Lenten Meditation: Day 24

Reading

John 10:1-21 (ESV)

1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” 19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Meditation

We called them the “Meatball Bandit.”  Our home was broken into three times in the matter of three months.  The first time they were able to get quite a few electronics and our trash bin (wheelie for my Australian readers).  We replaced the window they broke and replaced our electronics and the second month they took those replacements.  We replaced the window and did not replace the electronics so the third month they took a bag of meatballs from our freezer and returned  our trash bin they had taken from the first break-in.  We fixed the door and window they broke and they did not come back.  It caused some stress and fear so we needed to bring some levity to the situations and they became the “Meatball Bandit.”

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”  There are threats to all of us.  Our own sin and the sin of others work to bring destruction.  They begin to erode our ability to trust that God is good and true.  They become more powerful as we focus on them and worry about what they can do to us.  We begin to focus on them and take our eyes of the Good Shepherd.  The voice of the thief can become louder and louder in our ears.  We give it power and begin to think it is all powerful.

But listen, do you hear the call of the Good Shepherd.  We know His voice.  Listen closely.  A stranger might be trying to call you but listen.  You know the Shepherds voice.  He comes to give life abundantly.  Enter through Him and find life.

It can be hard to hear His voice sometimes when the thief seems every present.  As we pulled up to our house even 4 or 5 months after the last visit from the “Meatball Bandit” we would all be looking at the back door to see if there had been any disturbance.  It really didn’t stop until we moved from that house.  Our old life of fear without the Good Shepherd hangs around us and seems to easily distract us from the Truth of His presence.  We believe that either there is no way we could be a good enough sheep to have Him as a shepherd or we, the sheep, need to build a better sheep gate to protect us.  We think that we have done too much to be forgiven or that we need to do more good things to be accepted.  And our joy is stolen.  But the Good Shepherd came to give us life abundant.  We hear His voice and know that we are His.

Prayer

Jesus, thank you for being our protector and comfort by laying down your life for us.  Thank you Father for giving us to Jesus and charging Him with our life.  Spirit, teach us to hear our Good Shepherd’s voice above all the other voices that work for our destruction.  AMEN

Lenten Action

Read Romans 8, Galatians 3:23- 4:7, Ephesians 2, Colossians 3:1-17.

Lenten Meditation: Day 23

Reading

John 9 (ESV)

1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” 24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Meditation

I am a sucker for the “clickbait” on Facebook of the people who have never heard before but are hearing someone they love for the first time.  I have seen one video probably close to 100 times.  I can’t help but click it. The joy that they express on their faces is amazing.  The miracle of modern medicine providing the opportunity for them to hear is great. It is so fun to watch.

Can you imagine being blind since birth and then you have an encounter with Jesus and you can see?  He had joy that must have run through his body and confusion of sun light and people and trees that he had never seen before.  His life was changed in an instant.  So much change that there were those who did not believe it was him. “It is I, I am the blind man.”  Then he heard the inquisitions and questions; they accusations of never being blind.  On top of that you did not know where the man who healed you had gone to.  A desire to believe but not knowing where to put that belief would almost be like being blind again.

There are a lot of things in this chapter but today the thing that struck me the most was the fact that an encounter with Jesus can change you so significantly that you are unrecognizable to those who may know you.  We are so entrench in our fleshy selves that when Jesus breaks us free and creates our Truth self, our child of God self, that we can be unrecognizable.  As much as we like who we are in our sin, those around us have adjusted to that person and have grown accustom to who we are.  When we encounter Jesus and He changes us it does not cause confusion for just us but for those around us.

“You can’t be Lee, he was a sort of  selfish, loud brute and you have a smile on your face and seem to love those around you.”  Sound familiar (without the Lee part of course).  You can’t be (put your name here) you are a (put your previous character here, you know the one you thought wasn’t that bad) but now you (put the fruit of the Spirit that God is producing in your life here.)

During Lent we remember our old self but we don’t stay there.  We are no longer blind. We walk with eyes that see the Saviour’s face and hear His love song for us.

Prayer

Father, we do not know why you chose to heal some miraculous and some you don’t.  It is hard for us to understand and live without your answer. Remind us that we were dead and you brought us to life.  Teach us to trust that you are revealing yourself as the Son of God in everything that is going on around us. Teach us God that you are in control and you are bringing glory to yourself and holding us at the same time.  Amen.

Lenten Action

Take time to praise God for how He has transformed your life and brought the Fruit of the Spirit to bear.  If you are still searching then ask God to open your eyes and see Him most fully.

Lenten Meditation: Day 22

Reading

Isaiah 54 (ESV)

1 “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the LORD. 2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. 3 For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. 4 “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. 5 For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. 6 For the LORD has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. 7 For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. 8 In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer. 9 “This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. 10 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. 11 “O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. 12 I will make your pinnacles of agate, your gates of carbuncles, and all your wall of precious stones. 13 All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children. 14 In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. 15 If anyone stirs up strife, it is not from me; whoever stirs up strife with you shall fall because of you. 16 Behold, I have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and produces a weapon for its purpose. I have also created the ravager to destroy; 17 no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.”

Meditation

I have been watching from the other side of the world (really not the other for me anymore, this is my side of the world) the political goings on in the States.  I know today some of you are happy that your candidate is in the lead, some are disappointed that things did not go the way you would like, and some of you are gobsmacked.  In Australia, we are having debates about next elections, seeing a downturn in the economy, etc.  There are a lot of things that could bring our minds to trouble.  And those are the external things.  Our internal things, our families, our health, our self-understanding can all lead us to a place of desperation.

We can live in a place that we are one more thing away from completely going under.  Go back up and re-read the words of your Loving God.  Read again His promise to you that are honoured and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Hear vs 9 and 10, “This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you” and let them wash over you.  Even as we recognize how crazy and out of control the world can be, even as we remember how dark my own heart can be we hear out Loving God sing over us this love song.

Prayer

Father, Loving God, Holy One, We praise you and rest in the promise of your everlasting love.  amen

Lenten Action

Read this passage a few more times.  Work to memorize it.

Lenten Meditation: Day 21

Reading

John 8:31-47 (ESV)

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father–even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Meditation

This is another passage were Jesus is not so gentle.  It is one of those places in scripture where the argument of a meek and mild Savior might have a hard time finding proof. It seems like Jesus is just pushing them farther away from him and antagonizing them.  “You cannot bear to hear my word.”

How often I feel like one who believed but struggle to hear His word.  I forget that if the Son sets you free you are free indeed.  I believe that I must do something to be free.  His word is where He desires us to abide.  We are His disciples when we abide and we will know the truth and that will set us free.

We try to attach ourselves to some reasonable linage of holiness first.  We are Abraham’s.  I have the pedigree.  I know that I am good enough on my own.  Then we take it to a higher authority.  I am God’s but Jesus points out that if we don’t follow Him we are not of God because we are trying to maintain our lives in our own righteousness.  This makes us full of it.  Liars.

The amazing thing is we have assurance that we don’t reside in this place. If we are God’s then we hear God.  What a great hope.  If I am being drawn to the things of God, than I must be His.  The proof is that we are hearing and having Christ formed in us.

Prayer

Father, let me hear your voice.  Hold me so I will abide in your word.  Thank you for making me a truthseeker and not a liar.  Keep me from wanting my own righteousness.  Keep me from desiring credit for my salvation.  Let me rest only on your history.  Let me rest only in your future.  Let me rest in your hope. Amen

Lenten Action

Write out the things that you think keep you from being loved by God.  Then write the things you feel you need to do to change it.  Now ask God to take this desire to prove yourself away and give you the Truth of your love and acceptance by Him.  Take the piece of paper and throw it away.