Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bread of Life

March 9th 2017
Scripture: John 6:66-67 (KJV)

Bread of Life

  "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?"

Jesus taught one of His toughest teachings about living the Christian life to His multitudes of so-called "disciples"; that He himself was the Bread of Life. Anyone who did not eat his flesh and drink his blood could not have true life in them. Now, come on, you can't say this teaching isn't a bit strange... 

But there is a deeper meaning here, as Jesus' words always do. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. His "blood" spewed from his body and his "flesh" torn open like a loaf of bread. Bread (food) is life; for we could not live long without food to keep us going. We need water to survive. Spiritually speaking, we need Jesus like we need food and water, if we have any hopes of gaining eternal life. Yet "...many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."

What really strikes me is Jesus' question to his 12 closest disciples, "Will you also go away?" This question cuts to the heart, because so many times I find myself relapsing in my faith. I no longer walk with Jesus, but go off on my own trail and do my work for Jesus. It is so easy to lose my venturing and devoted walk with Jesus. One day, two days, skip a few more, and I find myself yards away from Jesus' side. I don't notice it at the time that its happening, but each step I take away from walking alongside Jesus in my daily relationship with him, I slowly starve myself spiritually. I start asking, "what am I going to do?" instead of, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" I lose my sense of dependency and devotion to him. In all realities, we need Him by our side, every step of the way. For He alone is the bread that gives us life.

"Lord Jesus, I thank You that You are always ready to pick up right where we left off, no matter how far I stride. Help me to realize daily how much I need your word, just like I need food and water and air. You alone are my Bread of Life, let my spirit relish our times together. Amen."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Open Heart Surgery

February 15th, 2017
Scripture: Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV)

Open Heart Surgery

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."


After the Fall of Jerusalem, the LORD assures hope for the People of Israel through the words of Ezekiel the prophet. The LORD speaks of a "spiritual operation" that He will preform as the chief surgeon. He will give His people a new heart and new spirit, replacing stone with flesh. The very core of their being will be changed from the inside-out.

  I've heard the expression used, "stone cold", as a way of saying that a person can be cruel beyond belief, or inhumane. I've also heard the phrase, "set in stone", as a way of expressing permanent action that cannot be undone. I think this is similar to the "heart of stone" that is lodged within the hearts of humanity. But I also believe that nothing or no one is beyond redemption.

God wants to give us new hearts of flesh; living tissue that matures, grows, and contains life. Just as Jesus said, "[Those who believe] have crossed over from death to life" (John 5:24). God also wants to put a new spirit inside of us: The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of His Son.

So next time you think you are too far gone, or that you won't be able to trust ever again, or you will never break the numbness you feel, just remember the Great Healer has an operating table waiting for you. All you have to do is ask God for the surgery and give Him permission to do it. It may take some time to replace that heart of stone, just like real heart surgeries take time, but the end result is always worth it!

"Lord Jesus, thank You that our hearts can be mended, repaired, and ultimately replaced and renewed. I give You full permission to work on my heart, so I can be filled with love and new life. In Your Holy Name, Amen."

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Root Source

February 1st 2017
Scripture: John 15:5 (NIV)

Root Source

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

Here Jesus is speaking to his disciples in the upper room; the closing moments before his betrayal in the Garden. In this chapter, Jesus gives his disciples some last thoughts. He starts by telling them they are "branches" that grow from "the vine". He is the source that brings them life; and there are serious repercussions if they do not remain in him.
Image result for Vines 
As a Christian, it is important to realize the "root source" of my partnership with God. When I remain with Jesus, allowing him to be at the center of my life, I can do much fruit-bearing in the spiritual realm. 

But the moment I step away from the life-giving relationship, I lose any and all gains for God's Kingdom, because apart from Jesus I can do absolutely NOTHING; which is a much different story than, "I can do all things <through Christ>"(Phil. 4:13). I sometimes forget to include that the source of my strength is not "will power" or "self-help" but "Christ's help" and "His power."

"Lord Jesus, I thank You that I can bear spiritual fruit for Your kingdom. Help me to remain in You, and keep You at the root of my ministry. I can do nothing without You. Amen."

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Asking for a Blessing

January 5th 2017
Scripture: Judges 1:14-15 (ESV)

Asking for a Blessing

"When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs."

Caleb's daughter, Achsah, urged her new husband, Othniel, to ask her father to give them a blessing; land on which to build a home. After realizing that Othniel was going to keep his mouth shut, she did something that was a little taboo in her day and age. She dismounted her donkey and asked Caleb herself. In a male dominated culture, it was not a woman's place to speak her mind freely. I can imagine what fear she must have felt to step out against the culture's expectations, and wondering what her father would think of her for asking. But she did not receive a judgemental "No, shame on you!" What happened? He gave her the upper AND lower springs! Much more than she must have expected or ever needed. 

When I think of my father, he is always wanting to bless me; sacrificing his time, resources, and energy, to bless me with whatever he is able to give. Why? Because he loves me and wants the best for me. But sometimes when I think about God, I feel that asking Him for something would be out of place, or insignificant to Him. But God loves me, and wants to bless me. A lot of times I have not because I ask not. 

God's answer will not always be "Yes", for He sees the bigger picture and desires the best for my life, which means I must let go of something good I want, for something greater. But there is no harm in asking anyways.

"Dear Lord Jesus, help me to have courage to approach Your throne with confidence. Remind me that like my earthly father, You are looking for ways to bless me. Help me to accept Your answer as the best answer whether "Yes" or "No". Amen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I Vote America UNITED

Nov 9th 2016
Scripture: Mark 3:25 (NIV)

I Vote America UNITED

"If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand."

Jesus was accused by the Pharisees that He was using demonic power to drive out demons from people releasing them from their possession. This seemed a suitable explanation to them as to how Jesus could have the authority, if not from God Himself. Jesus turned to them and pointed out the error in their logic. If a house is divided... 

Divided means to be "separated into parts or pieces" or "conflicting interests" or "disagreeing with one another". If you had a door, a window, four walls, and a roof, you wouldn't have a house, but merely a door, a window, four walls, and a roof. The pieces only become a house when they are unified together becoming something more than just themselves. The "door" is no longer just a slab of wood with a knob on it, but the entree way into a home. Some say, "divide and conquer", but in this case I would say that in your defining moments, "if you divide, you will be conquered."

It was crazy to see how close the 2016 American Presidential Election was on either side. Some states were won or lost by a 2-4% difference. Talk about being split down the middle. And I woke up to videos posted of protests and riots in response to the results. My Fellow Americans, we can't do this! I know everyone doesn't always agree, and that it's alright to express disappointment. But we must not lose the uniting factor that no matter the results "at the end of the day, we are still on the same team." which President Obama just recently said. If we truly want to "make America great again", we have to believe that we really are "stronger together"; not as democrats, or republicans, but as Americans. So let's stop this useless squabbling, and show the rest of the world that we the people can be the UNITED States of America once again.

"Lord Jesus, I pray Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Amen." 


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Power of the Cross

October 20th 2016
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:18-19 (NIV)

Power of the Cross

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.'"

Paul here is writing to the Church of Corinth, and he wants to remind them of something that is hard to understand by means of "worldly wisdom". He talks of how Jews would often look for "signs" from God, and the Greeks would see through the lens of wisdom. But the idea of Jesus crucified must have frustrated both Jew and Greek, for the "sign" of establishing an earthly Kingdom of God was seemingly misplaced, and there was seemingly no wisdom in following a cause that led to such a brutal death.

Yet, the message of the cross is the power of God to those who are being saved!

I have recently read the article online of the 12 Christians who were martyred for their faith by the Islamic State of ISIS outside of Syria in late August this year. It has really burdened me to hear of the horrifying details of the unspeakable acts done to these twelve brave souls. It got me thinking about if I were in the same situation, I would be consumed with nothing but hate for the people of ISIS who have no regard for human life and who feel their actions are justified by their religious law.

But that is not what the eye-witnesses observed about the 12 Christians who were martyred that day. It was said that some of the Christians were praying the Lord's Prayer, while some were commending their spirits to Jesus (similar to the Stoning of Stephen in the Book of Acts). They would not recant their belief in Jesus to their dying breath, and not a hand of violent retaliation was raised. To the world this seems foolish. If you were going to die, wouldn't you want to go out fighting? Wouldn't you want to take revenge on those who brought such suffering to you and your loved ones? 

Yet, the message of the cross is the power of God to those who are being saved!

The blood of the martyrs has not squelched the movement of Christianity in the Middle East as ISIS would hope, but rather has been seed to multiply followers of the same commitment and faith in Jesus. This is not a new story. Think of the Underground Church movement in China, or the Missionary movement among the tribes in Africa, or even way back to the early church when Rome tried to crush Christianity for good. Yet Christ remains to this very day. None can stop Him, and those who try only fan the flame even bigger than it was before. 

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

"Lord Jesus, I thank You for those who went before us bravely taking on the ultimate sacrifice for Your name. I know they did not suffer in vain, for their story lives on, and they are richly rewarded in Heaven. Help me to have the same faith that is willing to give my everything, for You gave Yours for me on the cross. Amen."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

In the Quiver of The Archer

September 22, 2016
Scripture: Isaiah 49:2b (ESV)

In the Quiver of The Archer

"... He made me a polished arrow; in His quiver He hid me away."

Isaiah the prophet talks about the fact that God designed him for a purpose from his mother's womb, and has made it clear to him. He was made with a tongue like a sword to reach the rebellious people of Jacob and Israel and bring them back to the LORD, their first love. He portrays himself as a polished arrow in the quiver of an archer ready to be sent out at a moments notice.

I've recently started watching a TV series called "Arrow" based on Green Arrow, a super hero from DC Comics who uses his archery and combat training to make his city safe and take on the "bad guys". Unlike the primitive version of archery that might be stuck in your head with rocks tied to the ends of sticks, this archer has a hi-tech arsenal of different kinds of arrows: explosive arrows, arrows that record conversations, computer hacking arrows, freezing arrows, grappling-hook arrows, you name it. He keeps all his arrows on his back in a holding container called a quiver, all within an arm's reach, ready for action.

God has made us like a polished arrow, each uniquely designed for a specific purpose. He may not choose to put us into play in every situation, but we must be ready in case he chooses to send us out to hit the bullseye. There are two things that we can do while we wait in the quiver of The Archer.

First, Stay Sharp: just like a knife, or a saw, arrows need to be sharpened if they hope to be effective when sent out. We need to stay sharp, knowing the world's needs, having an answer to the tough questions with biblical knowledge and wisdom. In 1 Peter 3:15 it says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." Arrows must be sharp.

Second, Stay Near: What good would an arrow be if The Archer reaches back and finds that the arrow He was looking for was not in the quiver? We must stay near to God so we can hear His Spirit's voice calling for us to spring into action. I don't know about you, but if God is reaching to send me out, I want to be found hidden within His quiver, right where He expects me to be. 

"Lord Jesus, I thank You that You designed me for a specific purpose. Help me to stay sharp and stay close so that I will be ready when you pull back the bowstring. Give me wisdom, and give me ears to hear Your voice calling me out of the quiver. Amen."