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 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

DRINK

A Samaritan Woman Meets Her Messiah

John 4:1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria.

In John 4:4 there is a word that stands out – needed.  Jesus needed to go to Samaria, he had a requirement, necessary duty, an obligation there.  So much so, that He went miles out of His way to get there for His appointment with a certain woman.  The great news is, He goes out of His way for us too.

John 4:5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

Samaritans were a group of Jewish people who settled North of Judah.  Due to war, people of other cultures and religions settled in their land and they began to inter- marry.  The Jews from Judea looked at them as impure Jews, they hated them and would go far out of their way to avoid them. Not Jesus, He came for all.

John 4:7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

We find ourselves witnessing an interesting encounter.  Women were the water gatherers and they normally came to draw water in the mornings and in the evenings.  Our Samaritan woman is at the town well at noon, in the heat of the day.  This tells us something important, that she was avoiding the other women.   Ever find yourself i that spot,wanting to avoid anybody and everybody?

John 4:9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

At this moment I wonder if here thought was “Gift from God, seriously, every man says that.”  Then she does what all women do well, begins to tell him what He is doing wrong –

  • I am a Samaritan and you are a Jew, you should not be speaking to me

He gives her an even stranger answer –

John4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

John 4:11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

She begins to question Him again pointing a few other points she feels could be incorrect-

  • You have nothing to draw the water with, where is you container?
  • Where are you getting this living water?
  • Are you saying you are greater than Jacob, the man who dug this well?

Jesus speaks these unbelievable words –

John4:13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”  15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” 

 She believes that Jesus is offering her actual water, some kind of special water, that once she drinks it she will never be physically thirsty again.  She was thrilled at the idea of never making her daily trip to the well in the stifling heat again.

She says, “I’m in, I’ll take some of this living water.”  She doesn’t realize that the living water He is offering is for her heart and soul.  It is a drink that He offers us as well, will we tip the glass and take a sip?

You can finish listening  here LOVED Lesson 6 – DRINK

 

Loved

MORE

Increase

To become greater, as in number, size, strength, or quality

Our human nature causes us to look at ourselves, think about ourselves and talk about ourselves.  We strive to become greater, bigger and stronger.

The heart of John the Baptist was and is rare.  He was always thinking about Jesus, talking about Jesus and pointing people to Jesus.  He consistently worked at becoming   less and Jesus becoming more.

Decrease

To diminish or lessen in extent, quantity, strength, power

John the Baptist’s words, He must increase and I must decrease, are a picture of his heart.

John the Baptist Exalts Christ

John 3:22  After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison.

Here we see some important facts.  Even though Jesus has come on the scene and is beginning to baptize people, John the Baptist still continues on with his work.

He clearly knows his calling and is sticking to it.  His calling is going to lead him to prison and eventually death, yet he stays faithful.

John 3:25 Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”

Gossip is a slippery sin that can get us into heaps of trouble.  It causes bickering, backbiting and comparison.

When John the Baptists’ disciples begin to gossip about Jesus, trying to create a competition between them, John was not having any of it and squelches it instantly.

John 3:27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

John is saying clearly, I am not the Christ, the Messiah or the Groom at the wedding.  I am not the main attractionJesus is the Christ, the Messiah and the Groom we have been waiting for.   I am the best man who stands by Him rejoicing and pointing everyone to Him.  I am filled with joy, my mission is fulfilled.

We must remind ourselves, we are not the main attraction, Jesus is.  We represent Him well when we reflect His character.

 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

When we purpose to become less and allow Jesus to become more, we are being transformed, becoming more and more like Him.  We reflect His character of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  He takes us from glory to glory. Who doesn’t want more of that in their life?

For more l you can listen here:  LOVED Lesson 5 – MORE

 

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NEW

New, don’t we love new?  Who doesn’t love a new outfit, a new car or a new home?   To be honest new sheets or towels give me a thrill!  New – something made fresh. A do over, a new start that is what Jesus offers us.

Here we will see, Nicodemus, who is part of a group of powerful religious leaders who were called the Sanhedrin.  Most were jealous of Jesus because he challenged their authority and their views.

Somewhere along the line they became so caught up in law and judgment, that they completely missed the Messiah when He was standing right in front of them.

Nicodemus, was drawn to Jesus and he paid Him a visit undercover in the night.

The New Birth 

 John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

I don’t even want to think about what Nicodemus was having in his mind.  No Nicodemus – no one is crawling back inside their mother’s womb.  Thank the Lord!

He could not understand Jesus words – born again.  Jesus wasn’t speaking in the natural, but in the spiritual.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

How can they be?  Let’s break it down:

Born of Water/Born of the Flesh  – Our physical birth, we all have been born of water,  born from our mother’s wombs.

Born of the Spirit – Spiritual birth, when we accept Jesus as Savior a new thing happens within us.

For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children

Romans 8:16

To listen to more about Nicodemus and walking in the Light click here LOVED Lesson 4 – NEW

Loved

MIRACLE

Water Turned to Wine

John 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Maybe you, like me are wondering, “What is the big deal about the wine?”  When we run out, we run out, the party is over.   Not the case in these days, to be unprepared in the area of hospitality was like breaking an unwritten law.  Your family would be shamed and humiliated.  Your wedding would be remembered as, that wedding.  To the family this was a big deal.

Mary seemed to think that Jesus, her oldest son, could do something to help.  I have to wonder, did she know this would be the moment of His first miracle?

Yet, His answer to her is this –

John2:4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

Mary’s life was filled with moments of joy and moments that would pierce her heart.  I believe that this moment was a heart piercing.

Her beloved son calls her woman, not mother.  A shift is beginning to happen in Jesus’ life.  He is going on a journey and no one will be able to go with Him to the end, even His beloved mother.

John 2:6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.

What a strange request.  These were some big pots, normally used for ceremonial washing.  When people would come in to eat, they would wash themselves to cleanse themselves from all of the unclean things they had touched throughout their day.

What a neat practice.  Our days can bombard us, covering us with all kinds of yuck, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  What if we pause, before we walk in the door of our homes and clean ourselves off emotionally and spiritually?

How could that make a difference in how we treat the most important people in our lives, our family?

John 2:8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”

The host was amazed to see that out of those big water pots came  the finest wine.  Traditionally the best was served first and after people had ate and drank for a while, out came the cheap wine.  We will see that Jesus is never afraid to break tradition.

He longs to fill our pots with the best wine, not cheap imitations.  When we throw out the cheap wine in our lives, we have room for the best wine, Jesus.

You can listen to Lesson 3 here:  LOVED Lesson 3 – Miracle