I had to chuckle the other evening as I drove home. I came across a deer-crossing street sign and someone had put a red nose on the deer. I said, “Look, it’s Rudolph,” as I passed by the sign. Then I pondered over what some may say when they see the same sign. I know that the sign is the property of the local government, and so technically the nose could be seen as defacement of property. Legal actions could be taken against the person who chose to apply the nose to the sign. At the same time, I found it comical. Please do not get me wrong—I am not in any way saying it’s okay to deface or damage property. What I am trying to express is how I saw this and had a laugh at the cute, comical image.
Over the years, I have found myself on a roller coaster ride with grace. When I was younger, I was happy about grace. I was glad that God gave me grace. I wanted grace. I was stingy and wanted to keep all the grace I could handle. As I got older, I started to learn more about the Law. I started to find myself a bit proud. I started to think better of myself. I sat myself up high. I was smug. I felt somewhat superior to some others. This grew as I attended university and increased my knowledge of the Bible. It’s interesting how we can grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, and separate ourselves so much from grace, because we stand on knowledge. We hold tightly to Scripture, but so tightly that we miss the common thread of love. We like the feeling of being right, being justified, being a child of God. We miss the “all fall short” and the “love others” and “honor everyone.” We become a Pharisee and can be blind to it for a long time, even years later.
As the years pass by, I slowly find myself more broken. I find myself understanding grace more. I find myself needing grace more. I look back on the person I used to be and see how God has changed me. He has shown me that I was sometimes a stumbling block when I should have been a bridge. He has reminded me that the grace I receive, is the same grace that I should pour out to others. He opens my eyes to love simply and deeply—to not make life so difficult and draining. I have long ago realized that the greatest threat to my relationship with God is not Satan; it’s me. I am a long way from the follow-the-rules-down-to-the-last-letter kid I once was in school. I have learned to live, to love, to laugh. I have learned that a Rudolph nose, despite the defacement of property, is funny. I have decided to love anyway, to laugh often, to forgive freely. Life is short. We need a few more Rudolph noses and a lot more love. We desperately all need Jesus. Oh, how sweet the sound of His amazing grace!
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” – Ephesians 1:7 [ESV]
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” – Acts 20:24 [ESV]
8-26-17 – Provision – “FEAST ON JESUS”
BREAD OF LIFE
John 6:35 – Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
John 7:37-39 – On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”(When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
John 4:10, 13-14 – Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” … Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
1 Corinthians 2:10-12– But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
Luke 22:15-20 – And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you.For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
- Look Back in Remembrance
- Of Christ, of what Christ did on Cross, of the love of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:24)
- AFFECTIONATELY REMEMBER
- Body of Christ broken for you
- Blood of Christ poured out for you
- Poured out – GAVE His life.
- 1 Peter 4:20 before the foundation of world
- Wasn’t spilled like an accident
- Look Ahead to His Coming
- As often as you eat bread & drink cup – proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (I Corinthians 11:26)
- Look Within
- Examine yourself before Communion (1 Corinthians 11:28)
- THOROUGHLY EXAMINE
- Doximazo “dok-im-ad-zo”
- Discern / examine / test / prove
- Repent of any sin, if you don’t do this you dishonor the body of Christ and damn self (v. 29)
Jesus and His disciples during Last Supper drank:
1stcup (sanctification– He chose us to be set apart)
2ndcup (deliverance– He alone sets us free from the bondage of our sin)
3rdcup (redemption– He alone pays our ransom price) was one drank for introduction to Holy Communion teaching.
Still had 4thcup (hope– we have hope in the coming of Jesus) to drink in New Jerusalem
Have you answered the call? Are you ready for His return?
Isaiah 55:1 – Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Revelation 7:16-17– Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’
Revelation 19:7 – Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.
3 parts of wedding:
- Marriage contract signed by parents, dowry paid for bride & then the engagement begins
- About a year later, the groom and friends go to house of the bride, then they parade through the streets. The bride knew in advance that it would happen in about a year, but didn’t have the exact time. She best be ready (Matthew 25:1-13, Parable of the Ten Virgins) – 1-year engagement
- Supper went on for days (John 2:1-2) – 7-day feast – most important people invited first & everyone stayed then to the end of celebration.
1stphase is completed – New Covenant with God, believer put faith in Christ, dowry paid to God the Father – the blood of Christ was shed on the bride’s behalf.
2ndphase – Christ is coming to claim His bride
3rdphase – Wedding Feast with the Lamb
HOW CAN WE PREPARE:
Matthew 4:4 – But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Jeremiah 15:16 – Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.
John 10:14-15– I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. YOU RECOGNIZE WHO YOU KNOW
Ephesians 5:25-29– Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church
John 4:32, 34 – But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”… Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.
AS YOU EAT THE WORD, YOU FIND NOURISHMENT FOLLOWING IT.
If seeking this close, intimate relationship with Jesus – PRAYER IS CRUCIAL
Psalm 63:1 – You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
The book of Revelation – how the Church prays to initiate things to happen. Our prayer life must be active.
We read in Revelation 8 of the prayers of God’s people filling bowls and being mixed with fire (God’s Power). It is these prayer offerings from the saints that lead to the 7 trumpetswhich move us toward the New Heaven and New Earth!
Revelation 22:17– The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. We as Church should cry out EVEN SO COME
Psalm 42:1-2 – As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?
We should desire to be with God… to be near Him… to commune with Him… to be in His Presence always!
Let us feast on Jesus!
Let us be washed by the Word!
Let us prepare for the coming of our King!
Let us cry out to the Lord in Prayer…. Even So Come!
Lord, we are desperate for You Lord!
We wait for You!
Even though Lot chose the land to the east, it didn’t remove the promise of God. Remember, God promised Abram descendants, land, and blessing. Lot making a choice for some land, does not cancel a promise of God. No one can take away from the Word of God. This is why it is so vital for us to have His Word written in our hearts. This is why it is so important for us to be deep in the Word, reading it, meditating on it, cherishing it. So that we know these promises. So that we know what He says, what He commands, what He desires. So that we know Him.
Abram was given these promises and these promises would stand. Abram never saw all of the promises come to fruition; his descendants did. At this moment in the narrative, as Lot goes in one direction and Abram is to go the other, it would appear as if this promise of land would now not happen. That’s how you and I think so often. Well I guess this won’t happen now. God says this, God promises that, but I’m not seeing anything appear to be moving in that direction. At this point, God told Abram to stand and walk the land He would deliver.
Arise, walk into the promise of God. That’s basically what He told Abram. Arise, walk into the promise of God. See, God promises you and I a lot. He promises you things. Look into His Word. Read His promises. Speak to Him. Through the Holy Spirit, He will reveal His Word to you. Listen. You will read of His promises. But these promises do not just fall upon you. The world will tell you they aren’t true. Some will make you think they couldn’t possibly happen. You will look around and think that it’s never going to come to fruition. Arise, walk into the promise of God. Stand up. Walk forward in faith. Embrace the promises of God. Hold onto them. Trust that He will deliver.
“Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” – Genesis 13:17 [ESV]
During the walk this morning, it was quite foggy. It was the kind of fog that when you walk forward, you cannot see a thing. Even so, I know what is supposed to be there. I’ve walked the same path every morning and evening for years. So I walked forward in trust.
The Bible speaks of many great people of faith. Hebrews 11 is known as the Hall of Faith as it is filled with many of these faithful followers of God. People like Abraham, who God commanded to leave all he knew and walk into the unknown. He said that He would should Abraham where to go. Now that’s faith. Things are different for us. Even though there is a lot of unknown, we have a lot more to go on than Abraham did. We have the Word of God. We have the Old and the New Testaments. We can read about the faithfulness of God. We can read about how God provided. We can read about how God protected His people.
We don’t always have the faith we should, because we are human. We have doubts. We have worries. It is in these moments we pray for God to help our unbelief. “I believe. Help my unbelief.” As the fog up ahead keeps you from knowing all that will come your way, walk with fog faith, clinging to the promises of God, trusting God at His Word, for He is the best promise keeper.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1 [NIV]
In Numbers 8, we read about the instructions God gives Moses to share with Aaron regarding the lighting of the seven lamps. The light is a symbol of the presence of God among His people. The lampstand was within the Tabernacle; the lampstand was in the first section which was the Holy Place. Aaron and his sons were in charge of keeping the lamps forever lit. This points to Jesus Who is the true Light that will forever shine.
We read in this passage that Aaron was to place the lamps in the lampstand in such a way that their light would shine forward in front of the lampstand. If Aaron followed God’s command, the lamps would reflect their light forward. This is a great reminder of how the Light, the Truth of God which we find in His Word, can shine a light in this dark world.
Today, embrace the Light. Spend time in the Word of God. Spend time with Jesus Who is the Light, the true Light who gives light to everyone (John 1:9). Ask for the Light to shine forward in your life today. Ask that God use you to shine forth the Light wherever you are led.
“’Give Aaron the following instructions: When you set up the seven lamps in the lampstand, place them so their light shines forward in front of the lampstand.’ So Aaron did this. He set up the seven lamps so they reflected their light forward, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. – Numbers 8:2-3 [NLT]
When Jesus called His disciples, it was interesting to see the interaction between Him and the disciples. Simon Peter was fishing with James and John. They fished all night and yet the Bible says that the “took nothing.” Nothing came from their fishing, despite them being experienced fisherman and diligently attempting to catch fish.
Jesus comes along and enters their boat and they go out a little from shore. He began teaching from their boat. Then Jesus tells them to let down their nets. They had a night full of no fish, yet we read that they say, “But at Your word I will let down the nets.” They obeyed Jesus and they hauled in so many fish that the net began to tear.
Imagine if you responded to Jesus with “at Your Word.” Imagine if every time the Spirit brought to memory the Word of God, you would say, “at Your Word.” Just imagine.
“And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your word I will let down the nets.’” – Luke 5:5 [ESV]
My dog Max often has intense dreams that get his paws moving. Early this morning, I woke up when I heard him whimpering. I did what I always do; I said, “It’s okay Max. It’s okay.” That is usually enough to calm him down. My voice. It is a voice he knows well – the voice of his master. It is a phrase I say to him a lot on our walks as I try to encourage him during his anxious, stressful moments.
This week, I am preparing a message about what Jesus said about anxiety and fear. After I told Max it would be “okay,” and he quickly calmed down, I considered how our Lord tells us in His Word that it will be “okay.” Sadly, we do not often take the time to listen to His voice or read His Word. Instead of resting in Him, instead of enjoying the peace only He offers, we allow ourselves to worry our days away.
I have seen anxiety rob friends and family of peace. I have seen the struggles of loved ones cause health problems, hospital visits, depression, and more. Worry, anxiety, fear—we all feel these things. Thankfully, we have a Father Who calls out to us. We have a Father Who still speaks to us. We have a Father Who embraces us, Who cares for us, Who knows our needs better than even we know them. He tells us to cast everything on Him. He promises He hears. He ensures His great purpose. Whatever you may be struggling with today, listen for His still small voice. Listen as He speaks to you. It’s going to be okay, my friends. Maybe it doesn’t look like it right now—but it will be okay.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 [NASB]
“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:7 [NLT]
During our morning walk, the dogs and I passed by our neighbor’s house and noticed the grass seeds were sprouting. I am very OCD and keep the dogs from trampling over the grass seed the neighbors spread to get their lawn ready for the season. I noticed the neighbors were having a horrible time getting the grass to grow because of a few problems. I wanted so badly to assist as I have a bit of a green thumb.
First, my neighbors did not do anything to prevent the birds from running off with the seeds. Second, some of the places that the seed actually took included an area not meant for growth. The seed fell upon a small bit of dirt that accidentally moved onto the pavement during a rain storm. The seeds sprouted, but in time, the new sprouts will die off.
This grass growing process reminds me of Matthew 13, which discusses my favorite parable of Jesus, the Parable of the Sower or the Parable of the Soils. As we read, some seed fell upon the rocks, grew quickly and then died off. We also read that the birds flew off with some of the seed. Today, take some time to consider the soil of your heart. Consider the soil of those around you. Pray for God’s Word to spread. Pray for revival.
It is important to look inward daily. The world tells us to look outward. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s something wrong with someone else. You are free to do as you want—you are free to be who you want to be and think how you want to think. The world tells us it’s okay to be focused on self.
When we focus on ourselves and live in a “me world,” we do not see the importance of looking inward and life so often becomes a life of you against the world. We fail then to see that God should be first in our lives—He is our life. It is only when we can recognize that we were meant to live with Him, and then look inward to see what is keeping you from fully living a life for God.
Jeremiah wrote to “test and examine our ways.” This is something we need to do daily because our walk with Christ is a daily walk. There will be good days and not-so-good days. There are days we will struggle more and days when we will see great strides in our walk. We are reminded that we are a sinful people who often focus on self. One day we take two steps forward, another five steps back. We are ever-changing and often emotionally driven. For this reason, it is crucial we test and examine every day. Today, look inward. Question your motives. Examine your moves. Test your life against the Truth of God. Allow the Spirit to reveal anything that separates you from God, anything that may be a stumbling block in the way of God’s great plan.
“Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD! Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven.” – Lamentations 3:40-41 [ESV]
Does God ever give you more than you can handle? That is something people debate often. Many times I hear that God will never give you more than you can handle. This is often said when we are going through something tough in life like a loss of loved one, a painful illness, or an employment layoff. As we suffer and look to friends with our tear-stained faces, we hear the somewhat comforting words, “God never gives us more than we can handle. You’ll get through this.”
When I hear these words, I consider 2 Corinthians 1:8, where it says that the people were “crushed and overwhelmed beyond… ability to endure.” They were suffering. They believed they would not live through it. I consider Job, who lost it all—family, financial resources, health. Could you handle this? Would this be more than you could handle? I know some were not able to make it through. I know some who could not take it anymore. Why do we think we should be able to face all of this, that we can handle anything thrown our way? It is not that easy. We shortchange ourselves believing it is that easy. Instead, cling to the Father.
The Bible does not say that God will not give you more than you can handle. The truth is this world is a dark place and you may find yourself drowning and unable to cope. What the Bible does says is that God “will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” In 1 Corinthians, it says that God “will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” This is talking about temptation, not about pain and suffering. This is saying that when we are tempted, there’s always a way to not succumb to the temptation. We saw this demonstrated. While Jesus was in the Wilderness, He responded with the Word of God when faced with each temptation.
Today, you may be facing something very difficult. You may not think you can make it through it. Whether it is too much to handle or just getting the best of you, know that you have a Heavenly Father Who is the Comforter. Cling to Him. Remind yourself of His promises. Surround yourself with those strong in the faith and be in continuous prayer. This great burden is temporary my friends.
“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” – 2 Corinthians 1:8 [NLT]
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 [ESV]