Friday, August 26, 2016

John 10:22-33

John 10:22-33
Contemporary English Version (CEV)

  If I tell you that I am the world's strongest man, it's an audacious claim, especially since I don't exactly look like a muscular guy.  But if I tell you this after demonstrating my other-worldly strength, you'd be more willing to believe me, even though I may not look the part.  Some people, however, would never be convinced, simply because I didn't fit their expectations of what a strong guy should look like.

  Jesus came as the Son of God, and he first demonstrated his power and authority through his miracles and teaching.  Many followed him, convinced by his acts and words that he was exactly who he said he was, even if they weren't exactly how such things can be true.  Other people were convinced from the start that it couldn't be true, and it didn't matter what Jesus did - they were never going to believe.  Their hearts were hardened by their own certainty, and the risks of believing were simply too great.

  So which group should we belong to?  The type who is certain that we understand how the world will work, or the group humble enough to believe without certainty?  Will we trust in the Spirit when we are called to love and serve, or will we wait until all questions are answered before venturing out in faith to serve God in new ways?  Will we take seriously the call of Christ to come and die, or will we grasp tightly onto our lives and our things, believing that we need more proof before we risk anything?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

John 10:7-21

John 10:7-21
Contemporary English Version (CEV)

   We've rented before and we've owned, and there is definitely a different mindset, even if you don't intend for it to be that way.  When you rent, there isn't a sense of pride in the place -- you take care of it, but you aren't committed to its long term well being.  You don't think the same way about things, and you're less likely to make improvements that may hurt in the short term but be long-term beneficial.  When you own, the commitment level is completely different.
  This is the point Jesus is driving at -- he is the shepherd, and the sheep belong to him.  He loves them in a way that a caretaker would not -- he is committed to your long-term well-being, and he loves you with a ferocity that is unmatched by someone not willing to die for the sheep.  He isn't just a hired hand -- he knows each and every sheep, and he loves us beyond compare.  He was willing to pay any price to secure our eternal freedom from sin and death, and even though that meant death on a cross, Jesus was willing to ascend the cross so that we might have life with him.
  Some people thought he was crazy.  They couldn't understand the love the Father had for them, the depths to which God would go to redeem his people and God's willingness to take on human flesh to save us from our sins.  They thought they could save themselves
  We call him Savior, because we understand the mess we were in and we are grateful that God was willing to do any and everything to redeem us from sin
  Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

John 10:1-6

John 10:1-6
Contemporary English Version (CEV)

  I don't know if you've ever seen the movie Glory, but there's an amazing scene towards the end.  The soldiers are standing on the beach preparing to attack a hardened fort, and there is a recognition that the mission will surely be the last moments for many of them.  There is no denying the risk -- it is staring them in the face.  To go first is the most risky place of all.
  In our lives of faith, Jesus leads.  He doesn't ask us to do anything he has not already done himself.  Whatever fear we may face, he has trod that path, and he knows the things that lurk in the depths of our hearts in our most uncertain moments.  Where we go, he has already been, and he has assured us that there is no fear we face, no valley so deep, that we will not overcome it through his power and grace.  His love is enough for us, even in the face of death, the biggest fear that lurks for us, and we shall overcome and emerge triumphant into the light of day on the other side of fear.
  One day, there shall be no more fear or uncertainty.  Until that day, trust that God has already been wherever we might go, and he does not send us to face such fears on our own, but walks with us on the path.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

John 9:34-41

John 9:34-41
Contemporary English Version (CEV)

  I don't know how many of us would ever say it so directly, but we probably act at times like the Pharisees here -- "Do you think you can teach us anything?"  We don't set out to have this attitude, it just develops over time.  We get set in our ways and are unwilling to be shaken out of our convictions.  We stop listening to things that challenge us, and we selectively opt for messages that keep us comfortable.
   Remember, the Pharisees didn't want to oppose the Messiah.  They didn't set out with the hope of becoming the arch-enemies of the Savior of the world.  They didn't grow up hoping to be the bad guys in the greatest story ever told.  They were trying the best way they knew to love and honor God.
  The problem was that they were so certain of what they knew that they were unwilling to let themselves be challenged.  They were unwilling to admit that they might be wrong, and they were over-committed to their certainties.  They thought they had the market cornered on religion, when in fact their hearts had drifted far from God.
  So let us wake every morning with a humility that drives us to confess our sin and depend on God, and may we go out into the world ready to be surprised, willing to love and serve all, trusting that God alone has all the answers.