Life is messy. Things sure can go sideways can?t they? Hard things happen in our lives. And then there are the inward struggles. I don?t know about you but my soul can be unruly at times, as I wrestle with this?and that.
As I have grown in my understanding of my need for God I have learned good soul care involves seeing God more clearly. This, of course, means I need to keep redirecting my overly busy mind towards Him, which in turn helps me know and love Him more intimately and follow Him more closely. Not always an easy task, I will admit. At some point I had this ah-ha moment; the following passages were key.
Jesus?replied, ?Have I been with you all this time, Philip,
and yet you still don?t know who I am?
Anyone who has?seen Me has?seen the Father!
So why are you asking me to show Him to you?
The Son is the radiance of God?s glory and exact representation of His being,
?sustaining all things by His powerful Word.
To see Jesus is to see God!
I decided I needed to read about Jesus, His life in the flesh, in the gospels as part of my daily time of quiet with the Lord. This is where I could see the heart of God in living action. Getting glimpses of Him, as He really is, was another way I could undo my faulty thinking. This flawed thinking of mine seems to hang on tightly so the dailyness of seeing God in action seemed a good idea.
I have woven this devotional practice into the rhythm of my life and it has blessed me in countless ways. Seeing Jesus, as I? s - l - o - w - l - y? make my way through the gospels day-by-day, year-by-year, is sustenance for my soul, daily bread for sure.
As I read, ponder and pray, I not only see Jesus, but I have also learned to see myself. Noticing the people who encounter Jesus in these accounts of His life can be looking into a mirror. My questions, the joy I feel knowing Him, my dilemmas, my missteps, my leaps in faith as well as my failures, my selfishness, my fears, my hopes and dreams. They aren?t any different from those who lived long ago. I see the stupid things they did, giving in to their fears and/or their desire for control and can relate. Their story is my story in so many ways.
Looking at what drives them and then being honest with myself is a great way to discern what it is to choose to follow Jesus in my own life. I have had His words, spoken to those people long ago, pierce my heart over and over again. And in it all, I am drawn more closely to Jesus.
Being in the gospels has not been about gathering more knowledge about Jesus, collecting Biblical factoids like stamp collecting.
It?s about getting to know Him more intimately and personally as He reveals to me,
by His Spirit, what is timely for my today.
He breathes His life into me.
So for an example from today?s reading, I just started in Matthew again. I was touched by the first few verses, just the first third of the lineage of Jesus. What a complicated, compromised bunch they were, these forefathers (and mothers) of the Lord.
Here are just a few things about them:
~Abraham, a liar as well as a man of great faith ~The ups and downs of Isaac?s life ~Jacob, resisted and wrestled with the Lord ~Rahab, a prostitute yet willing to step out in life changing faith ?~The kindness of Boaz ~Ruth, a foreigner and a refuge ~David who used women for his own selfish purposes yet always turned back to God? ~The list goes on?and on?and on.
The complexity of mankind. Not much has changed has it? They were a conflicted and confused lot. But they also had shining moments of goodness, faith and God honoring purpose. We can see the transforming grace of God, His faithfulness, in what we know of their lives as we peer back through time.
So this is the lineage of Jesus, what I saw was this genetically lined up group of people were like an arrow pointing to our neediness. I also saw it like an arrow honed in on God?s purpose, His rescue plan, Jesus Christ. And in it all,
I see God?s grace shining through, even to me, like a beacon of light.
I came away from my reading, pondering and praying with awestruck gratitude as well as hope. I see God?s grace has been unfolding for thousands of years, never wavering. And His grace reaches me, all these centuries later.
God?s arrow of grace was aimed straight into my heart,?right where I needed it, today.
I took a deep breath, knowing He is with me, right here and right now, always. And that changed everything as I began my day.So all of that said, I thought you might like to spend some quality time in the gospels, right now, listening for what God might have to say to you. Maybe it has been awhile. I have a passage below you might like to ponder, but first here are a few tips I have found useful.
- Keep in mind you are reading in relationship with God. This is not a quest for mere information. Think of your time as prayerful reading, as being in back and forth conversation with the Lord.
- Remember some of what you notice might be implied. Read between the lines.
- Keep the passage you are focusing on (if you choose one of your own) shortish. It is amazing at what can come of a few verses.
- If you enjoy journaling, writing often provides more insight as you write. Writing in the first person, as a prayer to God, can be especially powerful.
- You might like to jot down a word or phrase that sums up what God is speaking to you, to take with you, as a reminder, as you go about your day.
- It can be helpful to take the time to read through your passage a few times with a few different questions in mind. This is like looking at the passage through a few different lenses.
Below are a few questions (different lenses) that may help you hear from the Lord as you read. Feel free to think of your own. This is not a formula.
- Read the passage slowly and prayerfully, asking yourself and God,
What can I learn about God from this passage?
- Pause and read again, prayerfully asking yourself and God,
What can I learn about people here? What do I see in them that I sense in myself today? How would/will I respond personally to what Jesus is doing and/or saying?
- After pausing once again, ask the Lord,
What are you saying to me Lord? How will I respond personally, in my own context, to what Jesus is doing and/or saying? What invitation do I sense He has for me today??
- End with an honest, heartfelt prayer.
Reading from John 14:1-9 (NLT)
?Don?t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me.?There is more than enough room in My Father?s home.?If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you??When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am.?And you know the way to where I am going.?
?No, we don?t know, Lord,? Thomas said. ?We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way??
Jesus told him,??I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.?If you had really known Me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him!?
Philip said, ?Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.?
Jesus replied,??Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don?t know who I am? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father! So why are you asking Me to show Him to you?