December 20 John 7,8

These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.

Printable reading plan: Life Journal Reading Plan

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Purposely Staying Away, Purposely Keeping My Heart Right | Michelle Myers

S~ After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews were there waiting to take his life. John 7:1 (NIV)

O~ Sometimes, You tell us to stay away from other people.  Their intentions for us are not good.  Their treatment of us is not healthy. Their messy choices, can easily make a mess of our lives.

You even gave Jesus boundaries in regards to staying away, and his brothers encouraged Him to go.  “Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do.  No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret.  Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.'”  John 7:3-5

Through His connection with You, Jesus was able to understand what You were telling Him to do.  He understood and knew that the Jews were waiting there to harm Him.  Regardless of what others encouraged, He followed You.

A~ Today my sister called and left a voicemail.  In it, she accused me of putting bad stuff about her on facebook and recording it for the everyone to play again and again, turning the whole family against her, and ruining her life.  Every other word out of her mouth was the “F” word.  My sister struggles with mental illness, and reality isn’t always there.  I know this, but her junk can still put me in a bad place, if I don’t have firm boundaries.

I have not done the things she accused me of, and I have not even had contact with my family for a very long time.  That has caused some turmoil, with some of my other family members.  They have an “idea” of my mom and my sister’s bad behavior, but they have not lived with it.  They don’t understand why I can’t just “let it go in one ear and out the other”, not for my sake, but for my dad’s sake.  In their eyes, I am punishing my dad by staying away.

It is unfortunate that they feel that way, but the truth is, my dad has made no effort to contact me.  He is passive to a fault, and this enabled my mom’s bad behavior for years…..still does.  He is not a victim, nor was he a protector of his children when we were being victimized by our mother.

Later, my sister called and left another voicemail, apologizing for being “grouchy” in her earlier voicemail.  She said that she forgave me.  I am not even sure what I did.  Then wanted to know why I didn’t come around anymore.  Really?

I took this all as a reminder from You, as to why I stay away from the toxicity of my family.  The holidays can be hard.  I want my girls to know and be around extended family……healthy extended family.  My extended family is not healthy.  You have provided me and my family with other healthy and authentic relationships, through various friendships.  I am not drained, confused, or hurt after spending time with them.

P~ Thank you God for this reminder.  At first, I didn’t get that; and I wanted to call my sister back.  I wanted to defend myself.  I wanted to point out how crazy her accusations were.  I wanted to let her know that this is exactly why I stay away.  Then you intervened, and showed me that this was from You, to remind me.  This wasn’t about her.  This was about keeping my immediate family safe, protected, and away from toxic situations.  It also was about me keeping myself clean, at peace, and being a good representative of You.  I prayed for her, my parents, and my nephew.  I prayed for my heart in regards to them.  Please just keep on helping me, not respond to the craziness with craziness.  Please keep reminding me that You see the entire situation and me and my heart.

Teach Children to Be Supportive | Deanna George

S~ For even his own brothers did not believe in him. John 7:5 (NIV)

O~ Jesus’ own brothers didn’t believe him or support him (at least up to this point in his life).

A~ Jesus was being ridiculed by all sides, including his family. How sad is that? Life is so much harder when your family doesn’t support you. His brothers were acting how brothers can act: pick on each other, try to start arguments, make fun of each other. It breaks my heart when my boys do this. I usually step in and try to help them see that they are each other’s support system for life, and point out that outside forces make life hard enough. I am not teaching them the importance of this support enough.

P~ Lord Jesus, this is not where I first thought this SOAP was going. I thought it was going to be about staying the course God put you on, no matter who supports you. Instead, it brought be full circle to where I am lacking in my parenting. I desire for my boys to be close and supportive of each other. My heart breaks that I am not close to all of my five brothers and sisters. I love them dearly, but I don’t make them a priority. I pray for them, but I don’t check in on them. I have allowed the distance to be an excuse. I want so much more for my boys! I hear you Lord! Please help me to instill a supportive spirit in each of them. Tell me how to do it because my method is not cutting it! Please help me!

What We Do With Jesus | Kelley Deases

S~  Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him [Jesus]. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” John 7:12 (NIV)

O~ What do we do about Jesus? That is the pivotal and paramount question in all of our lives. Whether we dismiss Him, mock Him, ignore Him, follow Him, or exalt Him will determine not only the course of our life on earth but where we will spend our eternity.

A~ I had a colleague years ago, who knew I was a Christian but was not ready to embrace the faith herself, say to me, “I believe in Jesus, but I don’t believe in God.” Which really is not believing in Jesus at all, inasmuch as all Jesus’ teachings point to God the Father, and inasmuch as Jesus is God.

Another friend in another context said she didn’t particularly like listening to Christian music because it was all, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” She couldn’t understand why all the songs focused so much on Jesus, as opposed to God the Father. She had somehow missed the critical piece of how Jesus is our way, and the only way, to the Father.

And even in Jesus’ day, as He appeared before people in the flesh and spoke with authority about the Kingdom of God, people still could not grasp His message nor His Divinity.

This drives home two points for me as I reflect on this confusion and misunderstanding: (1) As a Christ-follower, I need to take every opportunity to tell people who He is, and (2) I wonder if my life truly reflects that I know who He is and that I take Him at His word.

P~ Jesus, In my words and in my life, let me show I know You and want to live for You.

He is reliable | Nikki Metzger

S~ I have much to say in judgement of you.  But He who sent Me is reliable, and what I have heard from Him I tell the world. John 8:26 (NIV)

O~ Jesus is speaking to the people.  He is proving who He is and where His authority comes from.

A~ What sticks out to me is how much Jesus talks about the connection between Him and God.  Jesus basically says that He says and does everything that God, His Father, tells Him.  I know it says in Scripture, but Jesus is really my best picture of my Father in Heaven.

Jesus says in this verse that God is reliable.  If God is reliable, He is reliable 1000%.  It is impossible that God is never not reliable.  So, since God is reliable, that will not change.  I have to decide if I believe that He is reliable.

Yes, of course I believe that God is always reliable.  Because Jesus says and God has proven reliable in my life, even though He hasn’t answered all my prayers.

I have two friends in very bleak and desperate situations.  Long time, never ending, despairing situations.  They are praying, Jesus loving women.  Is God reliable in their situation?

P~ Father, I believe You are reliable and trustworthy and working out all things for Your glory.  I have so much I don’t understand about Your Kingdom.  I just love my friends and I’m so sad about their heartbreak.  It doesn’t make sense.  But it doesn’t need to make sense to me, does it?  You are reliable! To me, to my friends.  Lord, I lift them up to You, show Your healing arm to them and pour out Your blessings over their life.  Thank You for Your Word, and Jesus.  Thank You for showing me Your character today!

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