Thursday, December 4, 2008

We Are Called...No...Expected....To Live Beyond Our Circumstances!

Jesus walked among His disciples and He taught them. I would think that one of the toughest things for His disciples to grasp was that they must live outside and beyond their circumstances. His disciples were men who had been taught from childhood that the Messiah would come and set up a Kingdom. Among themselves they had visions of overcoming all their enemies and even discussed, at times, how they would rank in the new Kingdom.
Then.....Jesus explained about that Kingdom thing.... It was to be a Spiritual Kingdom and the new King (Jesus) would be given up, tortured and crucified. Also, in this Kingdom, those who would be first will be last and those who would be last shall be first. Jesus explained that the world was not their home, that His Father's mansion has many rooms and that when He left them, He was going to prepare a place.
He called them to look beyond the hard times and persecution and beyond their circumstances to the reality of a new and eternal Kingdom of God. Jesus told them they were called to be in the world, but not of the world. What a concept for us now and, wow, what a concept for those steeped in the Law of Moses. Judaism and the Law had become a weight that held them in a world of ceremony and physical, fleshly atonement for their sin. Now they were shown a spiritual Kingdom they would be welcomed into through the great and final atonement of One.
About 50 years after Christ's death and resurrection,  Paul continued to admonish followers of Christ to avoid the perceptions of the world. In the 12th Chapter of Romans, he writes: "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."
We cannot live in and be shaped by our circumstances and hope to fall within the will of God.

When's The Last Time We Fed 5000?

I was reading in Matthew the other day and came to the account of Jesus' feeding of the 5000. My first thought was, "What a miracle." Those "what a miracle" observations are, at times, I think a way of getting around seeing any responsibility for ourselves or acknowledging that a particular account is in anyway commissioning us for a task.
The closer I read the account, the more I saw that Jesus was telling me to do the same!
"......He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained." Matthew 14:19,20
If we are to look to the Word of God for instruction, for guidance and as an example of how we are to be, then we must study this verse as carefully as all and avoid the "what a miracle" approach.
First, let us consider what Jesus has said about Himself. He has called Himself the "Bread of Life". He has said that He only did what He saw the Father do and has commanded us to follow His example, to allow His Holy Spirit to live in and work through us. He has told us that "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God"  We see from the accounts of His life, the importance of breaking bread and sharing with others.
Remembering all these things and then recalling Jesus' discussion with Peter in John 21:15-18, God began to reveal His instructions to me.
"So, when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?' He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.' He said to him, 'Feed my lambs.' He said to him again a second time, 'Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?' He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.' He said to him, 'Tend My Sheep.' He said to him the third, 'Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?' Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, 'Do you love Me?' And he said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed My sheep.'
Jesus also told us in His  Word that if we had Faith in Him and acted in His abiding power we would do the things that He had done and even greater things.
Let's look at the original text we began with. Jesus took the bread and fishes, blessed them, gave them to the disciples and they, in turn gave them to the people who were filled to overflowing.
Every time that we sit down with the Word of God in prayer and meditation, we are breaking bread with Jesus. These are inspired words (blessed of God) which He gives to us. Not only are we to eat and be filled to overflowing, but I propose that this scripture calls us to then pass what has been given to us on to all that from each of us, thousands will be filled.
We are commissioned, at the end of Matthew, to go and make disciples and here we find the source of our power to do so. If we are given a blessed word from God, as is confirmed in many texts, the word then given to others will accomplish its purpose far beyond our capabilities.
"Feeding His Sheep" was a great priority of our Saviour and throughout scripture, we find that it should be the same with us. We cannot accomplish such an undertaking unless we are spending our time in prayer and meditation "breaking bread" with our Creator, our Saviour and our Sustainor, Jesus Christ.