Follow by Email

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bread of Heaven, Part 2

Bread of Heaven, Part 2
John 6:35-59

Joh 6:34-59 ESV  They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."  (35)  Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (36)  But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. (37)  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (38)  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. (39)  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (40)  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (41)  So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." (42)  They said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?"  (43)  Jesus answered them, "Do not grumble among yourselves. (44)  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (45)  It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will all be taught by God.  Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— (46)  not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. (47)  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. (48)  I am the bread of life. (49)  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. (50)  This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. (51)  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." (52)  The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"  (53)  So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (54)  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (55)  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. (56)  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. (57)  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. (58)  This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever." (59)  Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

Last week we read the first part of this discourse of Jesus where we learned about the Jews who had followed Christ across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum.  Many of them, had been a part of Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5,000 and had a desire to take Him by force and make Him king.

Jesus dismissed the disciples and sent them on ahead to Capernaum… then He calms the crowd and goes up on the mountain to pray.  Sometime during the night… seeing the disciples struggle in the storm that came up suddenly… Jesus walked on the water… enters the boat they’re in… and the storm not only calms… but they find themselves “immediately” at their destination.

Then we saw that on next day, the Jews on the other side wake to find Jesus MIA… so they go looking for Him.  After finding Him in a synagogue in Capernaum… they started a discussion with Him that lead to His teaching them about the differences between the food that the world has to offer… and the food that endures to eternal life.

After telling them that the bread of God that came down from heaven is the bread that gives “life to the world” (6:33)… they in turn make a request that’s similar to the request made by the Samaritan woman at the well after she heard about “living water”, and asked… “Joh 4:15 ESV  … "Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water."

In similar fashion… when these Jews hear about bread from God that gives “eternal life”… they ask… Joh 6:34 ESV  … "Sir, give us this bread always."

Though I believe the difference between these two instances is that the Samaritan woman had faith… and the Jews really didn’t… they are similar in that both the Jews and the Samaritan woman were still thinking in “worldly” and “natural” terms.

She was thinking of real water… and they were thinking of real bread… This in itself is a little unusual because the Jews weren’t unfamiliar with the practice of spiritualizing ideas.  Many of the popular rabbis would spiritualize worldly concepts in order to illustrate their point… just as Jesus did…

So… it is unusual that they weren’t “getting it”… unless you make an argument that their “not getting it” was a ploy used to find something to trap Him… or trip Him up…  And that could very well be the case… but the scriptures usually tells us when this is the underlying motive.

But, regardless of their motives… or lack of motives… in the rest of this discourse… Jesus moves more and more from speaking in “shadows” to giving more and more detail until He actually reaches the crass or coarse by bluntly talking about “eating” His flesh and “drinking” His blood. 

Statements that initially would be shocking… maybe even bordering on pagan… if someone were to enter the conversation late… not knowing what was said before. 

Think about it for a minute… can you imagine what you might think if you walked up right at that point?  Do you think you might do a “double take” and exclaim, “What?”  Even my wife… when we were talking about this very thing the other day… asked me why Jesus spoke like this?  She thought it was blunt… and maybe even a little gross.  (And I’d have to agree…)

*  *  *  *  *

So… as I was reading through today’s text… praying as I always do for some “revelation”… I really struggled…  This text contains so much… I could easily preach on these 25 verses for the next several weeks!  25 verses… 25 weeks…

But you know what?  The Lord is merciful toward you!  As I began mapping out these verses… all of them dealing with the central theme of Jesus being the “Bread from Heaven”… He opened my eyes to the fact that this whole passage revolves around two simple gospel truths…

These truths are, first… all who desire to be saved and hope for eternal life… must first “Come to Christ”… and second… all who come to Christ will be…“Received by Christ”.

It’s really just that simple…

I. “Come to Christ”

Joh 6:35 ESV Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Now… as I mentioned earlier… Jesus began this discussion talking about the real bread from heaven being different from the bread that Moses fed their fathers.

And if someone hadn’t understood Him up to this point… which it appears that most of them didn’t understand… He now makes His point crystal clear by saying… “I am the bread of life…”

“That bread that I told you about that I give to whoever I wish… and all who partake of it will have eternal life?  Well… That’s ME!”  “Come to me and you’ll never hunger again… Believe in me, and you’ll never thirst again.”

“Come”… “Believe’… What’s He talking about?  What does it mean to come to Christ?  How does one go about doing it?

Coming to Christ… and believing in Christ are synonymous… they mean pretty much the same thing.  It means receiving His doctrine… believing what He teaches to be the truth of God…  It means believing that His death on the Cross was substitutionary… that He took my place and made the payment of a debt I couldn’t pay.   

It means believing that His death atoned for my sins and made me right with God… because now through faith, I am clothed with His righteousness… not mine.

It means knowing that my sins are blotted out… my soul has been purified before God… and His justice has been satisfied…

It also means that because of all of the above… I am now at rest!  I have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ! The penalty for my sin no longer hangs over my head… threatening to fall at any moment.  The knowledge that I have been saved, sanctified and secured in Christ… gives me peace.

And the last thing I want to mention is that, although, just like all men… I may die at any moment… This physical body may expire at any time… That doesn’t scare me.  Because unlike all men… I have believed in Christ unto salvation… and my spirit has been made alive in Him… And, that which is made alive in Christ… will never die!

This is the simple explanation of what it means to “come to Christ”.  But how does this happen?  How does a person go about doing it?

Well… that’s simple too.  Remember last week, when the Jews asked Jesus the same thing?  Joh 6:28 ESV  …"What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" 

And then we found out that the only thing we can “do”… is “believe” in Christ…  Joh 6:29 ESV … "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."  Our “work”… that thing we must “do”… goes far beyond the natural and physical… into the spiritual…  We must “believe”.

Well today we find that only those who are “drawn” to the Son by the Father can believe… Joh 6:44 ESV No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…

Joh 6:65 ESV … "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

We also find that all those who are drawn by the Father… are “given” to the Son… Joh 6:37 ESV All that the Father gives me will come to me...

Joh 6:39 ESV And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me….  (See also Joh 17:6, 12, 24)

And furthermore… all who are “drawn” by the Father and “given” to the Son… “will come” to the Son!   Joh 6:37 ESV All that the Father gives me will come to me…

Let me tell ya something… when God purposes a thing… there is no room for doubt… no place for error… no such thing as chance.  He is sovereign over His creation and He is the primary cause of all things.

The salvation of man was planned out from eternity… all who come to Christ were chosen in Him… long ago… Eph 1:4a ESV even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…

This is the Scripture.  This is the plain teaching of the Bible… and yet there are Christians who dislike it because it takes salvation out of man’s hands and places it firmly into God’s hands.

So… just like the Jews of old… the ones in this very chapter… they continue to ask… Joh 6:28 ESV  …"What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"  When what’s required… has been done… and all that’s left… is “believe”!

This is a beautiful and extremely humbling example of the sovereignty of God… and the responsibility of Man.  Two truths that are clearly taught in the Bible… yet they appear to be contradictory.

The natural man would ask, “If God is sovereign in salvation… then how can man be responsible?”  It’s the same question that Paul foresaw men asking when he wrote in Romans… Rom 9:19 ESV You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"

And do you know what God’s response was?  “Shut up!”  God’s response to that question in Romans is the same response He gave to Job when Job questioned God’s sovereignty… “Shut up!”, “Who are you to question me?”, “Where were you, when I did all these things like create everything that is out of nothing?”  “Can the clay ask the Potter, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”

God is sovereign in salvation… and Man is responsible.  Two truths that run parallel to each other in the Bible… Like railroad tracks running beside each other… though they may appear to come together way off in the distance… they actually never do.

And our inability to completely understand them in this fashion… And all our efforts and complete failure… to make these parallel truths come together into one track… to force them to harmonize… only goes to prove that we’re still just clay.  We’re not as smart as we would like to think we are…

Once we come to that realization… Once we can acknowledge that… we can move on… confident in the knowledge that no one can come to Christ unless the Father draws them… And that it is the work of the Holy Spirit that regenerates our heart and causes us to desire Christ.

And when that happens… we will be…

II. “Received by Christ”

Joh 6:37 ESV  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

Now, the title I’ve given to this section… and the verse we just read… are a bit misleading.  What I mean is that though it is absolutely true that all who come to Christ… will be received by Christ… that’s not what this verse says.

This verse doesn’t say… “Whoever comes to me I will receive”… it says something completely different… it says… “I will never cast out!”

Do you see what I mean?  The implication is that all those who have been “given” and “come” to Christ… have already “received” by Christ.  They were the love gift from the Father to the Son… and because the Son came only to do His Father’s will…

Joh 6:38 ESV  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

He would never turn away… or not accept… a gift from the Father.

So this isn’t as much a statement about being received by Christ… as it is a statement of our security in Christ.  Once we are His… we are His forever.  And of all those who are His… He says… Joh 6:39 ESV … I should lose nothing of all that he has given me...

Christ will never cast out… or lose… anyone who has been given to Him by the Father… because that would be like denying Himself.  He is the Son, after all… the second Person of the Trinity.

The Father draws people to the Son through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit… All three Persons of the Godhead are involved in the salvation of man.  And God works in unity… regenerating… drawing… and receiving.

And the other promise to those who are saved by Christ is... Joh 6:54b ESV … I will raise him up on the last day.

Four times in this passage (vs. 39, 40, 44 and 54), Jesus tells us that He will raise up those who are his… on the last day.  And this is something that tends to be glossed over when we speak or think of “eternal life”…

The fact is that it’s eternal “life”… not “death”.  Eternal life isn’t just a spiritual concept… something we enjoy forever in a non-corporeal condition.  We will be raised from the dead… given physical bodies once again… and we will live eternally in that state… physically… not just spiritually.

As the Bible says… it is eternal “life”!  When we die… we will go to be with the Lord in heaven.  As wonderful as that is… our ultimate goal isn’t heaven… but the resurrection and the new heaven and new earth… the Kingdom!

Now… a final point I want to make concerning the rest of our passage… is that you’ll notice from somewhere around verse 50 to verse 59… Jesus makes some remarkable statements… about eating His flesh… and drinking His blood…

He had been confronting their continued, willful unbelief… and in the process… He didn’t tone down, soften, or even clarify His words.  Instead… He made His teaching even harder for them to swallow by adding a shocking concept… Eating His flesh… and drinking His blood!

This is simply a restating of what He’s already said… that anyone who desires eternal life must come to Him and believe in Him.  He is not speaking literally of eating His literal, physical flesh and drinking the blood out of His veins.  This is a metaphor… and it’s referring to the necessity of accepting Jesus’ sacrificial death.

Also… this is not a statement concerning the Lord’s Supper.

I say this for 3 reasons.  First… nowhere in the Bible is the bread and wine referred to as “flesh”.  His body… yes.  His flesh… no.  Two… the Lord’s Supper hadn’t even been instituted yet.  That would be a year to a year and a half away later.  And three… if this were referring to the Lord’s Supper… then it’s teaching that the only thing necessary for salvation is to take Communion.  Reread verses 48-59 again… you’ll see what I’m talking about.

*  *  *  *  *
Next week… we’ll have Part 3 of this “Bread of Heaven” series… and we’ll talk about the disciples reactions to Christ’s words.

But at the moment… I’m more interested in your reactions.  Have you appropriated Christ’s sacrificial death for yourself?  What I mean by that is… have you come to Christ in faith… believing that though His death on the cross was for the sins of the world… they were also for you… specifically?

Have you repented of your sins?  Given your life to Christ?  And do you follow Him now?

If you haven’t yet… that opportunity is before you now.  Don’t squander it.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bread of Heaven, Part 1

Bread of Heaven, Part 1
Joh 6:22-33

Joh 6:22-33 ESV  On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone.  (23)  Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.  (24)  So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.  (25)  When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?"  (26)  Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. (27)  Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." (28)  Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"  (29)  Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." (30)  So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?  (31)  Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"  (32)  Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. (33)  For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

You know… there are things that we experience in life that will bring back certain memories.  Music, for instance.  I can remember when I was learning how to play guitar… I made a promise to the Lord that I’d use it only to glorify Him.

Well… there’s a Christian group in Pampa that had invited me to play with them some time back.  They were involved in Prison Ministry… and went into the prisons with a group called The Reconcilers.  As part of the draw to the unsaved… the band would play classic rock-n-roll… stuff that everyone would recognize… (Stairway to Heaven, Freebird, Give Me Three Steps, etc.), but they’d change the words and make the song into a Christian song…

I went to play with them one evening after their invitation… but after a few songs… I just couldn’t do it anymore.  Regardless of the new words… the music itself would take me back to times I’d much rather forget than remember...

Another powerful trigger… probably even more powerful than sound… is smell.  Our sense of smell can bring us back to the “good ol’ days”… or the “bad ol’ days”… whichever the case may be.

For instance… when I smell that wonderful odor of homemade bread cooking… I’m taken back in time to mom’s homemade bread and anxiously waiting for the pans to get out of the oven!  Our only purpose in life when mom was making bread was to get at it while it was still hot… slather it with butter… and… Oh man… I can smell it now…

I like that stuff so much… that my boys bought me a bread maker for my last birthday… and I’ve been using it very often ever since.

But you know what?  There’s a problem with the bread I make… or that I buy in the store.  Just as Jesus said to the Devil… Luk 4:4 ESV  …'Man shall not live by bread alone.'

The problem with this kind of bread is… you can’t live off of it.  It won’t sustain life… and after you eat it… you’ll only get hungry again.  (Which is one of the problems I have with my weight… I eat my homemade bread… get hungry again… and I eat more… it’s a vicious cycle!)

*  *  *  *  *  *

In the 6th chapter of John… we read where Jesus fed the 5,000 with some homemade barley loaves… and the people ate their fill.  They were so impressed by this miracle… that they wanted to take Him by force and make Him their king.

But… guess what happened the next day?  They got hungry again.

They woke up and looked around and couldn’t find Jesus anywhere.  They knew that there was only one boat available that could have taken him and the disciples to the other side of the lake… but the disciples had gotten in it by themselves and left without Him.

They also knew that He didn’t walk around on the shoreline to the other side of the lake.  He wouldn’t have been able to get past such a large multitude of people without someone seeing Him.  (Of course… humans couldn’t fly… or walk on water…)

But the fact remained… Jesus wasn’t anywhere to be found… so… He had to have followed the disciples… somehow.  Probably to Capernaum… where it was known that He spent much time…

I. Seeking Christ

Joh 6:23-24 ESV  (23)  Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.  (24)  So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

Over in Tiberias… rumors had been going around about a really large gathering of people.  It’s more-than-likely that the fishermen from Tiberias… and nearby areas… decided to go over to this place to see what was going on… or maybe… they thought they could pick up some coin by offering transport back across the lake…

Whatever the reasons… more boats had arrived in the area… and since Jesus obviously wasn’t on this side of the lake… the people decided to search for Him elsewhere.  He was known to hang around Capernaum… or maybe someone heard Him tell the disciples to go there…

But that’s where they found Him… teaching in one of the Synagogues in Capernaum (according to vs. 59).

Now… I want you to remember that Jesus had accumulated a large following of people… who called themselves “disciples”… yet many of them… if not, most of them… weren’t true disciples.

As we’ve seen several times before… many of these people were simply “signs & wonders junkies”… simply chasing after their next “fix” of miracles…

Well… these people… many of them not real disciples searched high and low for Jesus… and they found Him…  And you know what?  Jesus will be found by any and all who diligently seek Him.  Pro 8:17 ESV  I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Yeah… I know that verse is actually speaking of wisdom… but since Christ is the wisdom of God… it applies…

1Co 1:23-24 ESV  but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,  (24)  but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

The problem though… is that many people seek Christ for the wrong reasons.  Many seek Him for selfish gain… hoping to get something out of Him, that will satisfy their flesh in some way… or fulfill a lust of some sort…

For instance… there are preachers out there that promote the idea that following Christ will put money in your pocket… a multi-million dollar home in a gated community… a BMW in the driveway of that home… or maybe even your very own Lear Jet at the airport.

Even way back in the 4th century… Augustine stated… “How many seek Jesus for no other purpose than that He may do good for them in this present life.  Scarcely ever is Jesus sought for Jesus’ sake.”

All of those who would build their faith in Jesus on the false promise of prosperity… or the fulfilling the desires of their flesh… are building their houses on sand.  True faith in Jesus is a faith in the crucified Jesus…  The cross can’t be removed from His message… and He commands us to carry our own cross… and follow Him…

Mar 8:34 ESV  … "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

If your faith is on anything other than the cross… then there will come a day when you’ll face a “crisis of faith”… When the cross intrudes radically into your life… and it will intrude… through sickness… business failure… or family crisis…

And you will have to decide where your real treasure lays… in the cross and the hope of glory… or an airport hanger… or large bank account.

These people who sought Jesus in our passage today… will soon discover that their treasure… their desire… wasn’t in the Christ who’d take them to the cross… but in their own bellies… and the cravings of their flesh.

And when the way of Christ proves to be to “difficult” for them… or too hard for them to understand…  When they are faced with their “crisis of faith”… we’ll see how they will turn away… just as many do today…

II. Finding Christ

Joh 6:25 ESV   … "Rabbi, when did you come here?" 
Joh 6:28 ESV   … "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"
Joh 6:30 ESV   … "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 

As I said earlier… Jesus will be found by any and all who seek Him.  It really doesn’t matter what your motives are… He’ll be found.  But finding Christ… and receiving Christ… are two different things.

And those who seek Christ for the wrong reasons… those who have ulterior motives… they’ll find the truth, or they’ll hear the truth… but they won’t like the truth. 

If everyone who heard the truth… liked it… and followed it… this world would be a Christian world… and the Kingdom would be here—right now!

These people who sought Christ, after He fed them on the other side of the lake… they had the wrong motives… and they didn’t have a true understanding of who He was. 

They wanted someone who’d feed them daily like Moses did their ancestors in the wilderness… this is why Moses is mentioned here at all… they were thinking that the coming Messiah would be like Moses… and they wanted this new Moses (Jesus) to provide for their physical needs… be their king, and throw off the Roman yoke.

After they found Jesus, according to vs. 59… in a synagogue in Capernaum… they asked Him a series of three questions.  They begin with… Joh 6:25 ESV   … "Rabbi, when did you come here?"

And since these same people were trying to force Him into becoming a king, after He miraculously fed them… He wasn’t about to tell them… “I walked across the lake”.  No… He ignores that question and goes right to their heart.

Joh 6:26-27 ESV  Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. (27)  Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal."

Jesus knew their heart… just as He knows our hearts… and He went straight to the heart of the matter.  They didn’t seek Him because they believed Him to be the Messiah of God… but a Miracle Worker who filled their bellies.

The food of this world will only satisfy hunger for a few hours.  But there is other food that will satisfy for eternity!  Just as the woman at the well heard of water that would spring forth from within as a well of “living water”… these people now hear of food that truly satisfies the soul!

But the people… being raised in a “works” based religion as taught by their religious leaders… when they heard Jesus mention working for something… their natural inclination was toward physically “doing” something that would bring them to “eternal life”.

And because of this… they now ask… Joh 6:28 ESV   … "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"

All their lives they had been taught that they must “earn” their salvation through doing… or not doing… the things that the scribes had told them were contained in the Law and their Traditions…

Even us… today… after being raised in the Christian faith and knowing that salvation is by the grace of God… through faith in Jesus… even we can fall into a “works” mentality from time to time.

More than once, I’ve caught myself wondering… “Am I doing all that I can?”  “Should I do more?”  And though I know that this kind of “self evaluation” is actually right in line with what the scripture tells us… when it says to “examine ourselves”…  I can see how easily it would be to transition from “examining”… to “judging”...

For instance… We can start thinking of things, like… “Will I lose something in my faith, or religion, if I reduce the times I go to the prison from 3 or more times a week to only once a week?”  Or… “If I fail to pray before every meal… will God turn His back on me?” 

“How much time should I spend in Bible study?”  “Does it have to be every day?”  “If I enjoy and listen to country music… or rock-n-roll… am I less of a Christian than I should be?”

These Jews… just like us… want eternal life.  So they ask what they have to do to earn it… but Jesus’ response isn’t quite what they were thinking… because He says…  Joh 6:29 ESV  … "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." 

The only thing God wants us to do… is to believe… to have faith in the Son He sent.  There is no physical work that we can do that will earn eternal life for us.  Our “work” isn’t a physical work… it’s spiritual work… a “heart” work.

We are to “believe”… The kind of “belief” that trusts in… or relies upon… Jesus as the Savior!  The One who died for my sins… who paid the debt I owed for breaking the law of God.

Now… there are other works we can do as Christians that are well pleasing to God… but faith is our chief work.  All other works are only acceptable when done in the faith of Christ.

There is no work you can do… or endeavor you can be employed in… that’s more acceptable to God than yielding to the evidence that’s set before you, and acknowledging Jesus as your Messiah… and Savior.

And just like many people today… the Jews back then… just didn’t get it.  But it never ceases to amaze me that in spite of all the evidence they actually saw… Despite all the “signs” Jesus had been doing almost daily in their midst… they once again ask for a sign.

Joh 6:30 ESV   … "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?

You know… doesn’t it make you want to just reach back in time and slap them!  I mean… how dense could they be?

But you know what?  This really isn’t a sign of their ignorance… it’s a sign of their falleness.  And we see these people all the time… Everywhere we look… there are people who despite the evidence in front of them… they will not believe.

By all earthly standards… these Jews… and the atheists of today… are intelligent people… but unless the Father draws someone to faith in Christ… they simply will not believe… regardless of proof, or evidence.

We plant… someone else waters… but it’s God that causes the growth… not us… not our arguments

These lost men and women fell back on their limited understanding of who the Messiah would be… and what he’d accomplish when he arrived… 

Joh 6:31 ESV  Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"

They in essence tell Jesus… “Moses fed our fathers with bread from heaven, every day, for forty years…  All you did was feed us one meal… What else ya got?”

To which Jesus responds… Joh 6:32-33 ESV  … "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. (33) For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

It wasn’t Moses who fed you… it was the Father… and He fed your fathers bread from heaven… but now He’s offering to you the bread of heaven… Me!

I am that true bread that will give eternal life to all who partake of it!

*  *  *  *  *
These Jews responded to Jesus’ words… with words that echo the Samaritan woman at the well…  She wanted to drink from the “living water” so she wouldn’t thirst again…

And these now say… Joh 6:34 ESV  … "Sir, give us this bread always."

The difference… as we’ll see… is that the Samaritan woman, I believe, responded in faith.  She went back to her village and gave testimony to Christ…  She began planting seed even before she fully understood…

These people though… aren’t responding in faith.  As we’ll soon see… many of them will turn away from Jesus and walk with Him no more.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

What Mothers Deserve


Mother’s Day… as we all know… is a national holiday in the US...  It’s celebrated on the second Sunday in May every year.  And it’s most frequently celebrated by giving moms… flowers, cards or some other present… like we just did a few minutes ago…

And it’s also celebrated by children (and husbands) attending church with their mothers and/or wives… and then usually taking her out to eat.  In essence… she’s given an official day off… once a year…

The holiday we have today is a far cry from what Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia had envisioned back in 1907 when she started the campaign to honor mothers…

Three years after she began her campaign… West Virginia became the first state to officially recognize Mother’s Day in 1910… and then… by the next year… nearly every state was officially “on board”. 

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day… and it became a national holiday…

Now… I said that the holiday we have today is a far cry from what Anna Jarvis’ had envisioned… because you see… just like many things of this nature in this country… this “special day” of “recognition” of mom’s… very quickly became commercialized… which she bitterly fought against…

For instance… she filed a lawsuit in 1923 to stop a Mother’s Day celebration because of its commercialization… and she was arrested for disturbing the peace at a War Mother’s Convention where white carnations (which happened to be her symbol for mothers) were being sold to raise money…

To her dying day, her complaint was… “I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit!”

Today though... I’d venture to say that most mothers are happy to receive flowers, cards and gifts from their children… but you know what?  They truly deserve so much more!  Because in their role as mothers, they are… by default… the foundation shapers of society!  It could be said that, “As mothers teach their children… so goes the world’s societies.”  It has been said in a poem by William Ross Wallace in 1865 that “The hand that rocks the cradle, is the hand that rules the world.” 

Why else do you think that so many in government today, want to take the training and raising of children away from the family?

So… moms deserve so much more than just a card and a day off from cooking… don’t they?  And as I was pondering on this… what it is that mothers deserve… I came up with all the standard thoughts… such as… obediencerespectlovecare... 

And I was stuck… trying to come up with things to say about each of those topics that would be interestingrelevant… and not too sappy or syrupy

And I struggled with this for some time… But then it dawned on me that maybe I should follow John’s biblical example… where in his first epistle… he addressed three different groups of people, specifically…

In 1Joh 2:12 he says… “I write to you little children…”

Then v.13 he says… “I write to you, fathers…”

And finally in v.14 he says… “I have written to you, young men…”

And to my thinking… each of these groups have different views of “mom”.  And I thought it might be interesting to approach a Mother’s Day message… or homily… by addressing each of these three groups, individually… little children… youth… and Fathers…

So… using John’s example… “I say unto you…


Eph 6:1 HCSB  Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right.

Little children… You know what?  I envy you!  You’ve got so much of your life still ahead of you…

Everything is still new and exciting… You’re learning new things all the time… If you’re like I was… you’ll tear things up just to see how it works…

Life is mostly a play ground…  And your mommy and daddy… well… they’re not just your parents… but they’re kinda like you’re best friends too… aren’t they?  And they’re real important to you.

Now… you know that today is Mother’s Day, right?  And because it’s Mother’s Day… I want to talk about her a little… ok? 

You know that your mommy loves you… don’t you?   Yeah, she does.  She loves you… this much (open arms wide)…  Really, though… there’s just no way to measure how much a mother loves her children…

She loves her babies so much… that she’d willingly give her own life to protect you and keep you safe.  Did you know that?

Do you know what Jesus said when someone is willing to do that?  He said that that is the “greatest” kind of loveJoh 15:13 HCSB  No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.

And it’s because she loves you so much that she also teaches you things that will help you to grow up and be a good person… 

Things like saying please and thank you… yes ma’am and yes sir…  She tells you that it’s not nice when you’re mean to your sister, or brother… doesn’t she?

Maybe she also shows you how to make cookies… clean your room… how to drive a car… (No?  Are you still too young for that?)

But she does teach you all kinds of things like that… doesn’t she?  And when she tells you to do something… you should do it… shouldn’t you?

That’s what the Bible says…  It says… Eph 6:1 HCSB  Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right.

So… the Bible says that little children should do what their mommies and daddies tell them to do…  And you want to know something… when you do that… when you do what your mommy says… you’ll grow up into that good and honest and loving person she wants you to be.

If you want to give your mommy the greatest Mother’s Day present… ever… then do as she says… okay?  And grow up into that good, and loving, and honest person that she wants you to be.

That would be a great Mother’s Day gift…wouldn’t it.  That would be the best gift you could give her… That’s what your Mom deserves… isn’t it?

And now… “I say unto you…


Pro 1:8 HCSB  Listen, my son, to your father's instruction, and don't reject your mother's teaching,

If I had the ability to turn back time and do some things over again… I think one of the first things I’d do… and maybe even the only thing I’d do… because everything else seems to have stemmed from this very thing…

The thing I’d do, if I could turn back time… is that I would actually listen to my parents much more than I think I actually did… I’d pay closer attention to what they tried to tell me… and teach me as I was growing up… and then I’d try to stick to it throughout the rest of my life…

And I say this because so much of what I’ve gone through in my life… The vast majority of those bad things that either happened to me… or that I did… were directly related to my disobedience to the teachings of my parents.

Obedience is so much more than just doing whatever your mother says to do… it’s also a direct reflection of our relationship and obedience to the Lord Himself…  

Our model in obedience is Jesus, and His obedience to the Father.  Just as He obeyed the Father… we, as their children… are to obey our parents.

Now, this isn’t usually a problem when children are little… is it.  No… the problem with obedience… or our lack of it… usually arises later in life as we begin to develop our independence…

And as you grow a little older and become teenagers and then young adults… you may begin to think that mom isn’t as smart as you used to think.  Many times… it would appear that the smarter you get as teenagers… the dumber mom gets. 

She’s just not up to speed anymore.  She hasn’t stayed current.  And one day… when you go off to college… you may begin to think that your professors are just so much smarter and you’ll be seriously tempted to throw away many of those things that your mom taught you…

Like faith in God… the love of Christ… Church… Or maybe that those things mom always told you not to do… are now ok… because you’re all grown up and can make your own decisions…

But let me tell you something… and I’m going to be as blunt and truthful with you as I can…  You’re mom is way smarter than you think.  She’s got so much more going for her than that college professor ever did… because she loves you and wants only the absolute best for you…

This is why the Scripture says… Pro 1:8 HCSB  …don't reject your mother's teaching

Because your mom loves you.  That college professor doesn’t.  He only has a cause to promote… an agenda to advance… And you know something else?  Your friends may like you a lot… but even they don’t love you as much as your mom does.

Even friends may prove to be “in it”… or in this relationship with you… ultimately, for themselves.  But your mom… she’s in this for you… for life.

So… let me leave you with this question.  When troubles come… and life gets difficult… and you need some counsel, or direction, or help with whatever the situation is…

Who do you honestly think would try to steer you in the best direction for you?  Someone who is probably thinking primarily of themselves and their agenda?  Or, someone who’s agenda is only you?

Pro 1:8 HCSB  Listen, my son, to your father's instruction, and don't reject your mother's teaching

And finally… “I say unto you…

Eph 6:2 HCSB  Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise,

We don’t ever quit being our mothers sons… do we?  Whether our moms are still with us… or have gone on before us… we are still their sons… and we are to continue honoring them.

Everything I just said to the “little children” and then to the “youth”… still applies to us even after we’ve grown up and have gotten older… or if you’re like me… simply got old.

Everything my parents taught me as a little child and then as a youth… still applies.  Truth is always true, isn’t it?  Just like I was telling the youth… it doesn’t become less true as I get older.  

The values that mom taught me as a child… are the values that I hold today… and that’s how we continue to honor our father and mother… even if they’re long gone.  We honor them in continuing to live the way they taught us… and to teach our own kids the same thing.

And the verse we read… says that this is the first commandment with a promise… and that promise is… Eph 6:3 HCSB …that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.

You know… I kinda like it when things go well for me… don’t you?

But, something else we have to consider now, is that as we get older… our parents get older too…  And another way that we show honor to them is that just as they cared for us when we were little… we also should care for them as they get older.

1Ti 5:4, 8 HCSB  But if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must learn to practice godliness toward their own family first and to repay their parents, for this pleases God. (8) But if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

It’s right and good and scriptural that we help out mom wherever she’ll let us...  And I put it that way… I had to qualify that statement… because we also honor her by letting her continue to do what she wants to do… for as long as she can do it.

She may not want our help… and that’s ok.  But… we are to be ready and available whenever she does want us…

1Ti 5:4b HCSB  … for this pleases God.

And isn’t that our ultimate goal?  To be pleasing to God!

*  *  *  *  *

So let me take this time to once again… wish all the mothers that are… and mothers to be… Happy Mothers Day!

You ladies are great… we really appreciate all that you do… and we love you.