Friday, August 31, 2018

Will We Follow Jesus?

John 6:60-69

Our passage of Scripture for today finishes off the account of Jesus and His teaching of Himself being the Bread of Heaven found in the Gospel of John. This sermon that Jesus gave brought a mixed reaction from His listeners. He knew what it was like to have friends and followers turn against Him and walk away.  As we look into this passage let’s see what those reasons could be, and what Jesus’s reaction was, and that of other disciples.

After Jesus’s recent discourse on being the Bread of Life, many in the crowd who had been following Him up until then decided to turn away.  Jesus was not what they expected or wanted in a leader. Some of them left when they realized Jesus was not going to be the conquering Messiah and King they expected.  At this time a large percentage of the Jewish people expected the Messiah to be more of a political king and hero, and who would kick the occupying Romans out of their country.  When these people saw that Jesus wasn’t going to do that, they turned away. Others might have left when Jesus didn’t give in to their self-centered requests. There were those who left following Him, particularly among the Pharisees, when they saw how Jesus emphasized faith and not works and deeds.  Then there were those who left following Jesus because they could not understand His words (vs 60). It was not what they were used to hearing. They were too comfortable in their ways, and didn’t want to consider Jesus’s message.

Jesus didn’t try to talk unwilling disciples into staying.  He did not alter His message to make it more palatable or politically correct to keep them.  That is something many preachers do today in order to get, and then keep, the crowds. They groom their message in order to please the crowds, giving them something they want to hear. Jesus would not do that. He preached the straight Word of God, and would not twist it around to please or keep crowds happy. Jesus wants followers who eagerly and willingly follow Him, and who understand the cost.

Jesus knows the hearts of men (vs 64).  These false disciples were only attracted to physical phenomena, such as the miracles and food. They failed to understand the true significance of Jesus’s teachings. The Holy Spirit speaks to hearts which are open to hearing Him.  It is the Holy Spirit that brings new life (vs 63). He also reveals truth to us, lives within us, and enables us to respond to truth. Those who turned away from following Jesus were rejecting the truth.

Following the defection of many of His earlier disciples, Jesus asked the Twelve whether they would also leave (vs 66-67).  Peter, responding on behalf of the group, told Him that there was no one else to go to, as they knew He had the words of eternal life (vs 68-69).  There is no other way.  There are many philosophies and self-styled spiritual gurus, but only Jesus has the words of eternal life.

We either accept or reject Jesus.  There is no middle ground. Jesus doesn’t seek to repel people.  He simply tells the truth. Many people today reject Jesus because they do not like what they hear.   They get their own perception of what they want Jesus to be. When they see that when compared to the real Biblical Jesus, their ideas of Him are not the same, they reject the Biblical Jesus.  They also, like those 1st century folks, reject Him today when they don’t get what they want out of Him, or especially when they find His words offensive.

Jesus asks us today the same question?  What will you do with Jesus? Will you walk away, or will you say, like Peter did, that Jesus alone has the Words of life?  Come to Jesus today, and accept Him as your Savior.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Christian Families

Ephesians 5:21-33

Today’s Scripture passage, dealing with the relationships of husbands and wives, has been a very sensitive and touchy one for many.  This, I believe, is because of a misunderstanding and misapplying of these verses. Rather than just getting angry and tossing this passage out, let’s take a closer look, and see what the Lord is saying here.

Many people have disliked this, and other similar passages of Scripture because of the idea of a wife being told to submit to her husband.  They feel this is an antiquated and male chauvinistic attitude, especially in today’s world. I do not believe that this is what the Lord intended when He inspired Paul in the writing of Ephesians.  There are many who have distorted the teaching of submission by giving unlimited authority and dictatorship to husbands. That has never been the Lord’s intention.

First, in our passage Paul speaks of each of us submitting to one another, not just women to men (vs 21).  Submitting to others does not mean becoming a doormat. Jesus submitted His will to the Father. We honor Him by following His example.  Submitting to others is to follow Jesus’s example of being a servant and subordinating our rights to others. Our reverence for God is our basis for submission to others.  In a marriage, both husband and wife are called to submit.  If both partners have a strong relationship with Christ this shouldn’t be a difficulty, each being concerned with the happiness of the other. All believers are equal in Christ (Galatians 3:28).

Real spiritual leadership involves service.  Just as Jesus Christ served the disciples, even washing their feet, so should we submit to and serve our spouses.  A Christ-honoring husband will not take advantage of this, and a Christ-honoring wife will not undermine her husband.  Her supreme submission is to the Lord.

The husband’s love for his wife is to be a reflection of Christ’s loving care for the Church (vs 25).  Jesus delivers the Church from the dangers of sin, death and hell. Likewise the husband should provide for, protect, and love his wife. Marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church. The husband is to love his wife just as Jesus Christ loves the Church.  He should love them with the same unreserved, selfless, and sacrificial love Jesus has. He should be willing to sacrifice everything for her. When a husband cares for his wife as he cares for his own body, no wife would hesitate to submit to one who treats her this way.

Marriage is a holy union, a living symbol, a precious relationship that needs tender self-sacrificing care.  We should submit to each other by choice. Mutual submission preserves order and harmony in the family, with love and respect. Care for your spouse as you care for yourself, anticipating their needs. Help the other person become all they can be. Every married couple would wish for their marriage to succeed, and we all want our families to thrive.  Following God’s plan should be our first step.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Our Rock And Shield

Psalm 18

David was a man who knew all about trouble.  His life was frequently surrounded by danger.  His youth was spent looking after sheep, and he frequently encountered wild animals, such as wolves, bears, and mountain lions.  Most of his young adult years were spent fleeing for his life from King Saul. Then as king he had to fight many battles with the surrounding nations, along with an attempted coup by his son, Absalom.  David certainly did not have a life of ease. Throughout all of these often life-threatening difficulties, however, David knew the Lord God’s protection and care.

Our Psalm for today was one that David wrote, possibly later in his life.  It does not refer to any specific incident, but rather reminisces over how God came to his aid and defense each and every time he was in danger.  Do you ever feel overwhelmed with troubles, problems, and struggles? Do you feel as if surrounded by enemies, either literal or figurative? This psalm is for you.  Let’s take a look, and see how David could put his trust in God.

David knew first hand that God, not himself, was his protection.  He describes God’s care in many ways (vs 2). God is a rock. Not a small stone we kick down the street, but a boulder where we can find both safety and shelter behind.  He is also a fortress. In times of battle we can run to Him for safety, and the enemy cannot follow. He is a shield that comes between us and harm, and a horn of salvation, a symbol of might and power.  God is our stronghold, high above our enemies. In our hour of need we must look to God for our protection.

In his dark hours David didn’t depend on himself or anyone else for help.  He cried out to God (vs 6). Throughout Scripture many people have cried out to Him.  Those who were afraid, and those who were sad. There were those who were sick or grieving a death, who were slaves, or who were lonely.  Whatever our need is, if we cry out to God He will hear us.

The psalm continues to describe in very descriptive ways how God comes to our aid (vs 7-15).  The cherubim (vs 10) are a rank or type of angelic being. One of their functions are as guardians.  They guarded the way to the tree of life. They also guarded the Most Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant was in the Temple.  Here God uses them in our aid and defense.

Sometimes our troubles overwhelm us so much we feel like we are drowning, or that our enemies are exceedingly strong, and we are weak (vs 16-19).  David was not a weakling or a coward. He was a mighty warrior. He knew, though, that even with his strength and ability he needed God. When we feel like drowning, call out to God for His help.  He will hold us steady and protect us.

Again, David called God his shield and rock (vs 30-31).  He is a shield for us to protect us when we are too weak to face some trials by ourselves.  David called God a rock just as Moses did in his song about the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:4). God is a massive, unshakeable foundation and source of protection.  God won’t always eliminate our problems, but He will give us strength and help through them. He will never leave us alone in our time of need.

We can run to safety in God’s care whenever we need to.  Be quick to run to God instead of trying to deal with problems on our own.  Pray to Him for help. Be faithful in following God in all our ways and in all our days.  We can find refuge in God’s love any time. When we feel overwhelmed and frightened by the enemies in our life, remember this psalm by King David.  God is our rock and our protector.

Saturday, August 25, 2018


Joshua 24:1-2, 14-25

Choices.  We make them every day.  Often they are minor, no more significant than what to wear today or eat for breakfast.  Sometimes they are important, such as what career to go into or who to marry, perhaps even whether to follow the wrong crowd into a life of crime. In our Scripture today the people of Israel must make a most important choice.

As our passage opens, Moses’s successor, the great military and national leader, Joshua’s life is coming to an end.  He has led the people in many military battles to conquer the land the Lord has promised them. Throughout his whole life Joshua has remained faithful to Yahweh, and knowing his remaining days were few, he was concerned about the people’s faithfulness to the Lord when he’s gone.  Joshua knew the people well, having seen their unbelief and rebellion in the wilderness.

Joshua called the leaders of the people together, and told them that they needed to make a decision.  They had to make a very important and crucial choice - who or what were they going to worship? (vs 15). Were they going to worship and follow Yahweh, the true God who had revealed Himself to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Did they want to worship any of the multitude of false gods of the Egyptians where they had been slaves, or perhaps the ancient pagan gods of their ancestors prior to Abraham? (vs 14).  There were also the pagan gods of the remaining Canaanites in the land they now lived. The people must make a choice.

The time comes when we have to choose who or what will control us. The choice is ours. Will we worship God, ourself, or something else. It is a deliberate choice we make each day to follow and obey the Lord.  Every decision and action shows whether or not we will serve Him.

The people vocally proclaimed they would serve God (vs 16-18, 21). They did not keep that promise, however. Talk is cheap. We can easily say we will follow God, but it is more important to live like it. They followed God in Joshua’s lifetime, and then began to forsake Him for local gods.

What was it that drew them away from the Lord?  The Canaanites had a variety of deities, primarily Baal, Asherah, and Moloch.  Baal and Asherah were the fertility god and goddess, prayed to for abundant crops.  A good harvest is important. Several seasons of bad crops and the people could starve to death. The people easily rationalized worshipping both Yahweh and the Canaanite deities to cover every base and ensure good crops.  The same with worshipping the pagan’s god of war. Invading armies cared nothing for the lives of the vanquished, so they soon paid tribute to the Canaanite gods along with Yahweh.  When the majority of the people are praying to Baal and Asherah for a good crop during a time of drought, it is difficult to stand alone. Over the years the majority of the Hebrew people forsook the exclusive worship of Yahweh, and worshipped pagan deities with Him, many forsaking Him altogether.  This was breaking their covenant with Yahweh, as the covenant they made with Him was that they would worship and obey God alone (vs 24-26).

What has been drawing us away from the Lord?  In addition to assimilation with the Canaanites, worry or fear of having their needs met, or of war and invasion, led the Hebrews away from God.  Do our fears draw us away from depending on the Lord, and instead depend on the bank, or the government for protection? Does our love of pleasure and entertainment hijack our worship of God?  The Canaanite practice of temple prostitutes lured many after the days of Joshua.

Following God requires destroying whatever gets in the way of worshipping Him.  We can’t just hide those “gods” away. They must be completely destroyed from our heart.  We need to decide whether or not we will honor and obey Him. Flee sinful inclinations, and teach our children to worship the Lord alone.  As Joshua said, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Body And Blood

John 6:53-59

There are several things that we all need in order to physically live. We all need oxygen to breathe, along with food and water. A person can go about three weeks without food before they will die.  The longest one can live without water is about three to four days, less if one is in direct sunlight. It’s only a few minutes before one dies without oxygen.

How about eternal life?  What does one need to have eternal life? The Apostle John has recorded here in our passage some words of Jesus that speak of eternal life.  As the Son of God, and the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus would know about what is essential to have eternal life.  Let’s look at what He has said, and see what we can learn.

Jesus said here in this passage some rather shocking things that don’t really make sense on the surface.  One thing He said was that one must eat His flesh and drink His blood, and they will have eternal life. What can that mean?  No one could actually come up to Jesus and physically take a bite of His flesh, or drink a cup of His blood right there that day.

The idea of drinking blood and eating flesh was totally repugnant, especially to devout Jews.  It was strictly forbidden in the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 17:10-11). Blood is a vital part of the human body.  If someone loses enough blood, they die. If poison, germs, or bacteria get into the blood, one gets sick, and could also die.  Blood is an element of life. Jesus is saying that His life has to become our own.

Just as eating and drinking are essential for physical life, so belief in Jesus’s sacrificial death on the cross is necessary for eternal life. Later Jesus would speak of partaking of His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25). The Apostle Paul also spoke of this when he repeated the Lord’s command to commemorate the Lord’s Supper in the Church (I Carinthians 11:23-26).

Today as we gather in our churches and celebrate the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist as believers, we know that Jesus is there, is truly present with us.  As believers we have accepted the giving of His body and the shedding of His blood on the cross for us.

Many people who heard this when Jesus spoke were offended and would not accept His message.  Many of them at this time did not want to accept a Messiah who would die. They could not, and would not accept or see the spiritual significance and truth behind Jesus’s statements.

Most everyone does what they can to have enough food and water every day. Are we that careful about eternal life? Have we accepted Jesus’s death, the giving of His body and blood, for ourselves?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Fools And Drunks

Ephesians 5:15-20

Fools and drunks.  Most of us have known a few of these in our lifetime. Scripture has given us many warnings against becoming either.  Our passage today, from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, speaks of both.  As we read the cautionary message, let’s see what we can learn to apply to our life.

When we go for a walk, it is important to be careful where we step, especially as we get older.  It is always wise to look around, watching our steps so we don’t fall and get hurt. This is an important warning for our spiritual life, as well. Paul tells us to walk circumspectly, which would be walking accurately and precisely, with great care (vs 15). A circumspect walk or life would be a life that avoids the sins and ways of the world. God says that is being wise.  A fool doesn’t watch how he lives. He doesn’t look where he walks, and falls into sin.

In the Bible, a fool is not a fool because he lacks intellectual strength. God doesn’t call someone a fool because they didn’t get good grades in school.  The Bible calls someone a fool because of their unbelief and sinful deeds. A fool is one who lives apart from God and His Word.

A wise person also makes careful use of their time (vs 16).  As believers this is particularly important as the world is increasingly becoming more wicked. When we were young children a year seemed a lifetime. Now, as adults we just turn around and a year has passed.  Life really is short. We need to make the most of our time on earth fulfilling God’s purposes.

In a number of pagan religions intoxicating beverages and drugs were used in attempts to reach their gods.  That has never been the way with Yahweh, the true God. We can never have true communion with God through intoxicating substances, but through the Holy Spirit (vs 18).  Every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit when saved. Believers should live continually and consistently under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We can do this by letting Him and His Word control us.  This is done by living pure lives, confessing sin, surrendering to God’s will, and living in conscious presence of the Lord. Just as a drunk is under the influence of the liquor, muddling his mind and controlling his actions, we are to let the Holy Spirit completely control all we say and do.

Being “filled with the Holy Spirit” is not getting more of the Holy Spirit.  We were indwelt by the Holy Spirit in full measure when we were saved.  Being filled with the Spirit means we completely submit to the Lord, and are following and obeying His will (vs 18).  When God prompts us and directs us, if we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will immediately obey His commands.

Finally, Paul instructs us to let the joy of the Lord in our life so overflow in us that we sing out our praises to God with hymns and spiritual songs (vs 19 - 20). Some of the Old Testament psalms were set to music, and could be sung, as well. Our faith should never be hidden, so let others know of our joy in the Lord through our songs and praises.  Our music, also, should always be godly and uplifting.

The more we praise the Lord the more the devil flees from our presence.  It is the greatest defense against the wiles of the devil. In all we do, let us always thank and praise the Lord with an attitude of gratitude.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Sing And Dance For Joy

Psalm 149

What makes you want to jump up and shout for joy?  Perhaps when your favorite team, after years of losing, finally wins the championship.  You might feel like doing a little dance when you are told you will get a good raise at work, or you inherited a large sum of money.  Many a young man or woman feels like singing when they realize the person they secretly love also loves them. In our short psalm for today, the psalmist feels like singing, dancing, and shouting for joy.  Let’s take a quick look.

Our psalmist calls upon everyone to praise the Lord, especially those of us who are believers (vs 1).  The psalmist, like the Apostle Paul, calls us believers “saints”. Saints aren’t just those special, holy people from past years.  The Scriptures, particularly Paul’s Epistles, calls all believers “saints”.  When we gather together with other saints, we should sing the Lord’s praise.

One reason to praise the Lord is that He is our Creator, our Maker (vs 2). Think, for a moment of the wonders of the different systems of our human bodies - all that is involved with digesting, our nervous system, how we see, our brain, our heart.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made as another psalmist, King David, proclaimed (Psalm 139:14).

When little children are happy about something they will often sing, skip, and dance around.  Their exuberance is overwhelming, and overflows into their actions. The salvation we have through the Lord Jesus is something to be excited about!  In verse 3 we are encouraged to dance and make music in our praise. Not everyone is very musically inclined or talented, and playing an instrument and dancing may not come easily.  We may not have a voice to sing in a choir, but we can all sing out our praises to Him in our own worship!

Believers are to sing, praise, and delight in the Lord, but did you know that the Lord takes pleasure and delights in those of us who have come to Him for salvation? (vs 4).  We know that God loves us, that He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16). The Lord also takes great pleasure in His children. Just as a parent delights in, accepts, and is pleased with their children in those happy, joyful moments in a family, so the Lord does in us. Some of you may never have had a parent who delighted in them, but Scriptures here affirms that the Lord does find pleasure in us. No matter what degrading or humiliating remarks people have said to us, we can know that is not what God thinks of us!  Those of us who have accepted salvation in Jesus are beautiful in His eyes.  This should bring us all joy, and bring a song to our lips (vs 5).

The remainder of the psalm (vs 6-9) looks to end times, not present day.  This speaks of the time following Jesus’s return to earth, when all nations and people will acknowledge Him as King.  This isn’t calling upon us today to go out and clobber those who have not yet accepted Jesus as their Savior. There is a day, though, after His return to earth, when Jesus will execute His wrath on those who have opposed and rejected Him.  However that is not now. The double-edged sword symbolizes the completeness of judgement that will be executed by the Messiah when He returns to punish all evildoers (Revelation 1:16).

Some may feel this day will never happen.  “Written judgment” (vs 9) is another way of saying “according to the Scriptures”.  God has prophesied the subjection of the nations to Jesus. That day is coming, and it is prudent to give ourselves to Him now, while He may delight and take pleasure in us, rather than never come to Him, and find that double-edged sword pointed at us!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Seven Things

Proverbs 6:16-19

People frequently make lists.  They can be their top favorite books, vacation spots, or flowers.  The list could also be of things they really dislike or hate, such as their worst chores, movies, or food.  Did you know that God also made a list? In our Scripture passage today we find a list that God made. His list isn’t of His favorite movie stars, but rather of the top seven things He hates. Can God hate something? Yes He can, and according to these verses here, this is a list of things He felt were an abomination to Him, an outrage, an atrocity (vs 16). These are not some things that mildly upset God, things that He wishes we would avoid.  These are things God hates. Let’s take a look at and know these seven things so that we can keep them from our life.

The first on the list is a proud look (vs 17).  Many people do not think that pride is such a bad thing.  Some even think it is almost a virtue. God certainly doesn’t.  Pridefulness, exalting oneself, arrogance, setting oneself above others, is something God hates.  We all know people who think they are better than others. These ones don’t even have to speak a word, but we can see their pride and arrogance in the way they look and act, their attitude of superiority.  That is not God’s way. Jesus said the first will be last, and the last first (Matthew 19:30), and whoever would be chief, let him be a servant, just as Jesus was (Matthew 20:27-28).

Next on the list is a lying tongue (vs 17).  God hates lying. He is the God of truth. He does not lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2), and His words are truth (John 17:17).  As His children, we should be honest in all of our words and dealings. When going to sell an item, we should be honest as to its real condition.  When we are in the wrong, we shouldn’t lie to make ourselves look better. Jesus said Satan was the father of lies, (John 8:44), and we don’t want to be like him.

Hands that shed innocent blood is another thing God hates.  This is rather self-explanatory. It grieves the Lord when innocent people are killed, to the point that He put this on His list.  Next is a heart that devises wicked plans (vs 18). There are many people who spend hours planning up schemes that are totally contrary to God’s Word. The next item goes along with this last one, and that is feet that are swift in running to evil. One person thinks up a wicked plan, and another one hurries to put that evil plan into action.  God hates them both.

The sixth item on God’s list is a false witness that speaks lies (vs 19). This is a bit different than the second item, which was a lying tongue. This one refers more to someone who speaks and spreads lies about another person.  This could be an official witness speaking falsehood on the witness stand in a court case. It could also be one who goes around telling lies about another person, spreading their wicked tales to others.  In a criminal trial, a lie could send an innocent person to prison. How many liars have done that, and even sent an innocent person to their death? That could link this to shedding innocent blood. False witnesses speaking lies have destroyed innocent people’s characters with their made-up tales. They have cost people friendships, jobs, and destroyed families. This is something God hates.

The final thing on God’s list of things that He hates is one who sows discord among brethren.  There are some people in any large group, including churches, that like nothing more than to stir up strife and contention, often then stepping back and watching the riot and discord they have caused.  These are troublemakers, often people who always think they are right, (a possible link with the first item on the list), and want to be the center of attention. God hates it when there are those who bring discord and strife to His house and body of believers.  Unless it is a point of doctrine, a fundamental of the faith, we should avoid causing strife with believers.

God felt these seven items were important enough to make up a list of things He hates.  As we looked them over, hopefully we did not see ourselves in any item. Let’s make a prayerful effort that this is a list we never find our name on!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Safe In The Arms Of Jesus

John 6:37-51

Rejected.  Cast out. These are depressing and sad words.  No one wants to think that they apply to themselves.  Unfortunately there are some who feel these words really do apply to them.  In school they were never accepted, and when they tried to join the popular clubs, they were told to get lost.  At work they never really fit in. Perhaps their spouse walked out on them, saying they weren’t good enough. They go through life desperately trying to never mess up so that they will not be rejected again and thrown out.

There are Christians who fear the same thing from God.  They fear that if they mess up even just once, if they commit a sin, God will cast them out of His family.  They fear that if they do anything worse than a little white lie they will lose their salvation. These poor souls go through their lives coming to Jesus for salvation dozens of times, only to fear they will lose their salvation again, and hoping when that when it is time to die, they will be on the right side of grace.

Such thinking is contrary to what Scripture teaches, and one of the verses supporting eternal security is in today’s passage (vs 37).  Jesus will never reject someone who truly believes in Him. We do not earn our salvation. Scripture is very clear that it is not through our works that we obtain salvation, but that it is through the grace of God, a gift He gives to those who accept His Son (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Since we have not earned our salvation through what we do, neither can we lose our salvation through our actions, once we have accepted Jesus as our Savior.

This promise is forever!  Jesus will never, ever cast out a sinner who comes to Him, not even if that person commits a sin after they came to Jesus.  We all will commit sins after we’ve been saved. When we do, we can go to Jesus for forgiveness. He is our Advocate with the Father (I John 2:1-2).  A repentant backslider can always find forgiveness from God (Hosea 14:4). Though unconfessed and unrepented sins in a believer will hinder our relationship with God, it will not cause us to lose our salvation.  Jesus promised that no one, and nothing, can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:27-29). Jesus has promised that He will never lose a single one of His children (vs 39), nor let us lose our salvation (John 17:12; Philippians 1:6).

The religious leaders in Jesus’s day refused to believe that He was God’s Son (vs 41 - 43).  They were not tolerating His message. Jesus responded to those who would listen that the Father would draw to Himself those who were open to coming to Him (vs 44).  There are some people who have closed their hearts and minds to God, blocking out the words of anyone who try to convince them otherwise, even the words of the Lord Jesus.  Others are open to Him, and willing to hear the Gospel message. God creates a longing within us for His love and presence. Sometimes He allows difficulty in our life so that we can open up to Him.  Those the Father will draw to Himself. Whoever will come to the Lord for salvation is safe, and Jesus will raise them up on the last day.

Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life (vs 48 - 51).  God has provided everyone with literal bread to physically keep us alive.  Jesus has come to provide spiritual and eternal life to those who accept Him. To “eat” the living bread means to accept Jesus into our life and become united with Him.

If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, then you can rest assured that you can never lose your salvation, and that you are eternally safe and secure in His hands.  If you have yet to ask Jesus into your heart, do not hesitate another day. Do not let your heart be hardened, but let the Father draw you to Himself. Come and eat of the Bread of Life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Grieving The Holy Spirit

Ephesians 4:25 - 5:2

Most of us have known one or two angry, foul-mouthed, sour people over the years, perhaps at our job or in the neighborhood.  Because of their temper and disagreeableness we generally avoid them. What a poor testimony and disappointment it is if we find out they claim to be a Christian.  In our Scripture passage today Paul reflects on some actions and behavior we sometimes have, and how it not only reflects poorly to others, but can grieve the Holy Spirit, as well.

Our passage begins with Paul’s admonition against lying (vs 25). Not only is lying breaking the ninth Commandment, lying creates conflicts and destroys trust.  It also tears down relationships. God is a God of truth, and His followers are to be truthful at all times.  The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44), and we do not want to be aligned with him. We are not fit instruments for God’s use if we are not truthful.

Anger is another issue brought up in this passage.  In verse 26 Paul implies that there are times when anger is not wrong.  He says we can be angry, but not to let the anger lead to sin. There is such a thing as righteous anger.  Jesus displayed righteous anger when He drove the moneychangers out of the Temple (John 2:13-16). Moses had righteous anger when he came down from Mt. Sinai and saw that the people had made and were worshipping the golden calf (Exodus 32:19-29).  This is anger against sin, that hates injustice, immorality, ungodliness, and other evildoing. If this anger is based on love of God and others, Scripture shows it is permissible. We must be careful that righteous anger does not turn to bitterness or make us hostile.  We must set it aside at the end of the day. We work against the Holy Spirit, and give the devil the advantage when we let our anger get away from us. (vs 27).

Another issue that Paul speaks about here is the words we speak to each other (vs 29).  Paul warns us against using corrupt language. Corruption brings to mind what is foul or rotten, such as spoiled fruit or putrid meat.  Foul language should not be spoken by a Christian. It is out of character with our new life in Christ. A Christian’s speech should be encouraging and uplifting to others.  A believer should live and speak with grace.

Not only does our poor behavior and speech give a bad testimony to others, it grieves the Holy Spirit (vs 30-31).  God is grieved when His children live in the old ways of sin rather than the life of righteousness in Christ. We can grieve the Holy Spirit by the way we live.  Unwholesome language, bitterness, improper use of anger, brawling, slander, and bad attitudes are all behaviors we should put away from us when we’ve taken Jesus as our Savior, and the Holy Spirit indwells our heart.

Paul tells us of several actions to be cast off, but there is one thing we should be doing consistently, and that is to forgive others (vs 32). Those who have been forgiven so much by God should forgive the offenses by others. Jesus even forgave those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34). If our Lord could do that, then we should be able to pass on forgiveness to others.

Little children like to imitate their parents and other adult role models.  When we accepted Jesus as our Savior we became a child of God. Now is the time to start imitating our Heavenly Father (vs 1). Sanctification is growing in the likeness of the Lord Jesus. Our greatest calling and purpose is to be imitators of Him. We need to imitate Jesus in love and forgiveness.  Our words and behavior as Christians should be more and more like Jesus, and less like that angry and sour character we all know in our neighborhood.

Monday, August 13, 2018

David's Escape

Today’s psalm is perhaps my most favorite one.  It was written by King David. The background story of this psalm is rather interesting.  David spent a number of years in his early adulthood fleeing for his life from King Saul. On one occasion David fled and received sanctuary from the king of the Philistine city of Gath, the enemy of the people of Israel (I Samuel 21:10-15).  While there, some of the king’s advisors reminded the king that this was David, from King Saul’s court, the one who had killed their hero, Goliath. David heard, and knew his life was in immediate danger. David comes up with a rather clever plan in order to escape with his life safe.  He pretends to be a crazy man, scratching the walls, slobbering all over, acting raving mad. The king then has him cast out of Gath, and David’s life is safe from him. David knew that it was the Lord God who had helped him escape from Gath in safety, and he wrote this psalm in praise to Him.  Let’s take closer look at some of the verses.

David never took any of the Lord’s blessings or protection for granted.  He praised the Lord throughout the day, every day (vs 1). Sometimes things can look rather bleak.  Nothing good seems to be happening. It sure looked that way to David in Gath, but he was going to bless the Lord at all times, praising Him continually.  We should take his response to troubled times for our example, with a heart of praise.  It is hard to fall into despair when we praise God for His love and strength. We cast out doubt by remembering God’s past faithfulness.

As we can imagine, David was afraid when he heard that they found out he was the one who had killed their champion, Goliath, and his life was in serious danger.  However, David knew that God heard him and would deliver him (vs 4). When fear, any type of fear from any source, overwhelms us, we need to seek the Lord. He hears us and cares for us, and will bring us deliverance.  No one is closer to us in the midst of our troubles than Jesus Christ. David saw this in Gath, and also all the other times he fled from Saul. David calls upon us to join him in His praise to God (vs 3).

David knew that the Lord and His angels were around him, no matter where he was, even in the enemy’s land, and would protect him (vs 7).  We are well-guarded. The only way something can touch us is if God allows it.

When we have found something good, don’t we want our friends to get the same thing?  That is what David is doing in verse 8. One thing he knew all throughout his life was how good God was to him. Here in our psalm David extends an invitation for us to come to God and experience the same gracious and loving care he has known.

In verses 9-10 we have a promise from God that those who fear Him, those who seek Him, will not lack from any good thing from Him. This is not a blanket promise that all Christians will have everything they want. All those who call upon God in their need will be answered, sometimes in unexpected ways.  God does give us good things. Not all “good things” are possessions or worldly goods. God’s idea of “good things” can be other types of blessings (James 1:17). We need to seek God, Himself, not just what He can give us. Come to Him with an open heart, not just an outstretched hand for something He can give. To have God is to have all we really need. He is enough.  God sometimes allows us to go without some things so we will grow more dependant on Him.  We need God more than our physical desires fulfilled.

Throughout this whole psalm, David testifies that no matter where we are or what is happening, the Lord is always watching over and caring for His children.  Whenever we are afraid, it is good to remember times in the past when God heard and answered our prayers in the past, and delivered us from our troubles. David knew this first hand.  God had delivered him from wild animals when a shepherd. He had delivered him from Goliath and from Saul. Now in Gath, he knew God would protect him. Let’s put our faith and trust in God during our needs, whatever they are, just as David did, and see how He will come to our aid.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

An Attitude Of Gratitude

Deuteronomy 8:1-10

Our Old Testament reading for this week, from the Lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer, is from Deuteronomy.  The Book of Deuteronomy, written by Moses, is the last of the five books of the Pentateuch, or Books of the Law. The people of Israel, having been delivered from slavery, had spent the last forty years traveling in the wilderness.  Now they were camped near the eastern banks of the Jordan River, ready to cross and conquer the land of Canaan, which the Lord had promised them. Before entering the land of the Canaanites, Moses is reviewing the laws that God had given them earlier, which is what the Book of Deuteronomy is.  If the people want the Lord’s help and blessings, they must follow and obey Him.

Throughout the forty years that the people traveled through the wilderness, the Lord God provided them with food and water.  Every day He miraculously fed them with manna. This was not something they went out and hunted for with their skill, nor was it something they planted and harvested.  Nothing they did provided this food. It came from God alone. This was to teach them that physical food is not all we need to live. We need God’s Word in order to truly live (vs 3).

When Jesus was in the wilderness, fasting and in prayer to God before starting His ministry, Satan came and tempted Him.  One of the temptations Satan threw at Jesus, knowing that He was hungry, was to turn the stones He saw into bread (Matthew 4:1-4).  Jesus responded by quoting verse 3 from our passage today back at Satan. So many people today spend their lives pursuing the satisfying of their appetites for pleasure and possessions.  These things inevitably leave us empty and dissatisfied. Real and true life comes from a total commitment to God.

While speaking to the people before they were to cross the Jordan and enter the land, Moses reminded them that while they were in the wilderness, in addition to providing food, they wanted for nothing (vs 4).  He specified that their clothes never wore out, nor did they even ever get swollen feet. All those years in the wilderness, with limited resources, God made sure that their clothes stayed fresh and new so they didn’t need to make additional clothes. He also took care of even the the most insignificant of their health needs. Do we remember to thank God for all of the smaller daily blessings the Lord God gives us? The list is endless! Besides the obvious of food, shelter and health, there’s all of nature, flowers, birds, etc.  The music you enjoy, and that radio station you found that plays it. How about that good book you just read, or not missing the train you needed to catch, the compliment you received for your work? The people Moses was speaking to failed to thank Him for His care during the forty years in the wilderness.  Let us not be so ungrateful to the Lord for His blessings to us, including the less obvious ones.

As they prepared to enter the land, God was seeking to correct the people’s wayward attitude, so that they might be prepared to obediently go into the promised land (vs 5-10).  God was seeking obedience and faithfulness to Him, but also gratitude and thankfulness for His blessings and care. Why is it that people so easily forget to thank God for His blessings?  For many families saying grace before a meal is a thing of the past. It’s as if they feel that they worked hard to earn the money to buy the food, so why bother thanking God for it.  The same for their clothes, home, etc. Pride and self-centeredness get in the way. Gratitude doesn’t even enter the mind.

Just as Moses spoke these reminders to the people of Israel before they entered the Promised Land, let’s remember exactly Who gave us the blessings we have received, and give God thanks.  It is not through our own efforts that we have them, nor do they spring up by themselves. Gratitude and thankfulness are always appropriate by God’s people.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Spiritual Junk Food

John 6:24-35

In our previous two Gospel readings from Mark’s account we saw how Jesus fed the multitude with the five loaves of bread and two fish, and then walked on water to reach the disciples in the middle of the Sea of Galilee.  After they landed on the shore, the crowds came seeking Jesus again, which is where our passage in John’s Gospel picks up today.

The crowds, seeing Jesus, asked Him as to when He arrived.  Jesus knew the real reason they were seeking Him, as He knows what is in everyone’s heart (John 2:23-25).  He knew that many of the people were coming to Him because of the recent miracle of the multiplied loaves and fishes.  They were seeking Him for physical and temporal benefits, not to satisfy any spiritual hunger (vs 26). They were motivated by superficial, worldly desires, not the spiritual message Jesus had to give.

What is the world seeking after?  There is an emptiness in people, and they are seeking to fill it.  Many try to fill it with entertainment and the latest technological gadgets.  Others try to fill it with alcohol, drugs, and sex. Some will try to satisfy this empty void with various philosophies, the latest New Age gurus, and other false religions. Only Jesus has the truth, and only His way is the way to live (John 14:6).

These crowds were spiritually blind.  The feeding of the multitude and other miracles wasn’t enough.  They wanted their physical desires satisfied, and in this instance they wanted constant feeding like Moses brought with the manna (vs 30-34).  People must eat bread or food to satisfy hunger and live. Likewise we satisfy spiritual hunger and sustain spiritual life only by a right relationship with Jesus Christ.

When we are physically hungry, we can choose to eat good healthy food, or eat junk food.  The junk food may temporarily satisfy us, but ultimately leaves us empty and without any nutritional benefit.  It can also lead to sickness and poor health. Good and healthy food is just that, good and healthy. False religions and philosophies are like that junk food.  They may temporarily satisfy one’s spiritual hunger, but in the end they cannot bring true spiritual truth, and ultimately lead to eternal death. Jesus is the true bread who gives spiritual and eternal life to the world (vs 35).  We must invite Jesus into our life to spiritually live and gain eternal life.

The false religions and philosophies of the world are all based on works.  Their pathway to heaven and salvation is by doing something, a “works-based” salvation.  These people who came to Jesus that day were thinking this way (vs 28).  They wanted to know what they could do.  Jesus gave the only answer - believe on Him whom God has sent (vs 29).  The only work God wants or accepts is faith and trust in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God.  The only way to obtain salvation and to get to heaven, is to believe that Jesus is God’s Son, who came to pay the price for our sins, and to accept Him as your Savior.  We must accept that Jesus is who He says He is.

Are you feeding on the true Bread, Jesus Christ, or are you going after the world’s junk food, the latest guru and his false philosophies?  You may not think those beliefs so bad at first, but just as a steady diet of junk food will eventually make one ill, these false religions will lead to spiritual death.  Come to the true Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Our New Selves

Ephesians 4:17-24

Picture, if you may, a young person who is homeless and desperately poor, and whose clothes are filthy and smelly, no better than rags. By some stroke of luck this person is adopted into a wealthy family. They are bathed with soap and hot water, and given beautiful, elegant clothes.  The nasty clothes are taken and thrown out. What would you think if this young person, though grateful to be in this new family, takes his old, smelly clothes back and wears them?  No, we say! Take off those old, nasty clothes and put on the new! The Apostle Paul gives a similar picture in our passage in his letter to the Ephesians today.

When we ask Jesus into our heart, and accept Him as our Savior, we become a new person.  Paul calls this the “new man”, and the former unsaved person we were is called the “old man” (vs 22-24).  Our old, unsaved behavior and conduct is to be cast off of us just like the filthy clothes of a former homeless person’s is thrown off.  Instead, just like new clothes, we put on the holiness and righteousness we receive from Jesus when we are saved.

As Paul opens our passage, he tells his readers to stop acting like they did before they were saved (vs 17-19).  Our “walk” is our daily conduct, and the Scripture here tells us not to act like the ungodly, the unsaved (vs 17). Unbelievers are spiritually separated from God. They are in spiritual darkness and moral blindness, and their conduct shows this (vs 18).  Unbelievers are morally insensitive. They sin and turn away from God. They are behaviorally depraved.

The world is “past feeling” (vs 19), having lost all sensitivity and all feelings of shame.  Today there are no feelings of shame or embarrassment when certain topics are discussed, like there used to be.  Now everything coarse and vulgar is openly spoken of, and if Christians don’t like it, we are mocked. People have grown comfortable with sin, which is the first step on a downward slope of disaster.  If we repeatedly ignore our conscience it will become seared, and we will no longer even feel its pricks. As Christians, the Holy Spirit’s convictions should be our God-given defense against sin.

God’s priorities and the world’s priorities are completely incompatible.  Before salvation everyone wants to satisfy their own desires. The world says we can each decide what is right for us. God’s way is the opposite. He says to deny oneself and be a servant to others.

After we are saved, we have a decision to make.  We have to decide to put off the old man and put on the new man.  We have to decide to stop living like the unsaved and followers of false religions.  Their behavior is sensual, self-indulgent, impure, and greedy. Wrong thinking leads to wrong actions.

When saved, the old man no longer exists.  The new man is created in the likeness of God.  Though the old man no longer exists, we sometimes choose to act and live as though it did.  Paul tells us to decide to “put off” the old man. That describes repentance from sin and submission to God.  Paul also tells us to “put on” the new man. To do that is to live according to the truth of the Gospel. We need to renew our mind with His Word (Romans 12:2).  We must grow in obedience, love, and compassion.

It’s time for us believers to live like the family we have been adopted into.  We are no longer the dirty street urchins we were before. It’s time to take off the old filthy, contaminated clothes and destroy them.  It’s time to put on the clothes the Lord Jesus has given us.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Learning From Past Mistakes

Psalm 78

Most parents like to share with their children stories of their past. Usually our stories are complimentary of ourselves. We’ll tell of all the “A’s” we got in school, how we made the sports team or the cheerleading squad, or how we had the cutest date for the high school dance.  Everything to make ourselves look good. Do we ever tell them the bad things? The jobs we were laid off from, the mistakes we made at school, all of our disappointments and failures throughout life. In our psalm for today, the author Asaph reviews some of the nation of Israel’s past history for them, and it’s not all that flattering. Furthermore, he urges them to tell it to future generations, too.

What would the purpose be in telling one’s children our failures and mistakes of the past?  Why would Asaph tell the people their nation’s failures? Though today there may be more honesty in some school history books, in the past most history textbooks glossed over their country’s failures and instead told how great they were.  There were two reasons for this. One was so that the people of Israel, and our own children as well, would learn from past mistakes so they might not repeat them themselves. Paul knew this when he wrote to the Corinthians, telling them Biblical accounts so they could learn from their examples (I Corinthians 10:1-12).  Another equally important reason that Asaph gave was to praise and give God glory for His ongoing love and mercy, despite the people’s sins and failure.

Our psalm gives a brief overview from the time of Moses until King David took the throne.  Asaph spoke of the Ten Plagues upon Egypt (vs 42-51), God leading the people through the wilderness and providing manna and water (vs 13-31), bringing the people into the Promised Land (vs 52-55), the time of the Judges (vs 56-64), and David taking the throne (vs 65-72).

Even with these blessings and providing for the people, they continually rebelled against God, refusing to obey His laws or believing Him.  They were not faithful to Him, consistently going after false gods. They forgot all God had done for them (vs 11-12). They put Him to the test by making demands of Him (vs 18).  They lied to God, and tried to flatter Him (vs 36). They continued to forsake Him, regardless of all the works He did for them (vs 42-56).

Despite the Israelites faithlessness and sin, God continued to love and care for them (vs 38).  Many times people follow God with their words, but not with their hearts (vs 36-37). Their repentance is empty.  This was the case with the Hebrew people. How blessed and fortunate we are that God has not dealt with us according to our sins (Psalm 103:10).  God restrains His anger and gives mercy to those who have put faith and trust in Jesus (Romans 5:8-11).

As Asaph testifies, we need to remember all that God has done for us in our past, both during our good times and throughout our failures, and to praise and thank Him for what He has done.  He has been there for and with us, forgiving us when we confess and repent, leading His children like a shepherd leads his flock, protecting and caring for us (vs 52-53).

If our children learn of our past mistakes, hopefully they won’t repeat them. Asaph was hoping for this as he penned this psalm (vs 3-8) . Paul also, as he indicated in that portion of Scripture in I Corinthians.  When they see this, they will see how faithful God is to believers, forgiving us of our mistakes. How very important it is for us to tell our children and grandchildren about the Lord, and all He has done.  The saving message of Jesus must be shared with future generations.

Saturday, August 4, 2018


Exodus 16:2-15

Nothing can ruin a nice day quicker than having to spend it with a complainer. It’s even worse if you’re with the complainer on a long trip! Nothing is good for them.  They’re hungry, but then they don’t like the food. They’re thirsty, too hot or too cold, tired, uncomfortable, bored, etc, etc, etc.  We might expect that from little children, but it’s much worse when this comes from adults. This is what Moses is facing from the Israelite people in our Scripture today. Let’s look at our passage, and see what God can teach us.

It was only a few weeks prior to our account that God had miraculously delivered the people from slavery in Egypt, including parting the waters of the Red Sea.  Now they are complaining to Moses and Aaron that they have nothing to eat (vs 2-3). After they crossed the Red Sea, they entered a wilderness desert area, a hostile environment of sand and stone.  Rather than trusting God, who had proven His love and care for them, they complained and worried. When our situation isn’t ideal, instead of immediate complaints, try to look for something positive.  Even in the desert there is some beauty. Desert flowers can be some of the most beautiful, along with desert sunsets.

Imagine having been in slavery for multiple generations, then being miraculously delivered, and now once free, wishing to return to slavery!  Why? Because you don’t believe God can provide you with food! Just a few weeks ago He had delivered them from slavery to the most powerful nation the world had ever known to date, and prior to that they had witnessed the ten terrible plagues He had brought on the Egyptians.  They had an attitude of negativism and self-centeredness, along with a short memory.

God was gracious, loving, and merciful to the Israelites, despite their ungracious complaints, and He promised them food, manna, for each day (vs 4).  God provided for their needs on a daily basis, not all at once. The miraculous food of manna, which came every morning, lasted only a day. They were to only gather enough manna for each day.  If they gathered more, it rotted (Exodus 16:20). This teaches us to live one day at a time, trusting each day for His provisions. Jesus teaches us the same lesson in the Lord’s Prayer - “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).  God was testing the people to see if they would trust and obey Him.  The Lord sometimes tests us to see if we will obey Him. We might not understand everything, but our obedience will bring blessings.  He will provide for our needs.

The Israelites had seen one miracle after another, God providing and protecting them step after step, but they still lacked faith and worried. Throughout their journey, from the first day onward, the Israelites complained and wished they were back in Egypt. Before we get too critical of them, let’s look at ourselves.  How quick many of us are to forget all that God has done, and continues to do for us. When situations get rough, and stress levels high, complaining and anger is often the response.  This is really a lack of trust in God. Instead we need to focus on God’s power and deliverance.

Complaining about circumstances and blaming others is really complaining against God (vs 8).  Between verses 7 and 9 we read “your complaint” four times, and “you complain” once. I have to ask myself how many times am I complaining, rather than praising God for His blessings and provisions?  After all He has done for us, is it really that difficult to trust Him?

Jesus compared Himself to manna (John 6:48-51).  Just as the manna satisfied the daily physical needs of the people, Jesus Christ is our daily bread who satisfies our eternal spiritual needs.  Have you accepted Him as your personal Savior? If not, do not let another day pass before you call upon Him for salvation.


I pray that you have enjoyed and benefited from these Bible meditations that I have written for this blog.   I hope you will prayerfully consider donating as the Lord might lead you. This blog is not run through a large ministry with a wide funding base.  I am an individual with limited financial resources. Thank you and God bless.