Sunday, August 31, 2014

John 14:15-31 Peace

John 14:15-31 NIV
My morning prayer requests included praying for the children of northern Iraq. Apparently, ISIS has been busy beheading even the children. And, what kind of turmoil do we live in? Is it even comparable to atrocities like these?

Yet, life does have a way of turning our lives upside down. Everything is not always peaceful. It might be a whole lot more peaceful if humanity would just get it together and serve the one true, living God; following His loving will for humankind, rather than our own personal agendas. But, our egos get in the way and life can become one set of problems or obstacles after another. We do not always live in peaceful environments. Yet, Jesus tells us that he gives us his peace. In the midst of turmoil in the world around us, we can still live in the peace of and with God.

Jesus promised that after he was gone, the Father would send the Holy Spirit in his name to teach us his way. The Holy Spirit will guide us on the way; that we might be reconciled to God through Christ Jesus. In this promise we can find peace of heart and mind.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. No matter what the world throws at you, God is with you.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, August 30, 2014

John 14:8-14 Ask In His Name To Glorify God

John 14:8-14 NIV
Be careful what you ask for in Jesus' name. You may not appreciate the answer to your prayers when it comes as much as you thought it might. God's will; after all, does not necessarily agree with our will. A friend of mine once told me that she was very sorry that she asked God for patience. He had answered her prayer and she was receiving this gift in a very hard way. She was learning it.

Jesus tells us that whatever we ask in his name, it will be given to us. We ask for all kinds of things and the reality it that the answer to some of those prayers is "no." Jesus did not say we could have anything our hearts desire. He said, "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son." (vs 13)

Note: our prayers are not answered so that we can be glorified; rather, that our Father be glorified. Whatever we ask in Jesus' name that will glorify God will be answered and remember that His will; His ways are not necessarily our will; our ways.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, August 29, 2014

John 14:1-7 Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

John 14:1-7 NIV
Today, we have one of my top ten readings. I have officiated at close to 300 funerals since I began ministering here in Baraga County. This lesson, next to Psalm 23, is probably the most read, by me, when ministering to family and friends at a funeral or memorial service.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe. Believe that a place has been prepared for you in our Father's house; for Jesus has gone before us to prepare it. He is the way, the truth and the life. In him and through him, we are reconciled to God our Father in the Kingdom prepared for all who believe in him. Believe and follow him.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Jesus died so that all who believe in him, might live life eternally in our Father's house, in His presence.
God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, August 28, 2014

John 13:36-38 Will You Lay Down Your Life For Me?

John 13:36-38 NIV
Today, we consider, for ourselves, the question that Jesus asked of Peter. "Will you lay down your life for me?"

We make so many commitments. We plan to do so much including share the love of God in Christ Jesus with all people. Yet, we often fall short. Peter loved Jesus. He fully intended to be a faithful follower. He wanted to. But, he is not ready to follow Jesus to his death. This faithful follower would desert Jesus when Jesus was arrested and taken to his trial and execution. In the end, Peter did indeed follow Jesus as Peter was crucified on a cross thirty some years following the crucifixion of Jesus.

Jesus loves you so much that he was willing to lay down his life for you. Will you take up your cross and follow. Will you lay down your life for him?

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

John 13:31-35 Smile On Your Brother; Love One Another

John 13:31-35 NIV
My shoulders are totally messed up. I have problems with the rotator cuffs. Some days they are fine. Others not so good. I see a masseuse twice a month for them. I've been noticing recently; though, that the days when they are really hurting are days when I have been witnessing a lot of disrespect rather than love. It's as though the weight of the problems that this disrespect causes is resting on my shoulders. Of course, it is not. But, just the same, it feels like it and I do end up dealing with a lot of the consequences, one way or another.

So much nastiness... Neglect, abuse, rudeness, abrasiveness... I ask you, is this the way that we should love one another? Jesus loves us so much that he was willing to die for us. Yet, we love our neighbor so little that we cannot even express little tokens of kindness like saying thank-you or please or excuse me, let alone actually go out of our way to help and support them in their time of need.

Jesus said, "By this everyone will know that your are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (vs 35)

In addition to an occasional massage, I've recently decided I should start singing out loud whenever people start acting really bad. My singing usually makes people smile (yes, it is that bad) and I'm thinking smiling is a really good alternative to what I've been witnessing. As I read the lesson for today, a song sung by the Youngbloods in the 60's came to mind.

Love is but the song we sing,
And fear's the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Know the dove is on the wing
And you need not know why
C'mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev'rybody get together
Try and love one another right now.

Smile, right now... because, you don't have to listen to me sing it! Be kind and love one another, today and everyday.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

John 13:18-30 - Desert Him?

John 13:18-30 NIV
It is not all that uncommon for someone who does not get his or her own way; who becomes disappointed in the direction that their leader or friend is going, and deserts them. This is exactly what Judas did. He became disenchanted with The Way that Jesus was heading. He had desired things of this world and wasn't quite so interested in serving God according to God's will. Becoming disappointed because Jesus was not going to be a great ruler and king of this world; he betrayed Jesus. He turned him over to the authorities for what was more desirous to him: money.

Judas had different goals than Jesus did. Often, we, too, put our own desires over the will of God for us and for all humankind. We desert him in order to pursue our desires, our priorities.

Judas really isn't so different from most of us. We may sit down to eat with a "friend" one day and the next we turn away from them because they don't think or act like exactly like us. May God help us to love our neighbor without prejudice so that we would not desert them in their time of need. May God grant us wisdom and courage so that we should never desert Him or turn from His good will for us to seek after things of this world.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, August 25, 2014

John 13:1-17 Serve At The Feet Of Others

John 13:1-17 NIV
Many Christians today are about as enthused about having someone wash their feet as Peter was when Jesus wanted to wash his feet. It is a most humbling experience to be served in such an intimate manner. I wash the feet of young people who are receiving their first Communion on Maundy Thursday. They are not thrilled with this ritual; but, they have come to accept the fact that it is going to happen. I have invited adults to come forward during this service and so far none have. None are willing to have me intentionally sit at their feet to serve them by washing their feet.

However...  As a female pastor who also owns an adult care facility I have been most privileged to be able to kneel at the feet of many as I put socks and shoes on them or otherwise help them to prepare for the day or night. I have also had the extreme privilege of being able to serve some of our members (and members of the whole community) in this manner, as well.

Visiting members and others in the community is one of the special privileges that pastors have. I normally do not call ahead because; when I do, I find that people tend to get nervous about my visits and go to extreme measures to make preparations (clean their homes, prepare food) to entertain and/or serve me. That's not what I go for. So, I surprise them :) When making impromptu visits, all kinds of opportunities to serve avail themselves to me. I have shoveled sidewalks, made the coffee, washed dishes, folded clothes, and all other kinds of household chores for shut-ins who have had difficulty doing these things. I have walked in on people who are going through withdrawal from alcohol and other drugs. Yes, on more than one occasion, I have spent hours holding others while they shook and vomited and begged me not to take them to detox. At least one did beg me to take her to detox.

I have visited people in some unusual circumstances and places, including the bathroom of a nursing homes. I remember one woman, years ago, who, when I stopped by to see her in a nursing unit, called to me from the bathroom, and invited me in - that is in to the bathroom. I was a little reluctant to invade that particular space; but, also reluctant to refuse her request as she sounded very desperate. She was very, very ill. I sat on the floor of the bathroom for a couple of hours as we talked about Jesus and about her faith in him; then helped her back to her bed. We prayed together that God would grant her wholeness in his sight. She went to sleep. A few hours after I got home that evening, I received a call from the family informing me that she had died. I will never forget her or her willingness to allow me to sit at her feet and minister to her in her last hours of life here on earth. I will never forget her desire to see Jesus.

One evening, early on in my ministry, I stopped by to visit an elderly lady who was no longer strong enough to walk on her own. She was bound to a wheel-chair and needed assistance to get in and out of it. She had caregivers who lived near by, who came by throughout the day to help her. Her caregivers had gone out for the evening. So, I made coffee for us and washed her few dishes. I ended up staying longer than I had planned to as her caregivers were already late in checking in on her and I did not want to leave her alone just in case they did not show up. Finally, it got so late, she asked me if I would help her prepare and get into bed. I did. We prayed before I left and she cried. She admitted that when the congregation had called me to serve them, she was one of the most adamant that a woman should not be called as their pastor. She had, in the end, reluctantly voted to call me. She said that she would, never in her life, have imagined that she would need a pastor who would be willing and able to serve her in such a manner and now understood that God could send women to serve congregations in ways that male pastors never could. I just smiled. You never know whom God will send to serve you - even a woman!

Peter did not want Jesus to kneel before him to wash his feet. There are a few things that we might not desire; but, need. We all, like Peter, need to humble ourselves and allow Jesus to minister to us. We need to allow him into the most intimate aspects of lives so that we might be made completely whole.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. I remember reading one of Martin Luther's sermons years ago. I can't find it now. But, in it he was talking about who could baptize. He said, if no one else was available, even a woman could. LOL

Sunday, August 24, 2014

John 12:37-50 Our Belief Or Not Doesn't Change the Truth

John 12:37-50 NIV
There have been many times when others have tried to sway me. They have tried in vain to convince me that that Jesus is not my Savior; that God our Father is a myth; and that the Holy Spirit is not present and active in my life and the world around me. Often, it is because they don't care to hear the word that the Father has given us through Jesus. There are many who would much prefer to have it their way rather than God's way. I usually just end up smiling at the futility of it all. God is God. He Is Who He Is. You can try all you want to change Him to meet your standards; but, human beings cannot change the essence of God. It is just not possible. You can spend your days trying; but, in the end it will be God who will have the final say.

Even after Jesus performed many signs, many would still not believe in him. There were also those who believed in him but would not openly acknowledge their faith in him because they did not want to offend others. It is not so different today. There are many who believe, many who do not, and many, many who have been baptized into the faith who will not witness to the Good News of the Kingdom through Jesus the Christ because they are afraid of offending others.

Whom would do you have the courage to offend; those without faith or the one who gave His Son to die for you? As for me, I have been an offense to God enough already in my lifetime. " for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, August 23, 2014

John 12:23-36 The Way Is Not A Path of Luxury

John 12:23-36 NIV
Hard times are sometimes associated with the sins of a person. However, the reading today reminds us that we should follow Jesus and that way includes through hard times. We are to follow in his footsteps; footsteps that led him to be lifted up on the cross. The Way is not always easy. It is not, as some would have us believe, a life of luxury and ease. It is a life in which we may often have to remind ourselves; lest we forget, of the hard road which Jesus endured before and for us. Yet, he was willing to be persecuted, suffer, and die that we might live eternal life in our Father's presence. A life lived following Christ is indeed abundant; but, not necessarily, in riches of the earth. It overflows not with material gifts; rather, with the gifts of the spirit.

We usually suffer hard times (consequences) in this world for the sins we commit against others. But, hard times are not necessarily evidence that one has sinned. Jesus said: "Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be." (vss.25-26)

The path which Jesus walked before us and for us included pain, suffering and death. May God help us to remember, the next time we're tempted to complain about the minor hardships of life, that the path which Jesus leads us on is a path to death to things of this world and ultimately to eternal life in our Father's presence.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, August 22, 2014

John 12:20-22 Do You Want To See Jesus?

John 12:20-22 NIV
We want to see Jesus. At least, I do. What about you? Do you want to see Jesus? Do you want to walk with him? Do you want to talk to him? How about listen to him and follow?

Some Greeks (probably proselytes or Gentiles) went to Philip and told them that they wanted to see Jesus. These Greeks were probably proselytes or Gentiles; but, not full members of the Jewish faith community. Outsiders wanted to see Jesus.

Over the years, I have had people tell me that they desire to see Jesus. They are usually people who genuinely look for the coming of God in full glory (very faithful disciples) or outsiders to the faith (non-Christians). I don't hear it too often from your average run of the mill baptized Christian. What then is our faith all about, if it is not about seeing Jesus face to face, in His Kingdom? Is the church (visible church) really just a social club? Or, is it a place where we come in anticipation of being in His presence more fully and being filled with His word?

The bottom line is that these Greeks who did not know Jesus, wanted to meet him. Do you? You can, you know. He is present in the Word and Sacraments. He can be seen in your neighbors and even those you might consider your enemies. (See Matt 25:31-46) He is with you now and always. May God open the eyes of the world that all who seek Jesus, might see him.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, August 21, 2014

John 12:12-19 Follow and Sing Hosanna!

John 12:12-19 NIV
Jesus is exalted by the crowd on his way into Jerusalem. They went out to meet him, shouting: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

No one really understands the significance of all this. But, they are excited. The Pharisees are excited, too. They need to figure out a way to turn this all around. They need to figure out a way to turn the people against Jesus; to abandon him; to quit following him around. And, they will! By the end of the week, the crowd will not be shouting, "Hosanna!" They will be shouting, "Crucify him!"

Crowds can be fickle. They can be led in any direction quite easily as the heat of the moment carries them away. Like sheep led astray; they may follow for awhile; but, when pastures seem a bit greener elsewhere, they leave the shepherd and follow the crowd. Sometimes, they might even choose to stay with the crowd in a dried out and dead field rather than seek green pastures with the shepherd, simply because they are afraid to move. They might think that there is security in numbers so they abandon the only one who can keep them safe. 

May God grant that you should never turn against him; but, follow him always singing praises; singing Hosanna! Do not be afraid, your king has come and he will come again.

God's Peace,

Pr. J

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

John 12:1-11 Celebrate Life! Celebrate Christ!

John 12:1-11 NIV
You are celebrating with friends. You are having a very pleasant time and suddenly someone begins to complain about something - maybe it's because you are having too much fun - maybe they are a bit jealous. Who knows? There seems to always be someone who wants to insert a bit of drama into the party so that it is not so enjoyable for others.

Judas was the party pooper at the party that was held in Jesus' honor. Can you imagine! Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead and Judas finds something to grumble about. Lazarus' sister, Mary, celebrated with a gift of expensive perfume poured on Jesus' feet and then let her hair down and wiped Jesus' feet with her hair. Judas was not happy. What a waste, he thought, and he let his opinion be known. Jesus has just brought a man back from the grave and rather than trust Jesus to be able to care for others, he tries to ruin the party by denigrating this gift from this woman who is rejoicing because her brother lives. Jesus excuses Mary by telling Judas to “Leave her alone, it was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (vss. 7, 8)

As the writer from Ecclesiastes wrote:
"There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace." (3:1-8)

There is a time to weep and a time to laugh. There is a time to rejoice and to dance. There is a time to be silent and to speak. There is a time to tear down and a time to build things up. Just because you may feel like it's time to tear things apart, doesn't necessarily make it so. Put a clamp on your desire to destroy other's joy in the LORD. Let those who rejoice in the LORD, continue rejoicing and worry about the lesser things at another time. Do not let your jealousy or greed get in the way of others rejoicing in the gifts of God; namely, the gift of life. We who were once dead in our sins, now live. What is more important than worshipping God, thanking Him for the gift of life, and celebrating in His presence?

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

John 11:45-57 Confess Your Own Sin

John 11:45-57 NIV
Many of the people who had witnessed Lazarus' resurrection believed in Jesus. However, some did not and they plotted against. They went to the Pharisees to confess what they presumed to be Jesus' sins. They wanted to get rid of him.

Last week, I held our annual confirmation marathon. That is, we studied the catechism every morning, for five days in a row. I cannot count how many times I admonished the students to confess only their own sins, not their brother or sister's; not their neighbors. The eighth commandment forbids sharing with others our slanted perspective of our neighbor's sins. One exception might be is if you want me to mediate between the two of you to bring about a reconciliation. When we confess someone else's sins, it does neither of you (or me) any good. They cannot be absolved and you are convicted of gossiping (eighth commandment). When someone is in danger it is a good thing, even necessary, to alert someone in authority who can help that person. But, confessing their sins to make yourself look good and/or to get rid of them is definitely not the direction one should be headed.

May God be with you and your neighbor.
God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, August 18, 2014

Luke 11:1-44 Jesus Wept

John 11:1-44 NIV
There is just so much in the story of the death and resurrection of Lazarus that I could take it a couple of verses at a time and stretch it out for a week, at least. But, I prefer that you all read it as a whole.

Jesus is not running to keep Lazarus from dying. He takes his time so that God might be glorified. One of the most interesting parts of the story for me is found in the two words of verse 35: "Jesus wept." Jesus surely wept not for Lazarus as he knew Lazarus would be rising from the dead when he called to him in the grave. Jesus was weeping for those who grieved; whose hearts were breaking over the loss of their loved one. They were the ones suffering. They were the ones living in the shadow of the valley of death (Psalm 23:4 NKJV). Jesus cares for them. He loves them and He loves you. He does not wish to see in you in sorrow or pain. But, when you are, He is with you. He will raise you up, again, for the glory of God, our Father.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, August 17, 2014

John 10:22-42 Hear and Believe

John 10:22-42 NIV
There are definitely days when I would like a little clearer direction from our Father. Maybe, I'm not paying close enough attention or just maybe I don't want to hear what He has to say to me. Either way, there are times when I would like Him to tell me "plainly" what exactly it is that He would have me do. Sometimes, I get it. Sometimes, I don't until after the fact.

I have also been told by more than a few that they just have a very difficult time understanding what scripture says or means when it is read during worship. They don't get it. At least, not yet. But, they will as long as they continue to hear the Word, they will get it for faith comes by hearing.

The Jews wanted a plain response from Jesus. His parables and the way he just generally talked about things were not easily comprehended by everyone. They didn't get it.

But, many did get it. Many do understand that the Father and the Son are one. Many hear and believe. (Romans 10:17)

Join your local congregation this morning (it is Sunday) for Worship, hear the Word, and believe.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

John 10:1-21 Good Shepherd Doesn't Run

John 10:1-21 NIV
When a person truly loves another, with their whole hearts and minds; they are willing to do anything for them. They are willing even to lay their life down for their beloved. This kind of love; this kind of commitment to others seems (at times) to be in very short supply. We are willing to run when things get tough; to divorce our spouses, to leave our children, to abandon our friends.

But, the Good Shepherd is not willing to run. He is and was willing to die so that we might be saved from all evil and harm. He is there always for us. He hasn't and won't run from us. He calls each of us by name so that we might follow him in safety and in peace; that we might have life.

Jesus is the gate to eternal life. Any other way leads to destruction. He calls to you. Follow the Good Shepherd and live life most abundantly in the presence of God.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, August 15, 2014

John 9 - Sees

John 9 NIV
Jesus heals a blind man and controversy ensues. You would think that everyone would rejoice over the fact that this man who was born blind now can see. But; no, he was healed on the Sabbath which amounts to work in the eyes of the Pharisees. He is questioned. His parents are interrogated, as well. ut, the blind man will not deny it. The man they call Jesus put some mud on his eyes and healed him, he tells them. This man who was healed testifies to what Jesus has done for him?

He was blind but now he sees. What about you? Can you see what has Jesus done for you? Will you deny it or will you share that good news with other in order that God might be glorified.

Let us rejoice in God who opens our eyes that we might see all that He has done for us through Jesus Christ, our LORD.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, August 14, 2014

John 8:48-59 - I Am

John 8:48-59 NIV
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (vs 58)

Jesus makes the claim that he is God. If you'd heard Jesus make this statement to explain who he was or where he was from, we may have well been in the crowd that wanted to stone or crucify Jesus.

When God was sending Moses to free the Israelites from Egypt tyranny,

 "Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
  God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
  God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,
   the name you shall call me
   from generation to generation."  
(Exodus 3:13-16)

Search the book of John or even easier, go an online search in John for the words "I Am." You will be amazed at how many times Jesus used them. Among the multitude of inferences to Jesus being the great I am; you will find these affirmations of Jesus.
“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” John 6:35

“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12  

“I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” John 10:11

 “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.” John 11:25

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” John 14:6
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1   

So who do you say that Jesus is? Will you crucify or worship Him?

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

John 8:31-47 Disciples Hear and Hold To His Teachings

John 8:31-47 NIV
I will have to bookmark these readings for next Wednesday evening Worship. We are discussing (and I mean discussing - sermon is interactive on Wednesdays) discipleship.

"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples." (vs. 31) You see, there is more to this following Jesus than just believing that he existed. In order to be a disciple you must believe; you must trust him enough for his teaching to actually become a part of your life; your being.

If you live in the area, come and join us. this evening at 6 p.m.. (Wed., Aug 13). We will be discussing Christ abiding in us and we in Him from John 15. Come, hear, study, receive His word; after all, "Whoever belongs to God hears what God says." (vs 47)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

John 8:21-30 Lifted Up So We Could See

John 8:21-30 NIV
The Pharisees really did not understand Jesus; then again, he was pretty good at talking in circles. They just can't figure him out. Who is he? Where is he from? Where is he going? Is he going to kill himself?

The answer to the last question is: "No, he will not." But, he will die willing for our sake at the very hands of the people who are asking all these questions about him. When people don't understand what going on around them; when they don't take the time to try to understand from the other person's perspective, the inability to communicate often causes problems. It can cause even death at the hands of the people who have come to help.

Words don't always communicate our intent well. Sometimes there needs to be more for people to truly understand. In Jesus' case, he was lifted up on the cross in order for us to see.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Monday, August 11, 2014

John 8:12-20 Up With The Risen Son Before the Sun Rises

John 8:12-20 NRSV
It is still dark outside; yet, here I am again preparing for another day. I don't remember the last time I woke up after the sun had risen over the horizon. It is always before sunrise so that I might have time to be prepared for the coming day. I prepare for the day, by intentionally coming into the presence of the Risen Son and spending some time with His Word and in prayer. I do this because by I am well aware that by the end of most days I am thanking God that He was with me because I do not know how I would have possibly made it without Him. I can do nothing without Him. (John 15:5)

"...Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (vs. 12)

I would be lost without the light of the world, who is Jesus Christ, my LORD. He is my light and salvation. (Psalm 27:1)

Try it! Try spending some time with the Risen Son before you face the day after the sun has risen. Rise, oh sleeper from the dead and let the light of Christ shine upon you.  (Eph 5:14)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, August 10, 2014

John 8:1-11 Go and Sin No More

John 8:1-11 NIV
We often only look at parts of the story. We like to hear what is going to best justify our role in things; that which is going to help us in our personal quests. We like to pick and choose. So, exactly what does Jesus say about stoning women caught in adultery?

Basically, he tells the Pharisees:  “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (vs. 7) Jesus, is calling them out on there own sin. It is a reminder that they ought to be forgiving others as they would want to be forgiven.

But, at the same time, Jesus is not condoning sin: He tells the woman: “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” (vs. 11)

She has received mercy. She has been forgiven. Now what will she do? Will she continue to sin or has the grace that has been bestowed upon her changed her heart so that she will live without committing adultery in the future?

About, the only person who has not been addressed by Jesus in this incident is the man. Where is the man who was committing adultery with her?

We are all sinners. That is true. But, by the grace of God; by His pure love, we are forgiven. May that pure loved fill us so that we would desire to go and sin no more.
God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, August 9, 2014

John 7:40-52 Confusion and Division

John 7:40-52 NIV
There are times when I walk into a room that people automatically going on the defensive. I don't have to say or do anything. It just happens. It is almost a natural reaction to those who follow Jesus. Not everyone loves followers of Jesus and pastors have a tendency to make some people nervous. Consequently, they go on the defensive and sometimes the offensive. I don't take this personally. It has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with Jesus. Just like the crowd who heard Jesus speak in the Jerusalem they are confused and divided amongst themselves and even within themselves as to what to do with Jesus (and his followers). Should they follow him or bring him to court and crucify him.

After all: Nicodemus, one of the council but who believed Jesus, spoke up for Jesus and they immediately began to question him, as well. Following Jesus will bring division between you and those who reject him. But, by following him you will be reconciled will all others who follow and with Jesus, himself in his eternal Kingdom.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, August 8, 2014

John 7:37-39 Thirsty?

John 7:37-39 NIV
"Let anyone who is thirsty come to me." (vs 37)

Is there anyone who is not thirsty? Jesus came that we might all drink of him; that all of our thirsts might be satisfied. But, I am warning you... if you drink of him, by the power of the Holy Spirit, from your heart there shall also flow living waters to help quench the thirsty souls of others. You will no longer have to or want to be seeking those things that do not satisfy. You will not be wasting time chasing false gods. You will want others to have what you have. You will want them to have and to know Jesus. Have a blessed day and drink deeply of the water and eat of the bread which satisfies the longing soul.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, August 7, 2014

John 7:25-36 Confusing?

John 7:25-36 NIV
Now, if anyone thought some of Jesus' parables were confusing; they surely must have considered where he says he's from and going really confusing. He has been sent from the one who is true and whom they do not know and in a little while they will not see find him because he is going to him who sent him.

What does it all mean? Jesus was sent by our Father in heaven and will return to the Father in heaven in a short while. The people think only in earthly terms so cannot figure the whole coming and going out. They know Jesus. They've seen the miracles. Yet, they know him as "true man" so they just can't see that he is really the Messiah. There must be someone else who will come who might do even greater signs than he. He; after all, is just a man, a Nazarene, born of Joseph and Mary. They just can't figure out who he is; that he is truly the Messiah.

The Messiah has come. He was sent by the Father. In death he went away. By the power of the Holy Spirit, he has come again and will be with us now and forever.

When we try to reason these things out by earthly standards, they may be very confusing. But, with a heart and mind of faith; they are very easy to comprehend. Where he comes from and where he now reigns are just matters of fact, for those who believe. It doesn't need explaining. It just is.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

John 7:9-24 Judging By Appearances

John 7:9-24 NIV
After letting his brothers think that he will not be going to the Festival of Booths, Jesus goes anyway. Without making his presence public, he was able to hear and observe the people there. There were those who were looking for him. There was a lot of whispering about him, but no one dared speak too openly. In other words, they were telling secrets; they were gossiping about Jesus. Then, in the middle of the Festival he makes his presence known by going into the temple and teaching. More whisperings... More judgments...

Years ago, while on a kayaking journey, I stopped in a small town to buy some food and to find a pay phone to call my husband as there had been no cell service for some time. It was a resort town where I had actually been known and quite welcome in the community just a few years before. Well, this time, I was not wearing my pastor's clothes. I was wearing a tank top and camouflaged pants over my swimsuit with a dingy, red and blue hat covering my long, unbrushed, hair. I admit that I looked pretty bad as I had been on the water for a few days. I was recognized by only one person who greeted me quite well. However, most couldn't see past my wardrobe and did not recognize me. It took three businesses before someone would even point me to the pay phone. I've only been back to that community when I had to go for work. It's just not worth the trip for me to be with people who would judge others by their appearances.

Not long ago, I walked into a smaller, local, department store with my teen-age granddaughter during school hours. She was heading to the make-up aisle and I was going to the grocery aisles. As we entered I noticed two clerks (I found out later one was a supervisor) watching us and whispering. It just sort of felt like they were talking about us. I went to the grocery aisle while my granddaughter went to the make-up aisle. As we split up, the supervisor immediately followed my granddaughter. She later told me that the woman had asked her: "Can I help you?" When she answered. "No, thanks," The manager then asked her, "Are you sure I can't help you?" Again, she replied, "No, I've got it." Again, she was asked, "Are you sure?" My granddaughter got her makeup quickly and came and found me. She was being discriminated against because she was a teen. I now avoid going into that store with or without my granddaughter. There are other business around where their employees don't follow my granddaughter through the store; that don't judge her by her appearance.

The reality is that people will and do judge by appearances. I tend to stay away from businesses that discriminate against someone because of their appearance. There will always be people around us who judge by appearances. We may like to deny that such blatant discrimination exists. But, jumping to false conclusions based on what one looks like is actually pretty common. It takes too much work for most people to actually listen to someone and to get to know them. It is much easier to judge them on their appearance and whisper about them behind their backs.

They whispered about Jesus and eventually, the whisperings (gossip) helped hang him on the cross. The people believed a lie and called out "Crucify Him."

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

John 7:1-8 Show Yourself - Give The World A Sign

John 7:1-8 NIV
Show us a sign! Show the world a sign! Show yourself to the world that everyone might believe you! Jesus' own brothers did not believe in him. They tried to encourage Jesus to reveal all the works that he could do to the world. Isn't that what we want before we give our lives to follow him, as well? We want some spectacular miracle before we will believe and we want to see it with our own eyes. The testimony of others is not enough. The testimony of Scripture isn't even enough for many. They want to see a miracle. Well, all I can say is that in order to believe in Jesus, you are going to have to believe the testimony of Scripture. For in it is revealed the greatest, most awesome miracle of all.  Even though we dead in our sins, Jesus died for our sins; he descended into hell; then rose from the dead. He overcame death for us! Because he lives, so shall who believe in him. And, if that's not enough of a sign that Jesus is the Messiah: In full view of his disciples Jesus ascended into heaven.

Believe me, there are lesser signs than this all around us; but none so great as the work of the cross that Jesus accomplished for us.

May God open our eyes, our ears, our hearts, and minds that we might acknowledge this work (sign) that Jesus accomplished for us and then follow in his footsteps into the eternal kingdom.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, August 4, 2014

John 6:60-71 Follower or Not?

John 6:60-71 NIV

Jesus had many followers. He had many more disciples than just the twelve. But, not all of them believed. Some thought his teachings were to difficult to keep, so they ended up leaving him.

It is not so different today. There are many who claim to be followers; disciples of Jesus. But, they follow for a time and find that his teachings are too difficult; carrying one's cross is a bit harder than anticipated; and, so they leave the church or worship sporadically in order to keep up the appearance of having genuine faith; of following Jesus. Either, you follow Jesus or you do not. Choosing when and where and how you will follow just doesn't work. There is only one way. Jesus is the Way!

The words that Jesus spoke are spirit and life. Receive them and live life in Christ!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, August 3, 2014

John 6:25-58 Eat This Bread

John 6:25-58 NIV
The crowd has followed Jesus to the other side of the lake. Maybe you thought that they followed him in order to be closer to their LORD. It really doesn't appear that way. Jesus knows what's going on in their hearts and minds. They follow him because they want him to continue blessing them with food for their stomachs. They don't want Jesus. They want supper.

Well, we all have to eat. But, bread made of flour will not sustain us for eternity. There is only one bread that can do that. It is the Bread of Life. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Whoever, in faith, eats of His Body at the Lord's Supper will be sustained for eternity. He is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6)

Today is a Sunday. I will be leading three Worship Services as most congregations worship on Sundays. Please remember to attend Worship somewhere so that you might receive the Word of Life; the Bread of Life, and may the peace of God be with you for all eternity.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. Just in case you didn't read the scripture that is attached above here is another reminder to feed on the Word and the Sacrament often!: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”  (John 6:56-58)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

John 6:22-24 Finidng Jesus

John 6:22-24 NIV
What are you looking for? How hard would you look to find it?

The crowd was looking for Jesus. They knew he hadn't left in the boat with the disciples. They had not see him walk on the water to join the disciples in their boat. They wanted to find him. They wanted to see him. They wanted to hear him. They wanted to be healed by him. So, the whole crowd got into boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. They were trying hard to follow him.

How far would you go to find Jesus? You really don't have to go far. It's not that hard to find him. He is with you now and always. You just have to open your eyes and ears and heart and let him in.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, August 1, 2014

John 6:16-21 It Is I; Don't Be Afraid

John 6:16-21 NIV
Who would not be a bit afraid if you were out in the storm and someone came walking up to your boat on the water? The disciples were just that; frightened. But, Jesus speaks to them, "It is I; don't be afraid." The recognize his voice and they let him in the boat.

A friend posted on Facebook this morning a picture of Jesus with the caption "Open Your Heart and Let Him In." She posted, "I would definitely let Jesus in." She would and I am sure she already has. But, some people may have a problem letting Jesus into their small boat or through their front door is that they have no clue who this Jesus of ours is. They may have heard of him, but they wouldn't recognize his voice if he spoke to them because they don't know him. There is a difference between knowing who Jesus is and knowing Jesus. Knowing Jesus is about having a relationship with him. His sheep will hear his voice and answer. His friends will hear his voice and answer.

Lois is absolutely correct. Answer the door and let him in so that you might have a relationship with the living God; the Almighty God, our LORD and Savior. Do not be afraid. Let him into your boat or open the door and let him in.

God's Peace - Pr. J