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What Do You Feed Your Soul?

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Can you imagine how completely awe inspiring it would have been to see Jesus do a miracle? I mean, come on, Jesus took five loaves of barley bread and two small fish and fed around five thousand people! (John 6.1-14) It’s no wonder the men who witnessed this said, “This is truly the prophet who is come into the world.”

The sad part about this wonderful display of divine power by Christ is that some people could not care less that Jesus was the Son of God. They were just interested in what Jesus could do for them. Look at what He tells them when He says, “you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” (Jn 6.26) What an ungrateful thing it is to look at God and basically say, ‘what have you done for me lately?’; especially when He had so richly blessed them by feeding so many just the day before.

In the face of such selfishness, how would you feel? How would you react? I know many people would be hurt and lash out at such an uncaring attitude. Jesus however uses this as a teaching moment and says, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6.27) You would think that they would pump their fist in the air, yell YES, and do a little happy dance. I mean, who would not want that kind of food?!!!

Unfortunately, these guys were not only selfish, they were dense and selfish. Can you believe their response to what Jesus said was to ask how they could get the power to work the miracles of God? They said, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” I don’t know about you but I think I might have lost my cool at that point, but not Jesus. He goes on to essentially say, ‘OK, you want to do the works of God, here is what you do.’ “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6.29) That’s awesome! Even I can do that work of God, so can you, but the men Jesus was speaking to still did not get it. They just could not see past their own self-importance, selfishness and pride.

Now they began asking for a sign or a miracle to prove Himself. WHAT? He just fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, what more could you want? They even said to Jesus, “Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written; ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

They were so focused on trying to figure out how to get the same power Jesus had, they missed the truth that the bread that feeds the soul, the bread of life…Jesus, was standing right before them! He said plainly, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and He who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6.35)

bread-of-life

Friends, while the food that fills our stomach is important, it is nothing compared to the food that can fill our soul! Jesus is the very bread of life that can strengthen your soul and feed you for eternity. Please, do not let selfishness, pride, or the problems and cares of this earthly life keep you away from that which can feed your soul forever…Jesus and His word. Think about it.

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Favoritism

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FavoritismAll of us have favorite things. Favorite foods, favorite cars and favorite books, are some possessions we might hold in special regard.  We even have favorite people in our lives. They could be a teacher, a kind aunt or uncle, or even a trusty local car mechanic. The question is, when it comes to people, is there anything wrong with showing favoritism? After all, we hear all the time on blogs, Facebook, and in classrooms that favoritism is wrong.

We are all different in many ways. Jesus highlighted this when He taught the Parable of the Talents (Mt 25.14-30). Peter and Paul spoke of rich men, poor men, governors, kings, apostles and preachers, all of whom play a part in the world and in the kingdom of God and are special in their own way.

Christ’s apostle Paul might seem to be saying that ‘God sees no one as special’ when he writes, “But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.” (Gal 2.6) But is that what the apostle was really thinking?

If it is true that God shows no favoritism at all, then wouldn’t it be a sin if Christians did?  What about Jesus, didn’t He have a special group of friends (apostles) that He treated differently than others? Consider also Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2.9 where Christians are called God’s “own special people.” Sounds confusing, doesn’t it?

Perhaps it is not the fact of having a favorite or special something or someone that is the issue at all. The real problem is one of value. It is impossible to keep from recognizing differences in people, and it is not wrong to do so. Favoritism becomes sinful when we value someone in such a way that we give them special privileges not offered to the rest. This is the type of thing James cries out against:

For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or, “‘Sit here at my footstool,’ have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” (Jas 2.2-4)

Does God value a poor man’s soul less than a rich man? No. All are made in His image (Gen 1.27). He is not partial (Rom 2.11). Jesus came to save all who will follow Him (1 Tim 1.15).

The problem with favoritism rests firmly within us. Our selfishness, pride, and ego’s cause us to treat men unequally. Jude says we do this so that we can gain advantage over others, “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.” (Jude 1.16)

The next time we are tempted to raise one soul unjustly above another or give preference to someone (especially ourselves) so that we will have something to gain, perhaps we should first consider the words of Christ.

Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mar 10.43-45)

Think about it.

Is There a Right Kind of Worry?

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WorryFor the most part, worry is wrong. Jesus teaches this during His sermon on the mount. Listen to His words when He says, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Mt 6.25ff)

Jesus plainly shows us that it is wrong to have great anxiety over material things such as what we will eat or wear. Worry about the mundane things of this earth is useless because it changes nothing and worry is faithless because it reflects a lack of confidence that God can and will take care of us.

 

With that being said, is there ever a healthy kind of worry? Yes, actually there is, although we might choose to use words like concern or care in place of worry. Take a look at what the apostle Paul says, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.” (Phil 2.19-20)
Both Paul and Timothy are greatly concerned, even worried, about their brethren in Philippi. They were evidently facing some adversity that tested their Christian conduct (Phil 2.27-30) which could damage them spiritually. Paul was determined to send Timothy to help them due to Timothy’s deep love and sincere care for the Philippians. I believe we can say that both of these men were vitally concerned, or even worried, about the spiritual welfare of their fellow Christians.

 

This is not the only time Paul would feel great anxiety in his heart concerning all of the churches, to the Corinthians he said, “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” (2 Cor 11.28)
Paul was not worried about how many times he would be put in jail, beaten, or shipwrecked, these are all worldly things. What concerned him was humbleness, teaching Christ, and standing up against false teaching. He felt great concern, anxiety, and yes worry, for God’s children who faced the kind of adversity that could weaken the spirit and their bond with God.

 

So we ought to try to conquer our fretfulness over the mundane, temporal matters of our earthly life, while realizing that there is a legitimate place for true concern and care for the spiritual welfare of others.



Who At The Door Is Standing

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DoorWhat a beautiful song and message this is! My soul stirs within me as we sing this hymn, and it makes me acutely aware of the Lord’s tremendous love and patience. Think about these words from the second stanza:

“All thro’ the dark hours dreary, knocking again is He; Jesus art Thou not weary, waiting so long for me?”

            Many people wait so very long before submitting to Jesus and becoming Christians. Thankfully He is enduringly patient. We, as Christians, often procrastinate in our coming back to the Lord after we have sinned. Christians and non-Christians alike lay awake at night, pricked by a guilty conscience. That’s what the song is talking about, during the dreary hours, Jesus is “knocking” on the door of our hearts and hoping we will reconcile with Him. Consider the thoughts of David as he expresses the heaviness he feels in his heart: (Psalm32:4) “For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer.” Have you ever felt as David did? What a terrible burden it is to bear, and the really horrible part is that we choose to place that burden on ourselves!

Here is the response the Lord wants in the third stanza: “Door of my heart, I hasten! Thee will I open wide; tho’ He rebuke and chasten, He shall with me abide.”

The Lord wants to abide or live with all people. Of course, He can’t abide with all people as they won’t all submit their will and ways to Him. That is the thrust of the song. He is waiting, waiting, and waiting…standing at the doorway of our heart, patiently enduring our silence, just waiting for us to open up. The refrain of the song ends with this statement: “If thou wilt heed My calling, I will abide with thee.”If” is such a small word to have so great a meaning. “If” will keep people separated from Christ. However, if we do His will, He will be with us forever. He will be with us through the good times and the times when we don’t know how we can continue. He will be there on Judgment Day and tell God that we are His and to welcome us home.

Have you let Jesus in? He is still patiently waiting outside the door of your heart. When will you let Him in or allow Him back into your life? Don’t make Him wait long as we may not be here to answer the door tomorrow.

Lord, Give Us More

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I cannot take credit for the list below, but neither can I remember where I received it from. Regardless, I found it encouraging and wanted to share with you.

It is often the case that when one is promoting a position, and another stands in opposition to that position, efforts are made to discredit the one who stands in opposition.  This is often accomplished by “name-calling” and “false-labeling.”  However, such tactics should not dissuade one who is standing in the right.

  • If opposing homosexual marriage is being homophobic, Lord, give us more homophobes!
  • If demanding strict obedience to the Bible is legalism, Lord, give us more legalists!
  • If opposing divorce, except for the cause of fornication, is idealistic, Lord, give us more idealists!
  • If opposing women leadership in the church is chauvinism, Lord, give us more chauvinists!
  • If dressing modestly is prudish, Lord, give us more prudes!
  • If opposing abortion is right wing, Lord, give us more right-wingers!
  • If believing in the inerrancy of Scripture is fundamentalism, Lord, give us more fundamentalists!
  • If total commitment is fanaticism, Lord, give us more fanatics!
  • If believing one should be a virgin when one marries is Puritanism, Lord, give us more puritans!
  • If believing in creation is foolish and unenlightened, Lord, give us more fools!

No matter what names the world and even some Christians may call you, if you stand for the truth, the Lord will call you “right.”  Give it some thought.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (I Jn 1.5-7)

Crumbling Home Fronts

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America’s ambassador to Japan, Douglas MacArthur II, served as Counselor of the State Department under John Foster Dulles. Like Dulles, MacArthur was a hard worker. Once when Dulles telephoned the MacArthur home asking for Douglas, Mrs. MacArthur mistook him for an aide and snapped irately, “MacArthur is where MacArthur always is, weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and nights – in that office!”

Within minutes, MacArthur got a telephone order from Dulles: “Go home at once, boy. Your home front is crumbling.” (Source Unknown)

 

            In fact, many home fronts are crumbling away across our nation because spouses do not spend enough time with each other or their children. Parents often work two or three jobs while at the same time making sure the homework gets done, the children are engaged in sports, scouts, or other interests. To be honest, they don’t even spend much time in the same room together, and family meals around the supper table have become a relic of a bygone era

           

            A couple can become more like roommates than husband and wife, spending more time with everything else in life than they do with each other.

 

            Love is a decision to be made and nourished, not just a feeling to be shared once and a while (Eph 5.22-23). A husband must love his wife as much as he cares for himself and wives must give respect to their husband in the same manner.

            God instructs couples to enjoy one another (Prov 5.15-19). How can they do that if they do not willingly build their relationship through mutual love?

 

Parents are to love their children and in truth, most do. Their love however, must go beyond providing for their physical growth and driving them to their games before making sure the homework is done and finally collapsing into bed, exhausted.

Godly parents show true love to their children by bringing God into their homes and making Him the center of it (Eph 6.4, Mt 10.37, Deut 6.4-9).

As God’s people, we have to turn to Him and His way for living our lives. We will be happier when we do. It is time for families across the nation to shore up our foundations, strengthen our homes, reunite with our spouses, and provide our children with the greatest gift of all, a personal relationship with God who loves them deeper than we ever could.