Who Am I?

Today’s reading is Luke 9.

Don’t miss this. Peter’s good confession in Luke 9:20 is significant. We have heard it our whole lives and might be tempted to rush through it, thinking, “Oh yeah! I know this part.” But this is what the entire book of Luke is about. This is what all four of the gospels are about. We tend to read these gospels like modern biographies. We want to hear about the birth, what was going on in the world, a chronology of events, a precise accounting of conversations and actions, leading to the subjects death. We get confused when each of the gospels gives a differing presentation of some of those facts. They change the order of events. They don’t give exact records of the conversations. They don’t give all the details of everyone who was involved. And they even do that in some pretty significant places and events. Ancient biographers were not interested in that kind of presentation. I don’t just mean the Bible authors, I mean ancient biographers in general. The gospel authors were writing biography the same way the ancients did. Don’t misunderstand. They didn’t make stuff up. They didn’t lie. They didn’t invent the stories. But they were not interested in giving a detailed chronology of events, actions, and conversations. Their goal was not to explain what the subject of the biography did or what people did around him. Their goal was to explain who the subject of the biography is. Therefore, they crafted the events, actions, and conversations together to make that point. That is what these gospels are about. Each is written from a different perspective, with a different audience in mind, driving home a slightly different nuance of meaning. But each one is designed to prompt this one conclusion: Jesus is the Christ of God. He is the anointed Lord, Savior, King, Priest. Follow Him. Become like Him. Keep reading Luke and see how every event, every action, every conversations points to this one fact: Jesus is the Christ of God. Then believe it and have life in His name.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 9.

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More than Enough

Today’s reading is Luke 9.

I’ve never made the connection before. However, did you notice that Jesus sent the apostles out on what we often call the Limited Commission, telling them to take no supplies. They were simply to trust God would provide for them on the way. When they came back, they went out to a desolate place but the crowds followed them. Then Jesus fed the crowds miraculously from five loaves and two fish. When the miracle was over, the apostles picked up the leftovers and gathered a basket full of food for each one of them. What a message for the apostles. Through Jesus Christ, there is more than enough. I’ll be honest. I find it easier to live with a scarcity mindset than an abundance mindset. I find it easier to be anxious and worry about how I’m going to survive than trusting Jesus will provide. When I’m being honest, my real fear is not that Jesus won’t provide, but simply that He won’t continue providing the standard of living to which I’ve become accustomed. We need to see the lesson Jesus taught the apostles. Jesus didn’t promise life in the lap of luxury. He didn’t promise upper class living or even middle class living. He did, however, demonstrate He will provide more than enough. We can live without anxiety. We can live generously. He will provide.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 9.

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Bread and Fish

Today’s reading is John 6.

Okay. I’m going to share something shocking. It goes against everything you are hearing today, not only from the world, but even from many people in church. Why did Jesus multiply the bread and fish? Not to feed the hungry. Not to serve the community. Not to love the crowd to the point of listening to Him. The key comes in John 6:14. When Jesus miraculously fed the people, they claimed him to be “The Prophet who is to come into the world.” The people correctly understood the reference of the miracle. Jesus is the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15-19; He is the Prophet like Moses who was to come into the world. But they, like so many today, missed the point of the miracle.They thought the point was to feed them. So they wanted to make Him king so He would keep on feeding them. Nope. Go back and read the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.* The purpose of the prophecy was to show who the people were supposed to listen to. But when He taught them. They didn’t like it. The didn’t listen. They left. Like so many today, they misunderstood what the mission of the Prophet and His Church really is. Neither Jesus’s goal nor the goal of His church is to feed people hungry for bread. Jesus is not like Moses; He is greater than Moses. Jesus doesn’t give bread, He is bread. Even though Jesus was actually greater than what they were expecting, He didn’t measure up to what they were expecting. They were willing to settle for a Messiah/King who would feed them. So they rejected the Messiah/King who would teach them. In fact, the only ones who staid were the ones who realized Jesus’s gift of life doesn’t come through any bread He might give, but through the Words He teaches. People today are no different. Many are attracted to churches who think their mission is to feed the hungry. Few are attracted to churches who think their mission is to teach the lost. Don’t be ashamed to be part of a church that won’t cave to the societal pressures to offer the mediocre service of filling physical needs. Yes, the world loves us when we do that. Yes, the community will be upset if our doors close if that is how we view or try to accomplish our mission. But that isn’t our mission. Be thankful to be part of a church that will offer the true service of passing on Jesus and His words of life. Yes, the world will despise us for it. Yes, most will reject it and us. Yes, the great majority will abandon us, even more so they will try to shut us down, and will throw a party if our doors close. But we will be walking in the footsteps of our Savior. And do not think we are to use the former (community benevolence and service) to get an opportunity to do the latter (share the gospel). That isn’t what Jesus was doing. And if it was, it failed. Why do we think it will work for us? Be unashamed of the gospel. Be unashamed to be part of a church that sees proclaiming the gospel as its mission.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 7

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Truly, He is the Son of God

Today’s reading is Matthew 14.

Here we are, smack in the middle of Matthew’s account of the gospel, and the defining statement is made: “Truly you are the Son of God.” That is what everything we’ve read up to this point and everything we will read after is designed to teach us. Jesus is not merely Son of Man. He is Son of God. He heals the sick, raises the dead, cleans out unclean spirits, casts out demons, stops storms, and even walks on water. He is Lord of heaven and earth. He is Creator, Maintainer. He is Redeemer, Savior. He is God in the flesh, for no one can do what He does except by the power of God. A greater than Moses is here. He could only part the waters; he couldn’t walk on them. A greater than Elijah and Elisha is here. They could care for a person and a family; they didn’t feed a multitude. What a great King and Lord we have. Let us worship Him. Let us surrender to Him. Let us tell others about Him. Let us be unashamed of Him.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 15.

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God Has Time

Today’s reading is Mark 6.

He was tired. He had just learned about the death of His cousin John. His closest disciples needed to be refreshed. So, He had taken them into a desolate place in order to recharge, refresh, renew. But the needy people followed Him. What did He do? “Get out of here. Give Me a break. Can’t you see I need some time alone?” No. He felt compassion. He taught them. He cared for them. Keep that in mind. God has time for you today. Talk to Him. Lean on Him. Walk with Him. He has time.

Tomorrow’s reading is Mark 7.

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On Feeding the Masses

Today’s reading is John 6.

Okay. So, I know that what I’m about to say is not exactly popular today. However, please hear me out. It is very common to hear people claim Jesus came into the world feeding the hungry. “This is what Jesus did. He traveled around feeding the poor.” Then they claim our churches should make that part of their mission as well. When challenged, John 6 is thrown out. But please read the chapter again. Is this really an example of Jesus going around feeding the poor as if that was part of His mission that He just did all the time, everywhere He went? Why did this feeding happen? Because Jesus found poor people and He wanted to show His love so they might listen to Him teach? No this happened because these people were already following Him. He didn’t go find them and offer to feed them. They came to Him. He didn’t use food as permission to get to teach. They were already listening to Him teach. Then Jesus fed them. When they misunderstood and came back for the food, He scared them off. Do Christians do good as they have opportunity? Absolutely. But our mission is to get the Bread of Life to all people, not get bread of wheat to hungry people. Don’t let Satan distract Christ’s church with a neat mission and cause us to hinder and neglect the greatest mission. This is why we need to focus on making disciples.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 7.

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Don’t Get Evangelism Backwards

Today’s reading is Matthew 14.

One of Satan’s biggest tricks is to give us something really close to the gospel truth, but different enough to miss the boat in such subtle ways we never realize it is happening. Sadly, he has done that with Jesus feeding the 5000. Because of this, and one other example, many get evangelism exactly backwards. They see Jesus feed these people miraculously and start teaching that the mission of the kingdom is to make sure no one is hungry. “We need to feed people just like Jesus did,” we are told. “And when we do that, we earn the right to teach them the gospel.” But that isn’t what happened here at all. Jesus didn’t feed people, then earn the right to teach them. These people followed Jesus to hear His teaching and because they did so got into hardship. Then Jesus fed them. Certainly, all Christians do good deeds and all Christians help as they have opportunity with folks in urgent need, but lets not get evangelism and the gospel backwards. Let’s keep the real mission the real mission: saving souls with the gospel. That is real disciple making.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 15.

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