300 Days – Part 3

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:5 – 7

300 days ago I began attending the women’s discipleship group at my church.

We meet together once a week for worship, prayer and sharing.  All of us are reading the Bible daily and relationally.   We share some portion of what each of us has read and learned from the Bible in the past week.  We don’t discuss it, we simply share.  We each take a turn presenting what we learned about God and our “take away” from His Word.

We work on keeping God’s Word on our hearts; an important part of our meeting is memorizing a Bible verse each week and we hold each other accountable by reciting our verses to each other.  After all the women have had a turn to share their verse and insights from the Bible, we look for a “Golden Thread”.  The Golden Thread is a common theme in our reading and shares.  It is astonishing how often it’s there.  We all have the same plan – to read through the Bible and a common goal, to know the God of the Bible.  Each one of us is reading daily from a different spot in the Bible, we all have different lives, some of us have been reading the Bible for years, some of us are “newbies” yet God is knitting our hearts together as we seek Him through His Word – only God!

Here are some practical tips to help you get started on your own 300 Day Journey:

  1. The Bible – if you don’t have one, get one.  I prefer an actual book but you can find the Bible for free online.  Bible Gateway is one I recommend.  Many people struggle with reading the Bible and there are many sections that are difficult to understand.  Use a translation or version of the Bible that is readable, the NLT (New Living Translation) is a good one.
  2. Notebook – keep track of what you have read and learned each day.  Taking notes helps you see repeated words or lessons and what God is showing you.  A simple, dollar store, notebook is good enough or use your laptop or PC – whatever is easiest for you but make notes every time you read!  Don’t worry about how it looks or sounds, this is personal between you and God.  I sometimes do little drawings in mine!
  3. Pray – Before you even open the book, ask God to help you understand.  Don’t look for loopholes or contradictions, look for what you can understand and make a note of it.  If you are a first time reader, I suggest you try some of the Psalms; Psalms (the “P” is silent) are all songs/poems.  The book of Psalms is in the middle of your Bible, in the Old Testament.  The author of the Psalms writes about every human emotion in a very honest way, joy, anger, betrayal, fear, confidence, sorrow – it’s all there.  Pray while reading, remember you are talking to God as you read along and pray after reading, asking God to help you apply what He has shown you.
  4. Memorize – pick one sentence or verse from the Bible that has a special meaning to you and memorize it.  Yes, I know it is difficult and there are tons of excuses why you cannot do it but try anyway.  Read and recite the verse over and over every day, several times a day.  I memorize by writing the verses on a 3×5 card and working on them at every red light I encounter while driving.  I’m old, I can do it, so can you!
  5. Share – what you have read and learned with another person.  You might be surprised to find others are interested in reading and sharing with you and you will start your own discipleship group!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1 – 5

I have passed the 300 day mark and it has been life-changing.  Someday I will meet the Word, the Living Word, Jesus, face to face.  Until that day, I pray I would be found faithful, I pray that for you too…

Atomic Reactions – John 12

PIZZA! Bet you had some reaction to that word!   Maybe you are a pizza maniac (Yes!) – as soon as you saw ‘pizza’ you started to think about getting a slice. Maybe you don’t like pizza (excuse me but that is a literal impossibility!!), so when you saw pizza your reaction was, “YUK”. (Again, literal impossibility.)   No matter what opinion you have about pizza, the word itself causes a thought, an emotion and/or a salivary gland response!

JESUS. What reaction do you have to this word, this name? For thirty-three short years, Jesus lived on the earth. During the last three of those years He went where His Father told Him to go, said what His Father told Him to say and healed those His Father told Him to heal. Every place and person who met him and many who only heard about Him had a reaction to Him.

  • Lazarus (v1) – heard of him, Jesus had raised him from the dead in John, Chapter 11. We find him in Chapter 12 reclining with Jesus at dinner; at peace, comfortable with Jesus.
  • Martha (v2) – she witnessed the resurrection of her brother, Lazarus. In Chapter 12, she is simply being herself, relaxed, serving dinner to Jesus.
  • Mary (v3) – Martha’s sister and a witness to her brother’s resurrection. Now, she is covering Jesus’s feet with perfume, wiping it with her hair; demonstrating her lavish devotion to Jesus.
  • Judas (v4) – his criticism of Mary’s actions, his false concern over money, was his attempt to hide his real agenda, to betray Jesus in just a few more days.
  • The large crowd (v9) – curiosity seekers, heard that Jesus was there but really wanting to see the dead man walking, Lazarus – the paparazzi of their day!
  • The large crowd (v12) – they were looking for a King; thinking Jesus would bring an earthly kingdom and free them from Roman rule.
  • People who witnessed (v17) – like CNN, on the scene with their report; they were more interested in reporting a miracle, not the Miracle-worker! Perhaps there were some who truly testified about Jesus.
  • People who heard (v18) – self-seekers, heard the news and wondered if there was something in it for them, seeking miracles, perhaps some were sincere seekers of Jesus!
  • Pharisees (v19) – full of jealousy, fearful of losing their positions of power and the respect of the people.
  • Greeks (v20) – they came for the feast and decided to seek Jesus; some for Jesus sake, others for curiosity.
  • Philip and Andrew (v22) – uncertain, they decide to just go directly to Jesus.
  • Crowd of listeners (v29 & 37) – some heard thunder, others angels, some saw many signs, “yet they were not believing in Him.”
  • Many rulers (v42, 43) – believed in Jesus but were not confessing Him because of their fear and “they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.”

Each one of these people described in John 12 had a reaction to Jesus and His words. People today continue to react to Jesus. What is your reaction to Him?  Are you simply curious like some in the crowd? Are you angry like the Pharisees? Do you hide your reaction, fearing what others might think if they knew you were interested in Jesus? Do you reject Him, like Judas?  Can you rest beside Him like Lazarus? Serve in quiet obedience like Martha? Do you run to Him with all your questions like Andrew and Philip? Do you weep at His feet like Mary? Whatever your reaction, talk to Him. Ask Him for understanding, that is all prayer is; a conversation with God. Don’t say you don’t have a reaction; even indifference is a reaction! Jesus never told anyone what to think; He simply spoke the truth. Your reaction, your response to Jesus is up to you. What reaction will you choose?

So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” John 12:35,36