Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Seeker

I recently read through the Gospel of John using a Bible study (review will be posted on Thursday), and I learned so much about Jesus. One of the things that stood out to me was how he spoke to people in their own language.

In his conversation with Nicodemus in John 3, he spoke of Scripture. Nicodemus was a respected Pharisee who was intrigued by Jesus' miracles. He spoke to Jesus at night, in secret, for fear of his reputation being sullied by open communication with the man the Pharisees had determined to be a blasphemer. As a Pharisee, Nicodemus would know his Scripture by heart, so when Jesus referred to Moses' serpent, Nicodemus would immediately understand. Yet he was also enigmatic, encouraging the curious and intelligent Pharisee to look deeper, to want to know more. Jesus' talk of being born again would have frustrated most others, but he knew that this man, this one individual wouldn't be able to let the idea go. He would go over it again and again until he found satisfaction, which could only be found in following Jesus. And we know that Nicodemus did just that, because it was he who helped remove Jesus' body from the cross and bought 75 pounds of spices to wrap it in.

Jesus used a completely different model of conversation with the Samaritan woman in John 4. Jesus didn't have to travel through Samaria, in fact, most Jews used a longer road in order to avoid the people they considered filthy. Jesus went to the well, knowing that this woman would come at midday to miss the crowds of other women who came in the morning so she could avoid their scorn because of her lifestyle. To her Jesus spoke of a water that would permanently cure thirst and about the end of discrimination because of where someone chose to worship. He even confronted her openly, but without scorn, about her life of five husbands and living with a new man. He spoke the words that her heart needed to hear- of being fulfilled - and obviously this woman had sought fulfillment her entire life. Why else would she have gone through so many men? She was seeking something in them that none of them could offer. There was a hole in her soul that no one man could fill, and Jesus knew the cure.

Yes, Jesus is the salvation of the world. Yes, he came to save us all, but most importantly, he came to save YOU!  Jesus is a God of the individual, because he loves each and every one of us right where we are. You can see this in Psalm 18. Written by David, it is a celebration of a God who loves not just the world, but him as well.  I know it's a very long Psalm, but it's well worth the read. To really bring it home, insert your name what I've boldfaced.

I love you, O LORD, my strength.
 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
       my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
       He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

 3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
       and I am saved from my enemies.

 4 The cords of death entangled me;
       the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.

 5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
       the snares of death confronted me.

 6 In my distress I called to the LORD;
       I cried to my God for help.
       From his temple he heard my voice;
       my cry came before him, into his ears.

 7 The earth trembled and quaked,
       and the foundations of the mountains shook;
       they trembled because he was angry.

 8 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
       consuming fire came from his mouth,
       burning coals blazed out of it.

 9 He parted the heavens and came down;
       dark clouds were under his feet.

 10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
       he soared on the wings of the wind.

 11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
       the dark rain clouds of the sky.

 12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
       with hailstones and bolts of lightning.

 13 The LORD thundered from heaven;
       the voice of the Most High resounded. 

 14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies ,
       great bolts of lightning and routed them.

 15 The valleys of the sea were exposed
       and the foundations of the earth laid bare
       at your rebuke, O LORD,
       at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

 16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
       he drew me out of deep waters.

 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
       from my foes, who were too strong for me.

 18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
       but the LORD was my support.

 19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
       he rescued me because he delighted in me.

 20 The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
       according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.

 21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD;
       I have not done evil by turning from my God.

 22 All his laws are before me;
       I have not turned away from his decrees.

 23 I have been blameless before him
       and have kept myself from sin.

 24 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
       according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

 25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
       to the blameless you show yourself blameless,

 26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
       but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.

 27 You save the humble
       but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

 28 You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning;
       my God turns my darkness into light.

 29 With your help I can advance against a troop;
       with my God I
can scale a wall.
 30 As for God, his way is perfect;
       the word of the LORD is flawless.
       He is a shield
       for all who take refuge in him.

 31 For who is God besides the LORD ?
       And who is the Rock except our God?

 32 It is God who arms me with strength
       and makes my way perfect.

 33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
       he enables me to stand on the heights.

 34 He trains my hands for battle;
       my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

 35 You give me your shield of victory,
       and your right hand sustains me;
       you stoop down to make me great.

 36 You broaden the path beneath me,
       so that my ankles do not turn.

 37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
       I did not turn back till they were destroyed.

 38 I crushed them so that they could not rise;
       they fell beneath my feet.

 39 You armed me with strength for battle;
       you made my adversaries bow at my feet.

 40 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
       and I destroyed my foes.

 41 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—
       to the LORD, but he did not answer.

 42 I beat them as fine as dust borne on the wind;
       I poured them out like mud in the streets.

 43 You have delivered me from the attacks of the people;
       you have made me the head of nations;
       people I did not know are subject to me.

 44 As soon as they hear me, they obey me;
       foreigners cringe before me.

 45 They all lose heart;
       they come trembling from their strongholds.

 46 The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
       Exalted be God my Savior!

 47 He is the God who avenges me,
       who subdues nations under me,

 48 who saves me from my enemies.
       You exalted me above my foes;
       from violent men you rescued me.

 49 Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD;
       I will sing praises to your name.

My thought for you today is that Jesus loves you, and if you listen, he will speak to you in a way that you can hear. It won't be hard to understand; you just have to open your eyes, ears, and heart, because he truly wants to talk to you, and he speaks your language.

The Seeker by Ann Gabhart is the third in The Shakers series. Charlotte Vance has long been used to running her family estate, Grayson, in Kentucky until her father brings home a new wife, Selena, who is young enough to be his daughter and who has her own ideas on how Grayson should be cared for. Charlotte's fiance, who would have been her escape from her Selena's reign of terror, but he's broken their engagement to join the Shakers, a religious community nearby that believes in communal living but no marriage. He invites her to join the community as well, and Charlotte is forced to accept before Selena ships her off to boarding school. Before she leaves, newspaper artist Adam Wade tempts her with a kiss in the garden, a kiss that will carry them both through the trying years to come. Gabhart is an extraordinarily talented writer who perfectly renders a tumultuous time in American history. Charlotte and Adam's meeting in the garden is equal to that of Scarlett and Rhett in Gone with the Wind: a feisty heroine who has just been embarrassed by a man, and a mustached gentleman with a devilish grin who is unafraid to tease her and steal a kiss. As the nation is headed toward Civil War, Charlotte and Adam are both caught up in events bigger than they are. Charlotte is a strong-willed and intelligent heroine (who actually looks like the cover model) and readers will enjoy reading about her growth in character and faith. Adam begins as a bit of a rake, but as the book and war progress, he becomes worthy of Charlotte and finds faith of his own. Gabhart's books feel like so much more than just a romance; she packs in history, suspense, drama, and faith all with a powerful punch. I can't wait to read whatever she does next.

Thank you to Revell Books for providing me with a copy of this book for review. Available July 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.