We Can't Constrain Him

Scripture: John 6:14-15, 35

When the people saw him  do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”    When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.

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Jesus replied,  “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

Observation:

Jesus disappeared when the people took it into their hearts to constrain Him.  Yet, He promises to provide for us . . . I believe He promised to provide both according to the spirit AND the flesh.

Application: 

I've been in a crash course titled "What Jesus does when you don't limit Him." ;o)  Just like the people He fed in the first part of John 6, I had long constrained Him by what I thought He could do in my life, by my concept of how deity and mortality "should" interact.

The word constrain fits perfectly here. It means not only to force, but to force by limiting the action or power of the object of your force.  Mathematically, it means to set boundaries on the possible outcomes of an equation.  Which is exactly what the people sought to do to Jesus.

The people were wanting to force Jesus to be their King--to stop Him from doing what He had been doing, and to insist His outcome fit into boundaries they set.  And He disappeared.  (Not the result I want in my life.  How about you?)  And yet, later He said that he would provide in boundless generosity to those who believe* in Him.  ". . . never be hungry . . . never be thirsty . . . ". Ummmm, yesplease!!! Jesus is a God of limitless possibilities, His nature infinite.  As soon as we try to bracket Him, He slips away . . . there's no longer room for Him.

*Luke 6:46-49

Prayer:

Jesus, show me when and where and how I, in my ignorant way, constrain You.  Shed your glorious light on my understanding, and show me how to live closer to You, please.  I want You to flow, unrestricted into and through and over and around my life. I never want You to slip away! Amen.

On Submission

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:1-7 NLT

In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words.  They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.
     Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.  You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.  This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful.  They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands. For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.
   In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

Observation:

These kinds of verses in the Bible have always bothered me.  So, I decided I was going to take these head on, and see what a little prayer and quiet pondering could bring.

First off, this was written during the times of the Greco-Roman household codes.  Women were chattel, belonging to their husbands, who, thanks to possessing the prized Y chromosome, were awarded the power of life and death over those in their household.  Peter was applying Christian behavior to existing laws . . . not teaching how God wanted marriages to function.

Second, Sarah is cited as calling Abraham her master.  Abraham was the prophet-leader of his people.  He held the same position in his family as the men in Peter's day.  The husbands and fathers of today hold a drastically different position.  We are blessed to live in a day when men and women stand in equality before the law.  Besides: calling Vern "master" would make him tremendously uncomfortable--and I would hazard a guess that many men raised in our culture who would enjoy and/or require that have some serious issues. ;o)

Third, this chapter begins with "In the same way . . . ".  So, along with looking at what's around these verses to understand what they mean, we need to go back to the previous chapter and see what "way" Peter is talking about.

Application:

Here's what I found in the previous chapter that's applicable to our day:

"For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls." (1 Peter 2:21-25 NLT)

Reading that, I could feel the holiness of a living a life like Christ's.  In always choosing the peaceful path, of loving with the Father's own love, of offering quiet answers full of truth and forgiveness.  This is a beautiful reminder of how we're all to live.

Prayer:

Lord, grant me a peaceful heart. Bless my family with a spirit of forgiveness for themselves and one another.  Let Your Holy Spirit reign here in my home and wherever I go, so that others might feel the peace and rest that comes from You.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Ethics of Fools

Scripture: Proverbs 29:9 & 25 NLT

9. If a wise person takes a fool to court, there will be ranting and ridicule but no satisfaction.
25. Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety.

Observation: Wisdom follows a *wholly* different set of ethics than foolishness. (If foolishness could even be said to follow ANY set of ethics.) No matter how hard a wise/upright/ethical person tries, defending themselves against fools only reaps discord and feeds the foolish one's claims.

Application: If I were to try to defend myself against those who circulate speculations, I would only be stirring the pot they fill with their actions. I need to let Christ fight my battles, and rest in Him, and bask in His light. In so doing, anyone who actually takes a second to look at me--to actually see me, and not their preconception--will see for themselves the truth of the matter.

"I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken." --Psalms 62:1-2

Prayer: God, please continually show me Your way. Let me rest in, and trust ONLY in, You. Fill me with Your love, so the glory of Your goodness is all the defense I need, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Wisdom and Foolishness

Scripture: Proverbs 13:20, 14:6,8 & 15 NLT

13:20 -- The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.
14:6 -- A mocker seeks wisdom and doesn't find it, but knowledge [comes] easily to the perceptive.
14:8 -- The sensible man's wisdom is to consider his way, but the stupidity of fools deceives [them].
14:15 -- The inexperienced one believes anything, but the sensible one watches his steps.

Observation: The juxtaposition of wisdom and foolishness kept jumping out at me, along with the way that both wisdom and foolishness exist in all of us, depending (so often) on who we are with and what we are doing.

Application: I have noticed, lately, in my interactions with others, how we all progress through many stages of foolishness that (hopefully!) becomes wisdom. I've wondered how I appear--and have watched myself more closely for inexperience and ignorance, and pray that I won't allow what I don't know to make me foolish . . . but rather that God will fill me with humility and His wisdom.

I'm reminded of 2 Nephi 9:28: " O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish."

Prayer: Dear Lord, please guide me in my walk every minute of every day. Show me my blind spots and the gaps in my understanding, and please give me discernment so I won't hurt or discomfit others through my ignorance or inexperience. In Jesus' name, Amen.