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  • # 147 Does Suffering come from God?

    Leaving the temple, Jesus and company walk past a man who was born blind.

    His disciples, nervous over Jesus' near stoning and wanting to talk about anything else, ask, "Master, who caused this man's blindness? His own sin or his parents' sin?"

    They have grown up steeped in a culture that believes suffering is judgment from God, so Spirit sets up this particular encounter with one born suffering...(because illness could come from cause and effect--poor choices).

    "Neither," responds Jesus, "it's for God's glory to be shown in him."

    Even though it is Sabbath, Jesus makes clay with his spit, rubs it on the man's eyes, and tells him to go to the pool of Siloam to wash it off.

    The man didn't even ask!

    But Jesus knows his disciples believe suffering is punishment for wrong-doing. And he is ready to destroy this doctrine of the devil--at least for them.

    This is important, because in six months time they will see him suffer crucifixion. And many people will say (or think) God is doing it to him!

    While it's true that all suffering comes from living outside of God's law, Satan had twisted that truth into "God brings suffering as punishment." Nothing could be further from the truth!

    So Jesus prepares them to understand his death: God won't be killing him; He will be allowing and empowering Jesus to choose our natural future (death), so we can choose his natural future (life).

    God gives good. Opening your mind to God, brings desire for Him, naturally, as flowers turn to sunlight. Knowing Jesus, experientially and experimentally, makes you crave His life-giving love-energy.

    John 9:1-7



  • # 146 Able to See Truth

    The Pharisees have again attempted to discredit Jesus to the people by bringing up his questionable birth. saying, "God is our father."

    Jesus doesn't give their insinuation any attention. "If God were your father you would love me because I came from Him. You act like your father, the devil--a liar and a murderer--and father to them. If I said I didn't know God, I would be a liar like you."

    They won't admit they are wrong. For nearly three years they've been looking to destroy him because he didn't come in power and glory as they thought Messiah should. They don't love the truth, won't even investigate it, but close their minds to it, close their ears to God's voice. Jesus says this proves they have no connection with God.

    "You can't hear me because you don't know God. Abraham asked to see my day; he saw it, and was glad." ( Abraham was the only man God asked to give his son as God was going to. He saw and completely understood God's suffering in giving up Jesus.)

    "What! You aren't 50 years old, and you've seen Abraham?" they scoff.

    "Seriously, before Abraham was, I AM."

    Gasps escape many, then shocked silence. This poor, unassuming Galilean rabbi has just announced himself to be the Eternal Presence! He used the name given Moses to identify himself as the Self-existent One!

    Now many of the people side with the rabbis, and being led by them, pick up stones to stone Him.

    But Jesus, hidden from their sight, passes on.

    John 8:36-59



  • # 145 The Truth Makes You Free

    Jesus isn't played by Pharisees to announce he is their Messiah. He goes beyond that, claiming oneness with God.

    "If you follow me, you will know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free."

    "We are Abraham's descendants and aren't enslaved to anyone." The teachers are talking about spiritual freedom--Romans are all around reminding them of their occupation by Rome.

    So Jesus picks it up, telling them they are in the worst kind of slavery--the unconscious kind. "If anyone sins, he is the slave of sin. If the Son makes you free, you are truly free. Abraham's children would be like him, and would recognize the one God sent. They wouldn't try to kill me." Again revealing he knows their hatred and plans for his death--instigated by Satan.

    Now they sneer, "We weren't born bastards!" (Implying that he was.) They get ugly so fast! Satan controls the minds of those who refuse God. And God will not force our wills.

    However, when we desire to be set free of Satan's control, when we understand that separation from God kills us, and ask God to free us from Satan's curse, the Holy Spirit empowers our choice with divine energy, restoring us.

    Satan can only keep us captive by weakening our minds and destroying our freedom through mindlessness, confusion, and lack of choice. But in the change that happens when you choose surrender to God, there is the highest sense of freedom.

    Submission to God restores your true self--your true glory and dignity.*

    John 8:30-41, *Psalm 8



  • # 144 The Light

    Later, after forgiving the adulteress, Jesus is teaching as the morning sun comes over Mt. Olivet and hits the gold and the white marble of the temple. Pointing to the dazzling reflection of sunlight he says, "I am the light of the world," a powerful declaration of his identity, recorded later by John.*

    The night before had been the last ceremony of the week--the Festival of Light--when the temple courts were filled with dancing, and ablaze with lamps and lanterns commemorating the pillar of fire in the wilderness wandering of their ancestors.

    Light had always been a symbol of God's presence--in the cloud, on Sinai, covering the sanctuary and then the temple.

    Jesus continues, "If you follow me, you will have the light of life; you won't walk in darkness," his words are confident, convincing.

    The forgiven woman, now in the back, held there by a love she has never known, feels like he's talking straight to her. It's the best promise she's ever heard.

    But in saying this, Jesus claims oneness with God, and the Pharisees who stayed are ready to challenge. "You can't testify for yourself."

    "My witness is true because I know who I am. Your law requires two witnesses. I am one and my Father is the other."

    "Where is your father?"

    "If you knew me, you would know Him," answers Jesus. If their hearts were open to God's love they would have recognized him.

    "Who are you?" They're pushing him to declare himself, thinking the people will reject a poor, homeless Messiah.

    John 8:12-19 *John 1:1-5



  • #143 A New Beginning

    The woman cowers before Jesus, eyes to the ground, waiting for rocks to start hitting her. His words, "The one who hasn't sinned may cast the first stone," sounded like a death sentence.

    Eyes to the ground, she is amazed when feet turn and walk away.

    Jesus stands up and says, "Where are your accusers? No one has condemned you?"

    A small voice answers, "No one."

    "Neither do I," says Jesus. "Go and live with God."

    Her heart melts and she falls sobbing at his feet. She can't believe what she has just heard.

    A moment ago she was sure her life was over, but now it seems it's just beginning. Peace, love, and joy flood her as sobs release all the shame, guilt, and sadness of her life.

    And never has Jesus looked better to those watching.

    He has just performed a greater miracle than healing the worst disease. He hasn't set aside the law of Moses or infringed on the authority of Rome. Rather he has shown the love and forgiveness of God to one who is considered weak and worthless, an outcast.

    She becomes an ardent follower of Jesus from that day on.

    What a difference from the attitude of the Pharisees! They hated the sinner but loved the sin. While Jesus hates the sin but loves the sinner.

    Jesus' attitude towards her--slow to censure, quick to discern repentance, ready to forgive and encourage--is naturally experienced and develops in all those who follow him.

    John 8:7-11



  • #142 Religion Gone Wrong vs. God's Kindness

    The Sanhedrin, frustrated in their plans and silenced by Nicodemus, leave and go to their homes.

    Jesus turns to the quiet of the olive orchards on Olivet needing time alone with God. Spies have dogged his steps every day of the festival looking to trap him in a word or action. He's exhausted.

    Early the next morning he is back in the temple. People gather around him and he teaches them. But before long he is interrupted by a commotion.

    "We caught this woman in the very act of adultery" says the hard, triumphant voice of one Pharisee.

    "Moses says we should stone her." Adds another. "What do you say?"

    Seeing through their disguise, and knowing they set her up themselves, Jesus gives no sign he has heard them, but stoops and begins to write in the dust on the marble.

    Impatiently they move closer, urging him to respond. But as their eyes follow his finger, their faces pale, seeing he has written how they got her there, who set her up, and that according to Moses, her husband should have accused and brought her.

    Then rising, he fixes his gaze on the posers who know the law--that the one wronged begins the stoning. Jesus knows they have wronged her, and he says, "The one who hasn't sinned may throw the first stone."

    Hoping against hope that he won't expose them, one by one they slink away, defeated again.

    Religion was not intended for condemning. If you want to know what God is like, read tomorrow's blog...

    John 8:1-9



  • # 141 Water that Satisfies

    On the morning of the last day of their Thanksgiving festival is the ceremony symbolizing the water that flowed when Moses struck the rock in the wilderness. A beautiful and impressive feast of color and sound, it teaches that God provides.

    Afterwards, Jesus sees the people weary from festivities that dazzle them, but do nothing to satisfy their thirsty hearts, longing for assurance of God's love and care.

    Standing up, his voice ringing throughout the temple, he cries, "If any of you is thirsty, come to me and drink. If you believe in me, living water will flow from you!"

    The people are startled. It's as if he reads their minds, his words reach into their sad, dissatisfied, tired hearts, stirring hope again. The Holy Spirit impresses their minds with the connection between him and what they have just watched, and many believe he is the Messiah.

    Even the temple guards, sent by the Pharisees to bring Jesus to the Sanhedrin, are awed and return without him.

    "Why didn't you bring him?" the "authorities" ask.

    "We've never heard anyone talk like him," they reply simply.

    "You're just like these cursed people! Have any of our leaders believed?" Enraged, they are ready to go fetch him themselves.

    Then a voice of reason speaks, "Does our law condemn anyone before hearing him?" It's Nicodemus.

    The whole assembly is checked and silent. Surprised by him, they react with sarcasm, "Are you a Galilean? Go search scripture; no prophet comes from Galilee!"

    They act ignorant of prophecy, but it is enough to stop the madness.

    John 7:30-53



  • # 140 The Effect of Jesus

    Jesus' words hold the people spellbound. His knowledge of the sacrificial service, the law, and the prophets far exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees--his understanding brings the true meaning alive. As at Capernaum, the people in Jerusalem are enthralled.

    The priests observing this, try to discredit him, "You haven't attended our schools; what authority do you have to teach in the temple?"

    "My teaching is from Him who sent me," answers Jesus. "If you want to do God's will, you will know whether it is from Him."

    Jesus says that receiving truth depends on your heart's openness to God. They are hiding from God because ever since Jesus healed on the Sabbath at the Pool of Bethesda, they have been plotting his death.

    "Moses gave the law you accuse me of breaking by making a man whole on Sabbath, but you break it by wanting to kill me." He confronts them, showing he knows their hearts.

    For an instant terror fills them, they see they are fighting Infinite power. Somehow they must disparage him. "You have a demon! Who wants to kill you?" they scoff.

    Many believe Jesus; others are mislead by the pretense of the Pharisees. If the people would study the prophecies for themselves they wouldn't be fooled. Spirit would help them understand. God wants them to recognize His son.*

    But God does not force us to believe. He leaves us free to choose between light and darkness; He desires us to investigate the evidence and decide. He will open the minds of those seeking truth.**

    John 7:16-30 *Isaiah 53, 59 and 61 give a clear picture of Jesus life, work and death **John 7:17,



  • # 139 "Thanksgiving" in Jerusalem

    The Feast of Tabernacles was the harvest festival, celebrating God's gifts throughout the year.

    Three times a year there were major feasts when people crowded Jerusalem. Many of them had become ritual, but this occasion was joyful, everyone bringing a gift. People built booths from branches, and stayed in them. Everything pretty was brought from the woods, decorating the city until it looked like a beautiful forest.

    Jesus is in Nazareth, home for a visit in Nazareth. His brothers urge him to go to Jerusalem and declare himself to the world. They aren't ready to acknowledge him as Messiah, but are now impressed by his works. Still, they are bothered that he does nothing to lessen the antagonism of the priests and rabbis, who are surely right.

    "You haven't even been to Jerusalem for a year and a half!" they say.

    "It's not time yet," answers Jesus, trying to help them understand, "our world doesn't hate you because you agree with it. But it hates me because I confront it's evil. You go ahead."

    Every event of his life has an appointed time, and he waits patiently. After they leave, God directs him to go down alone, avoiding the crowds, and any possible demonstration to stir the jealousy of the leaders.

    In Jerusalem, everyone is talking about him. "Where is he?" people are quietly asking everywhere.

    Suddenly, in the middle of the festival, he appears in the temple courts, teaching. His bearing is dignity and courage, silencing gossip that he is afraid of the priests.

    John 7:1-14



  • # 138 Humility is Being Teachable

    Jesus teaches on humility.

    It isn't feeling bad about yourself. It is realizing you don't know everything--letting God be God and teach you.

    Jesus explains the way things work here, saying we should treat others as we want them to treat us, or better--as we want God to treat us. What you give others comes back to you--you turn into what you do.

    About defensiveness he says, "Don't hide or justify your behavior. Admit it, face consequences, and trust Me. Let Me protect you, turn your fear into joy, your doubt into hope. Deal drastically with anything that comes between us."

    He tells them the story of the shepherd who is missing one sheep; "leaves 99 in the fold, and goes looking until he finds that one." That's how God feels about us! He doesn't want to lose even one of us!

    But he is realistic. He speaks of sad choices that come because of offenses (evil). Pain will come, but it is sadder for the person who gives it than for the receiver. Why would that be?

    Because those giving evil are becoming what they give--developing habits--character scripts. They become evil.

    Jesus also gives a detailed plan for dealing with defiance: Clear, personal, direct and respectful. Confront privately; don't expose unless necessary. In matters of the heart, a delicate touch is needed.

    Finally he reminds them that our choices are honored and powerful, some lasting forever. He assures that if two of us agree on asking anything good, our heavenly Father will do it. We aren't alone. We are loved.

    Matthew 18:7-20


Spiritual development for intelligent people

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