Loved

Hearing the Shepherd’s Voice

One question I hear over and over again is, “How do I hear God’s voice?”

We long to hear Him, we long to follow Him, but our lives are filled with so many voices calling our name.  The TV is blaring, the kids are crying, our phone is dinging, our email is full, we have thirty-two notifications on all of our social media platforms.    Yet, we wonder why we can’t hear the Shepherd’s voice?  I have to say it, ‘Seriously?’

Listen to  how noisy a sheepfold is when they are in motion…

Sheep In Motion

Now, listen to a sheepfold in moments of  quiet…

Sheep In Quiet

What a difference!

If we can learn to quiet our minds, quiet our hearts, quiet our spirits, we will learn our Shepherd’s voice.

How do we find that quiet place?  Honestly, it is up to us.  We must create the quiet, we must choose to shut the noise down.

Everyday, find a solitary spot, with your Bible and journal.  Begin to talk to the Shepherd, ask him questions, share your concerns and then simply sit quiet.

In the quiet you will hear from Him.  He may lead you to a passage in your Bible or drop a word in your heart, write it down and be sure to date it.  If He is calling you to action, act. If He is telling you to wait, wait.

As you practice this day by day, His voice will become familiar and even in the midst of noise, you will hear it.

Loved

When the Joy-Stealers Show Up

Jesus was sent to humanity with a mission, the reasons were many.  As we look into the account of the blind man who received sight we can see three reasons why Jesus was sent:

Sent to Heal

Jesus and His disciples come upon a blind man begging.  The disciples first question was what did he do?  What did his parents do?  Surely someone sinned, someone must be to blame.  We always want to lay down blame, don’t we?

Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 

Blind from birth, for this moment, that the works of God would be revealed.

We see Jesus move in an unexpected way.  He makes a clay, mixing the dirt of the ground with His own saliva. Placing the clay on the blind man’s eyes He tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam, which means Sent. 

The responsibility now lies with the blind man, he must obey.

  • We do not hear him question.
  • We do not see him try to wash his eyes at the well or any anther pool.

As a result, he once was blind, but now he sees.  This once blind beggar, now finds himself the talk of the town.

Sent to Reveal Truth

The Pharisees, or should we call them the joy-stealers,  swoop in and they begin asking questions.  They are going to try to discount this man’s miracle:

  • They try to say Jesus was working on the Sabbath
  • They try to say Jesus is a sinner

They question the healed man, they question his parents, they bring the man back in a second time for questioning.  Finally, our once blind friend says these priceless words to the Pharisees –

 “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?”  John 9:27

No matter how the Pharisees tried they could not disprove what was true.  Our friend was once blind – but now he sees. No one was stealing his joy!

Sent to Open Blind Eyes

Even though our friend has received his physical sight, his spiritual eyes have remained closed.  Jesus decides it’s time for a one-on-one.

Jesus asks , “Do you believe in the Son of God?”

The man answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”

And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.”

Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. 

Jesus could have healed the man and went on His way, but even more, Jesus was concerned with his spiritual eyes.  Did he believe that it was the Son of God, who healed him?   In that moment, face to face with Jesus his spiritual eyes were opened.

As we walk with Jesus in this life, we will have moments where we experience Him as Healer.  Others may refuse to believe it and even try to steal our joy, by trying to insert doubt.

We must be firm and fearless, standing for truth.  As we stand firm with the One who was sent for us, Jesus will rise as the Revealer of Truth.  We will see the blind eyes around us, opened.

 

 

Loved

When You’re Wondering if Jesus Really is Enough

We talk as if Jesus is enough, but are we believing and living in the fullness of who HE IS?

There are days when we need a reminder:

If you are spiritually hungry –  Jesus says:

“I AM the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. John 6:35

If you find yourself walking in darkness – Jesus says:

 I AM the Light of the world, whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life John 8:12

If you find yourself wondering how long Jesus has been around – Jesus says:

 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

If you find the doors in your life are closing – Jesus says:

I AM the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9 

If you find yourself lost – Jesus says: 

“I AM the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  John 10:11

If you find yourself dead inside – Jesus says:

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

When you have lost your way – Jesus says:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.  John 14:6

When you find yourself disconnected – Jesus says: 

 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.   John 15:5

Loved

When Your Struggling to Forgive

We think we have forgiven someone, we’ve moved past it, we’ve moved on.  Then we we wake one morning and all of those feelings are sitting on our chest and stirring in our mind.

The story of the Adulteress Woman is such a beautiful picture of forgiveness.  We find her caught in the very act of adultery, scripture says.  The religious men of the day had her drug out to the town square to be stoned.

This poses a few questions for me –

  • How did they catch her in the ‘very act’?
  • Where was the other party, the man, wasn’t he just as guilty?

This sounds like a set up to me and the set up really wasn’t about the woman, but more of a test for Jesus.  Let’s be honest they could have cared less about the woman, she was just collateral damage.

The Law of Moses said and adulteress should be stoned, they wanted to know what Jesus would say, would he go against the Law?

They say this – “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”

Jesus stoops low and begins to write in the sand with his finger, then he rises and says this, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” He bends down and again, begins to write in the sand.

Again, I have questions  –

  • Why was Jesus writing in the sand?
  • What was He writing?

Was He stalling?  Giving her accusers time to think about what they were doing, to reconsider their motives?  Whatever His purpose it worked beautifully.

When Jesus stood to His feet, her accusers where gone.  One by one, convicted by their own conscience, from the oldest to the youngest, they dropped their stones and slunk away.

Can you imagine the sound of those stones falling?  

This woman is left alone with her Savior.  These verses melt my heart.

When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

There they stand and Jesus saw no one but her.  I want to say that again, He saw no one but her.  His full attention was on her.  His forgiveness was on her.

Yes she had sinned, she had been caught.  She had not been condemned, but forgiven.

Jesus has one instruction, “Go and sin no more.”

This same gracious forgiveness is offered to you and I.

Yes, the person who has hurt you has sinned and they were caught.

The choice is yours-  to condemn or forgive.

These words are yours to say – “Don’t do it again.’ 

When we allow Jesus to participate in our struggle to forgive those who have hurt or betrayed us, we choose to let the stones fall rather than picking them up and throwing them.

As the stones fall, a weight is lifted.  With forgiveness, comes freedom.

 

 

Loved

Rejected

Haven’t we all felt rejected at one time or another?  It is never fun and always a blow to our confidence.

I can remember a time in high school, can’t we all, that I felt the sting of rejection.

Let’s just say, I can carry a tune and I loved singing in the high school choir.  I loved the sound of voices harmonizing and I had finally found something that felt good, felt right and  it fit me.

I had my sights set on, the choir of all choirs, The Chamber Choir.   The Chamber Choir wore matching outfits with cute little scarves and competed all around the region.  Oh, how I saw myself with one of those scarves around my neck.

I practiced and practiced, sang in my bedroom, in the bathroom and of course, my hairbrush was my microphone.  Guess who didn’t make the Chamber Choir?  Yep, this girl. To say I was crushed, was an understatement.  Amazingly, life did carry on, but every once and a while the sting of the Chamber Choir rejection would surface far into my adulthood.

Our Jesus knows exactly how rejection feels.  As He began to share more and more of who He was, people became more and more confused.

Some would say… He is good

Others…He’s a deceiver

 Still others would say….He knows the scriptures so well  

Some would even say…He is demon possessed

 He would be rejected by many –

  • The religious leaders of the day, rejected Him
  • Many of His followers,  rejected Him
  • His brothers, rejected Him
  • Even Peter would deny Him three times

Jesus knew the sting of rejection very well.  Many chose to walk away from Him, but some chose to stay.  Let’s look at these words between Jesus and Peter

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.  Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  John 6: 66-70

Today people are still rejecting Jesus for one reason or another, but some of us, will choose to stay.  we will cling to Jesus because we know in our heart of hearts that  He Is

The Word of Eternal Life 

The Christ 

The Son of the Living God  

Later this evening I will be going to our annual Thanksgiving Service, where I will take Communion.  I will be reminded of these words spoken my Jesus, that at the time were so hard for people to understand.

Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.

 John 6: 54-57

Tonight I will remember Him and Give Thanks.  

 

Loved

Bread

We say we trust that the Lord will provide, but do we really trust Him to do the hard and impossible thing?

Do we trust Him when the checkbook balance is at a negative?

Do we trust Him when we are at the grocery store and the total keeps climbing?

Do we trust Him to provide college tuition?

Do we trust him with those unexpected medical bills?

Our trust list can go on and on –

Let’s take a look as to how our Jesus rolls when it comes to providing –

Feeding the Five Thousand

John 6 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tibe′ri-as. And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”

Jesus and Philip are looking out over a multitude of people.   Five thousand men, plus their wives, and all of their children.  We could roughly say that this crowd was 20,000 strong.

Jesus does not come out with His plan, He simply poses a question – a test of sorts, for Philip.

Philip, how are we going to buy enough bread for all of these people to eat?  

This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.

Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”

Two hundred denarii equaled about 8 months wages and even that would have only filled there bellies ‘ a little’.

One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?”

Then we have Andrew’s bright idea, take a lunch from a child.  Even in saying the words, Andrew knew that this little lunch wouldn’t make a dent. We never hear from the lad but was he saying, Hey that’s my lunch!

Jesus goes to work…

10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost.”

I see a few Jesus principals here:

  • Jesus gave thanks
  • Jesus wasted nothing

I see a miracle:

The people ate as much as they wanted and were filled and satisfied.  Oh how I would have love to have been the mama that packed that lunch.

1So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten.14 When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!” 

Jesus Took Little and Made it Much

Look at the abundance even in the leftovers:

  • Twelve full baskets of bread (with fragments from the original 5 loaves)

Instantly everyone was Jesus biggest fan.  Amazing how when our need is satisfied our faith soars, but it can fade just as quickly.

 

Jesus did the hard and impossible thing, He fed 20,000 people as He multiplied five loaves of barley bread and two pickled fish.

Don’t you think He can work in the impossible situations in our lives, if we ask Him?

If We Will Only Believe

For more on the Bread from Heaven you can listen here Loved Lesson 9 BREAD

Loved

Son

Jesus the Son of God and His Father work seamlessly together.

Their Mission – Give Resurrected Life

John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to themMost assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

In these verses Jesus expounds on His close relationship with God the Father:

  • Jesus sees what the His Father does and He does the same
  • The Father loves Jesus
  • The Father shows Jesus all the things He does
  • The Father will show Jesus even greater works
  • Everyone will marvel at their great works
  • The Father and Jesus can raise the dead
  • The Father and Jesus give life
  • The Father judges no one
  • Jesus is the judge
  • Jesus should receive the same honor as the Father
  • People who do not honor Jesus, do not honor the Father

Life and Judgment Are Through the Son

John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 

 When Jesus first came to the earth, His mission was to bring resurrected life to anyone who would believe.  When Jesus spoke of the dead He was talking about the spiritually dead.  Before we come to know Jesus as our Savior, we are the spiritually dead,steeped in the muck and mire of our own sin.

Jesus has the authority to call us out, all we have to do is believe, believe that He is who He says He is, God’s Son who was sent as a sacrifice for our sin.  At that moment we experience a  resurrection, we are brought to life, eternal life.

When Jesus comes again, He will be coming with the authority to execute judgement over all.  He will be wisely making a decision and forming an objective opinion of each of us.

John 5:28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

Our Mission – Live Resurrected Life.  

How do we live this  gift of a resurrected life?  

Are we squandering  it, hiding it , wasting it, using it for harm?

Or, are we cherishing it, using it for good and living it to the fullest?  

Let’s live it with passion and purpose.  Live it hand in hand with Jesus!  That when the day comes and Jesus presents us to the Lord we will hear these words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”  The joy will be ours

Glory to God

 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
 To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Amen.  

Jude 1:24-25

For more you can listen here LOVED Lesson 8 – SON

 

 

Loved

HEALER

 

Healer

To make healthy, whole, or sound; restore to health; free from ailment

A Nobleman’s Son Healed

John 4:46 So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”

49 The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”

Jesus had been to Cana before and the people had heard of his miracle ministry.   Cana is where Jesus had turned water into wine, the finest wine.

We have a nobleman, a man who by society’s standards was above Jesus, but yet he placed himself below Jesus when he called Him ‘Sir’.  He had walked over twenty miles to come and plead with Jesus to heal his very ill son.

Jesus makes this statement, Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”  Jesus realizes that we need to see to believe.

John 4:50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!”

All Jesus had to do was speak the words.

All the nobleman had to do was believe. 

Believe 

To have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so

John 4:52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him,“Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.  54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

We see Jesus’ perfect timing, the very hour the nobleman asked, was the very hour that the fever left his son.  As a result his entire household believed.

Jesus know we would need to see to believe.  Today testimonies of healing help us to believe, they encourage us when we are in the depth of suffering ourselves.

I was in that suffering place several years ago.  Stomach pain and digestive problems plagued me for over two years.  I though the answer was to have my gall bladder removed, it made matters worse.  I had tried every medicine, prayed every prayer, read every book and I remained sick, tired and all prayed out.  As time passed I gave up and quit asking. Ever been there?

I was serving on a women’s ministry team at the time and we had brought in a woman to speak at one of our retreats.  For various reasons, I didn’t like her, not one bit.  I couldn’t wait for the event to end.  Worse yet she was speaking at my church the following Sunday morning.

At the conclusion of Sunday’s service she came to me and said the Lord had shown her something, could she share?  I thought, “I bet He did!”

She went on to say, the Lord had shown her I had digestive problems and that He was going to heal me.  “Can I pray for you”, she asked.

Shocked I said, “Yes”

She simply prayed, I simply received and believed, and the Lord simply healed me that day.  Never again have I had one digestive issue.  I could literally eat an onion like an apple and all would be well.

Oh, how the Lord has a sense of humor, the very woman I had been mentally picking apart all weekend was the person He would work through to bring healing to my broken body.   Lesson learned, Lord!  Lesson, learned!

God’s timing and methods never seem to line up with ours. I can’t explain them, but I can simply trust Him and believe.

 

You can listen to more on this teaching here LOVED Lesson 7 – HEALER