I am thrilled to report that our move is complete and that though 30% of our earthly possessions are still encased in cardboard boxes, my heart is feeling very settled in our new place. Thank you to all of you for the encouraging words during this time of transition.
This week I have been getting up in the mornings very tempted to empty the boxes still unpacked in my living room. That is my personality…success=completion of a job. I have a love/hate relationship with scrapbooking because of this. It drives me crazy that it takes months and months to complete a scrapbook (well for me it takes years and years!)
One of my yearly goals this year is to complete three scrapbooks that have been unfinished for years!
Here’s a couple of pics for you to enjoy…
Though there is still so much work to be done in the house, I made a commitment to not allow myself to unpack a box each day until I had spent time in the Word. Though I love spending time reading the Bible, the pull of those boxes is VERY strong!
Somehow this week I have managed to ignore all the boxes for a few minutes each day and soak up chapters 8 and 9 of the book of John. If you haven’t read them yet, I highly recommend you read each of these chapters several times so that you can absorb all the truth that is in these verses.
Because our study guide, Journey into Knowing Jesus (JIKJ) breaks chapter 8 into two sections I will too. I will give you my thoughts on the first section today and then post my thoughts on the second section next week along with my thought of chapter 9 (at least that is my plan!)
John 8:1-11….my thoughts…..
Before I get into the things that stood out to me in these verses I wanted to address another issue that you need to consider when studying God’s Word. I know a few of my readers are reading the Bible for the very first time so I wanted to clarify something that can be confusing.
I will not take the time here to explain how the Bible was put together, but I would like to direct some of you to a few Bible scholars that I believe address the issue very accurately. Here are a couple of YouTube links to these scholars addressing the establishment of the canon (which is the BIG word used to describe the books that were approved for being including in what we now consider the inspired word of God). Lee Strobel. Hank Hannegraff. Erwin Lutzer. If you are interested in further information, I strongly recommend you take the time to study the establishment of the biblical canon…it is fascinating to say the least!
Though there is debate as to whether verses 1-11 should be included in the Bible (because these verses were not in the earliest manuscripts of the scriptures used), I personally see no problem with studying these verses as inspired word of God because they are consistent with the other teachings of Jesus in the Gospels.
With that ‘technicality’ being addressed, here’s a word from my heart….
Reading this passage always takes me back to a memory from my early childhood that is forever embedded in my brain. I grew up in small town Oklahoma and on Friday nights at least half of the town was at the high school football game. Even though no one in our family was on the team at that time, our family still loaded up in the car every Friday evening to head to the location of the game.
This particular night we headed to another small town about 25 minutes away. I am not exactly sure of my age, but it seems that I was probably in 2nd or 3rd grade. My parents had just begun allowing me to sit in the bleachers ‘alone’ with some of my friends from school. I honestly don’t remember who I was sitting with or even the outcome of the game. However, the one thing I do remember is the conversation that took place as soon as our family loaded up in our car to head back home.
As soon as we were all five in the car, the first words out of my mouth went something like this, “Do y’all know what I heard? _________ (I don’t even remember the name of the person….) is pregnant and she is just 16 AND she is not married.”
I was a little shocked at the bone chilling silence in the car. The next image I remember as clearly as if it happened yesterday. My dad very calmly but very sternly turned to face me in the car and said these words, “Holly Ann (yep…you knew I was about to get some scolding!), those are malicious words. You will not repeat that information to anyone else or there will be severe consequences. The Higle family does not participate in malicious gossip, which is sin, and this conversation is over.”
I had NO idea what the word malicious meant and because I had a healthy trust/fear of my dad growing up I did not think that it was a good time to ask. I remember going home and looking up the word malicious in the dictionary. The Webster’s dictionary described it something like this “ the desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another.”
Honestly, I don’t think that my young heart was intending pain to that person. However, this was my very first experience that I can remember dealing with the temptation of gossip. I remember the feeling of excitement to share the information with someone (why is that exciting to our human hearts?).
It is childhood moments like these that makes me realize how truly blessed I am to have had parents who raised me based on biblical principles set forth is passages like John chapter 8. At a very early age I learned not to cast stones because I am a sinner too. My parents taught me to look beyond the external sinful actions of a person and to see them through the eyes of God’s grace.
I love Jesus’ simple yet powerful statement to the woman being condemned by the religious leaders in verse 11, “I do not condemn you, go and sin no more.” This statement puts into action the words Jesus spoke in John 3:17 (NLT) “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
Friends, no matter the extent of our sins you must remember that no one is “good” enough to be in a relationship with God. None of us have to capacity to reach His standard which is ‘holiness.’ Remember Romans 3:20 (NLT) “ For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.”
We are all in need of God’s grace. We are all in search of the freedom that comes from being released from the shackles of sin. That is where the second part of chapter 8 will take us…and that’s where I will stop for now.
Until then, I recommend a little activity for you. Take five minutes today, write out Psalm 139:23-24 on a small piece of paper. “ Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Tape this paper to your mirror. Pray this scripture as a prayer for yourself each evening as you brush your teeth before you go to bed. Like the woman caught in the act of adultery, hear Jesus’ answer to your pray, ‘Go and sin no more!’
Questions for these verses to ponder in your journal….
1. Are you prone to gossip? What do you believe it is about gossip that is so gratifying to the person spreading it?
2. No one knows what Jesus wrote in the sand. Many have speculated as to what He might have written. What do you think Jesus might have been writing in the sand?
3. John 3:17 tells us that Jesus came to save the world not to condemn it. Is this the lens you use as you think of the world as it relates to Jesus? Or do you have a tendency to condemn? How should Jesus’ mission to save affect our own person handling of sin in the lives of others?
4. Romans 3:20 makes a connection between the law, sin, and grace. What is the purpose of the Law? In your own life, how does God’s grace help you to ‘sin no more’?