When I AM is Hidden

Throwing stones.
John chapter 8 opened with the stone throwing scene where the religious law enforcers where ready to publicly shame and kill a lone, defenseless woman. 59 verses later, the chapter closes with a crowd throwing stones to shame and silence the God-man Jesus.
What is underneath this tendency to throw stones at that which offends us, or which we do not fully understand or support? What if we stopped to simply look, listen, pray and wait to see where the eternal and always present I AM is hidden in all that is before us? How might this change how we are in this world?

John 8:48-59 (NLT)
48 The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?”
49 “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. 50 And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. 51 I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”
52 The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
54 Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”
57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”
58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM]” 59 At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

What feelings – either comfortable or uncomfortable - are rising up in you as you listen to this story? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. Listen for how he meets you in these feelings.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God’s everlasting love and eternal presence.

Welcoming the Child Among Us

We all long to be welcomed, to sense that our presence is wanted, valued and esteemed. Our core identity is formed in the safe embrace and in being truly seen and greeted by the loving eyes of parents and elders. This form of hospitality is the extension of God's hospitality towards us. One again, Jesus invites us to return to the basics, the essence of why he came - to welcome all his children, that they may find and make their home in him. Experience afresh, Jesus welcoming you home to him. When you are ready, he will show you how to notice and welcome the child in your midst. 

Mark 9:33-37 (NLT)
After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” 34 But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
What phrase or word spoke to you as you listened/read?

How does Jesus call you to be a servant to everyone else?

Who are the "little children" in your life?

Think back to a time when you experienced a sincerely warm welcome. What made it so memorable for you?

Perhaps you want to be the child who is held in Jesus' arms. Meet him there in your prayer.

What do you want to say to Jesus in response to this text?

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Jesus asks this question in two different ways; one, he asks about who others say he is, and second, who the disciples say he is. What is Jesus really asking? Was he trying out what they were really thinking? Was he looking for perceptions that they had of him, of who he was, who they knew him to be?  What is it?  Even in Peter's answer, "You are the Christ," one wonders what Peter's understanding of "the Christ" was. 

The question is important for us as well.  It matters who we say that Jesus is. Was Jesus a holy man, a prophet, a teacher? Yes, but is that all? As we read and study the Scriptures we come to greater understanding of who Jesus was and is as God in human form. As we encounter the living Christ in our lives we have real experience of who he is. Who do you say that Jesus is when you bear witness to his presence in your life? Who is "the Christ" to you?

You might ask Christ the same question for yourself, "Jesus, who do you say that I am?"

Mark 8:27-30 (NKJV)

Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, "Who do men say that I am?"

So they answered, "John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets."

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ."

Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.

For Reflection and Prayer:
As you have been listening in the silence, sound and spoken Word, what has come to your attention: a word, a phrase, a feeling, a sensation in your body, something you have been observing that has suddenly changed, a revelation?

Jesus seems to have been quite persistent with His disciples, at times pointing out their fear, their lack of faith, their hard hearts, and their failure to understand. This time and for the very first time out of the group a single disciple speaks up. What is happening in Peter's life? Are the eyes of his heart beginning to open slightly? Is he having a new revelation of who Jesus is?

Think of a time when, after observing something for a long time, it suddenly changes becoming deeper in its meaning and importance to you. How would you answer, "But who do you say that I am?"

Misunderstood and Falsely Accused

Being misunderstood by friends and family or falsely accused by others could cause us to be deeply discouraged or to shrink back and give up.  How do we stay the course and persevere in the face of adversity?

Jesus had come into knowing who he was and whose he was, and thus his life purpose. He was not deterred. In fact, he gave a warning to those accusing and judging. He spoke with logic and common sense to make his point. He taught truth as well as offered warning against the sin of falsely accusing what was activity of Holy Spirit as being evil. 

Hold back on judgment and accusation; watch for the fruit that comes from another’s heart and actions. Ask God to give you a firm and steadfast sense of yourself and of God's wisdom for how and when to respond to another's fears or judgement. 

Mark 3:20-30  The Message
Jesus came home and, as usual, a crowd gathered--so many making demands on him that there wasn't even time to eat His friends heard what was going on and went to rescue him, by force if necessary. They suspected he was getting carried away with himself.

The religion scholars from Jerusalem came down spreading rumors that he was working black majic, using devil tricks to impress them with spiritual power. Jesus confronted their slander with a story: "Does it make sense to send a devil to catch a devil, to use Satan to get rid of Satan? A constantly squabbling family disintegrates. If Satan were fighting Satan, there soon wouldn't be any Satan left. Do you think it's possible in broad daylight to enter the house of an awake, able-bodied man, and walk off with his possessions unless you tie him up first? Tie him up, though, and you can clean him out.

Listen to this carefully. I'm warning you. There's nothing done or said that can't be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God's Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you're sitting, severing by your own perversithy all connection with the One who forgives." He gave this warning because they were accusing hiim of being in league with Evil.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened/read?
Did a word or phrase stand out to you??
Have your experieced being falsely accused? How did you respond?
What might God be inviting for you through these words?

Our Identity As Beloved

It is significant for our life to be able to absorb that as Christ is, so we also are in relationship with God. We are beloved. God is so pleased with us and takes great joy in us as we take steps that demonstrate our desire for God.

In this passage, as also with us, hearing and experiencing who we are as God's beloved as God's Spirit whispers into our soul, gives us courage and capacity to know how to stand in the face of deception, temptation, fears and anxieties. God's love and Spirit grounds us in our identity.  God's Word speaks truth to us and God's angels minister to us.

Mark 1:9-13 NLT
One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting part and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a  dove. And a voice from heaven said, "You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy."

The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened? A word? A phrase?
How is your heart being spoken to at this moment?
What is God's invitation for you through what you heard?
What is your response/question?