywhere and in everyone. You are power. Your name is power.

I life my heart up to you, those close to my heart, and to all who call on and are curious about your name. To you alone be glory.

Amen

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I love people watching. I could sit for hours and people watch. I love wondering about their lives and where they have come from, or where they are going. I even love eavesdropping. I admit that I will sit somewhere with my headphones on and no music playing just so I can listen to other people’s conversations. It’s fascinating.

As I admit to eavesdropping, I will also admit that I find that I compare myself to the people I am wondering about. I compare styles of clothes and conversation. The truth is that we all compare ourselves to other people. Somewhere along the journey of life we took on the pattern of deciding whether or not people fall above or below the line of ourselves.

The comparison habit involves all things about another person. We can compare ourselves to the outward appearance of someone else such as: clothes, hairstyle, walk, politeness, car they drive, job status, popularity, or house they live in.

We also compare ourselves to what is no the inside of a person. This one might be tricky to identify, but they are there. We can compare ourselves to another person’s attitude, how they treat others, favor or blessings on their lives, attention, ability to lead, content of conversation, thoughts on love, money, relationships, and world views. We can even compare our relationship with God to another’s.

All this comparing is exhausting.

Every time I catch myself playing the game of comparison, I remember a statement that Jesus made to Peter. In the last chapter of John, Jesus is talking with Peter regarding the restoration to his calling, as well as giving Peter a preview of his death. Jesus asks Peter to “follow him.”

Do you think Peter responded by saying, “ok, Lord, I’m in, I will follow you?” No. Peter turns right around and starts comparing himself to John. Peter asks Jesus, “what about him?” Peter is asking Jesus what will happen to John? He is wondering what kind of life, calling, and death will John get compared to Peter.

Jesus reminds Peter of his place. He looks and Peter and says, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

These words pierce my heart. I hear these words whenever I start to go down the comparison road. The minute I start to compare myself to another person, I hear Jesus’ words, “what is that to you? You must follow me.” Whenever I grow jealous over the favor or blessings I see for another, I hear, “you must follow me.

Everything in our culture feeds off of comparing. Jesus once again goes against the culture and asks us to trust in his plans for us. He simply asks us to fix our eyes and follow him. There is freedom in surrendering our bars of comparison. It also allows us to celebrate instead of envy another person. I want freedom and not slavery to the bar of comparison.

How do you play the comparison game in your life?

How is Jesus asking you to follow him?

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We have just entered the Lent season. Lent is marked with a time of remembering, through sacrifice, the great gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Lent lasts for a duration of forty days. Some people take this time to give up something they love such as: sweets, coffee, certain foods, Facebook, or just doing something that a person values the most.

Some people also add something to their routines. An example of this would be, adding more time to read, more silence in your day, praying a certain amount of time, studying a passage in scripture, the Luke challenge, or maybe some discipline.

Lent takes some adjusting to. The idea of Lent is to sacrifice something we love or adding something to our routine as a reminder of what Christ did for our lives. But this year I have realized something different. Christ came to give us “life and life to the full.” In order to experience life, there needs to be some sacrifice involved. Christ surrendered his whole life to gain all of life for us.

There is a direct correlation between sacrifice and experiencing life. Everytime I sacrifice something for lent, I am amazed by the things I crave. There is life to experience by putting our own self aside. Christ gave up everything and he gained life to the full.

This Lenten season, I don’t want to forget that life to the full is experienced through surrender and sacrifice.

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