FEEDING ON CHRIST

Jn.6:53-58 – TPT – Jesus replied to them, “Listen to this eternal truth: Unless you eat the body of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have eternal life. Eternal life comes to the one who eats my body and drinks my blood, and I will raise him up in the last day. For my body is real food for your spirit and my blood is real drink. The one who eats my body and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him. The Father of life sent me, and he is my life. In the same way, the one who feeds upon me, I will become his life. I am not like the bread your ancestors ate and later died. I am the living Bread that comes from heaven. Eat this Bread and you will live forever!”

I often think of the first time I remember seeing communion in a church service. The bread and the drink were in front of the church on the communion table with a white cloth draped over it. I asked my mom what it was and the only answer I got was an elbow in the ribs. It seemed too much like a funeral to my child like mind. Of course it wasn’t until I was born again that I even began to understand what eating His body and drinking His blood was all about. Jesus taught us about living off of Him every day in this passage. The Lord compared Himself to the bread and fish and the manna that the children of Israel lived on for forty years. We are designed by God to live off of this heavenly food; nothing else will do for us. Here is how the Passion Notes describe this passage.

“To eat his flesh is to take into our life by faith all that Jesus did for us by giving his body for us. To drink his blood is to take by faith all that the blood of Jesus has purchased for us. This “eating” and “drinking” is receiving the life, power, and virtue of all that Jesus is to replace all that we were in Adam. Jesus’ blood and body is the Tree of Life, which is offered to everyone who follows him.”

Just as the Lord taught us to drink living water He is teaching us to feed off of Him for our contentment and spiritual nourishment. It is in feeding on Christ daily that we begin to enter in to the joy of our Christian faith. What a great promise, if we eat this heavenly bread we will never be hungry or thirsty even in the difficulties of this life.

Rejoice

Isa.54:1 – Rejoice with singing, you barren one! You who have never given birth, burst into a song of joy and shout, you who have never been in labor! For the deserted wife will have more children than the married one,” says Yahweh.

Often times scripture is talking about more than what you see at first glance. The sower was sowing more than seeds, Joel was prophesying about more than a strong rainy season for Israel, and Isaiah is prophesying about more than a woman’s barren womb. The sower was sowing the word of God, Joel was talking about the last day outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and Isaiah is speaking about spiritual barrenness.

Barrenness comes when our attention is on the things of this world. It could be from the distraction of the other things in life, things like hobbies, career choices, our just plain laziness. On the other hand fruitfulness comes from the touch of God. When we turn our attention and affection toward the Lord worship is the result. Worship prepares our lives for fruitfulness. Isaiah is describing exactly that, he said, “Rejoice with singing, you barren one”. Singing and worship precede the blessing of God. Here is how Brian Simmons describes this passage.

“This verse begins with only two words in Hebrew: barren and rejoice. These are two ends of the emotional spectrum. Nothing brings sorrow like being barren. Yet God promises that even in our greatest sorrow there can be a song of joy. This verse can be viewed as the remedy for spiritual barrenness—the song of triumph and the shout of joy! Spiritual barrenness is broken by the power of worship. Where God’s people are held back in worship, spiritual barrenness soon follows. Our worship has the power to bring new birth (evangelism) into our congregations. Worship is a mighty force to influence the lost and bring new birth.”

Rejoicing before you see your breakthrough is really the Biblical picture of faith. In Romans 4:20 Paul speaking of Abraham said, “But he did not doubt or waver in unbelief concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and empowered by faith, giving glory to God”. Abraham and Sarah rejoiced in faith before Isaac was conceived. Rejoicing paved the way for God’s fruitfulness to begin. If you feel barren and long for a fruitful season maybe its time to “Rejoice with singing”.

EYES OF FAITH

Jn.6:7 – Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”

This miracle is a great picture of our Christian faith. It deals with the very basic spiritual and natural needs that we have. It brings us to a place of total dependency on the Lord. Phillip is a picture of all of us. He could not see any way out of the situation they were in. They were too far from stores, they did not have enough money even if they could get to a store, and there were far too many people. Phillip’s problem was that he was strangled by unbelief. The creator of all things was right in front of him and he had no eyes to see. The funny thing about that is this, we too are standing in the very presence of the Lord and often times all we can see is the lack rather than the supernatural supply of God. Here is how the reformer Johannes Brenz saw it.

“Philip reveals his unbelief. And with his statement he provides an example of the wisdom of the flesh. For our reason, endowed as it is with fleshy eyes, can look no further than to the present state of affairs and to matters of the flesh, to food and money. When these things have run out, it despairs, not knowing where to turn. But faith, because it has spiritual eyes, does not cling to visible things but looks to invisible things, to another world. For if it sees that nothing is at hand suitable for food in this world, it directs the sight of its eyes to another world, where it finds God promising all the best things, abounding in every good thing and kindly directing to us all the things we need to live. What then? You will have enough if you have enough belief. Miserly and wicked people do not believe, and so they possess nothing, they have nothing. “The miser is as much in want of that which he has as of that which he does not have.”

Fleshly eyes can only see sickness, or lack, or some other barrier that will keep us from receiving God’s breakthrough provision in our life. Seeing Christ Himself as our provision is where our breakthrough begins. He is able to feed the multitudes with a little boy’s lunch, after all He created the bread and the fish to begin with.

MOVED

Matt.14:14 – And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

This story, the miracle of the multiplying of the fish and bread, is a great picture of the Christian faith. It all begins and ends with Christ. Jesus looked on the people who had been following Him for three days and saw their great need and also saw their great spiritual hunger. What was His response? He healed their sick, He taught them the Word of God, and He provided food to nourish their bodies. He saw exactly what they needed; food for the soul, healing for their bodies, and food for their natural bodies to sustain them.

Matthew said that Jesus was moved with compassion. That word moved with compassion is defined in Strong’s dictionary like this: “to be moved as to one’s bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity.” Jesus was able to understand our need because of His humanity. Even today, He looks at us and is moved with compassion. When we hurt it literally hurts Him, He longs to see His people made whole. Here is how Barclay describes this passage.

“It tells us of the compassion of Jesus. When he saw the crowds he was moved with compassion to the depths of his being. That is a very wonderful thing. Jesus had come to find peace and quiet and loneliness; instead he found a vast crowd eagerly demanding what he could give. He might so easily have resented them. What right had they to invade his privacy with their continual demands? Was he to have no rest and quiet, no time to himself at all? But Jesus was not like that. So far from finding them a nuisance, he was moved with compassion for them.”

The good news is this, He is moved with compassion for you today. He is seated at the Father’s right hand offering His great love to all of us. If you are hurting, look to Jesus. Get your attention off of your pain and look to Jesus. His love will pour over you and will heal the broken parts of your life. When Jesus gave the fish and bread He was actually giving Himself. As we eat His body and drink His blood His healing love satisfies, heals, and sustains us.

SCRAMBLING TO HEAR HIM

Jn.6:5 – As Jesus sat down, he looked out and saw the massive crowd of people scrambling up the hill, for they wanted to be near him.

Spiritual hunger just can’t be faked. We can try to pump it up or create an appearance of hunger but that is a hopeless endeavor. That makes me think of an old Pink Panther movie from years ago. Chief Inspector Clouseau was wearing a disguise with a fake parrot on his shoulder. The inflatable parrot had a leak and had to be pumped up. Clouseau had a pump under his arm which he would use to try to keep the parrot inflated. It was ineffective but quite funny. That scene reminds me of feeble attempts to act as if we are on fire or hungry for God but that parrot keeps deflating. In today’s verse the crowd is scrambling to get near Jesus just to hear Him. Apparently food had taken a back seat because they had been following Jesus for three days in the wilderness. Here is how John Calvin describes this scene.

“In the first place, we observe here that the people were inflamed with such a great zeal to hear Christ that, forgetting themselves, they were unconcerned to spend the night in a desert place. So much more inexcusable is our sluggishness, or rather our sloth, because we are so far from preferring Christ’s heavenly teaching to worries about hunger that the tiniest distractions immediately lead us away from meditation on eternal life. Indeed, it very rarely happens that Christ finds us free and unencumbered by the entanglements of the world. So far are we from being prepared to follow him to a desert mountain that there is scarcely one in ten who can bear to receive him when he presents himself at home in the midst of comforts.”

So what actually causes the stir in our hearts that nothing else in life matters? That is that little thing that the Apostle Paul called grace. Grace awakens us to Christ’s greatness and our smallness. Grace awakens us to His love for us and His ability to transform life itself. When you catch a glimpse of Christ suddenly nothing else matters. These folks still had the same needs, they were hungry and unprepared for this trip in the wilderness. Its just that other more important things had taken over their lives. They were scrambling to be with Jesus.

SEATED IN HEAVENLY PLACES

John 6:3 – Jesus went up the slope of a hill and sat down with his disciples.

I have been strangely attracted to this simple verse today. It must have been amazing to be able to just sit with Jesus on the mountain. You had to get past the stuff like, who will sit on His right hand or what can we do to get rid of the Romans? To be content with just being with the Lord is the great secret to life. You may never be famous or rich but you are more than that; we you are seated with Christ. Here is how Musculus describes this verse.

“Christ compares his church with a city placed on a hill. On this hill the Lord sits with his own, whom he chose and conveyed upwards from the low desert of this world to the high places of true faith, piety and a heavenly manner of life. What else, I ask, is it that Paul says: “Our dwelling place is in heaven”? . . . For where do Christ’s faithful sit? That is, where do they find rest? Certainly they do not sit or live in the vanities of this world but on the mountain of God’s kingdom, where Christ sits. In that place they are true; they sit and live where they love, which is why they are refreshed. That conveyance to rest, found on the mountain of God’s kingdom, begins in this life. It will obtain its fullness and perfection in the future after we have departed from this valley of miseries to the heavenly places, delivered from all the troubles of this life by the benefit and intervention of death. There we shall sit and rest with Christ forever.”

Learning to be still and sit with Him in this crazy world will go a long way in the next one. What brings about that kind of contentment and takes the restlessness from our hearts? It is seeing the greatness of the Lord. These same disciples that sat with Christ on rather mountain recognized His new place to sit after His resurrection. They preached constantly about Christ being seated at the right hand of God. Seeing Him in His greatness of His throne causes all the other ambitions to fall by the wayside. After all, they not only got to sit with Christ in His earthly life, they realized that they were already seated in heavenly places with Christ. That is not our future reward, we have that now. So go ahead, take a load off your feet, and sit down with the Lord.

CHILLING WITH HIS PEEPS

Jn.6:3 – And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

Sometimes its good to just sit down and be with the Lord. There seems to be undue pressure that we put on ourselves to perform when it comes to religious matters. Did I get my prayer time in, did I finish my daily readings, is my cell group growing and multiplying. Actually all of those things are good things but they can’t be the driving force in our lives. Sometimes its good to just sit down and be with Jesus. That was one of the amazing characteristics of the River outpouring in the 1990’s. I found out it was okay to just lie on the floor in His presence and just enjoy the moment. The Lord actually likes being with us. After all we are His sons and daughters and will be in an amazing family relationship with Him in eternity. I love to take notice of seemingly insignificant phrases in the Bible. Today’s verse is like that, Jesus went up on a mountain and there He sat with His disciples. Nothing could be better than that. Here is how the German reformer Musculus describes this phrase.

“And he sat there,” he says, “with his disciples.” Who with whom? The teacher with his students, the shepherd with his sheep, the hen with her chicks. Let us consider this gathering not of such a kind as physical eyes would have been able to see but of the sort of gathering that they were establishing: that paternal love in Christ and the souls of the disciples clinging to Christ no differently than chicks who run up to and cling to a mother hen. And let us not doubt that there will always be that same love for us if we are disciples of Christ, such that he sits and rests among us, feeding us by his Spirit, no differently than when he sat and rested among his disciples and fed them. And where did he sit with them? On a desert mountain. Meanwhile, the scribes, Pharisees and priests were feasting in the crowded cities, especially in Jerusalem, while the Son of God sits with his disciples on a desert mountain.”

So maybe church is about more than doing or learning but maybe its about sitting down with Jesus and His disciples and just hanging out. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

THE BRANCH

Matt.3:23 – So he settled his family in the village of Nazareth, fulfilling the prophecy that he would be known as the “Branch”.

Jer.23:5 – Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

The plan of God is quite amazing. His plan was unfolding in plain day in front of everyone but blind eyes could not see His glorious plan. His beloved Son was spoken of throughout scripture as the righteous branch. He was raised in the town Nazareth or branch in Galilee. (Not to mention He is also the Bread of Life born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread). His work of redemption for our individual lives is like that. His plans have been right under our noses all our lives. We could never see until the day when He opened our eyes and His glorious light poured in. We are His branches, connected to the vine so that we can bear fruit for His glory. Here are some thoughts from the Passion Notes on this beautiful word, Nazareth.

“The Hebrew Scriptures give us a wonderful truth about the Branch (Sprout) of the Lord that would come and establish righteousness. The word for “branch” or sprout is netzer, the root word from which Nazareth, Nazarene, and Nazarite come. The teaching of the Branch of the Lord is a concept taught throughout the Bible, from the Tree of Life, to the seven branches of the Lampstand, to Jesus the Vine calling us his branches. Jesus is a Scion, a Branch that can be transplanted and grafted into a human life. Another variant form of this amazing word netzer can be translated “keeper, watchman, one who keeps secrets, guardian, one who keeps watch.” All of these words are true of Jesus, the Branch who was raised in the village of the Branch (Nazareth). Additionally, the Aramaic word for Nazareth means “heir of a powerful family” or “victorious one.” So it is entirely possible to translate this “he will be called the Victorious Branch (of Nazareth).”

Today God’s mysterious plans are unfolding all around us. Just as when this child was being raised in the insignificant town Nazareth, no one dreamed He would change the world. Today His branches are beginning to bare fruit all over the world. His glorious day is about to be revealed in the whole earth.

SHINE ON

Ps. 117:1,2 – Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! For His merciful kindness is great toward us, andthe truth of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!

Praise may be the hardest thing for the lost person to understand. Praise is a spontaneous response to beauty or greatness. We praise great works of art, great athletic accomplishments, great business endeavors, and even beautiful creatures. We praise the things we admire. True praise cannot be faked. The lost man has no concept of God. They cannot see is magnificence or appreciate His kindness. You cannot worship what you don’t know. This is why Jesus told the woman at the well we worship what we know. What a person worships reveals a lot about their character. Here are some thoughts from a Hebrew word book on the word praise.

halal; a primitive root; to be clear (orig. of sound, but usually of color); to shine; hence, to make a show, to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; causatively, to celebrate;

The word for “praise” is taken from the word shine.

Here is how Spurgeon describes our praise.

“Praise him, all ye people. Having done it once, do it again, and do it still more fervently, daily increasing in the reverence and zeal with which you extol the Most High. Not only praise him nationally by your rulers, but popularly in your masses. The multitude of the common folk shall bless the Lord. Inasmuch as the matter is spoken of twice, its certainty is confirmed, and the Gentiles must and shall extol Jehovah—all of them, without exception. Under the gospel dispensation we worship no new god, but the God of Abraham is our God for ever and ever; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.”

Have you had a glimpse of the greatness of the Lord for yourself? That is the place worshippers are created. I remember the first time I was around true worship. It was at a funeral when I was about four years old. I didn’t understand it at the time but the authenticity of true worship even in grief has always stuck with me. Seeing Christ for ourselves and worshipping Him causes us to shine with His glory. This is how we appear as lights in this dark world. When you see Him you too will shine on.

“The Prayer of Pain”

MERRY MONDAY by Parris

1 Chronicles 4:10 – Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!

William Cowper says:—

“The path of sorrow, and that path alone,

Leads to the place where sorrow is unknown.”

To a great extent we find that we must sow in tears before we can reap in joy. It’s in the storm where prayer is birthed and molded into the impossible. We honor God when our prayer is shaped into the glory of God. Jabez whose mother named him pain learned that out of life experiences we can either be swallowed up in them or rise to the eternal perspective. Out of 500 names in the fourth chapter of 1 Chronicles Jabez emerges out of the pages roaring like a lion.

“Oh bless me for your names sake and for your glory!” He was saying enough of carrying the rags of my past that try to swallow me up.

God breathed prayer literally becomes who I am, lines up with my identity; rolls out of my mouth in song and directs my whole life ahead. When you allow the spirit within to groan; he alone shapes the prayer that flows into this present dimension changing everything around it. In fact prayer colors our world with the unseen grace of God. Yes we see through a filter of a God shaped life. The one that breaks their alabaster box upon the feet of Jesus. We forever live enlarging our territory for the glory of his name avoiding the antichrist spirit that speaks in the children of disobedience.

Spurgeon says; “Let the grace of God prompt it, let the choice of God appoint it, let the bounty of God confer it, and then the endowment shall be something godlike indeed; something worthy of the lips that pronounce the benediction, and verily to be craved by every one who seeks honor that is substantial and enduring. “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!”

Jabez was directed by God to supernaturally step into another dimension where he hadn’t been. He wanted to enlarge his territory for he had an eternal perspective. What is our life’s work you may ask? Passionately Spurgeon says, “Establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” If we are not builders in an established church, it is of little use to try at all. What God establishes will stand, but what men build without his establishment will certainly come to nought. He adds. “Anything that we do reaches into eternity, with a preparation for the world to come, anything that we can carry across the river, the holy joy that is to blossom in those fields beyond the swelling flood, the pure cloudless love of the brotherhood which is to be the atmosphere of truth for ever—anything of this kind that has the eternal broad arrow on it—the immutable mark—is a blessing indeed.”

Allow your pain to turn into a God breathed prayer!