Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April 23: Eat + live forever

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh. (John 6:48-51 HCSB)

Jesus was speaking to a group of people who had just been miraculously fed by Him the day before. They were excited about the thought that Jesus could give them more food, just like the manna that fell from heaven and fed the Jews for forty years. But Jesus reminded them that their ancestors who ate the manna from heaven all died. What He had to offer them was more powerful and life-changing. The manna in the desert was not really the bread from heaven—Jesus was.

This whole world system around us is destined for destruction. When Jesus comes, the world and the works that are in the world will be burned up. The things that men take great pride in will be destroyed. Money, position, worldly accomplishments, they’ll become worthless. The only thing of any importance is: Do you serve Jesus Christ as your King and Lord? Have you died to your old life? Have you eaten of the Living Bread?

To eat of the Living Bread, means that Jesus Christ can no longer be just a person or even the Son of God whom we view from a distance. Eating the Bread means that I must bring Him inside me. He is in me and I am in Him. My thinking, my goals, my behavior, and my reason for living are all determined by Jesus Christ. I live for Him and by His power. I overcome problems and conquer temptation and gain victories because of the Living Christ in me. 

If you eat of this Living Bread who is Jesus, you no longer are bound by the limitations of this world, by the oppression of fears or spiritual forces.  Instead you take possession of the freedom and abundance that was bought for you on the cross, because He now lives within you on this earth and for eternity in heaven.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 22: Slaves of God

For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness. So what benefit did you then reap from those things that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. But now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life. For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.   (Romans 6:19-23  NET)

Today we don’t view slavery as a positive thing. It actually still exists in some small, isolated pockets of the world, but as a whole it is viewed as a very flawed part of civilization and history. But when it comes to the spiritual world, the Bible frequently describes people as slaves to impurity or slaves to righteousness, slaves to the devil or slaves to God. Spiritually we are all slaves to someone or something.

Addictions are a very real form of modern slavery, and society has uncovered more addictions than ever before: alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, gambling, pornography, cutting, and so forth. Though people know that their addiction brings them pain and suffering, they continue to practice it because they are enslaved by demons. Anger, anxiety, depression, worry, negativity and various other attitudes can also clearly be considered modern forms of slavery that take over people’s lives and force them to do what they do not want to do.

But we should not be afraid of being God's slave. When we are, we are also sons or daughters of God, we are citizens in Jesus’ eternal kingdom, and heirs of God. Being God's slave translated into true freedom. Therefore, we should not hesitate to surrender to God—everything we give to Him, He will purify, bless, and multiply, and then send back to us.

Every one of us should determine to take control of our life right now and become God’s servant and slave. Refuse to allow sin and the devil to rule over you. You belong to the Lord Jesus Christ—He bought us at a very high price, and so we are no longer slaves to immorality, drugs, lies, and so forth. This is not simply a good idea, it’s a life and death issue because the wages (payoff) of sin is death—but the gift of God is eternal life.

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 21: Jesus brings division

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.  (Matthew 10:34-36  NET)

We often hear Jesus called the "Prince of peace," and He is. But in today’s passage Jesus points out another aspect of His ministry, the sword and turning one family member against another. For Jesus to be true to Himself and to the Father, this was a necessary and inevitable aspect of His life. Some people loved Him and had faith that they could be healed of any sickness and freed of any demon by seeking help from Him. But at the same time there were people that rejected His message and even wanted to kill Him. In the Kingdom of God there can be no peace without war, there can be no harmony without division. If we are holy and good we have to align ourselves with people and things that are holy and good, and have to separate ourselves from things that are unholy and bad.

Yes, Jesus came to bring peace, but He also came to bring war. His death on the cross and His resurrection were the greatest attacks on Satan and his kingdom that had ever been mounted, one that utterly defeated forever the power and control of Satan. But in the same way, His death and resurrection brought peace between us and God, and were the greatest examples of love the world had ever seen.

It is important to realize the cost of following the Lord Jesus. Since the world and most people in it are under the power of Satan, we can expect to be persecuted and rejected like Jesus was. We should do our very best to help relatives and friends to connect with God, but if they reject Him, we have to continue to be faithful to Him, even at the risk of losing them. We regret any division that is caused by following Jesus, and yet we know this is the price we have to pay. He is worth any sacrifice we make and any persecution we suffer.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

April 20: He carried our diseases

When it was evening, many demon-possessed people were brought to him. He drove out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. In this way what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled: “He took our weaknesses and carried our diseases.”  (Matthew 8:16,17  NET)

Jesus was not only a great teacher and philosopher; He did not travel around only preaching sermons. He drove out demons and healed the sick. The power, authority, love, and truth of Almighty God were demonstrated in everything that Jesus did. Not only that, as He travelled around doing this work of teaching, healing, and deliverance, He selected and trained others to do the same, and when He established the Church, its mission was the same, to proclaim the Good News of salvation, healing, and freedom in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible says, “He drove out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick”—but it also says that this was a fulfillment of a prophecy from Isaiah. This prophecy is a detailed description of the death of Jesus that was written close to 800 years before He came into the world—Isaiah chapter 53. Most people realize that Jesus carried our sins on the cross, but here the Holy Spirit explains that Jesus “took our weaknesses and carried our diseases.” He died to set us free from sin, disease, and all the works of the devil; on the cross Jesus purchased all the blessings of God that we will ever need!

The arms of God are open to us. Whatever we need we can find in Jesus, the Son of God. He cleanses us of sin and transforms our life. If we are sick, He will be our Healer. Since He has all power and all authority, it doesn't matter how long we have been sick or what type of disease we have. If we are victims of witchcraft, have pains or diseases that doctors are unable to diagnose, are depressed, can't sleep, have constant headaches, or suffer from any of a multitude of ailments brought on by demons—Jesus will set us free. This is why Jesus died on the cross—to purchase all this, plus eternal life for us!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 19: Be strong + confident!

Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the Lord’s favor in the land of the living? Rely on the Lord! Be strong and confident! Rely on the Lord.   (Psalm 27:13,14  NET)

Here is a man who was praying for God's blessings. They had not come when he expected them, but he is not discouraged or giving up. Instead he is confident that God will answer his prayers, and that he will experience the Lord’s favor on earth. He isn't just thinking about blessings in heaven and eternal life—he knows God will bless him on earth, during his present life. When we read the Bible, we notice that God's servants sometimes had to wait patiently for the help they needed. But the main thing we must remember is that God always responds; He always fulfills His promises. If His answer to your prayer is delayed, there’s a good reason. Remember, God can see everything and knows the beginning and end of everything—so He knows the best time for blessing us.

This Psalm encourages us to rely on the Lord, and to be strong and confident. If there is nothing in your life that is blocking the answer to your prayer—no sin or rebellion, no unforgiveness, no divided heart—then be strong and press ahead in faith knowing that God has to bless you. The word of God says, “…whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.”

When the Bible says “Rely on the Lord” (some versions say “wait” on the Lord)—the meaning is to depend on Him and know for certain that He is going to act. This does not mean that we should be passive or inactive. It does not mean we should fold our hands and sit down—definitely not! Throughout the Bible we are commanded to go forward in faith—to do all that we can to cause our prayers to be answered. So be confident, be strong, and move forward in the unconquerable faith that you will very soon experience the favor of God in the land of the living!

Friday, April 18, 2014

April 18: Doubt is not due to insufficient evidence

The Jewish leaders surrounded him and asked, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus replied, “I told you and you do not believe. The deeds I do in my Father’s name testify about me. But you refuse to believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them from my Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”  (John 10:24-30  NET)

The religious leaders of Israel were demanding more signs and more arguments from Jesus to prove that He was the Christ. Jesus simply told them that His miracles and words were enough to convince honest people who truly loved God. Their unbelief, Jesus said, was due to the fact that they were not His sheep. They did not love God, therefore, they did not love or accept the Son of God. Since Jesus only spoke the words of God, and did nothing but the works of God, and since His character was the very image of God—the religious leaders’ lack of faith and rejection of Him revealed their true spiritual state.

Don't think that people's unbelief and lack of devotion to Jesus is due to insufficient evidence of His greatness and godliness. Hearing the Good News preached, reading the New Testament, or coming in touch with someone that God sent their way, is enough to convince anyone who is genuinely seeking God. Men and women's rebelliousness and determination to hang on to sin is what causes people to reject Jesus. That is why Jesus preached, “Repent and believe the Gospel.”

Do you belong to Jesus? Is He your shepherd? Do you listen to His voice and follow Him? If you are not yet one of His sheep, His invitation to you is, “Come, follow me!” Look at all the blessings that He gives to His sheep (mentioned in the verse above). He will have a personal relationship with you; He will know your name; He will give you eternal life, and you will never perish.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 17: Knowing the Bible, but not God

And the Father who sent me has himself testified about me. You people have never heard his voice nor seen his form at any time, nor do you have his word residing in you, because you do not believe the one whom he sent. You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me, but you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life.  (John 5:37-40  NET)

The Hebrew religious leaders were busy making up their minds about who Jesus was, judging Him according to their own beliefs and prejudices, to what they saw and heard. But they did not realize that God was making up His mind about them by the way they treated Jesus. God had sent His one and only Son into the world to speak His word and do the things He had commanded Him. Jesus was God in a human body, speaking with a human voice—Jesus was God on earth.

Here Jesus reveals God's judgment of the religious rulers in the past, and of religious people today. He says that they had never heard God's voice, had never seen His form, and had never even let His word into their hearts. Though they studied the Scriptures diligently, the Scriptures’ purpose was to prepare people to receive Jesus Christ, and they despised and rejected Him. Their treatment of Him showed them to be corrupt, selfish, and godless.

Still today, God judges men and women by the way they treat the Lord Jesus. Religious rituals and knowledge of the Bible mean nothing when Jesus is not our Lord and Savior. The purpose of the Bible is to reveal how we can have a real, living relationship with God, and so whenever we read the Bible, we must do it with reverence, realizing that God is actually talking to us. The Bible will teach us, correct us, challenge us, guide us, and comfort us. — The Bible points to Him: Jesus Christ the Lord: Savior, Healer, Deliverer, Provider.