December 21 John 9,10,11

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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I Must HEAR Your Voice | Michelle Myers

S~ ‘The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.’ John 10:3-5 (NIV)

O~ Verse 6 goes on to say, “Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them”.  When I first started this walk with You, I didn’t fully get this either.  As an English teacher, I understand symbolism, metaphors, etc,; but I didn’t know enough about sheep to grasp it fully.  I didn’t have enough “experience” with You, to see how it applied to my life.  I certainly didn’t get that I was a sheep.

A~ Decision making is hard for me, and can easily consume too much of my time.  I know this is a result of some of the trauma that I have been through in my life.

I grew up in chaos and never knew from day to day, what would be the “right” decision, according to my mother’s point of view on that particular day.  Also, depending on her mood, the decisions that I did make, that she didn’t like, could either bring about her ignoring me completely or lashing out, at the least, in a verbal abusive tirade.

For years, I didn’t know what in the world was going on with my husband, I just knew something wasn’t right.  Living in and the questioning of the unknown was mental torture.

“Was he having an affair?”

“Was he spending money on a gambling addiction?”

“I thought he said such and such was this way, but now he denies that he said that.  Where do I go from here?”

“Do I leave, not having any evidence of anything?  What if I am wrong, and there really is nothing going on?  What if there is, and it is going to be really bad for my kids and myself?”

For the love, living this way stunk!  Then, getting the advice, criticism, and guidance of people, made it stink even more.  Many times, thinking I was doing the right thing, listening to the right people, etc., I listened.  Usually, listening to that advice would cost me a lot of money, time, energy, and even more sanity.  Sometimes these people meant well, sometimes they acted as if they did, but their motives weren’t right.

What I do know now, after looking back on it, is that most of the time You were telling me to do the opposite of what people were advising me to do.  When I did the opposite, and followed You, no matter how illogical or irrational it seemed from a worldly perspective, it eventually worked out for the better.

Anytime I make a decision now, it has been a long, seeking process to get there.  During that process, I open myself up to “advice” when I express what I am looking into buying, doing, going, etc.  This can still become very confusing and overwhelming for me.  Again, most of the time, these people mean well.  Yet, they don’t understand nor have lived my life.  They have not had the same background and experiences that You have given to me.  I can often end up confused and feeling like a failure, if I try what they suggested and it doesn’t work.

What I have learned, is that I need to be prepared for the “advice” when I open myself up.  I have not figured out a way to not open myself up and authentically express what is going on in my life, nor am I always prepared for the “advice” that follows.  This can lead to immediate confusion and questioning of myself.  The key is to be prepared, so in a state of confusion or frustration, I am not being defensive, frustrated, or feeling like the rest of the world has some great answer that I have not been privileged enough to learn about.

When I am prepared and stay peaceful, I am able to hear YOUR voice.  Your voice will sometimes direct me to other people. These are people that You have shown me can relate to my situation, have a pretty good understanding of it, are open and authentic about their own junk, and have a on-going, purposeful connection to You.  They also want to please You, more than be right, heard, or admired.  They respect whatever decision I make, knowing that I am trying to follow and honor You, regardless if it is what they suggested.  There aren’t many people like this out there.  Heck, I myself, no matter how much I want to be this person, struggle at it many days.

P~ God, I am so thankful for all my Christian sisters.  I am especially thankful for my friend Kim.  She has walked with me and loved me through some very hard, confusing, and yucky times.  That is not something that I have experienced from many people. Actually, there is no one else, besides You, that I can think of that has “put up with me” and loved me with all my junk and yuck, the way that she has.  I so do appreciate You bringing her into my life!  Please guide my husband and I, as we make some decisions over the next month or so.  Please help us hear YOUR voice, and graciously be able to tune out the other voices.

I am not sure if my beloved cat, Snickers, is sick or not.  We took him to the vet, because he seemed to have a bowel issue.  They couldn’t find anything.  However, I am still seeing signs in the litter box.  Other than that, he is a normal cat, living a normal cat life. Please guide us in what our next step should be, if anything.

Keep Me in Your Pen | Deanna George

S~ But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” John 10:21 (NIV)

O~ Jesus is telling the Pharisees how he was the good Shepard and all the people are his sheep. He is the gate keeper to salvation. He wants all of the sheep in his pen. Some of the Jews who heard this didn’t believe and they called him demon-possessed, but the other Jews countered their unbelief with the question above. They stood up for Jesus.

A~ Many of the Jews were so angry with Jesus. They just couldn’t find a way to believe. It didn’t matter what they see or hear. They wanted to believe the way of the world and kill Jesus for what he said and did. Why is it easier to believe the world and not believe Jesus  for who is and what he can do? Is God’s greatness too big to fathom? Or is my confidence in what I can accomplish too strong to let go and trust God? Am I too scared that God isn’t going to answer the way I want him to answer? Am I focused on what the world says is true? These questions are different for every situation. Sometimes it’s so easy to believe and other times my flesh puts up a valiant fight to take control. These are the times I need to let go and let God be in control.

P~ Lord Jesus, thank you for wanting every sheep in your pen. Your faithfulness to love each of us is so overwhelming at times because we don’t deserve it. You love me when I include you from the beginning, and you love me when I run and hide from you. I don’t want to hide (because that isn’t even possible) but I find myself doing it. Please give me a sign that I’m starting to do it, so that I may stop. I want to accept your gift of eternal life and walk in your peace and joy. I want my eyes and heart to always be open to hear and see your hand in my life. Keep me in your pen by helping me to grow in my faith.

The Good Shepherd | Joni Tyner

S~ I give them eternal life, and the they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.  John 10: 28-29. (NLT)

O~ Chapter 10 in the book of John teaches us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd—He is the gatekeeper to God and to salvation for us.  It is a loving picture of how Jesus cares for His flock—(us, His children.)

A~ This chapter brings tears to my eyes as I think about Jesus teaching us how much He cares and loves us.  It show how passionate He to protect His flock against the forces of evil.  “No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, he is more powerful than anyone else.”  This is so comforting to be reminded that God has more power than the world.  More power than evil.  In the end, God. wins.

Like many parents with adult children, we have watched our kids gradually slide from consistently walking with God and embracing their faith to a lifestyle that doesn’t reflect much of a believer’s heart.  This passage is one that reminds this  mother’s heart that God is still in active pursuit of their hearts, He holds them tightly and, although He may allow difficulty and circumstances into their life, He continues to hold their hand, I believe often guiding them through circumstances they themselves may not see as His protection.

P~ My sweet Jesus, you know the oceans of tears this mother’s heart has cried as I’ve seen the world pursue my kids’ hearts.  It is such an enticing pull for them and they often seem oblivious to Your guidance.  I pray that as our family celebrates Your birth this next week, may  our house, our celebrations, our traditions,  our conversations reflect more than saying that You are the reason for the season.  I pray we convey you are the Good Shepherd to our family,  that we are eternally grateful for this gift and the peace that comes through knowing and hearing Your voice.

Who Jesus is for | Nikki Metzger

S~ Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” John 11:24 (NIV)

O~ Martha and Jesus are talking to each other four days after Martha’s brother, Lazarus passed away.  Martha went out to meet Jesus on the road when she heard that He was on His way.  I am not sure of culture customs of greeting people on the road, but I know that women were considered non-citizens in that day.  Women were treated on the same level as animals and property.

A~ Martha knows a lot about Jesus, how He will save the world, come back, who He is.  This is evident by the conversation she is having with Jesus at this time.  She also sounds a lot like a woman who has spent time with Jesus, believes, and was taught things about Him.  Martha, a woman, equatable to property, has Jesus’ full attention and understands the mystery of Jesus.  Jesus believed her to be worthy of knowing Him!  Which is so different than what their current culture said.

Jesus has the heart of every single person born.  From Hollywood movie star to field worker to a depressed mother unable to get out of bed.  He loves and cares for each human that He knitted together in their mom’s womb.  He wants to share everything He shared with Martha to everyone He created.

He wants that intimacy and relationship with every one of us!

P~ Father, You are amazing!

Open Wide! | Robin Laney

S~ Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe [in Me], you will see the glory of God [the expression of His excellence]?” John 11:40 (AMP)

O~ The man, blind from birth, who received his sight at Jesus’ hand (John 9) was not blind because of sin but so that “the work of God might be displayed in his life.” He was healed and God received the glory, though some could not see the purpose or the miracle. In the same way, Lazarus was allowed to physically die “so that you (the disciples) may believe.” In their grief, neither Mary nor Martha could see the purpose of their loss and there were some (Pharisees) who missed another miracle. In both of these stories, it was in the despair of life that Jesus was most clearly seen, though some couldn’t or wouldn’t acknowledge God’s glory. Their eyes were blind, their hearts were hard, and their wills stood strong against the Truth. Jesus promised Martha that if she believed in him, she would see the glory of God. She did and she did! Seeing God’s hand in these seeming tragedies brought many to believe and strengthened the faith of those who already did.

A~ The glory of God – the expression of His excellence. There are things only God can do; bring true peace in the midst of chaos, offer real comfort in deep grief, allow the impossible to become reality, raise the dead to life, and give hope in even the worst of times. In order for us to recognize His hand and see His glory in this life, we have to believe in Him. We must be willing to open our eyes when everything within us wants to just drown in our misery because it is in those impossible moments that God’s purposes become clear, we see the miracles He works, and lives are changed for eternity.

If the man in John 9 hadn’t been born blind, a healing miracle would not have been necessary. Because many saw his healing at Jesus’ hands, they received abundant life here on earth and salvation for eternity. If Lazarus had not died, Jesus would not have had to raise him from the dead after four days and there would have been room for doubt in his healing. Because Lazarus walked from the grave, many people believed, received the gift of eternal life, and were changed forever. God is sovereign and all things pass through His hands. In each and every joy and grief, there is purpose and that purpose is His glory. The miracles he performs in hard places, should we have eyes to see, draw life out of death. They bring hope and healing from suffering. They pour faith into unbelieving and hardened hearts. As believers with free will, we can choose to cover our eyes in hard times or we can open them wide and wait expectantly to see His glory shine through the darkness. When we choose to see His work, we participate in His miracles and lives around us are changed forever.

P~ Lord, when it would be easier to close my eyes and hide in the darkness, open wide my eyes to see You. I know that Your purposes and ways and thoughts are way above mine. Though I do not always understand them, give me faith to believe so that I can always witness Your excellence even in the hardest moments.

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Posted on December 21, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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