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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Living in a Modern Crete

Today’s reading is Titus 3.

According to historical study, the Cretan populace was, in general, sinful and immoral in the extreme. And not just by the standards of the likes of Paul. The rest of the Roman world looked down on Crete and Cretans as vile, beastly, immoral liars. That means they were pretty bad. So we can imagine when Paul wrote to Titus about what to teach the Christians, he had a lot to say about how the Christians should wage the culture war among the sexually immoral, morally destitute, sinfully wicked Cretans. No doubt, he encouraged them to have public demonstrations, to take every opportunity to shout down the immorality, to argue constantly with everyone who disagreed with the revelation coming from the apostles, to belittle and shame the sinners. Or wait. Maybe he gave different instructions. Look again at today’s reading. 

  • Be submissive to rulers and authorities 
  • Be obedient
  • Be ready for every good work
  • Speak evil of no one
  • Avoid quarreling
  • Be gentle
  • Show perfect courtesy toward all people

Wow! Why? Because we are surrounded by people who need a Savior just as we do. The only difference between us and those who still pursue sin with reckless abandon is through Jesus Christ we have the empowering strength of the Holy Spirit. Obviously, this doesn’t mean we are to neglect teaching truth and correcting opponents (see Titus 1:9; 2:1, 7-8). However, let us think about Paul’s instructions to the Cretan Christians before we act, before we interact, before we react.

Monday’s reading is John 1

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Read This Post, Cuz I’m So Spiritual

Today’s reading is Matthew 6.

“Beware of posting your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then your likes and retweets will be all the reward you get.”
Matthew 6:1–The Modern Application Bible

Okay, I admit it. I made up “The Modern Application Bible.” (At least, I Googled it and couldn’t find one.) But maybe that would be a good exercise for us. The desire to be authentic, real, and transparent in social media has really blinded us on this one.  Truly, nobody cares what we had for dessert last night, but honestly, we would be better off putting that picture or another cat video up than the selfie of our volunteering, the Instagram of our good deeds, or the blog post about what we learned in our family Bible study. And, to be blunt, the whole, “I want people to see what God is doing through me,” is some powerful, mind-bending, mental gymnastics from our adversary whispered in our ear to deceive us. If God really wants people to see what He is accomplishing through us, let Him post about it. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills; if He needs PR, He probably won’t ask us (see Psalm 50:10-12). Trust me, when Jesus said not to let our left hand know what our right hand was doing, He didn’t mean to take your selfie one handed. Let’s do some soul-searching before we post. Maybe we should all ask, “If this post, tweet, snapshot is really about God, why is it so full of me?” Then, maybe we should delete and just wait for God to reward us in secret.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 7.

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Blessing, Harmony, Peace, and Honor

Today’s reading is Romans 12.

I imagine you are reading this on the same device you access social media. When you move from this post to Facebook (or you may be reading it there), Twitter, Instagram, or whatever other platform you socialize virtually on, please remember today’s reading. Bless those who persecute and curse you. Don’t curse them in return. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but at least communicate with harmony. Don’t repay evil for evil, give good instead. Honor others and do what is honorable. Be at peace as much as it depends on you. Sure, there are plenty of people who are going to do bad, evil things. Don’t respond in kind. Overcome evil with good. One of the true life-changing differences the gospel makes is not how we treat the people most like us and whom we most like. It is in how we treat people who don’t like us, are not like us, and whom we don’t like all that much. And what better place to start that gospel life change than right now while you are online? After all, Jesus didn’t die for a bunch of people who were nice to Him.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 13.

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I Need Good News

Today’s reading is Romans 2.

Paul seems to give us a plan. He explains that everyone who does evil, obeying unrighteousness, whether Jew or Greek will suffer wrath and fury. However, those who seek glory, honor, and immortality by doing good will receive eternal life. Then he follows it up by saying “For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.” Wait a minute!!! The hinge between Paul’s teaching about the difference between the death-bound and the life-bound and this statement is “For God shows no partiality.” In other words, it doesn’t matter who you are, if you are good, you get life; if you sin, you get death. And that is the kicker. Romans 2:6-11 seems like an explanation of how to be saved. Instead, it is an explanation of why every one of us is lost. Sure, everyone who does good by seeking for glory, honor, and immortality by obeying truth gets eternal life. But everyone who sins whether under the Law or outside the Law perishes and is judged. Where does that leave me? I’m toast! I am a sinner. The news for me is bad. I need some good news. Praise God, Paul will be bringing some as we keep reading. Today, let the weight of the bad news settle on us, but don’t despair, Good News is coming.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 3.

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Imitate Good

Today’s reading is 3 John 1.

I get it. Some passages in the Bible are really complex. You’ve read them again and again and you still wonder exactly what they mean. But have you ever read anything in the Bible and you just said, “Well, duh. That is so simple; why didn’t I think of that?” How about this one: “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good.” Well, duh. That is so simple; why didn’t I think of that? Sure, there are lots of complex theological principles to discover and learn, so we need to keep reading our Bibles. But lets start with this very practical, simple bit of advice. Don’t imitate people who are doing bad things, imitate people who are doing good. Start by imitating Jesus. Let’s see how that works today.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 1.

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Don’t Grow Weary

Today’s reading is 2 Thessalonians 3.

This letter to the Thessalonians begins with a thanksgiving that their faith and love are both increasing and abounding. So much so that Paul was able to boast about them in all the other congregations he visited. It ends with a caution. Don’t let that flag. Don’t grow weary in it. It is especially wearisome to do good when even brothers and sisters around you are growing weary. We, however, can and must continue. Relying on God, let us continue to shine God’s good light by doing our work, doing it well, and pointing to Him. Some days that won’t come naturally. But put your hand in God’s and walk with Him anyway. You’ll be amazed at the outcome God produces through you and for you.

Monday’s reading is Matthew 1.

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