Category Archives: John

Losing the Crown, Finding Jesus

“You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.” (John 5:29)

This red letter passage paints a picture of people who are very diligent in their efforts to live righteously.  I see them approaching scriptural reading like they’re doing a doctoral study, devoting much time, memorizing large swatches of it, pondering and debating, seeking to learn.

Yet when Jesus comes, they miss him.  It’s so crazy.  It’s like when you’re looking for something all over the house,and someone says, “There it is, right there,” and you barely look, and insist, “Naw, that’s not it,” and keep searching.

It’s stupefying that the Jews couldn’t see the very thing they were looking for.  How did this happen?  Jesus gave this answer, “How can you believe if you accept glory from one another, yet do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” 

The Jews wanted the wrong kind of glory.  They wanted to look good, and feel good about themselves.  And this blinded them, because their eyes were on one another and themselves, instead of God.  

How can we avoid the same mistake? How do we seek the glory that comes from God?  I love this verse in Romans, “A man is a Jew because he is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise does not come from men, but from God.” (Romans 2:29)

We seek the right kind of glory when we make the daily decision to circumcise our hearts to God.  We don’t try to figure out how we can straddle the world and our faith.  We completely devote ourselves to him.  

How can we tell if we’re seeking glory from men or from God?  By looking at our inner fuel tank.  Self glorification depletes us.  It never works for long.  We have to keep finding ways to give ourselves props.  We get tired, discouraged and burned out.

I see this when I look at myself.  I journaled what I was feeling at the beginning of this week: “Why try?  It’s going to fail.  It’s useless.”

I’m haven’t been completely down.  I just have this sense of gloom and doom that manifests from time to time. It’s kind of like the hitchhiking ghosts at the Haunted Mansion in Disneyworld.  You’re going along, and all of a sudden you see there’s a ghoul riding with you.  And it’s not endearing like the picture below!

But I think one reason I’m gloomy and depleted is because I’m trying to get everything to measure up to my own expectations.  And then it’s about me.  I’m just like the Jews.  I’m having these great devotional times every day.  But I’m missing it. 

I’m wrestling with life, instead of finding the life that’s in Jesus.

You know, when we’re completely devoted to God, we have the mindset of a doting servant.  It makes our hearts happy to give ourselves to him in service, because he is everything.  It’s not about us, and our efforts. 

It’s about his glory.

It’s so crazy.  We miss the jaw-dropping splendor of God, because we’re too busy trying to put our own sparkle on. 

Our job is to put God’s sparkle on.  Period.  The only way we are to shine is as God’s creation, and as Christ shines through us.

And I have one more thing to say about having a heart that’s devoted to God.  The literal translation of the word, “inwardly” in Romans 2:29 is “secretly.”  We’re to be devoted to God in a hidden way, not in a way to be seen by others.  It’s a special intimacy, just between God and us.

That’s not that we’re to keep our mouth closed about our faith.  The Bible is clear that we must speak out the truth, and be bold.  

But it has to start with something that feels like a private worship closet experience, free from distractions and temptations, so we can SEE Jesus better. 

We find Jesus when we take our eyes off of ourselves.

Here’s my prayer for today:  Father, I am your servant.  I go to the hidden place and worship, where it’s just me bowing at your feet. I take off every bit of the crown I’ve been creating for myself.  Instead, I want my actions to polish your beautiful crown.  Let all my joy be in loving you and serving you.  Let me hear Christ’s voice, and not the other loud insistant voices.  Let me find the power of the resurrection life that can transform the impossible situations.  Let me have hope, instead of gloom and doom. Thank you for every way you have blessed me, guided me, and taught me all through my life.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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Filed under John, Red Letter, Servanthood, Surrender

On Testimonies, Conflict and Quietness

“If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid.  There is another who testifies about Me, and I know that His testimony about Me is valid. You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth.  . .  But I have testimony more substantial than that of John. For the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works I am doing—testify about Me that the Father has sent Me.  And the Father who sent Me has Himself testified about Me.” (John 5:31-37a)

My goal this week is for my mind and my mouth to be quiet.  That means I’m reminding myself over and over, “I don’t know better.”  I’m doing this because I can be like an editor with a red pen, always looking to correct, tweak, or  improve. It sounds useful, but it can hinder my relationship with others.  They need to be respected and encouraged.  Instead, I unconsciously feed my motivation to come out on top. 

Being at peace with God and others, is a real battle. Quibbling and conflict seem to be everywhere these days.  We see it on social media.  We see it between political parties, between countries.  I was watching the Rose Parade and looking at the live feed of comments.  Some people kept chiming in and complaining, “This is why I left California.”  The other viewers were like, “Cut it out! Quit raining on our parade!”

Today’s red letter passage comes from Jesus’s answer to those who were being contentious.  The Jews criticized him for making himself equal to God.  So he listed the testimonies that made a case for his equality with God.  But his answer ultimately had more to do with their hearts, than giving a justification, as we will see.

But first, let’s look at the three testimonies to which Jesus referred.

First, he mentioned John the Baptist.  John said about Jesus, “And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ ” (John 1:33)

Second, he brought up his deeds as evidence.  These certainly convinced some to have faith in him.  Look at what happened earlier in the Book of John,   “Now while [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.” (John 2:23)

Finally, he played his trump card. The Lord God Almighty bore witness in his favor.  One instance of the Almighty’s testimony was seen at Jesus’s baptism.  “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  (Matt 3:17)

The Jews should have recognized these testimonies, and responded with faith.  That they didn’t was an indication of the state of their hearts.  Jesus indicted them with this zinger, “You have never heard his voice or seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.” (John 5:37b-38) 

In other words, he said, “Your unbelief in me shows that you have never been able to hear or see God.” 

Never.  That’s a strong word.  It’s scary to think that religious people have listened to scriptures their whole life, and still never heard God.

Yet that’s what I think is at the root of contention.  People aren’t listening.  It’s true for me.  When I focus on feeling good about myself and being “right,” I don’t hear what’s going on with others, and that causes disturbances in my relationships.  A version of the same thing has happened over and over again, all over the world, all throughout history.

I’m enjoying Douglas Jacoby’s new series on the Sermon on the Mount.  In his lesson on the beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Doug says this verse means that it’s important to have an openness to the Word.  Our attitude should be, “Not insisting on our own viewpoint, but flexible and receptive to divine truth.”

The Jews who were against Jesus were not open, flexible or receptive.  I saw a perfect illustration of this when I recently watched an episode of the TV series about Jesus, “The Chosen.”  In it, the character of Nicodemus struggled with his student, Shmuel, who was opposed to Jesus because he believed Jesus was breaking the law.  Nicodemus tried to get Shmuel to understand that there is more to the law, and to God, than he was seeing.  Shmuel stubbornly insisted, “God is the law.” 

Nicodemus retorted, “You learned nothing from me.” 

Nicodemus in “The Chosen:

As I watched this, I could see so clearly how a sincere person can also be a closed person.  

Our goal must always be to be open, not closed.  This doesn’t mean that we don’t have convictions about the truth.  We certainly do.  But we must also be able to say, “I don’t know everything about God yet.  I want to learn more.”

When we have this attitude, the testimonies will impact us, as they should have impacted the Jews.  Because when the reality of who Jesus is hits us, it shakes us to our core.  It transforms us.

We can do the things we never thought we’d be able to do, because we know Who is with us.

Our strength and humility give us confidence and assurance.  We have less of a need to prop ourselves up. We no longer feel compelled to complain, accuse or fault-find.

And for me, my mouth and mind can finally be quiet.

Maybe I can even throw away my red pen. 

“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, . . . ‘But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.'” (Luke 11:17, 20)

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Filed under John, Peace, Red Letter

Of Lows, Discipleship and Kites

A couple of nights ago, I got to feeling low.  I tried to fight it off.  I tried to look at the good side of things.  But the situation was just too heavy.  The emotions were too big.  And, just as I was feeling burdened by that, I got a text about another situation that discouraged me.  Deep sigh. It was definitely one of those overwhelming times when I was tired and didn’t feel resiliant.  I couldn’t shake the sense of foreboding.

God takes us on journeys, and my journey for the day had started earlier, with a study of Jesus’s statements on judgment in John 5.   It’s going to seem like I’m completely changing subjects for awhile, but I’ll bring it back together at the end.  Here are the verses I read:

  • The Father judges no one, but has assigned all judgment to the Son so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.
  • I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
  • The time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.
  • I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

The context of these passages is that Jesus is answering the accusations of Jews that he was making himself equal with God.  The first part of his answer, which we discussed in the last blog, is that he has the power of life.  So yes, he can claim to be equal to God.  The second part of his explanation is that God has designated him as the judge who will determine what happens to people’s souls after death. And that is what we’re discussing here.

It’s super sobering.  I don’t think enough about Jesus being the judge.  But other passages back this up:

  • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Cor. 5:10)
  • For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.  (Matt 16:17)
  • “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”  (Rev. 22:12)

As much as Jesus is the face of love and compassion, he’s also the face of accountability.  We’re all going to come before him some day.

So it’s important that we look carefully at what Jesus says here.  Let’s look at the main points from the passage:

  1. Jesus has been given all authority to judge.
  2. He is given this authority so that people will honor him.
  3. There will be a judgment, and at this judgment we will either be condemned, or have eternal life.
  4. The judgment will be based on our belief in Jesus, and on our deeds.
  5. The judgment will be conducted with the goal of  pleasing God and doing his will.

What does this mean for us? It means that it doesn’t matter what we think about how we’ve lived.  What matters in the end is what Jesus thinks.

This isn’t to ignore grace, or the fact that we can’t be saved through our own efforts.  That’s a topic for another time.

But it’s imperative that we endeavor to have the behavior and faith that Jesus is looking for.  I’m not talking about being good enough.  I’m talking about discipleship.  I’m talking about going to Jesus to learn how to follow him.  And he wants to teach us.  That’s why he came to earth and gave us truths and examples.  That’s why why he gave us the indwelling of the Spirit.  That’s why he promised that those who seek will find.

Jesus determines the end of our story. But he also wants our story to have a happy ending.

And this ties in with the rest of my journey a couple of days ago.  When I was feeling low, I started watching a movie to distract me.  I have a free week of Disney+ right now, so I streamed one of their offerings, “Saving Mr. Banks.”  The movie was about someone else who was feeling low, PL Travers, who wrote Mary Poppins.  Mrs. Travers was battling with the script writers at Disney over how the story of Mary Poppins would be portrayed in their film adaption.  But the deeper battle was actually her fight to come to terms with the death of her father, who had many similarities to the character Mr. Banks.  Although her father’s life had ended in tragedy, she wanted a better ending for Mr. Banks.

I enjoyed the film much more than I expected.  In its touching close (spoiler alert!), the Disney script writers realized that the character Mary Poppins came to the family, not to save the children, but to save Mr. Banks.  They changed the conclusion of the Mary Poppins movie to have Mr. Banks finally spend quality time with his family.  The result is the scene which has moved the hearts of viewers through the ages.  The Banks family goes to the park and sings, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”

Mrs. Travers couldn’t control her father’s story.  But she could write the ending she thought her father wanted.  We can’t control all of the elements of our own story.  But Jesus can write the ending we want. Just as Mrs. Travers believed the best about her father, Jesus believes the best about us.

So yes, we must be sober, and make every effort to follow Jesus, knowing we will face him and be accountable one day.  But he stands ready, every day, to help us. He stands ready to “write” past the areas where we hit a wall.  

Let’s put our hand in his each morning and let him guide us.  As the lyrics of the song, he will take our paper and strings, and give us wings.

“With tuppence for paper and strings
You can have your own set of wings
With your feet on the ground
You’re a bird in a flight
With your fist holding tight
To the string of your kite.”  (From the movie, “Mary Poppins”)

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Filed under Discipleship, John, Red Letter

The Compulsion to Micromanage

My friends, I’ve been struggling with my compulsion to micromanage everything.  I want tell God what needs to change in the world, in my life, in my friends’ lives.  I want to tell him what I think he needs to do.  I want to tell the people in my life what they can do to make the world better.  I want to fix things.

It’s hard, because  I have this vision of how things ought to be.  I see clearly what’s wrong, and what needs fixing. I don’t have this in every area.  But many times, I see what would help.  I realize that this is just my own perspective.  I don’t know everything.  But having this strong vision makes it hard for me to be quiet and still, instead of implementing steps towards what I see.

But there’s just this thing.  Sometimes my vision is a gift.  It helps me to lead and act in situations, when others dither.  But it’s also a hindrance, because it’s just one perspective, and there’s much more that I’m not seeing. And it can really drag me down, because I get frustrated when things don’t go according to this strong feeling of how they should go.

The main thing is, that I’m not trusting the story.  A lot of times I don’t even see what God is trying to do.  I’m just too wrapped up in my own narrative. And what’s happening around me doesn’t jibe with that narrative.

So I have to trust the story more.  I have to believe that God is working in just the right way, all around me.  He doesn’t need me mucking about trying to “fix” everything.  Sure, he needs me to act righteously and do good deeds.  He needs to work through me, and to love others through me.

But, and this is horrible, I tend to unconsciously think that I need to go around managing the world because it’s not being managed very well.  When the truth is that God does NOT need me to manage the world.

God’s not deficient in the way he runs the world.  He, who created everything, said, “It is good.”  He fashioned the world, and life, just as it is supposed to be, nothing more, nothing less. He has worked through history, through the lives of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, the Israelites . . . I could go on, and on.  In each of these stories, the individuals had to learn to trust the story, and that it was enough.  All of the troubles of life came about because they didn’t trust, because they thought God wasn’t doing his job well enough, so they needed to get in there and fix things.

Yikes.  I know it’s pride.  I feel like I need to just keep telling myself, over and over, “You don’t know better.”  I feel like I need to see each moment like a blank slate, instead of seeing my vision of how things should go.  I need to watch and see what God is putting on that blank slate, and learn more about him.

Those who have been reading this blog, know that we’ve been looking at the red-letter words of Jesus in the book of John.  Today’s verse is, Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. (John 5:22-23)

Jesus is supposed to make the judgments, not me. Of course, this is referring to the final judgment.  But it highlights how ridiculous it is that I put so much stock in my own opinion.  His opinion is the one that counts.

I said that I would be Jesus’s disciple.  That means that I should be constantly trying to learn from him.  My eyes should be on him, knowing that I don’t know everything, and watching for what he can teach me.

Instead, I’m a disciple of me.

Why would I do that, when no matter how much I manage, and move things around, I can’t save myself. . . or anyone else?

God gave Jesus the power of judgment so that people would honor him.  The whole point was that people wouldn’t look at Jesus like he’s a philosopher, but that they would think, “Uh, oh, this guy’s got power over our eternal destiny, so we’d better pay serious attention to him.”

I have to pay serious attention to Jesus and honor him.

I feel like, in this new year, I need to start all over and figure out what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus.  I need to listen for his voice in every situation, so I follow him, and not my own thinking or vision.  I need to seek input from others who are following him.

I think it will allow me to take a deep breath, and feel free, and find more joy and peace.

I’m eager to start this journey.  Who’s with me?

“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” (Prov. 26:12)

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Filed under Having the Right Heart, Humility, John, Red Letter

The Amazing Gift of Life

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For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He wishes. (John 5:21)

We can’t even begin to comprehend how incredible the power of life is. It’s  beyond miraculous that God brought animate existance out of nothing. Scientists can do some pretty amazing things these days.  But none of them can manipulate the elements in such a way to create life where there is none.

And Jesus had this power.  It drove the Jewish leaders crazy that Jesus made himself equal to God.  Here, Jesus told them the simple truth.  He could give life, just as God could.  It was a statement that rocked the world.

Below are some other verses from John that describe how Jesus has this power. The first two follow today’s red letter passage.

  • Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment. Indeed, he has crossed over from death to life. (V. 24)
  • Truly, truly, I tell you, the hour is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.  For as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted the Son to have life in Himself (v. 25-26)
  • The Spirit gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63)
  • I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10b)
  • Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies. (John 11:25)

Jesus had the power of life in three major ways.  He could create life.  (John 1:2)  He could heal, and raise the dead. ( (Matt 9:25 Luke 7:14 John 11:43) He could give people a new spiritual life, eternal life. (Col. 2:13)

So what does this mean for us? It means we come to Jesus as the source of what we so desperately need.  We remember that it’s more than reading our Bibles and attending church meetings.  “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40).

We come to Jesus to have life, when we’re feeling wooden and dull, like a wind up toy.

We come to Jesus to have life, when we’re dying inside for lack of hope.

We come to Jesus to have life, when we’re exhausted, and running out of steam.

We come to Jesus to have life, when we’re despondant, because sin is so powerful.

And Jesus gives us life, like a continuous spring, renewing us over and over again.

“Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us. We are pressed on all sides, but not crushed . . . We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body . . . Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (Selections from 2 Cor. 4)

It’s December.  Over the past year, God has done some amazing things in my life, as I wrote in my last blog.  Yet there are also ways I am mourning.  There are broken dreams.  It seems appropriate to reflect on this right now, as a cold rain pounds outside, and the wind whips the stark branches of my trees.  (It’s even worse, because our floor, which we thought was fixed, is seeping water through its new planks! )

Sometimes we have to accept that the dream, as we saw it, wasn’t meant to be.  Sometimes, when we hear the December wind howl, we need to let it blow through us, instead of filling up our spaces with presents and feasts.  We need to feel the loss and emptiness, so that we can come to Jesus with a pure longing for renewal.

Isn’t that what the winter is?  A time when life seems to die, only to come again in the spring?

Isn’t that why a Son was given to us, a babe that we celebrate at this time of year?  To show that when things seem bleak, there can be amazing hope?

The birth of Jesus is God’s everlasting illustration of life. It’s like he created animate existance all over again.  It’s that miraculous.

As this year draws to a close, let’s reflect, not only on our blessings over the past year, but also on our disappoinments.  They’re real.  We can grieve the loss.

But the loss can also open us up to the renewal.   We realize that we need the life.  We come to Jesus.

And he gives us what we need.  Because that’s who he is, and why he came.

 

 

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Filed under Hope, John, Red Letter

Amazing, Astounding, Marvelous, Wonderful!

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For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing, and he will show him greater works than these so that you will be amazed. (John 5:20)

This has been such an encouraging verse to study out.  We looked at the first part of it in my last blog.  Now, we’re looking at the part where it says that God will show Jesus greater works than these.  Greater works than what?  Than the healing of the man at the pool, which Jesus had just performed.

Jesus says that when his listeners see these greater works, they will be amazed.  So I looked up every place in the gospels where this same Greek word for amazed was used.  I found that people marveled when Jesus calmed the wind and the waves.  They were filled with wonder as they saw people receive sight who had never been able to see, people receive voice who had never been able to talk, people receive mobility who had never been able to walk.  Their jaws dropped when a man who was hopelessly possessed became in his right mind.  They were floored when he made a fig tree wither.  They were astounded at wisdom of Jesus, especially knowing that he hadn’t been formally taught.  They were so astonished when he cast out a demon from a mute man, and the man began to talk, that they said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”  

It’s really good for me to remember how amazing the works of God through Jesus were, because right now I’m surrounded with some really tough, heart breaking, life changing situations.  I want to say, “God, I’m praying, but I don’t know if you’re hearing me, or if you’ll act powerfully in these situations.”  But when I read this list of miraculous deeds, I know that God can still astound.

Because the last part of the verse says that God exerts his power so that we will be filled with wonder.  In other words, so that we will see that he is God, and there is no other, and subsequently glorify him.  God always seeks his own glory.  It’s just expressing the truth.  He’s the Almighty and All Powerful.  All glory is due him.

So God will seek to be glorified through today’s tough situations, one way or another.  And as I reflect on this, I start to recall all of the ways I can marvel at God right now.  I marvel that my life was orchestrated in such a way that I came to faith.  I marvel at the ways God worked in my marriage.  I marvel at how he allowed my husband to grow in his career and provide for us.  I marvel at how, even in the past year, I’ve healed in ways I never had before.  I marvel at the impact our church has had.  I marvel at lives I’ve seen change, and people I’ve seen come to faith.

And that reminds me of what Jesus says later in John,  “Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I am doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  (John 14:12)

Jesus promises that it isn’t only that God will show everyone greater things through the life of Jesus.  It’s also that God will show greater things through our lives, because Jesus is interceding for us.  I believe that my list of reasons to marvel is evidence of this.

So I can’t be despondent.  I have to open my eyes to who I serve and worship.  And who I serve is amazing.

I love that it’s the time of year when we think about how Jesus fulfilled the prophesies of his birth.  One of my favorite ones is in Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born. . .  His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

His name shall be Wonderful.  That very word suggests the surpassing, the miraculous, the incredible.

Wonderful is what God set in motion.

May we expect more, and be more at peace.

May we know that God will be glorified.

May we fall on our knees acknowledging what has been done, and what will yet be accomplished.

(Photo credit Pete Linforth)

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, John, Red Letter

The God Who Reveals

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“The Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does.” (John 5:20a)

Why do we worry?  Often, it’s because we can’t see what God is doing, or even if he’s doing anything.

But in today’s red letter verse, Jesus said that God showed him all that he was doing.

And we think, “Man, that must have been nice.  Jesus was in the know.  He didn’t have to get all tied in knots, like we do.”

But what was it that Jesus saw God doing?  Did God literally show Jesus everything, so he knew exactly what God was doing at each point of time?

If we look Jesus’s life, we get the picture of someone who, by and large, was unaware of what might happen minute to minute.  One great example of this is when he was amazed at the faith of the centurion.  (Matt. 8:10)  He wasn’t expecting that.  He also didn’t seem to expect a crippled man to be lowered through the roof, or a woman to touch him in the crowd and be healed.

There were times when Jesus could see exactly how God was going to work.  When Lazarus was sick, Jesus knew that he would die and come back to life.  (John 11:4) Other times, though, I think that it wasn’t that Jesus saw with a clarity of what would happen, but that he saw with a clarity that God was present and engaged.  So Jesus could sleep in a boat during a storm, or face impossible situations like feeding 5,000 in a wasteland.  He could pray, and know he would receive what he needed, and thus live righteously and powerfully, and endure the trials of the cross.

So all of this brings us to the question, “Can we see like Jesus saw? How much is God showing us?”

The answer is super exciting, because our God is not remote, as are the gods others worship.  Our God wants us to know him.  He makes himself known.  He walked with Adam and Eve.  He interacted with Abraham.  He met Moses on the mountain, and gave him his will to pass on to his people. He showed himself to Elijah. He sent prophets who spoke his very words.

He gave us Jesus. That was the ultimate reveal.  “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:18)  Jesus said, “Everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you.”  (John 15:15b)

Isn’t this totally encouraging?  God shows us so much through his son.  And all we have to do is read the stories of Jesus to see how God operates.

Here are some other ways that God reveals himself:

  1. The scripture.  “The word of God is living and active.”  (Heb. 4:12) God gave us this incredible collection of scriptures that cause light bulbs to go off in our heads.  Whatever we’re struggling with, we can read or hear just the just the right verse, and it clicks.  It’s exactly what we need to hear.  The world makes a little more sense.  Everything doesn’t become clear all at once, but God definitely gives us glimpses that bring us peace and reassurance.
  2.  God’s works on earth.  “The Holy Spirit descended on [Jesus] in a bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.'” (Luke 3:22)  This verse is just one example of how Jesus saw God working. It wasn’t simply that it was Jesus’s nature to be faith filled.  He saw with spiritual eyes, and had a catalogue of ways God had acted that bolstered his faith.  Some of the ways occurred in the Old Testament.  But some, like the Holy Spirit coming on him and God’s voice being heard when he was baptized, happened during his lifetime.  We also can see with spiritual eyes, list times we’ve seen the supernatural at work in our lives, or around us, and this list can bolster our faith.
  3. The Spirit.But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”( John 16:13)  Jesus had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and as Christians, we have it as well.  In our prayers, we can be quiet and listen to the promptings of the Spirit.  We can listen for the voice of love, joy and peace, rather than the voice of fear and worry.  (See also I Cor. 2:12)
  4. In answer to prayer.  “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.” (Eph 1:18a)   God can open our eyes so we can see him more clearly.

And do you know what’s really cool?  We can see God in ways that those in the past weren’t able to.  Paul wrote, “This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people.”  (Col 1:26)   (See also Ephesians 3:3-6)

God has made so much of himself known.  So the next time you are tempted to worry, look for how God wants to show you all that he does.  Try at least one of the following:

  1. Read the Bible until something clicks.
  2. Write down something from the life of Jesus that can inspire you in your situation.
  3. List ways you have seen God work in the past.
  4. Pray, and make quiet space to listen to the Spirit. (If you’re hearing nothing, try writing down what you think God would write to you in a letter.)
  5. Pray for God to open your eyes to see better.

Remember that you may not be able to see exactly what God is doing, but you can have a clarity that God is with you, supporting and empowering you.

Take a deep breath and exhale.

God will help you see enough to walk with certainty through the things you can’t see.

(Photo Credit: DarkWorkX.)

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