Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Bread of Life

"Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry. And whoever believes in me will never thirst.'" John 6:35

In the culture of Jesus' day, bread held great significance. A symbol of God's provision, it had a certain sanctity attached to it. Not only was it food, bread represented ideas, opportunities and prosperity. In His instruction, "Give us this day our daily bread..." (Matt. 6:11), Jesus meant more than just asking God for our next meal. We are to request and expect His divine insights and understanding to successfully live each day.

Lacking a Wal-Mart Supercenter or grocery store most people at that time made  bread daily. Semitic women invoked the name of God in the kneading and baking process. Doing so, they were continually reminded of their dependence on God as their source and their only appropriate channel of supply.

While tested in the wilderness by Satan, Jesus rebuffed his enemy's temptation:
"Man shall not live by bread alone..." Matt 4:4.

Getting and having more stuff doesn't produce genuine happiness and satisfaction. If it could we'd never clean out our closets and hold garage sales in order to make room for the latest passing fancy. Without sustenance from The Bread of Life, the accumulation of wealth and all it can purchase is futile.

Jesus boldly equated Himself with the 'asih which is Arabic for bread and means the life giver. Both Jews and Gentiles understood what He meant. Using an ordinary object necessary for daily life, Jesus likened an individual's need for natural bread to their need for the real Bread of Life. He identified Himself as the Savior they could depend on.

As the 'aish, Jesus isn't just bread that sustains life, but He is the very life of God available for all to partake of. When one eats this bread, they never hunger again.

How about you? How does the term 'the life giver' stack up to your understanding of who God is? What types of thoughts does the need for a daily dependence on God engender in you? How can you feast on the Bread of Life and be nourished? 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

12 Hours of Daylight

"Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours in a day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, but he sees the light of the world.'" John 11:9.

For more than forty years I missed the governmental structure Jesus alluded to in this verse. To understand what He hinted at we need to step back in time (or from this position in John, to the left in our bibles).

Genesis 15 finds God and Abram in a serious discussion concerning Abram's heir, or lack of a natural one. Abram's faithful servant Eliezer of Damascus would inherit Abram's estate. That wouldn't do.

"This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from you own body shall be your heir." Gen. 15:4.

Not an indictment against Eliezer or his character, this was a blood-line issue. The Messiah had to come through Abram's descendents. Eliezer was Syrian, not Hebrew. God then instructed Abram:

"'Look now toward heaven and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendents be.' And he believed in the Lord and He accounted to him for righteousness." Gen. 15:5-6.

'Number' in verse 5 is the Hebrew word caphar which means to calculate, and not to count as in 1-2-3-4. What was Abram to learn and understand from the stars?

Josephus, the Jewish historian called Abraham of the Chaldees the Father of Astronomy. Taught by Shem, Abraham influenced sever major cultures with the truth contained in the Mazzaroth (Zodiac) which depicts God's plan of salvation, from Genesis to Revelation.

The stars were created for, "...signs, festivals, and for days and years." Gen. 1:14 (Tanach). The Father of Astronomy knew the story that the stars told. God would bring to earth what was revealed in heaven. How would He do it?

Abram had only 8 sons, not the requisite 12 needed to match the heavenly pattern. His grandson Jacob, however, did. God confirmed this in the dream of Jacob's favorite son, Joseph.

"Look, I have dreamed another dream, and this time the sun, the moon and the eleven stars bowed down to me." Gen. 37:9.

Although he initially rebuked his son, Jacob took note and kept this matter in mind (verse 11).

Israel was God's chosen vessel to be the avenue of relationship with God. Camped around the tabernacle, the tribes represented a living zodiacal pattern of the story above. One's future no longer depended on what star one was born under, but which tribe you were born into. Just like the original, uncorrupted Zodiac declared God's plan of redemption, Israel and the twelve tribes were the foundation laid to bring the testimony contained in the stars to fruition.

It was no accident that Jesus chose 12 Jewish disciples. Daniel describes them and all future believers as stars:

"Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of heaven, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." Dan. 12:3.

Twelve simple men turned the known world right side up. Through them the story of the coming Redeemer, depicted in the stars, was preached throughout the known world. Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings (Mal 4:2) is the center and the one these stars pointed mankind to. Jesus is the light of the world!

Redemption no longer matters what your star sign or tribal lineage is. Now one can be born from above and this position trumps all others. Still today, the good news preached by the original twelve and visible in the stars points the way to the promised Savior.

How about you? How does this concept of a legitimate zodiac with genuine spiritual implications change your concept of the star signs? What other examples in nature can you find where God has planted the message of the Gospel? Aren't the lengths God goes to in order to ensure we don't miss His plan for our salvation and restoration amazing?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Finally Finished

"I have glorified you on earth. I have finished the work you have given me to do." John 17:4

Spoken before the crucifixion, as far as Jesus was concerned, He'd completed all He'd been commissioned to do. How so?

I've heard it said that since Jesus had already settled the matter in His mind that He would die to redeem mankind, it was as good as done. This doesn't, however, align with the struggle He endured in the garden before His arrest. His request for another alternative was denied. Only then did He totally submit to His Father's will. If Jesus wasn't talking about His death in John 17:4, what did He mean?

A familiar bible story centers around the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Weary from traveling Jesus stayed behind to rest while the disciples sought out provisions. Presently a woman came to draw water. A routine request for a drink turned into a theological discussion. Upon the disciples' return, the woman left to tell her neighbors about the extraordinary man she'd just met. So excited, she left her water jar behind at the well, which was unthinkable.

For a man to request a drink from a woman drawing water was socially acceptable. Unless he was a known holy man or sage, for him to engage a woman unaccompanied by her husband or a male relative in a conversation was unheard of. Leave the Master alone for a few minutes and there was no telling what kind of trouble He could get Himself into. His actions left the disciples speechless (verse 27). Obviously Jesus wasn't thinking clearly. Perhaps the lack of food was having an effect. The disciples urged Him to eat.

"I have food you know nothing about..." Jesus declared. A quick glance around the area produced no evidence of anything remotely nutritious at hand. "my food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work." John 4:32, 34.

In context, the Father's work was to share the good news of man's reconciliation with God, and to announce the arrival of His kingdom on earth. In John 17, this had been accomplished. Not only had Jesus covered all of Israel and the surrounding area with this too good to be true message, but He'd also trained twelve others to carry on the work after He left. His job was done.

So, if this is the case, what did Jesus mean when on the cross He said, "It is finished." John 19:30?

When asked by His disciples to be taught how to pray one thing Jesus said was: "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Matt. 6:10

In other words, earth is supposed to be a reflection of Heaven and the disciples were to pray that this would be so. Rev. 13:8 describes Jesus "as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."  This sacrifice took place in Heaven before earth ever existed. What was already done in Heaven was now in manifestation on the earth. It was finished.

How about you? How would you describe earth as a mirror image of Heaven? What does this tell you about God's meticulous attention to detail? How does His determination to ensure that things on earth align with what is in Heaven give you hope for your situation? Can you rest in the knowledge that He has a plan and is in control?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Beginning

"But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who would not believe and who it was who would betray him. John 6:64 (NASB - emphasis mine).

Privy to this information, one might wonder when did Jesus find this out? How did He know? Let's dig in the Word for some answers.

In the beginning was the Word. John 1:1 (emphasis mine).

Beginning, found in John 1:1 and 6:64 is the Greek word arche meaning commencement, as in our English word archetype. Jesus didn't refer to the start of His earthly ministry, but to a point outside of time as we know it, long before He arrived on earth.

In the beginning God created the heavens and earth. Gen 1:1 (emphasis mine).

Before the creation of the cosmos, Jesus already knew who would accept/reject Him, and also who would betray Him.

When a person needs medical treatment, they are required to sign what's known as an Informed Consent. The person must understand any and all risks involved. This written consent must be in place before treatment is administered.

As the, Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. Rev 13:8, Jesus knew all the pros and cons of His mission to save humanity, including the identity of the traitor in His disciples. Fully informed, He came.

The beginning was before a singe person existed so how could Jesus know all this information? It seems simple, doesn't it? God's omniscient - right? How could He not know?

The Psalmist provides interesting insight concerning the recorded history of our lives.

Your eyes saw my unformed body, all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:16.

Before conception God saw and recorded His ultimate plan for our lives individually. Our time and place of birth was pre-determined. Our purpose and the part we are to play in every place and particular moment in time was documented. Whether or not we fulfill our destiny is another matter altogether.

Blessed with free will, we choose how our lives unfurl. Judas wasn't scripted to be a traitor, he chose that role. In some instances an individual's God-designed planned is overridden by another's actions. After billions of research dollars spent for a cancer cure, perhaps there's none because the one designed to bring forth the answer had their life involuntarily snuffed out prematurely.

Jesus, will wipe away every tear from their eyes, Rev. 21:4.

What could there be to cry about in Heaven?

Some tears will be of relief, gratitude, unmitigated thanks and joy. However, when the book containing our life's official record is opened and viewed, will we shed tears of regret? How did our life stack up to what God laid out for us? Was His plan grander than we were willing to believe? I wonder...how big is the tissue warehouse in Heaven?

It's important to realize just how interested in our lives God is right now. More than we recognize or believe, He wants His good plans for our lives to come to fruition. He has a vested interest in helping us discover every facet of it, and then walk it out to completion.

How about you? How does the concept of God foreknowing you and preparing a plan for your life before you were born make you feel? What does this speak to you about God's interest and involvement in every detail of your life? Since He's already laid out a way that guarantees your success (on His terms), what prevents you from asking for His help in fulfilling your destiny? Why not ask Him right now?