Wednesday 28 March 2012

Jesus: The Bread of Life

One of the great things about the local meetings we've been having on the west side of Dublin, is that we are experiencing a new freedom in how we do "meetings".
The plan is simple. We have it in a different family's home every time and that family/person looks after the worship. There are no plans apart from that. The focus of the meeting has moved completely towards the Holy Spirit and we are less interested in getting things done.

Last night was one such meeting. We had a number of conversations but the one I want to share came out of someone sharing a verse in Exodus 16:4, NKJV

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.

Bread is a common theme throughout the Bible. Jesus multiplied it from a few loaves to make enough to feed 5,000 men. (Jesus always made and does the best, so you can be sure that this bread was the tastiest ever made!)

Bread was and still is, one of the most staple foods in peoples lives and many depend on it to keep them alive.

But going back to Exodus, the Israelites had been in the desert and were hungry, so they moaned. They failed to see how blessed they were. Firstly, it was their moaning that kept them in the desert for so long. They could have walked their journey in 11 days, but God had other ideas. They could have been wiped out as a nation, but God revealed His father heart and showed them mercy, provision and blessing.

You see, right back at the beginning of the Bible, when Adam and Eve sinned, God proclaimed a curse over mankind:

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,

For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”

Genesis 3 vv 17-19, NKJV

As part of the downfall of man, God had cursed the ground so that man would have to work it by the sweat of his brow to eat bread. Whether or not the Israelites realised it, God was not just easing their punishment, He fed them and in the process, He actually lifted a curse that He had put over man from the beginning.
This same curse is no longer on us as Jesus paid the price in full for all of our sins. God showing us His heart the whole way through the Bible, giving us examples in the Old Testament of the new covenant that He was planning for us.

However, there's more.

This manna- or "What is it?" as it was called, was provided as daily bread for the Israelites. They weren't allowed to keep some for the next day, it had to be eaten that day, except for the sabbath, when they were allowed to take a double portion of manna.

Moving into the New Testament, Jesus in Matthew 6, teaches us how to pray and part of that prayer is that God would "Give us our daily bread".

Jesus, when He was tempted in the desert also mentioned bread:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
Mt 4 vv 1-4, NKJV

Jesus was making a point here. Bread is a staple part of the diet, but it is useless if we don't have the Word of God in our lives on a daily basis.
Jesus knew that the most important thing in our lives is our relationship with God. It was the most important part of the day for Jesus. When He fed 5000 and walked on water, twice in that day He set aside times to be with the Father.

We can't survive on yesterdays word alone. It is the most important part of our lives when we spend time with God, nothing, even our next meal is more important than that.

There are so many examples of this throughout the Bible. Jesus Himself set the best example, Mary and Martha had different approaches when Jesus came. One worried about feeding Him while the other spent time with Him.

This is what God wants for each of us. He longs to spend time with us, He loves listening to our questions and problems, He loves to feed us and He loves to minister to us on a daily basis.

You see, in the natural, if you don't eat, you get sick and die. In the spiritual, if you don't eat the Word of God, you get sick and die. Even if you feel like you aren't getting anything out of your quiet time, keep at it. Not every meal we eat is a 5* meal, cooked by a 5* chef, yet we still eat to live.

Whenever we eat on the Word of God, it's a feast that brings us into a deeper and richer life every moment we spend with Him.

That's the significance of the Bread of Life.

Roger C.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Took my Fish and Gave me Breakfast

I just love Gods word, it’s alive and powerful and new every day. I have just finished reading John’s book of good news (the gospel) and have been utterly amazed by Jesus ministry to those who came to watch and listen. The way Jesus went about his work reminds me of a very funny verse I read in Habakkuk 2:1 “I will look to see what he will say to me”. How can we SEE what is SAID? There is something in these words that our minds won’t allow us grasp. Read John’s gospel yourself and see the number of times Jesus says that the “signs and miracles” were tools of belief. I get the impression that the signs were every bit as prevalent as his words. The two co-existed and worked together, the signs proved the words and the words were confirmed by the signs. I will come back to this point a little later.

The last chapter of the 4 gospels, John 21 gives us a glimpse of something about Peter and that which Jesus was teaching him. It’s interesting in the first gospel in the Bible, Jesus introduces himself to Peter in Matthew 4:19 saying "Come, follow me,"and I will make you fishers of men”. Jesus invites this uneducated fisherman, in the fisherman’s language to follow him and then prophesises Peters destiny. (I have been so encouraged by the unity in the prophetic call that God has been pouring out declaring our destiny and of this city and land over our fellowship now for the last year or more – Gods word is still alive). At the end of the four gospels Peter is in despair. He was just trying to come to terms with the “untimely” death of Jesus Christ, he was trying to come to terms with the reports of the resurrection of the Jesus, then coping with the unfathomable seeing the risen Christ in the flesh. Peter could make no sense of it and who could blame him. Peter turned back to that which he knew and off with him fishing through the night, maybe it was easier to work at night because it was not easy sleeping at these times.

The next morning all was about to change for Peter, as they were fishing Jesus called out to them from the shore. You could say this was a second calling of the disciples, just like Moses was called twice or David or Saul on the road to Damascus. (It’s been amazing these last number of Sunday mornings to listen to Jesus calling us as a body to “Come away with Him” – Is this our second calling as a fellowship, if it is, and I believe so, watch out because the outworking of the second calling is always one that powerfully draws a dynamic response). Just look at how Peter responded. Over board Peter went when the call came. Here’s how John told it. John 21:9 "When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread". v10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught."… v12 Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." John 21:15 "Simon son of John do you love me..Yes Lord..Feed my lambs."

As I was looking at this passage of scripture something caught my attention that I had not seen before, the disciples saw that Jesus had fish on a fire and also some bread, Jesus asked for some of Peter’s fish and cooked them breakfast. Why? Did Jesus not have enough fish? Where did he get his fish? Did he get the head count wrong? I don’t think so. Jesus asked of Peter and received from Peter. In that process Peter giving his fish, Jesus received them and turned Peter’s fish into breakfast. The disciples saw the fish and bread, Jesus saw the end product. I was just struck in that moment how Jesus’ fish and bread became a complete breakfast when Jesus mixed it with the “fruit of Peter’s hands”, the meal was now complete.

In an instant I was prompted / reminded of the difficult verse in Colossians 1:24 “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church”. As I reflected on this verse I sense the Holy Spirit is saying when we give Jesus our lot and receive His lot, we somehow make the perfect finished work of the cross complete. I want to explain my words and not offend you. Jesus actual death on the cross is complete and can’t be added too. But if Jesus just died on the cross and that was it, there is something “still lacking”, something not complete. The Holy Spirit saw to it and through His Power raised Jesus three days later and makes his wonderful work on the cross more complete, but still in my opinion somehow there is something incomplete or lacking. We fill up in our flesh what is still missing in the cross when we simply come in surrender, total abandonment of our hearts to Jesus Christ our risen Saviour. Without our coming the Cross and Resurrection is dead to us, we remain as 2 Corinthians 3:14 says “But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away”. Though Jesus has died and risen, nothing has changed. But when we COME to Christ 2 Corinthians 3:16 says “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away”.

This in my opinion was the intent of the Fathers heart, a completely completed bride for Christ, a partner a co-labourer, co-worker. God is the God of the living not the dead, He’s the First and the Last, the Alpha and Omega. The Old Testament is dominated by the Father, the relationship with his people, generations of blessing to those in the family, and holy inheritance. The gospel times display Jesus the Saviour, walking with the Father anointed by the Spirit holding the hands of man. Today our times the day of the Holy Spirit, “I will pour out my Spirit on ALL people”. We live in complete days, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit within. We are Co-workers with Christ, God has ordained it that we men and women have dominion on earth, as we co-work with Christ through the power of the Spirit to release the kingdom of God on earth, the kingdom of the presence of the living God, the reign of God on earth. God chose man to make a name for Himself 1 Chronicles 17:21 says “And who is like your people … the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for himself, and to make a name for himself”. If we are Christ’s co-workers as the Bible says, well this means if we do not work with Christ that Christ will not work either. This was God’s plan, he chose man to display his kingdom and defeat the works of the enemy, God chose his created beings, you and me to defeat the works of the enemy, if we do not obey this command, God will simply wait for another generation to do so. He will not change his plan and do the job Himself. Christ wants us to co-work with him. When you answer Jesus’ call and come to Him, God anoints you with His Holy Spirit as you ask him and God releases his very being, his presence in your midst. You then cooperate with God in defeating the works of the enemy and bringing salvation and healing to a broken world. When we co-work with Christ “signs and wonders” co-exist with the words of the gospel we speak. We speak in His power and things are created.

Romans 12:2 says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may PROVE what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. Paul suggests that our actions should prove our words, that a transformed person should be able to prove Gods presence to an unbelieving world. Does this scripture challenge you, it causes great tension within me because my cry is that the tangible presence of the triune God be displayed through every word I speak and every move I make. I long for signs to prove Gods word in this city and nation and our words be confirmed by signs from God. Signs glorify God and give glory to Jesus, we are called to glorify Christ, I can’t think of a better way to bring honour to God than be a glory carrier on earth.

Lastly once Peter grasped what Jesus had done for him and the assignment for him “Feed my lambs”, Peter moved into a position to receive (Love demands an action). He was transformed by the renewing of his mind. He moved out of self pity into identity in Christ, "and I will make you fishers of men”. Once Peter shifted his mindset the Holy Spirit invaded because now Peter could receive his anointing and minister the love of Christ to the lambs. Lambs are new born, the anointing is primarily manifest to bless the world not the church. The fields are white for harvest. David said in Psalm 40:3 “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD”. The “Days of Many” are upon us, Revival is sweeping across the world and forceful men lay hold of it. This is my calling, this is your calling, this is our calling. It’s time for the bride to say come.

Declan D.