Category Archives: Gospel of John

Valentine’s Day Everyday

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. [John 15:13]

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Now with that off my chest allow me to roll into my Valentine’s Day rant (if that is the right word)…

You see, I have a love/hate relationship with this day. It’s not because I am single (I’ve been happily married for over 10 1/2 years to an amazing woman/Valentine). The reason for my feelings about this day is this:

Why is there only one day out of the year where people are encouraged to go the extra mile for the one they love?

It seems to me that if you love a person, they would be your Valentine 365/366 days a year. It would seem to me that flowers and chocolates and candle light dinners would be the norm throughout the year. It would make sense to surprise that special someone with a random card on let’s say April 11 or June 4 or August 23, etc (just random days by the way). Why only on February 14?

And I can almost hear the comments out there:

He’s just a cheapskate or too lazy to do anything today.

I can understand that sentiment but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The fact remains, I love my wife; so much so that I would like to think that I would die for her. And therefore I want her to know that everyday of the year, not just one day where I go overboard with various signs and acts of love.

In much the same way (and more), Jesus’ love for you is an everyday, 24/7, 365/366 day a year thing. It’s not something that Jesus just shows on high holidays like Easter or Christmas. But rather Jesus goes out of his way to show this love in amazing ways throughout the year and throughout your days.

If love is such a wonderful thing (and it is) it deserves to be expressed all the time. And in case your wondering how my wife feels about this attitude, well, we’re in the same boat. She tells me, wait until after Valentine’s Day to get me flowers because they will be cheaper then. What husband doesn’t want to hear that :-)

And I’m sure the chocolate candy industry or Hallmark or florists are not going to like a post like this post (at first) but I am not saying to boycott them today but rather use them throughout the year to express your love to your valentine everyday.

Go out of your way to show the love of Christ every single day. Go out of your way to proclaim the Good News of the resurrection and the hope of everlasting life. Go out of your way to show how much you love people. Jesus did.

So happy Valentine’s Day today, tomorrow, and the next day and the next day and the next day, etc, etc, etc…

May the love of God through Jesus Christ fill you will all hope and peace for the New Life to come. Have a wonderful and blessed day.

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

The Wolf and The Shepherd

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” [John 10:28-30]

Earlier in chapter 10, Jesus is talking about him being the Good Shepherd. He cares for his sheep and his sheep hear and listen to his voice, and thus follow.

[The sheep, of course, are those who place their faith in Jesus.]

Under the care of anyone else, the wolf comes and snatches the sheep away because the hired hand does not care for the sheep like the shepherd does.

[The wolf, of course, is Satan]

I am the Good Shepherd Jesus says. Under my care the wolf will not snatch you away.

But yet there are many sheep who would rather put themselves under the care of “hired men”. They follow them because of what they claim to provide. These sheep blindly trust these false guides but when the going gets tough, the “hire men” have no interest in the well being of the sheep. They will run away and protect themselves for they know deep down inside that they have no power over the wolf. And they are definitely not willing to lay down their life for the sheep.

Just before these verses, the Jews are questioning Jesus; imploring him to tell them plainly if he is the Christ. Jesus basically said this, maybe not as plainly as they wanted, but Jesus did say it.

I am the Good Shepherd and I lay down my life for the sheep.

The problem is that the Jews are still following and listening to the “hired men” so they can’t and won’t hear the voice of another shepherd. So therefore they can’t understand or accept a “Christ” that is going to die.

But this is what this Good Shepherd does:
~ He places himself between his sheep (you) and the wolf.
~ The wolf attacks and kills the Good Shepherd (Jesus).
~ The wolf celebrates his victory.
~ The wolf prepares to devour the sheep.
~ BAM!
~ The Good Shepherd rises from the dead; claiming and protecting his sheep.
~ The wolf is held at bay; unable to snatch the sheep out of the shepherd’s hand.
~ The wolf’s ultimate defeat is at hand.

And only the sheep of the Good Shepherd can hear this and see this and know this.

Through faith in Jesus you will never parish.
Through faith in Jesus, Satan can not touch you (but Satan still can entice you, so beware).
Through faith in Jesus we are corralled into the Father’s hand.

I am the Good Shepherd and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Meditate on that verse today and relish in the joy of being in the Good Shepherd’s flock.

May God grant you the ears to hear the Good Shepherd.

All praise, honor and glory be to God our Father through Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Feeding time

Feed us O God as you have called us to feed others with your Word.
Comfort us O God as you have called us to comfort others with the Good News.  Speak to us O God as you have called us to speak words of hope.
Heal us O God as you have called us to heal others with your amazing grace.

As we enter this time of worship may our praises be pleasing to your ears and may our hearts be filled to overflowing.  May we leave our worries behind and be strengthened with your promises.  We enter this place to praise you and may we leave this place doing the same.  All glory and honor to you, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

This whole thing about feeding others has been on my heart this week as I reflect on the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the massive fertilizer plant explosion in Texas.  So many questions but only one answer will suffice…God.  I don’t know many of the “whys” of this world but I do know the Good News of God through Jesus Christ.  And sometimes, like a newborn baby, we simply need something as simple as “milk” ~ that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that all who believe in him may not perish but have eternal life.”  So let’s not theologize (Yes…I know that is not a word but I like  it) too much but rather let’s remember the basics.

God loves you!

Have a great and blessed day :)

The pastor -|—

The Feast

This morning the preaching text is John 2:1-11; Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana. This miracle is labeled the first of Jesus’ miraculous signs.  It also serves as a bookend to the Gospel of John.  In this miracle we see the promise and then at the end of John we see how Jesus is going to accomplish the promise.

The promise ~ The best is yet to come.
How? ~ The cross and the empty tomb.

The rest of the Gospel of John fills in the blanks with proclamations of forgiveness; more miracles (in case this one wasn’t enough to show you that Jesus is the one who is to come), awesome acts of mercy, instructions on how to carry on with this ministry and encouragement to endure to the end.  The Gospel of John is plump full of “good stuff” that carries us to the BEST of what is to come.  This life is not it so don’t cling to it as if it is.

Let’s pray together as we prepare to worship this morning:
Loving God, through Jesus you show us that you have prepared something much better for us.  Through Jesus you give us hope that this world is not our final reality.  Through Jesus you give us a foretaste of the feast to come; a great feast that will have no end.  May we not cling to this life as if it is the final course.  May we not try to build this life in such a way that it ends up being our final course.  But…may this life just be a teaser for the Great Banquet that has been prepared and where; through faith in Jesus, we have a seat reserved.  Tempt our “taste buds” to seek Jesus more and more. And may we also seek to share this feast with others.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen!

The table has been set, let us feast together :)

The pastor -|—

Christ the King

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
[John 18:36-37]

Today is Christ the King Sunday (according the the common lectionary).  This is considered the last Sunday of the Church year (with Advent beginning a new cycle next Sunday).  But whatever the so-called Church calendar says, I still want to get you thinking this morning what it means for Jesus to be the king of your life.

~ Does Jesus rule your whole life or only parts of it?
~ Do you go to Jesus with your hopes and dreams; joys and sorrows or do you look to worldly saviors?
~ Does Jesus get your complete worship or are there other “kings” you worship?
~ Do you seek Jesus for direction and guidance in your life or look to day-time talk shows or the self-help section?
~Do you celebrate and hold onto worldly kingdoms or seek the Kingdom of God?
~ Does Jesus sit on the throne in your heart or have you reserved that for something or someone else?

May this “Christ the King” Sunday shine a light on the defeated gods/lords/kings of this world that continue to seek your attention and alligence; and may your true KING, Jesus Christ, shine forth.  The gods/lords/kings of this world have lost but Jesus has won.  And because Jesus has won we also win through faith in him.

Jesus IS King!
Jesus IS Lord!

Alleluia and Amen!

edh -|—

Bread of Life

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (ESV, John 6:35)

There is so much theologically one can do with this text, but all I want to say is “Thank you, Jesus!

When I get hungry during the day I eat.  When I crave something more for my life, you, Jesus are there.  Even when I seek after other gods to satisfy my “hunger” you, Jesus, prove to be faithful.  You remind me, “Dear child, I am the bread of life“.  I then seek you and am filled…

…and I wonder why I even tried to find other “bread”.

Jesus…YOU are the bread of life.
Jesus…YOU are the one who truly satisfies.
Jesus…YOU are the one I truly need.

In you, Jesus, we have eternal life.  Thank you, Jesus, for “feeding” me.  And giving me what I need to be truly satisfied.  And what do I need?

FORGIVENESS!

Wow…it doesn’t get any better than that. Thank you, Jesus.

-edh-

God vs technology…and God won

Merry Christmas everyone!

I have to tell you about a God moment that I had yesterday right before I started preaching.

The text I was preaching on was John 1:19-28 (but I “warmed up” the congregation with John 1:1-18).  On Thursday I found what I thought to be a good opening illustration and copied it into the manuscript.  It wasn’t the best but it still worked.  I then wrote the opening part of the sermon before getting into the “meat”.  The main part was a biblical exposition of John which I did not write out word for word (that was the part I knew very well).  I saved the sermon on my computer and then transferred it to my Kindle (as I sometimes do).

Sunday morning ~ Everything went well at Belmont (8:30am worship), but when I got to the pulpit at Salem (10:15am worship) God decided to show me that he has a sense of humor ~ and more importantly that God is in control.

As the lector was reading the lessons I turned on my Kindle and pulled up the sermon.  I then placed my Kindle in “sleep mode” until I would “wake it up” in the pulpit.  So far so good.  Nothing unusual.

Then…well…God happened :)

I got into the pulpit and read the Gospel text and then proceeded to open the cover of my Kindle.

It was locked up.

Nothing worked.  It just stared at me as if to say “Hey buddy…you’re on your own.”  A moment of panic set in as I tried to determine what I was going to do without letting the congregation know there was a problem.  I knew I couldn’t go on with my opening part of the sermon since I didn’t know it well enough but I did know the main part of the sermon (“the meat”) like the back of my hand.

And then I got it…God didn’t like my sermon opening.

So…on the fly (and by the power of the Holy Spirit)…I began preaching…and the words just came out.  As I got going more, I got into the sermon and before long my Kindle problems were a distance memory.  After worship I got more good comments about that sermon than I have received in a long time…and from people who normally don’t comment.  Praise be to God!!!

I told this story to someone and they suggested I have a backup copy of the sermon on hand next time.  Sounds like a logical suggestion but part of me is not too sure I want to do that…

You see…on Sunday, God was in control…and I like that.  Isn’t that the way it should be?

edh -|—

P.S. Following worship my Kindle started working perfectly :)