February 27, 2011

Jesus Clears the Temple

John 2:12-25

“12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.”

It's difficult to know where to begin since volumes could be written about this pocket of verses. We see terrible corruption in the temple (vs 14), a striking example of Christ's consuming zeal for the Lord's house (vs 17), the prophesy of His own death, burial, and resurrection (vs19), greater faith of the disciples as they witnessed the unfolding of this prophecy years later (vs 22), and Christ's deliberate act of entrusting Himself to God and never man (vs 23-25).

As one who strives to please others and keep the peace (except in the cases of injustice or abuse) verses 23-25 provide nourishment for my weary soul. To explain, let me say that as a general rule I get along with most everyone. I don't fight, debate, or push buttons, but rather seek middle ground and choose my battles very carefully. Lately, however, God has allowed (and I emphasize allowed because there is a lesson for me in this whole ordeal) a couple of acquaintances into my life that quite frankly don't like me one iota. One expresses dislike by completely ignoring me, while the other is extremely rude. Since both behaviors go against my nature with regards to how I'm used to being treated and choose to treat others, this experience has been a rather unpleasant and uncomfortable eye opener into humanity. Further fogging the issue, these are church going folk with whom I've never had an argument or disagreement. (I'll never understand.)

In cases where we feel unjustly treated and helpless to change the situation, I'm learning it's best to take the reigns in order to not feel the victim. That's why I cling to the final verses of John chapter two. Like a beacon in a nasty ill-mannered storm, they bind me safely to the truth of God. Notice how scripture points out whom Jesus did not entrust Himself to, it wasn't the Jews demanding miraculous signs in verse 18, that was a no brainer. It was those who believed in the miracles He performed (vs 23). Now, as a people pleaser this catches my eye because of all people, I'd have trusted the ones who believed. After all, wasn't their belief a good thing? They certainly weren't like the hard-headed Jews at the temple cheating the people out of their money. Why in the world, of all groups, did Jesus not trust the ones who believed after seeing His miraculous signs.

The answer is simple. He knew the hearts of the people. Dependent on what they saw rather than true conviction, Jesus knew their faith was weak and untrustworthy. Verse 25 reveals, "He knew what was in each person", which is to say He knew who was wicked and couldn't be trusted as well as those with good intensions but weak and unreliable. He entrusted Himself to no one but the Father, a wonderful lesson to those of us wishing to please the masses. We cannot please everyone nor should we try because when we do it takes our eyes of God and sets us up for failure, especially when it's supposed believers throwing the darts.

I'm still in the process of muddling through these baffling relationships as I try to release that which I don't understand. Truth is, times haven't change and people today are just as weird and unexplainable as they were in Jesus' time. Those who offend have histories and hurts that drive their behavior, most of which we'll never be privy to. There are some things we simply cannot change or resolve, which at the end of the day is God's job anyway. Our responsibility, especially mine for the time, is to focus on doing the right thing in order to please God. It may not make us popular but it will yield heavenly blessings of far greater value.


Are you a people pleaser? If so, are there areas of your life in which you compromise in order to appease?

Do you put your trust in certain individuals more than you do God? If so, what does this say about your heart?

What other insights do these verses reveal to your heart?

February 21, 2011

Jesus Changes Water to Wine

John 2:1-11

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him."


In a day where obtaining 15 minutes of fame is often top priority, it's easy to feel lost in the crowd, invisible, and unimportant. Perhaps that's why reality TV and social media is such a hot commodity. It's prime opportunity for those wishing to be seen.

I honestly don't know how anyone survives life without a heart's knowledge that God sees, loves, and is with them every second of every day because there are times in life that we are just plain alone. For example, have you ever had a day where you felt totally invisible? I've never figured out what triggers this but I've had days where it felt as though everyone from the store clerk to close acquaintance doesn't see or hear a thing I do. I speak and no one responds, as if totally invisible. It doesn't happen often but when it does it drives me nuts. I suspect these times are magnified by moods, hormones, or spiritual warfare designed to tear me down, so I ride them out on the coattails of God. Using Him as my divining rod I cling to the knowledge that though others may not acknowledge me (whether real or in my imagination), He loves me and is with me no matter my day's circumstance.

Upon reading today's passage I'm uplifted by the way it magnifies the insignificant. As friends and family of the crowd focused on the bride, groom, and the wedding celebration, who would guess God was about to reveal His glory to those on the periphery. A few profound subtleties include the fact this wedding miracle occurred in Cana, a rather obscure location which just so happened to be Nathanael's birth place. (John 21:2) Remember Nathanael was the one so stunned that the Messiah could come from despised Nazareth. Surely he would not have expected Jesus' first miracle to be performed in his hometown, at a wedding, through the hands of servants. Then there's the fact this glorious first miracle occurred in the background, inside six stone water jars standing off in a distance. According to verse 9 the first to be enlightened to this miracle where the servants who had obediently filled the jars with water. Imagine what they must have thought once realizing the water they had added to the jars had become the very best of wine. No doubt the sounds of the festive occasion around them dimmed dramatically as they commenced absorbing the miracle at hand.

Everywhere you look in this story the hand of God was at work where you'd least expect. No one could have predicted a more nebulous location or time for the Messiah's first miracle, let alone who He'd perform it through. God simply overlooks no one and uses even the smallest of beings to do His will and witness His majesty. This seemingly odd and backward way of working out His will may come across as odd or foreign, but it is highly affective. Note in verse 11 that upon witnessing this sideline miracle "his disciples put their faith in him." The unexpected, unexplainable, and unpredictable glory of God at work in lives of every day folk like you and me. Isn't it a relief to know we are not invisible or forgotten but rather loved by the God of the universe? If no one acknowledges us today, we know we're loved by a God too great for description, the great I AM. Let's rejoice and give Him the praise!


When was the last time you felt lost or forgotten?

Pinpoint one way in which God made His loving presence known to you in a time of loneliness.

How can you share with someone you know the truth that they are loved and valued by God?

February 18, 2011


My friend at work rounded the corner the other day saying, "Girls. You know how people see the face of Jesus in potato chips and things? Well, what do you think it means when you find this?"

Revealing what she had concealed in her hand, she held out the lid to her newly opened single serve peanut butter container. Smiling ear to ear the lid seemed to be telling us to have a good day. Obedient to the call we laughed, took a picture, and giggled about it the rest of the day. It's not the face of Jesus but I think He got a kick out of it too.

May you see the face of God throughout your day.


February 14, 2011

A Valentine Wish

As much as I love to celebrate the various holidays throughout the year, my heart always aches for those less fortunate. Jimmy's been my sweet Valentine for 27 years, but don't think for a moment I don't vividly recall the days when I didn't have that special someone to celebrate this day of love. Just thinking of those days ushers in a flood of awkward, lonely, and depressing memories, which is why my heart goes out to so many on this day.

A good friend of mine recently referred to Valentine's Day as "Singles Awareness Day." While I giggled at her comment, I couldn't help but think how true this is for so many. February 14th is a great opportunity to express your affection, but if you happen to be in a time where you have no significant lover, it's simply a day that magnifies your void.

I make a point to think of others on Valentine's Day. Since our son is still single for example, I send him a card and some sort of a treat each year. Years ago I told him I'd be his Valentine until he finds one of his own. It's not the same as a girlfriend or wife I know, but it'll do until God sends him his other half.

I also pray that God will a Valentine to those who are alone so they will feel chosen and loved in a very special way. After all, we are each uniquely created by the very hand of God. There is no one like you because you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Dr. David Jeremiah in his book Signs of Life writes,

"When she was a little girl, Amy Carmichael earnestly prayed that God would turn her brown eyes into blue ones, for she longed for blue eyes. Later in life, she came to understand why brown eyes were important for her. In rescuing girls from Hindu slavery, Amy often had to cover herself with a scarf that revealed only her eyes. Blue eyese would have betrayed her identity in brown-eyed India. So learn to thank God for the body and personality He has given you, for no one else is exactly like you- and for God's good reason."

God really is our life-long Valentine. He loves us for who we are and will never leave or forsake us. Red hearts on Valentine's Day serve as a reminder of God's grand love that sent His Son to die so we can live with Him in heaven for eternity. Any human Valentine we may have here on earth is only temporary, but God and his love endures forever.

If you feel alone this day or miss someone special, remember God is with you. His love note to you is scripture and your beautiful bouquet is His breathtaking creation that surrounds you each day. I pray you have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

February 7, 2011

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

John 1:43-51 (NIV)

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” 50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”


I remember when caller ID first came to our home. The phone rang and all I could do was stare at the little gray screen, flabbergasted I could see who was on the line before answering. Prior to this amazing technological advancement, it was anyone's guess. That's when prank calls were an adolescent's favorite summer break pass time. With anonymity as our ally, we could do just about anything and not get caught. Like the time I talked my friend into calling a local dance studio to inquire about dance classes. With my prompting from the background, she told the studio owner all about her interests in dance and such. After wasting a fair amount of the poor lady's time, my friend wrapped up the call by revealing one small glitch, she wore full-length leg braces. Asking if that would be a problem, the owner sat silent on the line as we burst into laughter. It was funny at the time but I'm ashamed of my behavior. For one thing I've matured a lot since then, plus I'd surely get caught thanks to caller ID. Dance studios are safe from me thanks to this little modern marvel that makes every dialer accountable for their actions.

Our passage today of Jesus calling his first few disciples is revolutionary, much like the dawning of caller ID. Not only did Christ invite certain men to follow Him, but these scripture verses reveal His ability to see deep into our hearts. Taken aback at Christ's statement that his heart held no deceit, Nathanael asked "How do you know me?" Unprepared for what Christ was about to reveal, Nathanael must have stood wide eyed and slack jawed as his identity was exposed for all to see.

"I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you" Jesus said, sending chills up Nathanael's spine. Not only had Jesus accurately read his heart, but He knew private details of his life. This knowledge of him under a tree held great significance because fig trees drooped very low to the ground. To be under one was like going to quiet hidden sanctuary. It was a perfect place to pray and commune with God, so having been under a fig tree would not have been a well known fact. It would have been a private and intimate detail known by few if any. Imagine going to work and being introduced to a total stranger who says, "I already know you. I saw you while you were praying this morning." It would catch your attention to say the least.

This supernatural exposure of Nathanael's pure heart and private life was the catalyst that drew him to Christ. While other hearts would have cringed and fallen away from this rather uncomfortable revealing, Nathanael's heart recognized its Savior and immediately followed. Questions of how the Son of God could come from a despised Nazareth vanished as faith propelled him forward to his call. With logic set aside, Nathanael headed into unchartered territory on the promise he'd one day "see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." A true Israelite in his own right, Nathanael would one day in turn bear witness to Israel's long-awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ!


Are there areas of your heart you feel you've kept from the eye of God?

Does knowing that God sees every part of your being (attitudes, agenda, motives etc.) propel or repel you from Him? What does this say about your heart?

If Christ were to reveal your heart's condition for all to see, would it be pleasing or convicting?

God promises us that a pure heart will see more of Him. What parts of your heart need a good cleaning?

February 2, 2011

Bye Bye Bliz

The blizzard that swept across 30 states yesterday has left our region of Kansas City with 12 plus inches of frozen drifting flakes. The best measuring stick on our property is the perfect pile of snow atop the birdhouse just outside our kitchen door. It looked like a little white fur hat on an elf in the moonlight last night and is even more striking today in the blazing sun.

Housebound for about 24 hours, we've just begun to dig ourselves out. As Jimmy and I tossed snow every which way this morning, Dani slept snug as a bug in a rug and the dogs ran the grounds like wild horses. It was a lot of hard work but a pleasure to see the sun again. Between this blizzard and Kansas City's only other blizzard on record (which occurred last Christmas) Jimmy swears he's getting a snow blade for the tractor next year. We're getting too old for this stuff.

Fuzzy little hat.

Cocoa and Ecclesi basking in the sun
in between runs.

Romping in the snow.

Kickin' up snow.

Our backs ache something awful
but we're done.

Chances are you got snow too. How much did you get this fine winter's day?