fbpx
South Fellowship Church

Life is A Maze(ing)

Lectio Divina | John 10:14-18

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.  The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. John 10:14-18

Lectio Divina means “divine reading” in Latin. It’s reading, meditating and praying the scripture in order to  experience it. The goal is not study of the word but communion with God, the living word.

Read: This is the last passage in our study of God’s will. Slowly and thoughtfully read it. Leave space enough to notice what specific words or phrases arise in you. What impresses you the most and keeps your attention? Linger with those.

Meditate: This week Pastor Ryan talked about how we can know God’s voice. Read the passage again. Ponder and think about those feelings and impressions that keep coming back to your heart and mind about knowing God personally. Let them speak to you. What is God saying to you?

Pray: Read the passage again. Prayerfully respond to God from your heart. Share your feelings and insights. What do you want to tell God? Ask him? Offer to him in worship?

Contemplate: Read the passage again and rest in it. What did God say to you and what did you say to God? Are there any thoughts he’s given you about himself? About yourself? About your relationship with each other? Review the Life is A Maze(ing) series for important growth points in your relationship with God and knowing his will.

By Donna Burns

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Lectio Divina | John 10:14-182019-07-22T16:35:23-06:00

Dismissing the Devil | John 10:5,10,12-13

A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”… The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy… He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. John 10: 5,10, 12-13

When my middle daughter was younger, she went through a phase where she’d pick on my wife. It was all in good fun, but my wife, when tickled, would become incredibly weak from all her giggling. She’d say “911” in her weakened state and, no matter where I was in the house, or what I was doing, I’d hear it. I’d dash into the room, lift Rebecca into the air and “tickle attack” her. More than likely, that’s what she wanted, but my wife was the instrument to cause it to happen. The point is, I could hear my wife’s voice over all the mayhem in our house, no matter her volume.

Just like I clearly heard my wife’s voice, it can be the same way with God’s voice. Perhaps many of us experience this with our relationship with God. There are so many voices that joust for our attention in our spiritual and physical worlds. Over time, just like the sheep, we learn what voices have merit and truth, and those which bring fear and distraction from what our good Shepherd has for us. This can be a painful process, learning the good from the bad. But the journey through it can be so full of joy!

We’ve read that God’s voice will match his character in the scriptures. The only way to truly know his character is to read the Bible. Community is also a wonderful way to learn discernment, but it takes transparency and trust, which only happens with time and relationship. This is certain about God: fear isn’t the message because his perfect love for us dispels fear (1 John 4:18a). Fear is from the evil one, and is harmful. Perhaps, to help in discerning good from bad, read the passage below and begin to filter messages you hear by what’s listed, keeping in mind “the God of peace will be with you.”

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. — Philippians 4:8-9

By Rich Obrecht

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Dismissing the Devil | John 10:5,10,12-132019-07-22T16:35:23-06:00

Responding to Relationship | John 10:14-15

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15

When I read these verses I hear such comfort, such intimacy, such relationship. He knows me and I know him. I don’t hear rules and rigid formalities; I hear sacrificial love and commitment. I lay down my life for the sheep. I don’t hear hoops to jump through, I don’t hear confusion; I hear clear, beautiful, intimate relationship.

That’s what I desire: to be in relationship with the Good Shepherd. The one who knows me, who speaks tenderly to me, who leads me. So often in my walk I’ve found myself trapped in a different kind of relationship, devoid of that intimacy. One which is driven by works and guilt and striving. This is not the Good Shepherd. In recent years I’ve been learning to listen. Learning to trust. Learning to really hear. And learning to enjoy being with him.

In his book With: Reimagining The Way You Relate to God, Skye Jethani writes this, “Life under, over, from, and for God each seeks to use God to achieve some other goal. God is seen as a means to an end. But life with God is different because its goal is not to use God, its goal is God. He ceases to be a device we employ or a commodity we consume. Instead God himself becomes the focus of our desire.”

More than striving to hear the Good Shepherd’s voice so that I can know which way to go, my desire is to know him and be with him. The voice and the leading and the direction come as a result. They are not my end goal. He is my Good Shepherd who knows my name. He is my desire.

Do you know his voice? Is it familiar and unprompted? Today, take an honest look at the depth of your relationship with your Good Shepherd as you listen to the lyrics of He Knows My Name.

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Responding to Relationship | John 10:14-152019-07-22T16:35:23-06:00

Validating the Voice | John 10:1-13

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them and the sheep follow him. For they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”  This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So, Jesus again said to them,” Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:1-11

When deciding if we should follow a voice, we use scripture as a guide. Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit of the Spirit. If we are listening to God’s voice, then it will promote love for others, healthy relationships, active listening, and acts of kindness. God’s voice prompts us to be trustworthy in our dealings with people, to be careful and thoughtful before we speak or act, and to strive to work for the good of other people.

If the voice we are hearing is urging broken relationships, strife, confusion, anger, lies, distrust, or self-preservation, without any regard for the consequences to ourselves or others, then this is the voice of the thief. The thief seeks to,” …steal and kill and destroy…” John 10:10. He is only interested in what is good and profitable for himself and he has no regard for the good of others.

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11. We are his sheep and we can trust him. We can follow where he leads because we know his voice. God’s character is revealed in his word, and we become familiar with God’s voice and his character by spending time reading, meditating and praying God’s word. God will lead us in a way which is consistent with his character and with his word. Jesus’ voice will encourage us to interact with others with, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” Galatians 5:22-23a.

Focus on the fruit of the spirit this week. Look for opportunities to show love, kindness, faithfulness or gentleness to someone who could benefit from your encouragement. Pray about which fruit of the spirit Jesus is asking you to demonstrate to someone this week.

By Grace Hunter

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Validating the Voice | John 10:1-132019-07-22T16:35:23-06:00

Imaginative Exercise | Psalm 62:1

Then Jesus said to them (the disciples), “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, …” Matthew 26:38-39

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is pouring out his heart to God, the Father. Psalm 62:8 asks us to pour our hearts out to God. Imagine a pitcher used for water, but it is full of all our emotions, sadness, anger, disappointment, fear, worry, anxiety, all being poured out into a large container, that is God. He can hold it all, every sort of emotion we have.

The heart indicates the very core of our being, who we are, our emotions, our motivations, our thoughts, our spirit, our soul. Psalm 62:8 asks us to pour our hearts out to God. This is especially important when we are experiencing difficult or sorrowful times, as Jesus was in Gethsemane.

Psalm 62:1-2 says, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” When we are sorrowful to the point of death, as Jesus was, God is the one to tell, as Jesus did. God is the container that can hold all that emotion. Psalm 62:5 says, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” Sometimes it is difficult to see the next step. Other times we can see the path clearly but it is not one we wish to take. We need to remember God is our rock, our salvation, our refuge, our rest, our strong fortress. When we are overwhelmed by our pain,  pouring our heart out to God helps us to move forward on the path God has for us. Then, we can, “Trust in him at ALL times, O people;…for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)

Are you in a difficult place today? Jesus was in a difficult place in Gethsemane. He chose to pray, to pour out his whole heart to God, his father. God is a safe place to pour out all our heart. Perhaps today you can try telling God everything you wish for, everything that hurts you, angers you, and all your disappointments, all your sorrow. God is a safe refuge, a strong fortress; he is our salvation. Psalm 62:11- 12 say, God is strong and loving. He will lovingly give you the strength you need to walk your path.

By Grace Hunter

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Imaginative Exercise | Psalm 62:12019-07-22T16:35:23-06:00

What Happens When God’s Will Is A Cross? | Matthew 26:36-46

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” Matthew 26:36-46

In the hearing and pursuing of this Divine direction for our own lives, there’s a good possibility that, like Christ, we’ll face some manner of a cross to bear, which might include suffering. When these times happen, we have Jesus to follow as the example. While anguish over the experience is evident in his words, this phrase speaks volumes: “Rise, let us be going.” Despite knowing fully what was going to happen, he stepped into it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was someone who had to know what he was getting into. He was living in a place and time where evil was rampant and people withstanding it perished. It was his end, too, being killed shortly before wars end. In his book, “The Cost of Discipleship,” I read the quote listed below. As you read it, perhaps the Lord is inviting you to surrender to what looks and feels like a cross, inhibiting you’re ‘rising and going.’  If this is your experience, remember Christ’s experience and his words. Take courage from Jesus’s reaction and step into it.

“The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

By Rich Obrecht

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What Happens When God’s Will Is A Cross? | Matthew 26:36-462019-07-22T16:35:23-06:00

What Does Jesus Do With His Desires? | Matthew 26:36-46

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” Matthew 26:36-46

“In the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus” is our mantra at South. We talk about this mission regularly and we make it our community’s aim. As we explore what we do with our emotions isn’t it appropriate to focus on what Jesus does with his emotions? We are in fact seeking to live in his way with his heart. What did he do with his desires? Even ones which were in competition with his Father’s mission?

In this passage we see Jesus honestly and sorrowfully pouring out his desire to his heavenly Father. He didn’t hold back his emotions regardless of them being contrary to what he knew was his Father’s will. I think this moment makes Jesus so relatable. He was the perfect sin-less Son of God and he experienced the full range of human emotions. The garden of Gethsemane was a regular place he had gone throughout his ministry to meet with God in quiet. He goes there again in his darkest hour.  Having such intimacy of relationship with the Father, Jesus had full freedom to express his anguish. He is our example. We can do the same.

As you purpose to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus, consider this question: Where do you go to express emotion to God? Do you go there regularly? Why not pray your emotions today to God? If you’re angry, be angry. If you’re sad, express your sadness. If you’re disappointed, don’t hold back. God can handle it. He made you and he made your emotions. He welcomes all of you. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or stuck in the process of sorting through or expressing your emotions, I encourage you take a step toward counsel or a support group offered at South.

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What Does Jesus Do With His Desires? | Matthew 26:36-462019-07-22T16:35:24-06:00

What Do We Do With Our Emotions? | Luke 22:39-46

And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:39-46

Brene Brown, a leading researcher of human emotions, claims “you either walk into your story and own your truth, or you live outside of your story, hustling for your worthiness. The most difficult part of our stories is often what we bring to them – what we make up about who we are and how we are perceived by others. Owning our stories means acknowledging our feelings and wrestling with the hard emotions – our fear, anger, aggression, shame, and blame. This isn’t easy, but the alternative – denying our stories and disengaging from emotion – means choosing to live our lives in the dark. It means no accountability, no learning, no growth.”

When Jesus walked into the garden of Gethsemane, he was owning his own story. He often met there to commune in prayer with his Father God. Luke 22:39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. Jesus knew his mission, his reason for being born a man. He acknowledged his humanness by sharing his emotions with his disciples. Matthew 26:38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me. Then he poured out his heart to his Father. Matthew 26:39  And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” It wasn’t easy. He was given help for what was about to happen. Luke 22:43-44 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. His betrayer came and Jesus chose to die so we could live free from sin.

We are all human; we all have emotions. We will either bury them, lash out with them, or let them slowly leak out. Jesus prayed his emotions out in his safe place with his Father God. Each of us has a story in God’s family. Each of us has a safe listener in God.  We are of infinite value to him.

Where are you in the journey of owning your story? Take time to share your feelings with a trusted person. If you are having difficulty with some emotions, it’s okay to ask for help.

By Donna Burns

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What Do We Do With Our Emotions? | Luke 22:39-462019-07-22T16:35:24-06:00

Trusting Your Heart | Practice

Aligning ourselves with God’s will as we listen to our hearts can be pretty tricky and messy, can’t it? This week you may have felt uncomfortable with this idea or unsure of how it could practically play out in real life.

Let’s put some skin on our devo themes by intentionally calling to mind a decision you have recently made or are processing currently. This could be a decision about a relationship – whether or not to date or marry a certain person. It could be a decision about vocation – which kind of job to pursue and where. It could involve education – where to go to school or send your kids (or homeschool). This could be a decision about money, sex, time management, life goals, etc. Whatever it is that is tugging at your heart right now, think about that one decision.

Now, take that decision and as you breathe in deep invite the Holy Spirit to speak to and guide your heart. One more deep breath in as you lay your desires and motivations before him who knows all things. Move prayerfully through the next few questions, being fully honest with yourself and your creator.

If I had to make a decision right now on this which way would I lean on this decision what would it be? And would the decision lead me towards God (consolation)? Would it give me a deep sense of life-giving connection with God? With others? With myself? Or would the decision lead me away from God (desolation)? Would it carry with it a loss of a sense of God’s presence? Is aloneness, turmoil, confusion or even rebellion associated with this decision. Or does it feel like neither (as in a neutral, non-sin issue)?

Pray this prayer of surrender over your decision. Holy Spirit, I believe you are alive in my heart. Your power is stronger than the grave and I believe it is true that you give wisdom freely. I am asking for wisdom and I am choosing to believe that you speak to and move in my heart. As I walk forward in this decision, I pray that I would have peace and joy. Thank you for using our desires even in difficult decisions. I surrender my will and my hopes to you.

For further study and reflection, check out this helpful website about St. Ignatius of Loyola, who really emphasized the need for discerning the different movements of the heart (whether away from God or toward God).

By Ellen Rosenberger

  • Subscribe to be notified when we publish
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Trusting Your Heart | Practice2019-07-22T16:35:24-06:00
Go to Top