What Are You Seeking?

What Are You Seeking?

A Meditation on John 1

David S.

 

“What are you seeking?”

These are the first words of Jesus in the gospel of John.

It’s a good question, because, honestly, from time to time I find myself wondering, What is it I’m wanting from God?  What did I expect out of this? 

Unanswered prayers stack up over time.  Disappointments with God’s providence accumulate.  Character flaws remain in myself and others.  Church experience is always a mixed bag. Middle class American life with its endless comforts, entertainments, and gadgets can at times feel completely disconnected from anything in the New Testament.

“What are you seeking?”  Of the countless ways John could have chosen to introduce things Jesus said, he chose these words.

Then the next words John records from the mouth of Jesus are, “Come, and you will see.” (John 1:39)

In the immediate context, He’s telling two disciples they will find out where He’s staying.  But the book of John is a carefully crafted composition, so this invitation to “come and see” also underscores John’s dominant theme of spiritual sight.

Light and Sight

Chapter one of John’s gospel, echoing the Genesis creation account, opens introducing Jesus as “the light of mankind,” (John 1:4), testifying, “we have seen His glory.”  (John 1:14)

The chapter closes with a promise of sight: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”  (John 1:51)

So the bookends of John 1 are light and sight.

I wonder if John had Isaiah’s words in mind: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)

 

The whole opening chapter of John functions like an overture, introducing many of the main themes of the book, including the new creation, grace, the Lamb of God, truth, the Holy Spirit, and discipleship.

But the structure of the overture itself, opening with light and closing with sight, highlights John’s dominant motif: seeing the light of the glory of God in Christ.

John wants us to see.

 “…I came into this world that those who do not see may see…” (John 9:39) 

So I’m back to pondering:  What am I seeking?  What did I expect to get out of this?  It would be good if my answer to what I’m seeking were to line up with what God wants me to find.  John’s gospel is helping to recalibrate my heart’s desires to align with God’s promises of spiritual sight:

 “Whoever sees Me sees Him who sent Me.  I have come into the world as a light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness.”  (John 12:45-46)

“Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.”  (John 14:9)

“The world will not see Me, but you will see Me.”  (John 14:19)

God is patiently reminding me that seeing the light of God’s glory—seeing Christ—is how the Christian life begins, what it is for, and where it is going.  This is what I can expect from Christianity.  This is what I was born again for.  This is the Lords’ desire for me.

‘Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see my glory…” (John 17:24)

Jesus could have come scolding, asking, “What’s wrong with you?”  He could have come angry, saying, “Don’t you know better?”

But as I read John 1 today, He came to me gently, patiently asking my restless, discontented heart, “What are you seeking?”

Lord, I want to see.

 

………………………………………………………

“The sun shall be no more your light by day,

Nor for brightness shall the moon give you light;

But the Lord will be your everlasting light,

And your God will be your glory.”

(Isaiah 61:19)

By |2019-10-16T20:46:16+00:00October 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Hidden Gem of Encouragement For Those Who Have Blown It

If you have ever had a sense of failure in serving the Lord, or know someone who is struggling with that right now, here’s a quick note of encouragement based on a hidden gem of Bible geography in Acts chapter 1. 

After His resurrection and just before His ascension, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to His disciples and commissions them to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. Here’s the hidden gem:  This happens on The Mount of Olives. (Act 1:8)

The Mount of Olives – why does Luke bother to tell us about the geography? Why does the location matter? 

I had always passed over that detail.  But recently as I read Acts, I paid attention and looked back in the gospels.  It turns out the last time the disciples were with Jesus on the Mount of Olives, they not only failed to bear witness, they abandoned Him and fled.  (Mark 14:26,50)

Standing there with Jesus in the place of their greatest failure, less than two months later, they would have vividly remembered the soldiers, the torches, and the terror. It would surely have stirred up feelings of shame at their cowardly betrayal of the Lord. 

In our culture, we have the saying, “If you fall off the horse, get right back on.”  But what if you murdered the horse?  What’s the saying for those people?

Jesus reinstates the disciples into ministry as their feet are standing on the place where they proved their unworthiness.  The message is unmistakable. The past is forgiven.  Forgetting what is behind, they can now strive for what lies ahead, this time in His strength instead of their own.

There is so much grace in the geography of this story.

Have you noticed that restoring failures to useful service is a pattern with the Lord?

·       Moses (a failed deliverer, sent by God to deliver His people)

·       Abraham (produced an heir by human effort, later given an heir by the power of God)

·       Isaiah (a man of unclean lips, made fit to speak and write the very words of God)

·       Jonah (a rebel who refused the call of God on his life, restored to useful service)

·       Peter (a cowardly denier of Christ, preached to thousands on the day of Pentecost)

·       Paul (a zealous enemy of the Christian church, became its primary champion)

God resurrects not just people, but their usefulness to Him. 

Is the Lord prompting you to accept His forgiveness and His restoration to the area of service you failed in? 

The story is the Lord’s to write. 

Is He writing you another chance?

By |2019-08-28T22:23:23+00:00August 28th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Lament

Chronic illness feels unfair.

“Who made man’s mouth? 

Who makes him deaf, or mute? Who makes him blind?”

 I struggle to accept it.

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide Your face from me?”

My understanding of God strains under the load of unyielding weakness.

“Why are you sleeping, O Lord?”

Have genetic flaws contributed to my suffering?

“You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Did environmental factors contribute to weakening me?

“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

Is it my fault because of choices I’ve made?

“Do not be discouraged, for The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Why must I be so hobbled?

“For Your arrows have sunk into me, and Your hand has come down on me.”

I long to pray from a heart full of joy, but the truth is I’m weary of being ill.

“There was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”

I fear it may never end.

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you.”

Praying for relief doesn’t seem to do any good.

“I pleaded with the Lord that it should be removed from me.”

Does God hear?  Does He care?

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you,” for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Is this punishment?  Do I deserve this because I’ve been bad?

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this is to display the glory of God.”

I feel useless.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

What if I can’t handle the future?

“My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

 ………………………………………………………………….

Lord, I need help.

Teach me the cross. Help me die again to self, and the expectation of good health.

Protect me from anger, self-pity, envy, and bitterness.

In my weariness, be my endurance.

In my anxiety, be my peace.

In my suffering, be my fourth man in the fire.

Walk with me, Lord Jesus.

With you I can do all things.

Apart from You, I can do nothing.

Teach me to be content whether abounding or in need.

Whether healthy or sick, strong or weak.

Give me eyes to see what You see,

to love what You love,

to hate what You hate.

Take my life – take this weakness –and make it count somehow for Your glory.

Thank you for your promises.  Please give me strength to believe them.

Thank you for your faithfulness.  Please help me to trust Your heart.

Thank you for the blood of my Savior.

Thank you, Jesus, for taking my sin as Your own

and giving me Your perfect holiness as my own.

Please help me be content with weaknesses and hardships, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

For the sake of Christ, help me be content.

All glory and praise to You, Lord Jesus.

…………………………………………..

“For God alone my soul waits in silence;

from Him comes my salvation.

He only is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.”

(Psalm 62:1)

 

 

 

I’m sharing this personal struggle with God because God uses overheard prayers to  build up His children (1 Corinthians 14:16-17), filling the Bible with written prayers for us to “overhear,” including the entire book of Psalms.

The point isn’t to highlight my personal suffering, (which is not special or unique). I hope that by listening in on my honest struggles with God, you may take heart that in yours, you are not alone.  “Through many trials we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22).

I’m trusting the Almighty Father, that as we pour out our hearts to Him, both privately and in the hearing of our fellow travelers, we will find rest for our souls, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. 

“In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

(John 14)

–          D.S.

By |2019-04-11T15:18:45+00:00April 10th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Don’t Try to Make Your Suffering Produce Hope

“Through Him [Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:2-5)

Don’t Try to Make Your Suffering Produce Hope

A Meditation on Romans 5:2-5

 Romans 5 says we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. What could make hope in the glory of God even better?  How about more hope?

Good news:  This passage also says God made a way for us to experience even more hope. 

So how does our loving Father increase our hope?

Suffering. 

Wait, what?  “Suffering produces…hope.”   

More good news:  this passage is not an exhortation to rejoice in suffering.   It doesn’t say, “We should rejoice in our suffering,” it says, “we rejoice in our suffering.”  We find it happening in us, in spite of ourselves. 

If you have your Bible-head screwed on properly, you may be thinking “OK, but there are plenty of exhortations in the Bible.”  Yes.  James 1 comes to mind:  “Consider it pure joy, my brethren, when you face trials…”  It’s worth meditating on how God uses exhortation to change us.  But that’s for another time.

Here in Romans 5, it’s made clear that there’s only one reason why your suffering doesn’t snuff out your hope in God, but instead multiplies your hope in God: 

God. 

The passage says “…hope does not put us to shame (fail us or let us down or evaporate under duress), because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” 

He pours His love into our hearts as we are suffering, through His Spirit, as a gift. 

He pours. His love. By His Spirit. 

This is not an obligation we must do, it’s an observation of something God does–a supernatural gift we receive.  It’s not an exhortation, it’s an exultation. 

It can be easy to read the Bible as one gigantic homework assignment.  Or a character evaluation we are constantly failing.  Have you been there?  Me too.

Passages like this remind me that the Bible is the revelation of Jesus Christ, not a list of requirements I must meet. 

We do not sustain ourselves, we are carried the whole way.  “Underneath are the everlasting arms”.

So don’t try to make your suffering produce the fruit of hope.  Instead, praise God for what He promised to do in you.  It’s a gift.

Are storms blowing and beating against your house of faith, making it feel like it may collapse?   If you are in Christ, this passage says you won’t lose hope in the glory of God.  It can’t happen.  But not because you will hold yourself together. 

“Because God…”

He will hold you together.  He is the Author and Finisher of your faith.  He is the giver and grower of hope.  Because of the cross of Jesus, your suffering will give you more hope. God promised. He is faithful and He will do it. 

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone.  He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation, my honor, depend on Him.” (Psalm 62:5-7)

By |2019-02-09T16:37:57+00:00January 29th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments