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Winter is Coming - John 9

This is what God does, gives the best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. Matthew 5:45b The Stark family in the TV Show "Game of Thrones" had a saying they used throughout the 8 seasons of the show: "Winter is coming".  The Starks were in charge of guarding the Northern Gates of the kingdom.  Old legends foretold of a deep winter that would bring disaster, and the Starks used this phrase as a reminder of that approaching darkness.  Game of Thrones fans recently blew up the internet with conspiracy theories in response to the Game of Thrones franchise posting these words as a cryptic tweet on Twitter.  "Winter is Coming" would have been a great foreshadowing of this last year in isolation due to the pandemic, but did you know that Jesus had his own version of this saying? This week we read Chapter 9 of the Gospel of John.  In this story Jesus and his disciples encounter a man that had been
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I AM - John 8

"God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"" - Exodus 3:14 (NIV) This week we continue our study of John's gospel in chapter 8.  This chapter is crazy full and a whole lot to chew on at once.  Let's break it into 4 key sections.   1.) Jesus was teaching in the temple and some of the leaders brought a woman they had caught in the act of adultery.  They wanted to see if Jesus would follow the law of Moses and sentence her to death.  Interestingly they had not also brought the man, who would also be guilty and deserving of death.  According to that law a witness to the act would be the one to stone them.  Jesus began writing something on the ground.  We don't know what, but it seemed to have a powerful impact.  He told the leaders that they were correct and encouraged the one among them without sin to throw the first stone.  They left one by one until he alone was left with the woman

Living Water - John 7

In John 7 Jesus' brothers invite him to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Booths.  Jesus had been avoiding Judea because the Jewish leaders there were already trying to have him killed.  His brothers wanted him to show himself there, to gain an audience, and to prove himself to be who he claimed to be, or to shut up.  Jesus told them that it was not his time and that he would not go with them.  He did go secretly though.    During the Festival of Booths everyone camped in tents as a reminder of the time when the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years.  It was a festival that reminded the people of their roots and that God was their provider.   During the celebrations some people took notice of Jesus and he started teaching.  As a crowd began to gather the religious leaders questioned his authority.  They had concerns about the small town he was from and his lack of a prestigious education.  Jesus countered that they should challenge the content of his teaching

Eat this! - John 6

  People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. - Matthew 4:4 In John 6 we find the story of Jesus feeding the 5000.  He noticed the crowd coming and he asked his disciples how they should feed them.  After expressing some doubt, one of them mentioned that a child among them had 5 loaves of bread and a couple fish.  How were they to feed so many with so little?  Jesus was not worried, he blessed the food and had the disciples pass it out.  Everyone ate their fill and the leftovers filled 12 baskets.  This is a well known story, mentioned in all 4 gospels, but John connects this event with a couple more stories that add some new depth.   The crowd was so impressed that they started to murmur among themselves, they were ready to make Jesus King, and he was concerned they might try to do just that.  It was not yet time for a revolution, so he retreated into the mountains.  That night the disciples crossed the sea of Capernaum on a boat, and several

Miss the Forest? - John 5

“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want." - John 5:39-40 MSG Many years ago Reverend Miller spoke at a youth revival service in Oklahoma city.  Over 50 youth came forward to get baptized that day.  A little over halfway through one of the youth workers ran up to the youth pastor in a panic.  With stress breaking his voice he explained "Number 37 didn't go all the way under!".  The youth pastor, confused, asked "What?".  The youth worker cried out again "Number 37 didn't go all the way under, his left arm floated up as he was going down.  What are we going to do!".  The youth pastor gave the youth worker's shoulder a pat and said "Trust Jesus!".   When Reverend Miller recalls this story he expl

Food, Purpose, & Flow (John 4:1-45)

My wife and I decided to do something different for our wedding.  Instead of having a big catered meal, we wanted to have special snacks and treats available for a more simple casual experience.  We had board games out on all the tables and invited people to enjoy the company around them.  Jill had a tradition of hosting something she called a Chocolate Party and our wedding feast was based on the same idea.  The day before the wedding a bunch of people gathered in the church kitchen to bake up every chocolate treat you could imagine, and some you have never heard of.  It smelled like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, and it looked amazing.  In my head I was making a list of all of the things I wanted to try the next day.  Before walking down the aisle I toured the dinning area to make sure everything was in order for after the service.  I added a few more items that I had not noticed before to my list of things to try after saying I do.  After the wedding and the pictures my new wi

Happy for You (John 3:22-36)

The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. - John 3:29 Twice in my life I have been promoted to a position over the person who previously supervised me.  I can't imagine that feels good, and I worried they would hold it against me, but I was wrong. They were deeply dedicated to their work and they were exactly where they wanted to be with no desire to move up in the company.  They respected me and they were happy to work with me.  I have more respect for the these two people then just about anyone else in the world.  There is something special about having the humility to be a team player when your internal hierarchical map turns upside down.   Our reading this week is from John 3:22-36.  Jesus and his disciples traveled back to where John had baptized Jesus.  They went down the river a bit and started baptizing people.  John's disciples noticed that Jesus' crowd kept getting bigger and bigger, w