Friday, May 19, 2017

Re: Thursday, May 18

I'm afraid that this message failed the first time.

_____________________________
From: Steve Edwards <stephene01@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2017 10:30 PM
Subject: Thursday, May 18
To: Steve Edwards <swe@edwa.info>


THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2017

 

 

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.  They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.  The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father." (John 10:14–18)

 

 

In this passage, we see the close connection between Jesus's identity and His mission.  Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus offers seven key "I am" statements:  "the bread of life"; "the light of the world"; "the gate"; "the good shepherd"; "the resurrection and the life" "the way, the truth, and the life"; and "the true vine."  In addition, in John 8:58, He declares His pre-existence of Abraham:  "Before Abraham was, I am!"  These powerful images highlight both Jesus's mission and identity and point to the fullness of His deity, echoing God's address to Moses as "I am who I am."

 

Each of Jesus's "I am" statements tie to His relationship with His followers.  Several refer to our coming to know Him initially, while others speak about the perseverance of those who have trusted in Him.  Throughout these statements, we recognize that we experience the fullness of our personhood and joy in Christ:  "that your joy may be complete." (John 15:11)

 

In light of our knowledge of the Great "I am," how shall we respond?  How may we properly understand our identity and mission?  As Pastor Scott has shared from The Red Sea Rules, God has placed us where we are "(1) by God's appointment (2) in His keeping (3) under His training (4) for His time."  God's sovereignty extends to every aspect of our lives and in the sometimes chaotic circumstances in which we find ourselves.  In this picture of sovereignty, God superintends that we may experience His love and presence, even in the midst of struggles and woe.

 

Ultimately, the Bible testifies that our identity and mission both arise from our Creator.  Fashioned into His image, we are blessedly His.  We may be secure in His love and kindness for us.  Called as His own, we may now find our fulfillment in loving, knowing, honoring, and serving Him.  Praise be to God that, through the atoning sacrifice of His Son, we may become partakers in this mission.

 

Do you feel confident in your identity and mission today?  If not, how could you receive encouragement from Jesus's example here or Paul's (Philippians 1:21; Philippians 3:1–14)?

 

 

Lord God, thank You for giving us the opportunity to know You and to serve You.  Thank You for making us in Your image and calling us Your own.  Give us wisdom so that we may follow You wholeheartedly and bring You glory.  In Jesus's Name, amen.

 


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May 19

John 10


At a Bible study I once asked people to write down one question they would like to ask God. Here is one response:  "While I myself want to admit you're the only true God, I still don't want make my friends upset by saying this. Why can't we just let everyone choose what they want to believe?"

 

As Christ followers we are being sent this message daily. "Can't you tone it down a bit; you are upsetting the social order by your radical claims of the exclusivity of Jesus."

 

In John 10 we observe that this radical talk of exclusivity created a riot 2000 years ago. The context of this conversation is the celebration of Hanukkah. In the Temple area, a space large enough to hold 100,000 worshipers, Jesus addresses the most important issue in all of history. "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." There it is. This issue divides and upsets the social order both then and now. And what is Jesus' response? "I and the Father are one." Can there be any misunderstanding of what Jesus meant? This is the clearest statement of Jesus' divinity he ever made.  There can be no mistake about what he meant. The Jews understood exactly what he meant because they picked up stones to kill him for the crime of blasphemy. This claim is unmistakable; it is undeniable; it is as clear as the nose in front of your face.

  

In a post-modern world we are told that no one has the right to claim to be God. Yet the radical Jesus of the Bible does just that. "I and the Father are one" was a claim made by Jesus. It was never made by Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius or any other religious leader.  This claim is nothing less than a scandal. These words rattle the cages of every post modern person. People squirm when they hear this exclusivity.

 

We ought to squirm because either Jesus was right or he was wrong. Those are the only choices.

 

I believe when Jesus was telling us of his "oneness" he was not uttering these words out of arrogance but out of great compassion. I believe that given the undeniable miracles, the authority of his words, and the sinless life he lived, we would be fools for doubting this claim. And if this claim is true, then Jesus' appearance on this planet and the sacrificial giving of his life for us is the greatest, most significant act ever done in the history of mankind.

 

Sorry, I can't keep quiet. I need to tell the whole world.

 


--
"Multiplying leaders to change the world"

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 17

John 9

As I read the account of the blind man, I couldn't help but think of Red Sea Rule #2. Jesus lived His life here on earth answering the question "How can God The Father be glorified in this situation?".   In regards to the blind man, Jesus explains very clearly "His blindness cannot be explained or traced to any particular person's sins. He is blind so the deeds of God may be put on display."  (V.3)  The blind mans name is Siloam.  I checked into the meaning of the name.  His name means "sent" -- it's as if his name is a reminder that his healing was sent by God.  Jesus didn't explain the source of the mans blindness because it wasn't necessary -- that wasn't His mission.  His mission was to do the work of God, Our Father. Since healing blind eyes is the work of the Lord, this is yet another display to the Pharisees that Jesus is God.  I love how Scripture ties together as we see in Psalm 146:8 it reads "The The Lord opens the eyes of the blind", and in Isaiah 35:5 we read that "The eyes of the blind shall be opened".  If only the Pharisees would have opened their eyes, they would have seen that The Messiah to whom they had been praying to for centuries was standing right in front of them. Jesus used a very unconventional way to heal the mans eyes.  By mixing dirt and His spit together I'm sure a few eyebrows were raised.  But if we think about it, when we meet people who walk in spiritual blindness and speak the Gospel of Truth, that can also be considered unconventional causing a few eye brows to be raised as well.  Just as Jesus modeled, we cannot neglect our call to serve and our areas of service.  I pray we all get a chance to raise some eyebrows today.

Randi








Monday, May 15, 2017

May 15th blog post

Supplying the Needs   1 Samuel 17


I am an introvert (more severe than people will every really know), a recovering perfectionist, highly self critical of most things I do, I over analyze almost everything I do or say, I don't have a college degree, I love to do lots of things but I am not necessarily proficient at any one thing (Pintrest reminds me of this daily), I have many areas of weakness, and I have a body that is getting older each day and reminding me of this fact with things like new reading glasses needed.  I don't say this out of pity for myself but to lay out before everyone the many shortcomings that can and sometimes do confront me when I am given opportunities to serve the Lord.

David was a mere boy.  He was not a solider but a shepherd.  His outward appearance was nothing compared to his eldest brother Eliab (1 Samuel 16:6-7).  Yet despite everything going against him David's heart for the Lord, which was big, drew him to see an opportunity to serve the Lord in which he willingly volunteered for.  I believe David knew that he alone was not qualified to take on the giant Goliath but he knew his God was.  He knew that God can and does use willing hearts and turns them into skillful hands with his power.  Even when brought before the King and those with the skill and ability David did not posses he was spoken to with discouragement because of his lack of age, stature, and skill as a soldier: "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth." 1 Samuel 17:29.  This is where I might have hung my head in agreeing defeat but not David.  He knew his shortcomings but he also knew his passion to serve and spoke about how God had delivered him, empowered him to do things in the past which he should not have been able to do.  I don't believe he saw a giant with skill that out matched his own.  I believe David saw an opportunity to be a willing vessel for the Lord and to bring him glory.  David knew that he would bring what little he had to the fight and that God would make up the rest of what was needed.  The result?  God was glorified through a victory which was against all human odds.  The victory and glory didn't come about the way we would have humanly envisioned it but God usually has a way of bringing Glory to himself in ways and through people whom we never would have imagined.  His power is truly made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and David is perfect example of this for me.

I find that God calls me to things that are so far out of my human skill set and beyond my comfort and abilities.  But what I have learned and experienced in saying yes to the opportunities that are beyond my abilities is the faithfulness of my God.  He never calls me and then leaves me to figure it out alone.  He equips me through his spirit to do that which I am not able to do in my own human weakness.  The result?  I always pray, is for God to be glorified.  I am an introvert who does not like to be the focus of attention, I have no educational degree to hang on my wall, I have been a stay at home mother for the past 23+ years of my life.  Yet, despite these "lacks" in my character and resume God has called me to stand before women (and on occasion the church) and to speak the word of God.  He has called me to write a story despite the fact that my grammar is awful and English class was my worst grade throughout school.  Why does he do this?  Why does he seem to like to call us to those things that we aren't always skilled to do?  I can only guess that it is because it leaves no room to question that when a giant is slayed by a boy and when the word of God is spoken by a stay at home mother that God is the one who is working and moving and doing and therefore it is God and God alone who deserve the Glory, Honor, and Praise.

Why do I share this?  Because I need to be reminded not let myself loose focus on the Lord's abilities to use me.  To not focus on my inabilities, shortcomings and fears.  I need to always trust that the Lord is enough.  I need to always trust that if I am willing and have a humble heart then the Lord can use me in ways I never thought I could be used.  I need to remember that if God can take me and all those weaknesses and shortcomings and use me then how much more can he do through others?  I don't want to be like Saul and look only at the outward and see inability and therefore discourage, I want the Lord to give me eyes to see the heart, the willingness of others, and then to encourage others to get into the fight, the ministry, the opportunities and let God be enough, let God make up the different, let God empower, let God be glorified. 

Have a willing heart to do whatever the Lord is calling you to do and be sure that God is faithful and he will be enough for the victory, the ministry, the opportunity.  We truly can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Be encouraged.




Sunday, May 14, 2017

May 13: I am John Q. Pharisee

1 Samuel 13:23-14:52
John 7:31-52
Psalm 109:1-31
Proverbs 15:5-7

Apologies again for the tardiness.  Sometimes Saturdays are even busier than weekdays...

When I read yesterday's NT reading, I could not help but think that the Pharisees were insisting on taking comfort in what they thought they knew, so much so that they ignored what they did not understand.  They thought there was nowhere Jesus could go that they would not find Him.  They thought Jesus came from Galilee.  They thought the mob of common people was ignorant.  And the one man who suggested they listen to Jesus - well they decided he was wrong from the get go as well. And because they insisted on what they thought they knew, they missed out on getting to know the Messiah they'd supposedly been waiting for all that time.  How different might things have been for them if, upon seeing Jesus's miracles, hearing His teaching and seeing the hordes that followed Him, they might have instead asked "Who is He?".  They might have instead given Him the benefit of the doubt, and in doing so, discovered His sovereignty.  The fact is, when I read today's reading about the Pharisees, I thought "if I'd been a Pharisee during Jesus's time, instead of insisting He was a fraud in order to protect the life I had, I would have tried to get to know Him.  Maybe then I would have understood that He was God, and would have deferred to Him even at risk of the life I had."  

And then it occurs to me: I am such a hypocrite.  The truth is, when things happen that I don't understand, things that derail my ambitions, that threaten my way of life, that create discomfort and uncertainty - when these things happen, I respond much more like the Pharisees than, say, the crowds that submit to Him, the sinners that repent.  I complain; I demand; I reject Him and His sovereignty over all things - all this despite how often He has shown so very clearly His ways are above my ways, His thoughts are above my thoughts.  I can't even claim to be like Nicodemus, prepared to give Him an opportunity to speak to me.  I am the epitome of the person in today's Proverb - the "fool [that] spurns a paren't discipline".  

Father, be patient and persistent with me.  My rejection does not change the truth - that You re sovereign over all things, and without You I cannot stand.  Overwhelm my stubbornness with your love and mercy.  In Jesus's name I pray.




Friday, May 12, 2017

May 12

Psalm 108  

 

The story is told of a pastor who was officiating at a funeral. When the service was completed, he was asked to lead the funeral procession as it made its way to the cemetery. So he got into his car and started driving at the head of the long column. This is where the trouble began. Sometime during the journey he turned on his radio and started listening to the news. He soon became lost in his thoughts and forgot where he was going. About that time, he passed a Kmart and thought about something he needed to pick up. So he turned into the parking lot. As he was looking for a parking space, he just happened to glance into the rear-view mirror and saw a string of cars following, all with their lights on.

 

While we laugh at this story, it is a reminder that it is so easy to lose our way on the road of life. On Sundays we are taking a journey with the Israelites as they make their escape from Egypt.  We have discovered that God's purpose in their Red Sea situation was to bring glory to himself. It is when God is glorified that our hearts are most satisfied. The very reason we have been given life today is to praise, worship and glorify our great God.

 

This was David's heart's desire in Psalm 108. His heart was secure and steadfast, even though he was in a very difficult battle. It was his worship of God that brought peace to his heart.  David practiced this by singing to the Lord early in the morning. In his singing, he reminded himself of the greatness of God. God has a superabundance of love and he is faithful to us even when we are not faithful to him. David also declared that God's glory needs to be known all over the earth.  

 

So how is your heart today? Is it steadfast? Does it have supreme confidence that God is in control of every detail of your life?

 

If you have lost your way, it is time to start singing. You might want to do this discretely, but whistling usually doesn't get you fired. Pick your favorite praise song and start singing. When you live "all for the glory of God" you will gain the victory.  


 


--
"Multiplying leaders to change the world"

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday, May 11

THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2017

"Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.'" (John 6:68,69)


In today's reading, we find the disciples standing firm, led by Simon Peter, as Jesus faces abandonment from the crowds.  This episode underscores that discipleship involves self-denial and overcoming natural objections to Christ's teaching.  Yet, why would there have been objections?  Didn't the crowds recognize Him for Who He is?

After Jesus's teaching about being the "bread of life," we may imagine that the crowds had two common themes running through their minds:  confusion and indignation.

Their confusion likely arose from the apparent foreignness of this teaching.  Given the revelation that God had captured in the Scriptures and through His prophets, the people of Israel would have struggled to understand the context of Jesus's statements.  He seemed to be indicate a different and direct means of coming to the Father:  through Him.  Some members of the crowd might have wrestled with the compatibility of the Mosaic law and this teaching.  And, practically speaking, how would they "eat" His flesh and "drink" His blood?

At the same time, the crowd would have fought against indignation.  Their leaders had clearly taught the superiority of the revelation they had received.  Hadn't God spoken directly to Moses?  Hadn't His people received manna from heaven as evidence of their chosen status before God?  Why would this lowly carpenter without formal education lecture them and mention that their ancestors' manna had not saved them from death?  Where did He gather the nerve to insult them?

Just as the crowds didn't accept Jesus's teaching that day, we find many modern people who reject the truth claims that Jesus makes.  Ultimately, we see that He points not to a new philosophy, but rather to Himself as God's revelation and mediator.  As we talk with friends who may be struggling to grasp spiritual concepts, we may refocus attention on the key question:  "Who is Jesus to you?  Would you like to know Him?"

Just as the light of the sun reveals the world around us, so too may we experience full revelation through the light of the Son.  Knowing the Person of Jesus Christ, as Simon Peter and the other disciples did, allows us to understand His truth.  Through knowing the Son, we then know the Father and receive eternal life (John 17:3; 1 John 5:11-13).

As we approach Christ and seek to follow Him, may we find encouragement that He will teach us with grace and truth:  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am humble and gentle in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 10:28-30)


Lord Jesus, thank You for revealing Your truth to us and calling us to Yourself.  We seek to know You fully.  Please reveal more of Yourself and Your truth into our lives so that we may glorify Your Name.  We would like to go beyond our human limitations so that we may be Your steadfast disciples.  Give us courage to press forward into You.  We love You and honor You today.  In Your holy Name, amen.