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October 11, 2010

Supreme Court Justice Hamilton

John 8:15 (NKJV)
You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.

OBSERVATION
The context for this passage is extremely interesting. Jesus has snuck up to Jerusalem for Sukkot. And after making a public announcement about who He is (7:37-38; 8:12). And now he's teaching in the temple on Simchat Torah (8:2) and we have the story of the woman caught in adultery. According to v4, it appears they have the required amount of witnesses to confirm her sin and pronounce judgment. Instead, her accusers depart, and Jesus says, "Neither do I condemn you" (v11). At this point the Pharisees challenge Jesus on the authority of his "witness" - the corroboration required by an additional party. While presenting his defense, Jesus makes this interesting statement in v15.

APPLICATION
Immediately I'm brought back to the words God spoke to Samuel while looking at Jesse's sons for the next King of Israel: "Man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). This woman, seemingly caught in the act with all the necessary evidence to condemn her, Jesus gets off. It again demonstrated the fallibility of my motives for and abilty to render accurate judgement.

Jesus defended this woman in a manner that causes her accusers to walk away. It as if they were forced to judge themselves before they would have the authority to render judgment. It's no wonder we're admonished by Christ:
"“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)

We understand this concept. But what did Jesus mean when He said He didn't judge anyone? First we need to understand Jesus' purpose in coming. He said "I did not come to judge the world but to save the world" (John 12:47). He came to save. But the words He spoke form the basis for which the Father will judge. And it's those words we can use to judge ourselves. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our own soul as the authority to evaluate our own lives. Yet often I'd rather join forces with others to pronounce judgment on another persons visible transgressions. If I truly desire to be like Christ, it's time for me to take off my robe, come off the bench, relinquish my gavel, and turn my efforts to obedience and mercy.

PRAYER
Lord, thank you for not condemning me. Thanks you for the sweet words, "go and sin no more." Help me not to live so judgmentally of those around me and walk in the freedom that comes from knowing you.

October 13, 2010

Believe (in) Me

John 9:25 (NKJV)
25 He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

John 10:40-42 (NKJV)
40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. 41 Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about his Man were true.” 42 And many believed in Him there.

OBSERVATION
Chapter 9 begins with the story of the blind man at the pool of Siloam. So many interesting sub-plots: Is infirmity a result of sin (v2)? Does keeping the Law make one righteous (v16)? Lots of interaction between the religious establishment and Jesus about His blasphemous actions. All of this is muted by the testimony of the formerly blind man in v25: “I was blind, now I see.” I love the sarcasm of his later comment, when being grilled by the Pharisees he wearies of their questions and says, “Why do you want to hear it (my story) again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” (v27).

After all this, v35 says that Jesus went looking for the man he had healed, and asked him, “Do you believe?” The man responds with “Who is He, that I may believe in him?” And Jesus gives a great response: “You have both seen Him (funny to say to a man who was formerly blind) and it is He who is talking to you.”

From here, we follow Jesus as he returns to the Jordan River region (Aenon near Salim – see 3:23) where John the Baptist had been ministering. By now, John had been in prison, having had his own crisis of faith (see Luke 7:18-28, also, John had likely been martyred by this time – see Matthew 14:1-12). Jesus confirms his messiahship by telling John’s disciples to give this report to John: “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: the blind see…” John the Baptist’s testimony of the Christ (John 1:29,32-34) continued to carry weight, as 10:40-42 reports, and because of these things, many believed.

APPLICATION
There is nothing more powerful than an individual’s story of who Jesus is to them: The blind man who says, “I was blind, now I see,” the prophet whose doubts are alleviated when his words are confirmed. Yet us “religious folk” always want to explain things away when it doesn’t fit in our box. There’s even a segment of the Church today whose theology makes no room for the power of God to be demonstrated in tangible ways simply because they’ve deemed it unnecessary in this “dispensation.” I’m not here to argue nuances. I can only say that I too was “blind” at one time. I can only say that I had doubts about what I believed and questions about in Whom had placed my hope. I look to Jesus’ words in 10:37-38: “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in Him.”

PRAYER
Lord, I believe in Whom I’ve seen and in Whose voice I hear.

Blinded

John 9:25 (NKJV)
25 He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

John 10:40-42 (NKJV)
40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. 41 Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about his Man were true.” 42 And many believed in Him there.

OBSERVATION
Chapter 9 begins with the story of the blind man at the pool of Siloam. So many interesting sub-plots: Is infirmity a result of sin (v2)? Does keeping the Law make one righteous (v16)? Lots of interaction between the religious establishment and Jesus about His blasphemous actions. All of this is muted by the testimony of the formerly blind man in v25: “I was blind, now I see.” I love the sarcasm of his later comment, when being grilled by the Pharisees he wearies of their questions and says, “Why do you want to hear it (my story) again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” (v27).

After all this, v35 says that Jesus went looking for the man he had healed, and asked him, “Do you believe?” The man responds with “Who is He, that I may believe in him?” And Jesus gives a great response: “You have both seen Him (funny to say to a man who was formerly blind) and it is He who is talking to you.”

From here, we follow Jesus as he returns to the Jordan River region (Aenon near Salim – see 3:23) where John the Baptist had been ministering. By now, John had been in prison, having had his own crisis of faith (see Luke 7:18-28, also, John had likely been martyred by this time – see Matthew 14:1-12). Jesus confirms his messiahship by telling John’s disciples to give this report to John: “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: the blind see…” John the Baptist’s testimony of the Christ (John 1:29,32-34) continued to carry weight, as 10:40-42 reports, and because of these things, many believed.

APPLICATION
There is nothing more powerful than an individual’s story of who Jesus is to them: The blind man who says, “I was blind, now I see,” the prophet whose doubts are alleviated when his words are confirmed. Yet us “religious folk” always want to explain things away when it doesn’t fit in our box. There’s even a segment of the Church today whose theology makes no room for the power of God to be demonstrated in tangible ways simply because they’ve deemed it unnecessary in this “dispensation.” I’m not here to argue nuances. I can only say that I too was “blind” at one time. I can only say that I had doubts about what I believed and questions about in Whom had placed my hope. I look to Jesus’ words in 10:37-38: “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in Him.”

PRAYER
Lord, I believe in Whom I’ve seen and in Whose voice I hear.

October 14, 2010

What, Me Worry?

Luke 12:11-12; 22-23 (NKJV)
“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.

OBSERVATION
As a historian, Luke seeks to accurately account for the events he is reporting. Since it is not a real-time diary, there is a license that allows him to reflect the events, but also to possibly group them in a context that is subject oriented as well as chronological. I'm not sure how or why these two exhortations from Jesus found themselves in the same chapter. I can only say that in reading these passages my whole life, I never connected the dots that Luke placed them almost right next to each other (only separated by a parable about how life is not guaranteed).

APPLICATION
These two comments by Jesus - "Do not worry..." have to do with the two biggest concerns of our lives: how we're thought of by others and how we think about our lives. We all want to be liked, accepted, respected. In order to give myself the greatest chance for success in this area is to conform to what is expected of me. But when I'm unclear of what the expectation, then I worry. Even harder is when I know what the expectation is and its a conflict with my personal values. As I'm thinking about this I sense these thoughts: First, God uniquely designed me to be me. The greatest witness that I can be for Him is to completely be me. It's not about pretending to be or defending anything. Second, the Holy Spirit will teach me. If I'm more conscious to Him (which requires me to be less self-conscious), He'll teach me how to respond, when to initiate, when to lay back, when to assert myself and when to yield. In this way it becomes less about me and more about others.

Only when I develop the discipline to be less "self-conscious" am I free to learn contentment. We live in a world that screams "more, More, MORE!" This only creates the question, when is enough enough? When I learn contentment, I'm free from the burden of comparison; What does it matter what someone else has? What does it matter what someone else is doing? Why am I worried about any of this...is it really that important? Then in v 31 Jesus says, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you." He's not talking about "things" (ie material goods). He talking about the gaps in my life being filled. When the right things get my attention, then my life is filled.

PRAYER
Lord, I know life is more that "stuff." I know my worth is not determined by the opinion of people. Help me not to be so concerned, even consumed by these things. Teach me Holy Spirit what to do, what to say, how to be. Help me to value what is truly significant.

"More" Self-Conscious

Luke 12:11-12, 22-23(NKJV)
“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
...
22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.

OBSERVATION
As a historian, Luke seeks to accurately account for the events he is reporting. Since it is not a real-time diary, there is a license that allows him to reflect the events, but also to possibly group them in a context that is subject oriented as well as chronological. I'm not sure how or why these two exhortations from Jesus found themselves in the same chapter. I can only say that in reading these passages my whole life, I never connected the dots that Luke placed them almost right next to each other (only separated by a parable about how life is not guaranteed).

APPLICATION
These two comments by Jesus - "Do not worry..." have to do with the two biggest concerns of our lives: how we're thought of by others and how we think about our lives. We all want to be liked, accepted, respected. In order to give myself the greatest chance for success in this area is to conform to what is expected of me. But when I'm unclear of what the expectation, then I worry. Even harder is when I know what the expectation is and its a conflict with my personal values. As I'm thinking about this I sense these thoughts: First, God uniquely designed me to be me. The greatest witness that I can be for Him is to completely be me. It's not about pretending to be or defending anything. Second, the Holy Spirit will teach me. If I'm more conscious to Him (which requires me to be less self-conscious), He'll teach me how to respond, when to initiate, when to lay back, when to assert myself and when to yield. In this way it becomes less about me and more about others.

Only when I develop the discipline to be less "self-conscious" am I free to learn contentment. We live in a world that screams "more, More, MORE!" This only creates the question, when is enough enough? When I learn contentment, I'm free from the burden of comparison; What does it matter what someone else has? What does it matter what someone else is doing? Why am I worried about any of this...is it really that important? Then in v 31 Jesus says, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you." He's not talking about "things" (ie material goods). He talking about the gaps in my life being filled. When the right things get my attention, then my life is filled.

PRAYER
Lord, I know life is more that "stuff." I know my worth is not determined by the opinion of people. Help me not to be so concerned, even consumed by these things. Teach me Holy Spirit what to do, what to say, how to be. Help me to value what is truly significant.

October 18, 2010

From The Beginning

Matthew 19:6-8 (NKJV)
"...what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so"

(emphasis added).

OBSERVATION
In Matthew 19 Jesus is asked about the lawfulness of divorce. There's many things in this chapter that are interesting to consider. But it's verse 8 that caught me attention, especially the last comment (which I've emphasized).

APPLICATION
I've witnessed the effect of divorce. I've seen people who have navigated its challenges with their integrity intact and maintained civil relationships w/ their "ex." Still, even it the best of circumstances it leaves a scar. In the worst case scenarios, it damages one's psyche forever. But I'm not here to talk about the right or wrongs of divorce. I'm intrigued with the idea that not everything plays out as God had designed it. Could it be that God makes concessions to man's will?

(One quick caveat for anyone reading this entry: I'm not presenting a theological position here...You are reading my personal devotional journal; my thought, musings, questions, frustrations with and about God. I'm not trying to settle anything here, just process it out. And I'm willing to let my process be shared. Truth be told, my process probably isn't that different than yours.)

The issue of the will of God is overwhelming. Much smarter people than I have tried to figure this out and any answer still leaves one unsatisfied. Whats so interesting to me is that in this situation Jesus seems to say that there's a way that God originally designed for us to live our lives. After sin entered the picture, His way became subject to "my way." Its not that that His way ceased to exist. Its that "my way" now takes precedent. In doing so we rationalize (justified or not) our choices. We place blame, make excuses, deny culpability to explain why we do what we do, why we are what we are.

It's been said that the most powerful force at work on the earth today is not the power of God, nor the limited power of the "devil," but the will of man. We can choose to accept or reject God and his desires for our lives. We can choose to yield to the destruction that the enemy intends for our lives. We can even impose our will on another human being that produce positive (a father's protection) or negative (a father's abuse) consequences. Nevertheless, I may arrive at an outcome that isn't what God intended when He invited me to the wholeness that comes from obedience. I wonder how many things in my life God's conceded to, but "from the beginning, it was not so."

There will be a day when God's will is imposed and cannot be avoided. But for now, my best life is lived when I voluntarily yield to His will.

PRAYER
Lord, help me to live a life that is in the end how You intended it to be from the beginning.

About October 2010

This page contains all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in October 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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