Come and See God

GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

“Come and see,” said Philip (John 1:46). “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2: 10).

gary-2015Preston Massey, my esteemed colleague from our years in Brazil, just published the Branch. He reminds us the writers of the Gospels each address a specific audience andGod1 respectively present one of four lines of Jesus. Matthew shares Jesus as king, Mark shows his servitude and Luke presents Jesus as descendant of man.

John’s message is unique—come see Jesus and you will see God. The best has been saved till now. God walks among us as love, as Sustainer, as Protector, as Guide, and as Life.

The account of Moses was familiar to all Jews. They knew the story of their deliverer. From childhood they would have known of God’s call from the flames of fire from within a bush and of the Almighty’s self-identification as “I AM WHO I AM . . . you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me” (Exodus 3:14).

Well over a millennium later the story has transitioned to a beach seventy miles north of Jerusalem. There a young fisherman received the invite to “Come, follow me.” He couldn’t God5have imagined all that he would see.

I don’t believe it to be an overstatement that Creator God orchestrated events so that this boy—not much more than an adolescent—was to be an eye witness to the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and work of God in human form.

From his account as a participant he invites Come and see God, truly this is the best saved for now.

God10He wants us to see the one who could declare “before Abraham was born, I am (8:58). He is the one who revealed I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (14:11). And to bring reality to his claim he steps under the umbrella of “I AM WHO I AM,” reminiscent of God who addressed Moses.

So, John invites me to come and see the one who affirms “I AM the Bread of Life . . . I AM the Gate . . . I AM the Resurrection . . . I AM the Life . . . I AM Lord . . . I AM the Way . . . I AM the Truth . . . I AM the True Vine.” John invites me to come see Jesus the I AM who is God.

Here is why I think this is important to my now.

When I read Old Testament Scripture I read of a God who loved deeply His created ones. I also read of a God self-declared as Holy. His Holiness was such that the imperfection of humankind had to maintain a respectful distance to keep from instance death.

birth10Sinful humanity did not have direct access to Holy God because Jesus—the perfect lamb—was yet to be sacrificed. Holy and unholy could not survive in close proximity.

Jesus came to open the door of access to God.

When Jesus came as human and willingly laid his human/God self on the cross the debt of my sin was fully paid. Jesus made it possible for me to stand in his shadow as perfectly sinless in the presence of Holy God.

Because I see God sacrificed—I am able to see God who I can call Father. With the excitement of new revelation John calls out to come and this God we can call Father.

God7Come and see Life; come and see Bread that sustains forever; come and see Resurrection; come and look through the Gate and see God. Yes, come and see Truth like you have never experienced; come and see the Way that removes all fear and leads to God.

It is God’s best saved for my now. Each day I can awake to see God as Father because Jesus brought me into His house.

It’s worth a new look. Let’s go with John and see God.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Come and See God

Come and See Life

GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

“Come and see,” said Philip (John 1:46).

“Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2: 10).

gary-2015Life is both tough and complex. One survival tactic is signs.

I need signs to navigate my day. The name of my city is designated with a sign. Signs are also for direction. My city is laid out with street signs, neighborhood signs, traffic signs, numerical signs for homes, businesses, churches and a gazillion other public places. Signs point.

In the Fourth Gospel, John uses sign terminology as a label for miracles. Thus, Jesus first sign of water changed to wine is there for a reason. It points to God’s best saved for now.

life11John has a second sign. It reads, “Come and See Life.” For us human types there maybe no greater symbol of life than a child. Kids explode with life. They are not only vibrant but their life represents hope and future. So, John takes us to see a father on the verge of the loss of life. It’s his son.

Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum.

When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death . . . “Sir, come down before my child dies.”  “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed . . . When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed. This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee (John 4:46-54).

Come and see life!To come and see Jesus is to see life. The second sign of John is to teach me this reality: to see Jesus is to see life as God designed me to be.

The fullness of this truth still needs to sink into my soul. Perfect Jesus walked this earth so that I might see how I could have been if Eve and Adam had trusted fully their Creator and refused serpent-Satan’s temptation. Jesus demonstrated life.

Just as a faith encounter with Jesus by the royal official caused his son to live, Jesus calls me to envision restored life through my own trust confrontation so that I might live.

I am reminded of a promise of Jesus on another occasion, “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live” (John 5:25).

life19Here is what John invites me to come and see in Jesus’ second recorded sign. To meet Jesus is to see life. It is restorative now. I have one thing in common with the old churchman Martin Luther and the patriot Benjamin Franklin. No matter how hard I might try, I cannot make it through a twenty-four-hour day with perfection intact. That’s solved with the miracle of life found in Jesus.

To see life is to experience every step—even the missteps—covered by the grace of His (now our) Father. Although I’ve never been overly life24comfortable with the word, there is something rather mystical about the experience. The longer I walk with Jesus and observe his perfect walk through earth the missteps lessen in frequency.

That is how I was meant to be. I begin to shadow what I will become in the next reality. I will awaken not only to life eternal, but to life in perfection as God designed me to live. It as if Jesus said to my own dad, “Go, your son will live.”

Can you still hear the echo of the voice of the one who invites to come and see life? I would love to hear your story.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Come and See Life








Come and See New Water—One Drink will Last Forever

GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

“Come and see,” said Philip (John 1:46).

“Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2: 10).

gary-2015I’ve never been thirsty—I mean like the experience of days without a drop of anything liquid. Were I able to step outside of my body and observe myself, I would probably be astonished at how often I go for water. I’m talking anything that drips or pours.

My water world isn’t dependent upon wells, open springs and muddy water holes. Long trail hikes with empty containers in search of water is not my reality.

water2We humans must have repetitive water intake to survive. God used this reality, a thirsty woman and a distant well to setup an attention getting invitation. What if someone offered water with the guarantee, “One drink will last forever?”

In my last post John introduced a Jewish God follower named Nicodemus. The apostle wants us to come and see a Water-Spirit birth. This one who comes through Water and Spirit is God’s best saved for our now. However, the Water-Spirit gift was not limited to insiders. It is a God gift offered to all creation.

So immediately after the introduction to the religious ruler, John takes us to Jesus who stands ready to meet a foreign outcast at a well. The Nicodemus conversation is repeated with a woman who Jews would envision as outside the reach of Holy God. She too is invited to come and see God saved the best for now.

water3The conversation begins when a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4: 7-10).

In the beginning God’s Holy Spirit hovered over the waters ready to create (Genesis 1:1). Now, the Gospel of John pictures God’s Holy Spirit as a resident in living water ready to create eternal life from within.

water10 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14)

There are times I wonder if the grandeur of God’s gift fades behind the glaze of familiarity with the generosity of Holy action. Jesus’ claim is dramatic. I can give you water that satisfies forever.  I echo anew the woman’s request, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty” (John 4:15).

Millions of Christ followers have tested his claim and found it to be true. As I struggled for words to express this promise of Jesus I came across a hymn written almost two centuries ago by the Scottish poet and horatius-bonarchurchman, Horatius Bonar. It’s a hymn I remember from childhood.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give.  The living water; thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.” I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.

God saved the best for now. Come and see new water. One drink will last forever. If you are thirsty why not stoop down and take a free drink?

Come and see.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Come and See New Water—One Drink will Last Forever


Come and See a New Kind of Birth

GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

gary-2015Born in an antiseptic hospital the urbanism of my nation shields me from contact with ever present birth. First century Palestine didn’t have a phonebook with a list of local hospitals were births take place out of sight. Throughout history births were rather common events that happened wherever might be the expectant mother.

With large families and abundant livestock, I suspect the people of Jesus day were quite accustomed to new births at home and in stables. So, when Jesus first birth5introduced Nicodemus to a superior birth process, this learned member of the Jewish ruling council familiar with human and animal birth, struggled to understand how an adult might be born again into what Jesus described as a water-spirit birth.

In essence, Jesus asked Nicodemus to come and see a birth process that equipped the new born with the Spirit of God on board.

My guess is when Nicodemus thought of the Holy Spirit of God the Law and Prophets came to mind where people rarely survived close encounters with the Holy. In his reality birth7God’s Spirit-presence was in a box and safely hidden behind a thick curtain in the Temple.

To have Holy Spirit access so near that it was willing to pitched its tent inside of Nicodemus was unthinkable. Who could survive God’s presence within? Surely, that would be deadly close.

I’ve found all analogies fail in any effort to describe the Holy. So as weak as it may be, here is how I would attempt a description in 21st Century language of the challenge given to this Jewish visitor who came to Jesus at night:

birth8What if there were a birth that came with Holy radar on board? What if Holy God actually came at birth to live inside of you? His inside mission will be to grow and to protect you from evil’s control and destruction. It comes with an eternal guarantee.

John’s Gospel is an open invitation to come and see this new kind of birth.

He invites us to see the first clue given by John the Baptist when at Jesus baptism. The baptizer testifies, I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God (John 1:32-34).

I listen as Jesus tells Nicodemus no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit (John 3:5-6).

birth6John invites me to witness a conversation Jesus has with his disciples where I learn, the Spirit gives life (John 6:63). The vision of Spirit-birth continues to build throughout John’s Gospel. It will become my reality.

In chapter seven I come and see Jesus make a statement that requires John’s explanation. Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

John then explains, by this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.  A time was about to come when the act of Holy Spirit birth would allow the Spirit of God to flow inside and sustain all of God’s daughters and sons.

Wow, talk about the best saved for my now.

Perhaps the most revealing clue is when we come with John behind closed doors on the first resurrection Sunday. Through walls and locked entrances Jesus appears. Overjoyed to see him John tells us he comes with a gift. He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit . . .” (John 20:22).

birth10John has set the stage.

His invitation to come and see that God saved the best for our now revealed  a new kind of birth that will be the reality the church lived out through the remainder of the New Testament.

God’s Holy Spirit birth continues in centuries since and stands available even now. Come and See.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Come and See a New Kind of Birth

Come and See

GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

gary-2015Parallel to the creation story of Genesis is the creation story from John’s account of the good news in the Fourth Gospel. His striking language echoes from the opening verse of The Old Testament, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

With the ring of creation’s echo across time the apostle now shares fresh and undeniable news of the gift of created grace that is about to become accessible to humankind.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning . . . In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind . . .  The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world . . . to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us . . . (The) one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth . . . grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

see4Two minor characters, Philip and an unnamed Banquet Master, are used by John to set the expectations for what Joseph’s son Jesus is about to reveal.

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip (John 1:45-46).

Philip sets the stage for John’s invitation to “Come and see,” the abundance this Jesus see6has prepared for me if I will accept it.

The invitation is wide open to “Come and see,” and we will catch sight of great things as, heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man (John 1:51).

Now for the other player in John’s Gospel who casts a vision for what is to be found in Jesus the Messiah. He is master of the banquet where Jesus did his first sign at the request of his mother. John never gives his name.

After Jesus made water become wine the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine . . . he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (John 2:9-10).

John has his second illustration for the news he is about to share. God has “saved the best till now.”

In this series of posts, I want to accept John’s invitation to come and see a new type of water, to come and see dead people return to eternal life, and to come see God in a whole new way.

Come and See the Very Best God has Saved for Now.I want to see the very best God has saved for my now. I want to see anew what is mine in the present through His gift of a Holy Helper.

I want to see the very best Holy forgiveness God has saved for my now. I want to see the eternal and perfect light that is God’s best that He saved till now.

I want to come and see the Great Fisherman, I want to come and see a temple built in only three days.

I want to see a cross and an empty tomb left only with clothes of death no longer needed by the One who lives. I want to see a risen Savior and an ascended Lord.

I hope you will come with me as we see that He has saved the best for now. 

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Come and See—God Saved the Best for Now

Renovation Project—Enlarge My Soul

GodReflection: Is It Well with My Soul?

“Narrow is the mansion of my soul; enlarge Thou it, that Thou mayest enter in. It is ruinous; repair Thou it. It has that within which must offend Thine eyes; I confess and know it. But who shall cleanse it? or to whom should I cry, save Thee? Lord, cleanse me from my secret faults, and spare Thy servant from the power of the enemy. I believe, and therefore do I speak.” – Augustine’s Confessions

gary-portraitMy soul is a mansion designed by The One who created the universe. In its original state my mansion was perfect. It was streamlined to house the Holy. mansion1Then Satan step in with his garden wrecking crew. The destruction was so great that the walls closed in like a vice on what had been God breathed.

The good news is I emerged from baptismal waters with a new occupant in my soul. God’s Holy Spirit moved in.

Upon His arrival He was greeted by a heart, mind and body in need of renovation. Each space was far too confined for His glorious presence. He had a lot of work to do.

mansion7My heart, although it welcomed Him in was far too restricted. It would need a remodel for His love to expand.

My mind, although it made the decision to open the door and give Him a key, still thought far too much about me. It questioned if The Holy actually would look after and care for my daily well-being.

Then there was my body and my strength. For a game plan that looked toward eternal life, it seemed my body might be broken beyond even the fine print in His repair manual.

Souls drawn back to God eventually come to reality as did Augustine. There is a lot that is offensive inside and renovation is needed for the soul to return to its pristine state.

In more reflective moments when I step back and attempt to grasp the overall message of Scripture I come away with two thoughts that should calm my soul in a turbulent world.

First, life is a long-haul proposition.

mansion8My soul received such Adamic damage that its “ruinous” state can only be repaired over an entire lifetime and I assume its final restoration touches will occur when a resurrected body rises to meet Jesus at His second coming.

It is at this point we need to give ourselves as well as others abundant grace. Soul renovation is a slow process. Neither God nor His Son have ever expected instant perfection. This is difficult for us who live in an “instant push button world” who expect everything to be done at the speed of light. We want renovation done now.

mansion12The truth is Jesus’ Holy Spirit is the project manager of my soul repair. It is done within His timeframe not mine. I need to relax and let Him take the lead. Holy timing is perfect. My timing isn’t.

There is a second thought that should calm my soul.

I have one task and one task alone. Since I do not need to be in the business of fixing myself I am free to pursue only one aim. I am to answer Jesus’ daily call of “follow me.” I live from the strength of relationship not from fear. It is a relationship formed out of a conscious gratitude for God’s mercy and grace. His mercy and grace I did not merit nor was it possible to make available through my own resources.

mansion18It seems to me there is a sense in which I can simplify my interface with the content of the entire Bible when it comes to soul renovation. The more I come to know Jesus, and the more I allow His likeness to shine through me to every person I meet, the more my soul will be enlarged.

Is it too simplistic to believe if I keep my eyes focused upon Jesus he will in turn transform my soul into a mansion designed for the Holy?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Renovation Project—Enlarge My Soul

Soul Pain

GodReflection: Is It Well With My Soul?

gary-portraitThe Holy Spirit who resides in my soul knows pain to a far greater degree than I have or will experience. The Holy was deeply pained from rejection by His creation and from the pain felt from crucifixion and the cry of agony birthed by the Son when separated from Father to carry the sins of all humankind to Hell where God was not. It is this Holy who lives with me in my soul.

To live in a fallen world is to experience pain. There are times my soul doesn’t feel well. pain2There are times my soul hurts so badly it seems as if there is no immediate fix. No X-Ray, MRI or CT Scan can image it to identify pain. There are no pills or injections for purchase to relieve soul pain.

My best effort to identify a word to describe soul pain is the word loss. Just over a decade ago our extended family walked with my mother through the devastation of Alzheimer’s Disease. By the time death arrived her memory was long lost and her body had lost most of its recognizable traits. I join others in their description of this affliction as the loss of self.

Like Alzheimer’s, I wonder if loss of self may be the best description of soul pain? Isn’t that what transpires when I feel pain? My soul is lacerated by death because someone pain3was lost to my earthly presence. Death causes pain (loss) inside my soul.

Betrayal pains my soul through the loss of a friendship, relationship or trust. Betrayal robs from self. It is loss that results in soul pain.

Likewise, doesn’t that same thing happen to my soul when I sin? Sin causes the loss of self-identity—that part of God who makes me a better me. Perhaps a better way to express it is sin robs from the God identity that resides in my soul. It is the God of my deepest DNA that was passed on to me at birth. As I trek through life each sin steels more of Gods identity from me. I cannot imagine a greater loss.

All souls are wounded. All souls feel pain. To fix it is beyond the ingenuity of every human. The fix had to come from its creator. Only the Holy could implement the solution.

savior4Then, at just the right time (Romans 5:6) Holy God sent the Great Physician to bring an end to soul pain. It was he who took up our pain (Isaiah 53:4). As Jesus walked the earth he sought out those with pain and they were healed. It was a preview of what would be made possible by the cross, the grave, the resurrection and the ascension.

The living Jesus revealed an eternal soul to be housed in a resurrected body with painless scars. For forty additional days he appeared to the disciples and further clarified the soul implications of what had happen and what could be expected to take place by the power of the risen Christ.

A half century later he appeared once again to John his much-loved apostle. As their encounter closes so closes the pages of Scripture. The Master paints rich shades of confident hope for our soul’s future in the next reality. Soul pain will be extinct.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4).

I would love to hear from you. Is this a valid way to think about soul pain? What am I missing?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Soul Pain