Tuesday, May 3, 2011

From the House of Bread comes the Bread of Life

“I am the bread of life.” John 6:48

If you have ever studied much language or paid attention while reading all the names (that people typically skip due to pronunciation issues) in the Bible, you will know how important it was in Biblical times to have a name that meant something. Most people were named for certain reasons, or their names ended up predicting some sort of life behavior. Samuel’s name was chosen by Hannah because it meant “heard from God” because she cried out for a child and she was finally granted one from a closed womb. God often renamed people after life-changing events, such as Abram (exalted father) becoming Abraham which means “father of many.” This is why Abraham is celebrated as the Father of Nations because the great Hebrew nation began with him and his covenant with God. All this information leads up to something because I recently completed a Bible study about the Old Testament book of Ruth. In this study, I came to know that Bethlehem means “house of bread.” That is the literal meaning of the traditional Hebrew word. This fascinated me because Bethlehem has been an important location in the Bible since the beginning. It was a place of great famine (Ruth 1:1) and a place of the birth of a Savior (Micah 5:2). We mostly recognize the name because of the Christmas story, where Mary and Joseph go up to Bethlehem for the census of Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:4). This is where Jesus was born of a virgin in a stable and thus began the most amazing and important event in human history. God went to great lengths to perfectly time the birth of Christ since this was not Mary and Joseph’s home. They were there for the census, and God knew before time that they would be in Bethlehem at the exact moment of the birth as it was foretold in Micah. So out of the House of Bread comes the Bread of Life. God has such a wonderful sense of humor for foreshadowing if we just pay attention, and He willingly shares much of His wisdom and intentions. If you cannot find examples of God’s amazing providence and divinity throughout history, you are not looking very hard.

We are born into sin, with a true hunger for relationship. God knows that our sins divide us from Him but we often do not realize just what it is that we are “hungry” for. Just like a bodily craving for some food and being unable to put your finger on it, we are born with the same craving for a relationship with God. Satan does his best to distract our hunger through worldly possessions and other people, but we will never receive true satisfaction and satiation through anything of this world. We may move from person to person, or job to job, or house to house to try and fill these needs, but they will only leave us feeling empty and dissatisfied. The devil smiles every time we turn to one of these and away from God for our satisfaction and purpose in our lives.

As Jesus was teaching and feeding the crowds in John 6, they came to him looking for more miracles saying “our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’” (31). But Jesus goes on to tell them that their life here is not merely about sustaining their flesh, and Moses did not truly give them the bread from Heaven but the Heavenly Father who sends the bread from Heaven. “For the bread of God is he who comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). Then the people exclaim that they want this bread! “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe” (John 6:35-36). The people conveniently wanted to follow Jesus around and receive all of their meals for free, and they were so blinded by the actual provisions that they missed the intention of Christ.

In all of the gospels, Christ refers to the bread as his body at the Last Supper. “And he took the bread, gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘this is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me’” (Luke 22:19). As we re-enact this event today in our churches all over the world, we recognize that Christ gave up his flesh and spirit so that we may believe and have eternal life. He came down from Heaven as the Bread of Life to be consumed by humanity for the salvation of its sins. Jesus serves as a sacred sacrifice for each one of us so that we may not suffer the wrath of God but understand that the only way to never hunger again is through Him. God may have cursed man in Genesis (3:17-19) that we would have to toil and labor for our food to sustain our bodies on earth, but He freely gives us the Bread which will sustain our souls for all eternity.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:24)

I have heard the phrase “the one who dies with the most toys wins” on more than one occasion. Do we really believe that? Is that what this life is all about? I disagree completely with that statement. Certainly having toys here on earth makes it much more entertaining for us, but they are not really necessary for our existence. Filling our time and our minds with tangible things makes us lose focus and it takes our eyes off God. I have seen it happen so many times and I have had it happen to me. Putting this world and our possessions ahead of God can truly jeopardize our souls. “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). So I tend to agree more with something my mother always said. “I have never seen a hearse pulling a UHaul,” because that is so much more applicable. You cannot take it with you. We know this because archeologists are always finding tombs of important people and kings filled with treasures that they left here on earth believing that they would pass into the next life with them. For Jesus said “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

The exchange of currency simply exists for us to take care of the basic needs in our lives like food, clothing and shelter. With too much money, we tend to hoard or become greedy for more stuff. Without enough money, we tend to look for ways to get what we need often by sinning against God and our fellow man through stealing or whatever else can bring the greatest immediate reward. Money distorts our sense of ownership and challenges our humility. Money gives us control and with money we feel like we can control our own destiny and we have no need for God. Those with much money often use it as a tool to get more and control those who do not have as much. It is a very powerful thing on the earth to have much because often the more you have the more you can control. Satan uses this lie to pull people away from God. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10). Money can also tear apart the most important relationships that we have here on earth, our family. “An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end” (Proverbs 20:21). Fighting over money that is left behind that did not ever belong to you causes strife and discord among even among the strongest believers.

But God controls everything. He owns everything, therefore His power is so great that we have nothing to offer Him or barter with Him. Simon the Sorcerer saw this in Acts. “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God” (Acts 8:18-21).

Our greatest power comes with the wisdom and knowledge of God. Understanding that we are merely His servants is our greatest reward. “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:2-4). And know that this power and wisdom is distributed by God for His glory alone. “Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). God’s glory and power are revealed through our actions that glorify Him. The moment we try to use God’s power and glory for self benefit, it will be taken away.

So Lord, thank you for giving me my basic needs so that I do not have to sin against you or any man to be able to survive. But also, thank you for not giving me so much that I lose sight of what is important and have excess that I do not need that would cause strife between me and my friends and family. Amen.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Ultimate "Flipper"

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

I like watching those house flipping shows that come on TV on Saturday mornings sometimes. Most of the time, the investor comes to a piece of property or home that is typically run down and maybe infested with insects or destroyed from years of having no caretaker. They decide if it is worth their time and money to rejuvenate it and then they dig in. Cleaning, tearing out old and rotten materials, and replacing everything unworthy of salvage with something new. Within a few weeks, the house is ready for a new owner or occupant and they proudly stand back and admire their handiwork. Then it is time to move on to another, cleaning up the world one unwanted home at a time.

I image this is how God sees humanity. He knows the human heart to be rotten and unworthy, but He can see the potential of the property. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). He comes in, cleans us up, replaces the old and worn out stuff with new and beautiful things. “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22). Then He moves in to make a home for Himself there. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). The only catch is that we must understand that our property is in desperate need of repair. Then we must open the door to Him and allow Him to complete his work in us. “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8). Only after God comes in and transforms us and creates a new being can we be beautiful both inside and out. “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4).

I am one of those flipped properties. God has made me new on the inside and is living every day continuing to keep this house up and running. I am so grateful for His many blessings on me and my family. Although it may be challenging to live in this world right now, I am comforted to know that God is preparing an even better place for me in my home with Him in Heaven.