JESUS SCANDALOUS CLAIMS…

Communion
The communion table (Source: Chloe event planner)

John 6:41-66 (shortened) (New Living Translation)

Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

“I tell you the truth… I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.

So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you… I am the true bread that came down from heaven…” At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.

 

To many today who have grown up in Christianity influenced homes and societies, these words of Jesus may not sound so alarming and scandalous. To the Jews back then, Jesus claiming to be ‘the bread of life’ was equating himself with God (Yahweh); to them Jesus was sounding crazy, consequently many of his followers left him.

Jesus strengthened his claim to be ‘the bread of life’ by adding that ‘unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life’ – meaning we have to fully believe and accept that everything about Jesus, his actions and character, his words and thoughts, his agenda and purpose, are all important for our redemption.

This claim of Jesus that we believe and accept that he is the absolutely essential and fundamental element for redemption and progress of humanity to a better life, was scandalous to the Jews, and has remained scandalous to many people. Every person must decide whether they accept or reject this ‘bread of life’ claim of Jesus.

Dear God, help us to clearly understand these issues, and guide us in our decision making, so we will not miss out on eternal life, Amen!   

JOY – FULL – NESS…

Photography of Woman Surrounded by Sunflowers
Joyful woman in sunflower field (Source: PEXELS; Andre Furtado

John 2:9-11 (New Living Translation)

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” 

This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

 

Weddings all over the world are often joyful events bringing together families, friends, and sometimes entire communities – eating, drinking, dancing and making merriment in good spirits. The more wine there is, the more the cheerfulness; the better the quality of the wine, the more the gladness and delight of the wedding guests.

In this passage about the wedding in Cana, Jesus turned water to wine, his first miracle, and it was astonishing. The master of ceremonies, a person with experience and responsibility to make the wedding feast an amazing experience, tasted the wine and went looking for the groom to commend him for its super-fine quality.

What a way for Jesus to announce himself to the world! He is at a happy place and made it even more joy-full. As I travel through this sometimes difficult world, I want this super-fine wine that Jesus gives, to flavor my journey with JOY-FULL-NESS daily, unfailingly, and this is my prayer for you too, Amen!      

LOVE THAT HEALS…

Flower heart
Heart in Nature (Source: Norma Rivera

1 Corinthians 13:13 (New Living Translation) – Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

Love cares, nurtures, and heals; lovers die so the loved may live; mothers – fathers give everything so that daughters – sons can grow and be all they can be; lovers delight in one another, inspire one another, melt and meld into one another…

…God [Yahweh] is love. (1 John 4:8)

Are you hurting, lonely, defeated, bitter, angry, sick, oppressed, suppressed, depressed, vengeful, hopeless? Reach out to Yahweh, the God who cares, who nurtures, who will lift you up, heal your hurt, set you free from the chains that bind and oppress your soul. Reach out to Yahweh, the God who is able to turn your sorrows into joy.

Its a beautiful world, but many a times it is a hard, cold, and punishing place; you just can’t make the journey through alone. Let Yahweh, the Father of spirits (Hebrews 12:9) help. In quiet prayer, with humility, ask for help, and Yahweh, God who is love, WILL respond with a love that heals you – spirit, soul, and body.

Loving God, I can’t go it alone, help me, heal me, in Jesus name, Amen!    

 

 

THE BEST INVESTMENT EVER!

File:George Vince's Cross.jpg
Cross at Hut Point, Ross Island, erected in February 1904 by the British Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04, in memory of George Vince, a member of the expedition, who died in the vicinity (Wikimedia)

 

Luke 17:20-21 (New Living Translation)

…the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”

 

Luke 17:20-21 (Contemporary English Version)

Some Pharisees asked Jesus when God’s kingdom would come. He answered, “God’s kingdom isn’t something you can see. There is no use saying, ‘Look! Here it is’ or ‘Look! There it is.’ God’s kingdom is here with you.”

 

If a person in England went to bed in their home and woke up the next morning under the Eiffel Tower hearing everyone speaking French, they might wonder how they got there, but they would believe they were in France. If that person woke up by the Statue of Liberty, they would believe they were in the United States. We are can tell where we are by the observable signs and images around us.

This is the mindset of the Pharisees when they come to Jesus to ask him ‘when will the Kingdom of God come?’ What should they look for to know that the Kingdom of God has come? Perhaps a giant golden throne would drop from the sky in Bethlehem; or a mighty brand new shiny Temple would suddenly appear in Jerusalem.

The Pharisees were seeking for an amazing extraordinary observable symbol that would tell them the Kingdom of God had come. Jesus makes it clear, this will not happen. The Kingdom of God is not represented in a thing, a building, or a flag. The Kingdom of God is represented only by a person, Jesus, and he is already with them.

Jesus is King of the Kingdom of God; his feet touched the earth; his blood spilled on the earth; and he has taken it as his own. Jesus has been growing his Kingdom to cover the earth one person at a time, with patience over thousands of years; when he is satisfied with the number of followers, he will shut down all rival kingdoms.

Get to know Jesus and the values of his Kingdom, through studying the  Bible; it will turn out to be the best investment EVER for your future!        

THE TWO GREAT AGENDA TO PRAYER…

 

File:Hands - panoramio.jpg
Praying Hands in Switzerland (Source: Theo Lauber Wikimedia)

Luke 11:1-4 (New International Version)

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:

“ ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’ ”

 

The apostles had witnessed the many miracles of Jesus, and seen how their own preaching also yielded miracles when Jesus sent them out. They knew the common prayers learnt in the synagogue; however, they were now convinced that to have the type of power Jesus had, they have to be able to pray like him.

So they come to Jesus to ask to be taught the secret to effective prayer; his response reveals the two great agenda to prayer.

FIRST, prayer should be about God’s agenda – your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 New International Version)

SECONDLY, prayer should also be about laying down our physical and spiritual needs, and shortcomings, before God on a daily basis, for divine provision.

Effective solution to all the problems in the world, and the problems we face in our individual lives, is when there is direct rule of heaven over the earth, a time when there will be NO greed – selfishness – wickedness – lawlessness, NO pain – death – sorrows. This is what God’s agenda is about and should be our first prayer point always.

May we always pray like Jesus teaches us to pray, so our prayers can be perfectly in line with God’s will, and effective in meeting our needs, Amen!    

TO REIGN AND LEAD WITH GOOD SENSE

Symbol of wisdom
Symbol of Wisdom, Utrecht, Netherlands (Source: Wikimedia)

 

Genesis 1:26-28 (New Living Translation)

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. THEY WILL REIGN over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” 

 

While to reign is to rule over things, people and places, to reign also implies to govern – which means to manage the affairs of a thing, people and place, guided by reasoned principles and laws. Where rulers obey and enforce the laws, there will be justice and peace, where rulers are lawless, there will injustice and conflict.

To reign sensibly over fish in the sea, birds in the sky, and animals on land, is to manage them in line with the laws of nature. If we were to capture all animals on land, transport and release them in the middle of the ocean, it is likely they will all die.

To reign, rule, and lead sensibly, requires understanding the conditions under which things and people we manage would be the best they are created to be. To reign with good sense, we must be lifelong learners, with God as our first teacher.

May we have the humility to be lifelong learners, in order to reign with good sense, in our homes, work places, community, government, and in the Church, Amen!

THE STUPENDOUSLY AWESOME GOD!

Brown The Thinking Man Brass Curio by Handecor
The thinking man (Image credit: Pepperfry)

Proverbs 9:10 (from multiple translations)

New Living Translation – Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.

New International Version – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Contemporary English Version – Respect and obey the LORD! This is the beginning of wisdom. To have understanding, you must know the Holy God.

Good News Translation – To be wise you must first have reverence for the LORD. If you know the Holy One, you have understanding.

Aramaic Bible – The beginning of wisdom is the awe of Lord Jehovah and the knowledge of the Righteous Ones is understanding;

This passage from the Bible is hugely popular especially in children’s and youth meetings organized by Churches all around the world. While the Bible strongly teaches that God delights in showing love and so we should come to him with our troubles, sorrows and pains, we should do this with respect, reverence, and awe.

Jehovah is much more greater than anyone or thing we will ever get to know or come across in this life; and much much more powerful than our minds will ever fully understand. In every way, Jehovah is so STUPENDOUSLY AWESOME, to make us shake and tremble with respect, reverence, and awe when we come to him. 

To be guided by this understanding of God’s awesomeness, is key to walking in humility, making good decisions and choices as to how we live our lives every day in this world. This is why King Solomon writes in Proverbs that the fear, reverence, and great respect for God is the beginning or foundation of wisdom in this life!